Make mealtimes easier with freezer cooking

Written by contributor Jessica Fisher of Life as Mom and Good Cheap Eats

One of the unique, albeit obvious, characteristics of homeschooling is that it takes place at home. Oh sure, there are co-ops and field trips and class days and carschooling, but often our educational style is home-based. Homebody that I am, I love that!

As such, there are distractions present that might not occur in a traditional classroom setting: barking dogs, poopy diapers, and ringing doorbells, to name a few. How often have my children rushed to the front door from all corners of the house to greet the delivery man?! You would think it was Santa Claus, but no, it’s just a guy bringing a replacement refrigerator part.

I, like my children, am prone to distraction, making teaching at home challenging amid the laundry and the cleaning that could be done.

And the cooking? Don’t even get me started. I begin to make lunch but remember that I have all these apples to deal with. Before I know it, I’m knee deep in pies and applesauce and apple butter. It’s like giving a mouse a cookie.

Make-Ahead Meals Make Meals Easier

In order to stay on track with our school day, I turn to make-ahead meals. I spend a few hours each month cooking and freezing meals to enjoy later. Not only does it help me get homecooked meals on the table, but it also helps me focus on other tasks, like our plants project or how to teach adjectives to a third grader.

These “freezer meals” help me out for every meal of the day. Here’s how they can work for you, too.

Breakfast

Two days a week the kids and I have places to go for outside classes. The other days allow for slightly more relaxed mornings. Either way I like having breakfast ready to go and easy to serve.

Homemade baking mixes and make-ahead breakfast sliders help me get a hot meal ready in minutes. Granola, instant oatmeal, and scones are all homemade treats that make a fun serve-yourself breakfast bar.

Lunch

One of the blessings of having older kids is that they can help me with meal prep. Calzones, burritos, and cheesewiches from the freezer are easy items for my big guys to heat up. They add fresh fruit and veggies for a side dish, and lunch is served.

Dinner

By the time I’m done with our school day, I’m ready for a nap! It’s so nice to bake a homemade lasagna and garlic bread without any prep work or reheat pork tamales for a filling supper.

Where do I sign up?

“Freezer cooking” is seeing renewed popularity as folks realize what a boon it can be to any home, science projects and adjectives not withstanding. It allows us to customize our meals to fit our tastes and diet perfectly, resulting in homemade “convenience foods.”

There are a number of sources to help you learn about freezer cooking:

  • Go to another kitchen – Meal prep kitchens, like Dream Dinners, offer you a chance to cook in someone else’s kitchen. They do all the prep and all the clean up. You just assemble the meals. (You also pay more for the convenience. You can do it much more cheaply at home.)
  • Check the blogs – Some blogs, like Once a Month Mom, are dedicated to freezer cooking and helping folks get meals made and frozen. Over on Good Cheap Eats this month, I’m sharing 31 Days of Freezer Cooking, offering short but sweet ideas to make bulk cooking work for you.
  • Read a good book – Believe it or not, I wrote the book on freezer cooking. OK, not the book, but a good one. Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook released this month. It’s chock full of the ins and outs of freezer cooking plus over 200 freezer-friendly recipes. It offers tips and tricks for the freezer cooking novice as well as the old pro. It contains easy cooking plans that range from 2 hours to all day so that you can find a method that works best for you.

Mealtimes during the busy school year can be just as healthy and tasty as you would like them to be. And big batch cooking can help you pull it off so you really do have time for a nap at the end of the day.

What do you think about freezer cooking?

About Jessica

Once a public high school teacher, Jessica now homeschools her six children, covering preschool through 10th grade. When she's not changing diapers, washing mountains of laundry, or chasing down the wayward math student who's steathily playing video games in the closet, she shares parenting and homekeeping tips on Life as MOM as well as "delicious ways to act your wage" at Good Cheap Eats.

Comments

  1. melyssa says:

    I think I need to try it! I love your Give a Mouse a Cookie analogy, btw! That is so us homeschooling mommies!

    I usually rely on the crock pot for those days when I’m working in the evenings (I teach ballet) or we’ve been gone all day doing field trips. But we can only eat so much chili and stews! :)
    melyssa’s latest post: Grandpa’s Least Favorite Song

  2. Jeni says:

    I am SO glad you wrote about your cookbook! I have two of Beth Hensperger’s books from the same series (on slow cooker cooking) and I LOVE them because they’re real food based – not just “cream of X soup” 10 different ways. I went ahead and ordered yours – can’t wait to try your recipes!
    Jeni’s latest post: (What to Do) When Another Blogger Steals Your Photos

  3. Becky says:

    We are doing a major overhaul of our food spending and freezer meals are a great way to do so. I am off to see if our library has the cookbook mentioned above.
    Becky’s latest post: TV Free Friday: Yoga

  4. Lana Wilkens says:

    i seriously need your book. I have been wishing I could do freezer cooking but felt too timid to try. your post makes me feel like it’s approachable and I’m betting you wrote your book that way too! So do you mind me asking how to make it cost effective? Do you eat the same thing for a week or mix it up? What is reasonable to spend for a family of 5 in Oklahoma? :)

    lana
    Lana Wilkens’s latest post: getting acquainted

  5. Sara says:

    I love “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cook Book”, so I am definitely going to check this one out. I’m very interested in doing some freezer meals.
    Sara’s latest post: The daily juggle

  6. Ashlee says:

    I’m really curious about this cookbook, but I’m wondering how much of it I could use as a vegetarian family (we do eat dairy/eggs, etc).
    Ashlee’s latest post: Miss Me?

  7. Anna Brown says:

    I like the idea of freezer cooking, but since I work outside the home it’s a struggle. I get home at 6:45pm, and by then I don’t want to wait the hour+ it takes to cook a freezer meal.

    Right now I’m single, but my boyfriend and I are talking marriage in the next year. Unfortunately he has cerebral palsy in his legs – maybe he could still put a frozen casserole in the oven, though, once we get to that point.

    Something to think about!!
    Anna Brown’s latest post: Greatness on Display

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