Why I Don’t Do Massive Freezer Cooking Days

posted by Andrea | 11/9/2016
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freezer cooking

On average, I get about one email or message every single day asking for tips, advice, blog post links, or information about planning and executing a massive freezer cooking day.

I get even more freezer cooking questions this time of year, when people here in the States go crazy cooking, baking, and cramming their freezers full in preparation for another long cold winter.

Massive freezer cooking days are quite popular these days (just search Pinterest and see how many links you find)! This is not a huge surprise for me — after all, I know how fabulous it is to have a well-stocked deep freezer full of delicious meals, pre-portioned ingredients, and multiple containers of yummy baked goods.

However, you might be surprised to know that I’ve never done any sort of massive freezer cooking day… ever!

For me, the massive freezer cooking days seem extremely overwhelming, exhausting, and REALLY messy!

Not exactly my idea of “simplifying my life through freezer cooking”.

I know the massive freezer cooking days work for some people — and for others (specifically those who work full time outside the house) these freezer cooking days are the best way to fill a freezer when time is of the essence.

However, my own personal preference (probably not too surprising) is that of continual and gradual forward progress.

I put a few things in the freezer every week and also use a few things from the freezer every week — so our freezer is never empty, it’s never overly stuffed, I never need to spend an entire weekend making 30 or 40 meals,  I never need to buy $500 worth of groceries, and I never need to wash every pot and pan in my kitchen at the same time!

For Example: 

If I make cookie dough, I’ll make a double batch and put half in the freezer.

If I bake brownies or muffins, I’ll immediately put half in the freezer.

If I make a freezer-friendly meal, I’ll double it and put half in the freezer.

If I decide to make rice for one meal, I’ll make a little extra and freeze it for later.

If I chop peppers or onions, I’ll chop a few extras and put them in bags for the freezer.

If I need to brown a bunch of sausage or ground beef, I brown more than I need for one recipe and put the rest in the freezer.

If I roast a turkey, I’ll shred the leftover meat and pre-portion it out for the freezer.

This continual and gradual process of freezer cooking requires almost no extra effort on my part (and usually zero extra dishes) but it saves me a ridiculous amount of time in future weeks when I can simply pull out a few muffins for breakfast, add a bag of already cooked rice and ground beef to a casserole, toss my already-chopped onions and peppers into our favorite soups, or bake up fresh-from-the-oven cookies when unexpected guests stop by.

I literally save hours and hours of time cooking and cleaning up each week, thanks to my continual and gradual freezer cooking method. 

(this is right after cleaning out our freezer to make room for our quarter of a cow!)

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Of course, I don’t think the massive freezer cooking days are bad (they would also save you hours and hours of cooking and clean-up during the week) but they just aren’t my style.

If massive freezer cooking days aren’t your style either, I would highly recommend trying my “continual and gradual freezer cooking” method of doing a little bit every few days. It might take you a month or so to get in the habit of making double batches of things, but your freezer will eventually be filled with just as much food as someone who did a massive freezer cooking day — and you won’t have to wash every pot and pan in your kitchen 🙂

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For those of you who want tips or ideas to execute massive freezer cooking days, search around on Pinterest.

And for those of you who simply want to keep your freezer stocked with as little time and effort as possible, you’ll find all that information right here on my blog!

Have you done massive freezer cooking days? What are the pros and cons in your opinion?

