by Jane Hill, Business Analyst for Colorado HealthOP
Does this sound familiar? You’re driving home. You had a plan to cook something, and have all the ingredients in your fridge, but you worked later than expected. You’re starving. You don’t feel like standing around in your kitchen. Your menu sounds lame. Your car drives itself to a restaurant where you procure something entirely different.
I often have the best of plans to eat healthy, but takeout is my weakness.
What’s my weapon?
Freezer cooking allows me to triumph over my desire to pick up prepared food.
Here’s the basic idea: You partially prepare/cook something ahead of time, then freeze it. Later, when it’s time to eat, you have the meal mostly done! Just add the final touches and pop it in the oven.
I’ve got examples!
Tacos: make and freeze the filling ahead of time…then you just heat up and add toppings.
Shepherd’s Pie: Make the meat and veggie mixture. When it’s time to eat, just add some fake mashed potatoes on top and pop it in the oven
Meatballs: Make and brown the meatballs. You can bake them in the oven direct from the freezer, just pour some sauce on top.
Stuffed Peppers: Precook and freeze the meat/rice filling. All that’s left to do is cutting the peppers in half and filling them up.
How does freezer cooking help?
- Your food is almost done. You don’t have to dread a bunch of cooking when you get home. Less work to do when you’re worn out from the day.
- You defrost the frozen thing in the fridge starting the night before. You won’t want to waste all your previous effort by getting takeout instead.
- You can freeze things in just the portion you need for one meal. As a two-person family, this can help prevent a lot of leftovers, as you cook the whole recipe and freeze half or more. So NO boring leftovers, you just have the amount you want.
Is there one way to do freezer meals?
Nope, you’ve got options:
You can cook ALL the food for the week on the weekend, or do it once a month. Are you hard-core about doing things? If so, mass cooking like that is a substantial time commitment but pays you back in free time in the evenings.
Another option is what I’d like to call “Make an extra.” Every time you’re making something, just make a double/triple/quadruple batch and freeze the additional amounts. This way you end up cooking a few times each week, and the other days use your freezer stash.
There are many online resources that share ways to get started freezer cooking. It doesn’t require a big commitment to start… Just try making one meal, and then eating it out of the freezer. For me, it only took one night of 10-minute tacos and I was hooked.