When you successfully manage a busy and profitable career, it seems only natural to look for tried and true efficiencies to help you accomplish essential housekeeping tasks that often get in the way of the more important business of nurturing and enjoying your family.
Nothing consumes your time and energy like having to face the dilemma of ‘What’s for dinner?” every night.
Convenience and frozen foods are obvious answers but you can take a slightly different approach and have meals from the freezer that have grown up and are no longer TV dinners of uncertain content and quality.
In cities across the US, there are franchise operations that will help you prepare dishes for your freezer that only need to be finished or warmed for the evening meal. They tend to be costly and time-consuming.
Here are some strategies to help you get more bang for your buck in flavor, nutrition, and economy as you manage the decision-making, and much of the prep work, to your advantage at the end of the day when all you want to do is rest and enjoy your family.
Basics of Freezer Cooking
Once a month often seems most convenient for bulk or batch cooking. Make it an extension of the monthly shopping trip for basics, adopt a no-nonsense approach to scheduling, and you will be amazed at the saving of time and money.
Many cleaver batch cookers enjoy late Friday night supermarket shopping and an early Saturday morning start on the cooking. They stick perishables in the refrigerator overnight and leave the dry goods on the counter until morning.
Teens, tweens, and anybody who can operate a food processor under supervision, can often be recruited to help if there is a small economic reward involved.
Establish your menu
Write down an 8 day menu of meals prepared at home: Breakfast, lunches, dinner, snacks, if necessary. Write down all the favorites, check for the best coupons and specials, and make note of holidays and birthdays. Then go back to review and be sure meals are nutritionally balanced.
You now have your basic menu that will rotate every 8 days . This 8 day rotation gives you an extra sense of variety simply because you eat different food on different days of the week, but if your family likes to make Friday night Pizza Night, treat Friday as if it were a holiday and make any menu adjustments needed to mark the event. Extra dishes will come in handy where there are unexpected guests or you need food for an emergency. Be sure to keep track of your freezer inventory.
Almost Ready to Cook
Before you cook, make yourself what restaurant cooks often call a “kitchen menu” of exactly what you want to cook. For example, if you decide you will probably need 8 cups of chopped onion for all the dishes cooked during the month, chop the entire 8 cups. The onions can then be divided into convenient packages for the freezer. Perhaps, use small freezer bags and store all of the bags in one air-tight container where flavors and odors will not transfer. A vacuum sealer is a great tool and space saver.
Make casseroles, soups, and stews after the vegetables are preped. Remember all soups are not cooked for long periods of time; some soups are delicious when made from vegetables that are already prepared and only require a few minutes to finish.
Package slow-cooker meal ingredients together so the cooker is easily started early on the day you plan to use the dish.
Always package extra sauce in case you might need it.
Plan to shop at least once a week for fresh fruit and vegetables to complete your menus. Crispy tacos and warm bread also bring freshness and interest to your meals.
Make it a part of your nightly routine to remove the next day’s food from the freezer so that it is ready to finish when needed.
Still not Completely Convinced?
Their Big Book of Freezer Cooking is available without cost on line to answer many of the myths and questions about freezer cooking. They address ease of preparing the meals, required freezer space, and ways to avoid monotony or a sense that everything is “left-over”.
If you have trouble downloading the online edition, The Big Book of Freezer Cooking is available at Amazon and filled with charts, guides, recipes and everything you need to get started.
Whether you decide to jump in with both feet and try a month of freezer cooking, or pick and choose some of its more attractive elements, the idea of freezer cooking is sure to help reduce the stress and strain of cooking the family dinner at the end of a busy day.