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31 comments

  1. Cindy

    08/04/2017

    I buy large bags of frozen chicken breast tenders and vegetables at the big box store. I also made a ‘Busy Day Meals’ list of dinners that take <30 minutes to cook or are crock pot meals. I put the recipe title and ingredients underneath. When I need busy day meals, I check the pantry and circle my ingredients needed on the sheet. I also buy large quantities of fresh meat and cook them in bulk and freeze everything.
    I am not organized to do a Huge freezer cooking meals marathon. This works for me. 🙂

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  2. Emily

    11/10/2016

    I love the no cook freezer meals that you dump in a bag, freeze, then thaw and cook in the slow cooker when you’re ready to eat them. You can put a bunch of them together very easily in an hour. I did this over the course of a few afternoons right before Jonathan was born last fall and it was such a lifesaver and took such little time. It also didn’t cost a ton of money up front because I just did a few at a time. BTW we’re expecting again! Baby #6 due end of February and I will definitely be prepping more freezer meals before then. 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    WHAT! Congrats! Yes, I suspect you’ll want some freezer meals before that baby arrives 🙂

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  3. Barbara

    11/09/2016

    I recently found boneless chicken breasts and leg/thigh packs on sale at a grocery store. They were frozen. I would like to let them thaw, cook up the chicken in a crock pot with some seasonings and then shred/cut the meat up and put it in freezer bags to have it ready to go for recipes. I always thought you shouldn’t refreeze any meats after cooking. Has anyone done this or is this still a “no-no”?

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    Trudy Reply:

    Barbara, I do this all the time…….will take my extra after cooking chicken or beef, portion it in usually 2cup packages, label, freeze and use it later.

    The Kroger by me would sell their rotisserie chickens in the evening super cheap…..I’d buy several, break them down into portions and freeze them. Great for soup, quesadilla, buffalo chicken dip, etc.

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    Barbara Reply:

    Thanks for the rotisserie chicken idea!

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    Andrea Reply:

    well, I don’t want to tell you what to do, but I will tell you that I’ve been doing this for many years with no harmful side effects 🙂

    I think the biggest “no-no” is defrosting uncooked meat and then freezing it uncooked again — if you’re cooking it before you freeze it, I think that’s OK

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    Barbara Reply:

    Good to know it has worked out fine for you! Thanks!

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  4. Christine Macdonnell

    11/09/2016

    I’ve done some weekend freezer cooking but have never done the 30-40 meals. I’ve never had that kind of stamina and no matter how organized I was it would still take hours. I’ve relied on my crock pot/slow cooker for making large batches of sloppy joe or chili, and I’ve made a few freezer to crock pot meal bags that are the bomb!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, my old neighbor made me a freezer to crockpot meal in a bag once and it was so fantastic. I alway say i’m going to do more of those, but I haven’t do anything yet 🙂

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  5. Pamela

    11/09/2016

    I must be doing something wrong – I keep thinking that I do freezer cooking a little at a time, like you, but it still ends up taking a looooong time! This weekend I made slow cooker chili and breakfast burritos and it took me a couple hours! Maybe I’m just slow? I was actually thinking of switching to the massive cooking day models, since if I’m going to spend a lot of time in the kitchen anyway, I’d like more to show for it than 20 burritos and a pot of chili!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    maybe a massive freezer cooking day would work better for you then — I don’t know.

    I guess for me, I often just double or triple the recipe I’m already making for our dinner that night — so I’m in the kitchen making dinner anyway but get that night’s meal plus one or two other meals for the freezer with almost no extra effort. I think it might feel like more work for you since you aren’t even getting your current meal from your efforts.

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  6. Debbie

    11/09/2016

    Since we don’t have a freezer other than the one below our fridge I don’t do massive freezer cooking meals either. I had made 2 to 3 meals, or muffins and froze them but never massive amounts. We just don’t have the room. I do chop onions, bell peppers and put them in containers and leave them in the fridge. Then I use it to make omelets or salads. I had no idea that I can freeze them because I didn’t think they would be too soggy when it’s time to use. Do they keep well in freezer and still okay to put in salads after being thawed?

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    Andrea Reply:

    The peppers and onions from the freezer would NOT be good for salads — they would be very soggy. I only use them for omelettes, soups, and casseroles.

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  7. Liz C

    11/09/2016

    I do both… I batch cook for the freezer, and sometimes I do HUGE big batches… but we have a larger family, with big appetites in it, and I’m also sometimes staring down very busy months, so taking six hours aside at the front saves me days later in the month.

