I’ve been freezer cooking for a little while now and let’s just say that I totally think it’s the way to go. Bulk cooking days are a huge time and money saver, plus you can adjust menus to any diet or palate preference. I’m a firm believer.
I’m an even firmer believer in cooking in the context of community! It’s sooo fun to gather a group of friends, blare Boys II Men, chop, slice, dice and dump for a few hours, and leave with 20 meals for each family to enjoy. These are the things that an ESFJ’s dreams are made of. Productivity and friendship at it’s finest.
Well, I recently attempted to do just that and it’s safe to say I bit off a wee bit more than I could chew…literally and figuratively.
Welcome to the first ever (and hopefully last ever) installment of “Freezer Meal Fails” also known as “Freezer Cooking: What NOT To Do” and but not limited to “That one time I had wild dogs circling my house for days.”
5 Ways to Fail at Freezer Cooking
- Invite too many people and/or plan for too many recipes: I am high inclusion. I love to invite the masses to anything and everything. But when your home was built in the 1970’s your kitchen is only so large and you can only prepare food in so many rooms of the house. Stick to Less that 4 families if you’re a beginner. ALSO, don’t get overzealous on how many recipes you’re going to attempt. For one reason, your cost will increase the more ingredients you have to purchase. Better to double the same recipes than have lots of variety and lots of random leftover hoisin sauce. Prep space is the other issue as you’ll need to set up a station for each recipe. Plan the number of meals by considering the budget, time allotment and prep space available.
- Forget to anticipate the amount of fridge and freezer space needed: Speaking of space. I don’t even want to tell you how much meat we bought for our most recent and most epic round of freezer meal cooking. Let’s just say it was more than any stand-up freezer was going to hold. We ended up spreading the ingredients across multiple homes (read counties) and it was a headache! It didn’t even occur to me that we would need this much refrigeration or I’d have purchased everything on the prep day!! Plan accordingly, people!Bonus tip: SHOP AT THE PIG!! It is now my fave grocery store because you can call ahead to the meat department to place your order and they were so helpful in gathering some of the groceries too!
- Cut corners on labels: We all know I love to save money. Typically we just use a black permanent marker and write the name of the dish on the front of the Ziploc or pan, but with so many people and so many recipes, we thought it better to use labels. But labels are pricey, ya’ll. So, we thought it better to print the recipes with side dish pairing ideas out on printer paper an packaging tape them to the bags and pans. One minor detail. Packaging tape comes off in the freezer. So welcome to hundreds of unidentified frozen meals floating around the freezers of the Housewives of Lafeyette County.
- Figure it out as you go: “I’ve done this so many times before! No worries!” said no smart freezer cooker ever. Always have an itemized “Day Of” plan. You need to know when to cook the potatoes and when to layer the enchiladas. Trust me. Make an order of operations plan and stick to it. Also, don’t burn GALLONS of the most amazing loaded baked potato soup you’ve ever eaten. Errr, actually NOT eaten because it tastes like cigarettes. You will hate yourself. And so will your friends. Womp. Womp.
- Forget to account for trash receptacles and the days between cooking day and garbage: This was quite possibly my most epic fail. Aside from inviting all my friends over on the ONLY day of the year that Joel needed ALL their husbands to help with our massive landscaping project. That was bad. But aside from that, I completely underestimated how much trash we would amass from this Guinness Book of World Records cooking day. We have two giant trash bins that we roll to the street twice a week. But this was Saturday. And they were partially full. When I say that we had a small landfill out front of our house I am not kidding. So by the time the sunset we had all the neighborhood animals and then some coming out of the woods to devour the remains of our day. My day ended with a trip to Home Depot to purchase yet another trash can. This time a 96-gallon commercial size. And let’s just say that raw meat makes for a less than joyful neighborhood by sunny day #3
So those are the freezer meal failures to avoid. If you’d like to learn more about how TO SUCCESSFULLY freezer cook, read THIS post and THIS one too. And you’re more than welcome to email me with questions.
Here are my favorite freezer meal NO-FAIL recipes that will be sure to become staples for you.
1. BBQ Pork11. Stuffed Shells12. Crock Pot Tacos15. Chicken Parmesan
Have you tried freezer cooking? Freezer meal swapping?
What tips and tricks would you share? What fails have you learned from?
If you’re interested in more tips and tricks, here are my most popular freezer meal cooking posts: