After telling you all about why I make easy freezer recipes and how I prep for them, here I am for the last part of the series to tell you how to rock your big cooking day!
I actually get excited and look forward to the big cooking day and try to make it as fun as possible. Why?
- I get to spend a whole day in the kitchen while someone else watches the kids – rare, rare, rare
- I know that by the end of the day, I’ll have a tonne of food in my freezer and won’t have to stress about meals all month
- I get to try a whole bunch of new recipes!
- I get to listen to some great tunes and dance and sing along all day – fun for me and BONUS: painful for the rest of the family to watch!
- Next time, I may even have a special lunch and dinner planned for myself as a treat too! Sampling the meals I’m preparing is fun too, but I personally get a little annoyed with myself because I like making like a squirrel and hiding ALL of it away for later!
The big event
There are a few very important tips for a good cooking day that I have picked up through my research on the Once a Month Meals site and through my own experience:
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and tie up your hair. Especially important for mama’s who are a few months postpartum and shedding more than a German Shepherd in July (like me) or who have a hubby who gags at the sight of a stray hair within a foot of his meal (like mine).
- Print off all of your recipes. I know, you can look at them on your computer, but that’s asking for confusion, as you will have many recipes on the go at once, and it’s also risking an expensive mess on your keyboard. Save your computer for the tunes!
- Start with a clean kitchen, empty your dishwasher and put all your dishes away
- Clear as many items off of your counters as possible. Give yourself access to as many other surfaces as possible. I have a portable dishwasher and a pass-through shelf that I clear off to give me more space. I also drag my dining room table over to do double duty as a barrier so my kids can’t get in the kitchen and to use as an additional workspace.
- If you have a fan, plug it in close to one surface that you designate as a cooling area. This will help speed up the cooling process of cooked food dramatically so that you can move on to packaging and freezing it.
- Have someone available to do a grocery run for you late in the afternoon in case you’ve forgotten something. If you’re anything like me, something will have been forgotten.
- Mentally prepare for a FULL day of cooking! I start first thing in the morning around 8am and go up until 11pm sometimes. Without fail, there is a point late in the morning where I’m smug and tell myself that I will be done by 6pm. Don’t do this! It’s just cruel! As the afternoon wears on, I get slower, I take a break and then it’s 7pm and I still have 5 recipes to go. Do as I say, not as I do, ok? You can do it!
- Be careful with breaks. Sure you need more coffee. And coffee means you’ll need to pee. That’s all good. But I’m talking extended breaks where you go sit down and chit chat with the fam. It will feel so nice to sit down, and five minutes will turn into 10, then 30… You catch my drift. I breastfeed my daughter and I have to push myself to be mindful of how long I stop. Tired mama, cute snuggly baby, crazy, crazy kitchen, linger, linger, linger… NO! Must go COOK!
My freezer cooking haul
If you’ve read up until here and are thinking of abandoning the idea of a big freezer cooking day altogether, don’t! This is the part that’s worth it – all the meals you’ll have afterwards! After this last cooking day, I ended up with the following:
3 breakfast recipes – enough to feed the family for 9 meals
4 lunch recipes – enough to feed the family for 12 meals
8 dinners – enough to feed the family for 24 meals
This is based on a typical Once a Month Meals menu adjusted to 6 people. We’re not 6 people in the house, but I bumped up the serving number so we’d have more meals and enough left overs.
As you can imagine, my freezer is pretty full! I have a small chest freezer that I recently bought, but if all you have is the standard size freezer in your refrigerator, it can still be done (read this and this), and that’s how I started.
One important step not to skip is labeling. If you use Once A Month Meals, you’ll have labels included with your documents, and you can easily print them off onto label sheets on your printer. As you can see though, I used a plain ol’ marker to label mine since labels are a bit pricey in Canada at about $15 for 100. Anything is better than a bunch of unlabelled mystery meals – trust me!
Method to the madness
Now that your freezer is full, your work isn’t quite over yet! You still need to be somewhat organized to serve them up every day. Here are a few things that will help
- Have a list of all the inventory in your freezer. Sounds tedious but it saves a lot of time, food and sanity. I created a custom template (grab it here!) for myself that includes the name of the meal, date it was frozen, cooking and serving instructions, a list of ingredients required for serving as well as a section to keep track of the number of portions left in the freezer. I keep it in a plastic document protector stuck to my freezer, along with all the recipes and ingredients and a pen. This makes it easy to keep the list up to date, and when I have guests with food allergies, it’s easy to double check the ingredients to make sure I serve an appropriate meal.
- Decide at the beginning of the week on which meals you want to eat and be sure to buy any ingredients you need to serve them. If you are like me and live across the street from the grocery store, you can be lazy and decide the night before.
- Thawing takes more time than you think! If your meal is to be cooked in the oven, put it in the fridge the night before so that it’s mostly thawed by the time you’re ready to start dinner. If it’s a slow cooker meal that needs to go into the pot first thing in the morning, you’ll likely have to pop it in the fridge a day earlier. You can find more great tips on thawing your meals here.
What’s left to do now? Not much! Chillax, enjoy your meals, and cook every now and then when you actually feel like it!
Check out my easy freezer recipes:
Yes, I’m obsessed with Once A Month Meals, so much so that I’ve signed up to work with them as an affiliate. As a perk, I get a month’s free membership, which is great, since as a paying customer for a few months now, I already know how awesome they are.This post may contain affiliate links.
Latest posts by Sylvie (see all)
- Coconut Chai Paleo Breakfast Bars - September 7, 2015
- Easy Freezer Recipes: Paleo Lemon Coconut Breakfast Bars - March 26, 2015
- Easy Freezer Recipes: Paleo Chocolate Zucchini Breakfast Bars - November 13, 2014