    I’ll do things like prep twelve dozen meatballs at a go (sounds like a lot, but it’s six family packets for us, and that’s without any company for a meal) or do up three meals of seasoned beef patties (to toss on the grill later); it takes only a bit more time and the same amount of mess to put together five or six dozen breakfast burritos for the freezer while the meatballs are in the oven.

    Then in small batches, I do as you do… double or triple-batch a dessert item and freeze the extras, make double or triple the biscuit or roll dough and form/freeze the extra. The combination of occasional “big mess” huge batch time, plus focused small-batch cooking, really helps.

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    Andrea Reply:

    This sounds like a fantastic system! And yum… meatballs!

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  8. Tina

    11/09/2016

    Dear Andrea. How do you make sure, that you don’t forget meals in your freezer? (That tends to happen at our home…) Do you keep a freezer inventory list?

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    Andrea Reply:

    I guess I’m just in my freezer all the time that it would be fairly difficult to forget what’s in there. I have it pretty organized by shelf so I know all the meals are on one shelf and I see them every time I open the door. I don’t have a specific system though.

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  9. Olga

    11/09/2016

    I wish I could do freezer cooking too. 🙁
    Either my recipes don’t work for this purpose, or we’re too picky, but we never seem to like flavor, texture and specific “after freezer” taste and smell…
    Besides seasonal berries and fruits for smoothies I don’t really freeze food. I do freeze raw meat and poultry, of course, because I like to buy meat on bulk and divide it to small portions.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — we have friends who claim to be “freezer food snobs” and won’t eat frozen meals at all. They are picky too, and they own it!

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  10. Karen

    11/09/2016

    The only thing I’ve started doing that has been a game~ changer for me is buying ground turkey and ground beef in bulk and cooking it all up and freezing it in individual Ziplocs. I freeze them flat so they thaw fairly fast. I’m going to use some of your tips……I like the idea of freezing half my baked goods right away. If you’ve discussed this before ~ sorry to ask again ~ but how do you freeze your onions and peppers? They always smell up my freezer Also do you freeze your cookie dough in one container or do you make balls first? Thanks Andrea!

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    Andrea Reply:

    YES! Freezing pre-cooked, pre-portioned me is my all-time favorite way to save time and energy in the kitchen. I ALWAYS have bags of cooked ground beef, sausage, shreded chicken, etc. in the freezer for a quick casserole, pasta dish, or soup.

    As for onions and peppers, I just cup them up and put them in a freezer bag. I’ve never had an issue with the smell (and I have a really sensitive nose). Not sure why though. I usually use yellow onions — not sure if that would make any difference.

    And for the cookie dough, I just freeze it in the big yogurt containers because 1 yogurt tub makes exactly 2 sheets of cookies for us 🙂

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    Susan Reply:

    Karen – regarding the smelly onions and peppers, we have always had the same problem, and I CANNOT stand that smell/taste! I used to double freezer bag them. I would always re-use the same outside freezer bag once we ate all the onions, but use a new freezer bag to put in newly chopped/sliced onions/peppers. Now, I have a few designated Tupperware containers (real Tupperware I got at a yard sale for cheap!) that I only use for peppers and onions in the freezer. We freeze them in layers with wax paper between making it easy to grab just a few out to use without them sticking together. Hope this is helpful!

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  11. Jo

    11/09/2016

    Thank you so much for this post!! I was just thinking about this last week and debating if massive freezer meals would be worthwhile to implement with my lifestyle and you cleared it up for me!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — glad to give you you answer 🙂

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  12. Christine from The (mostly) Simple Life

    11/09/2016

    I’ve done some big freezer cooking sessions. Not huge, but if I get tons of energy, I’ll do 3 or 4 recipes and it only takes a few hours.

    Mostly I do things like you, though. I double recipes and freeze some.

    Actually, since it’s just the two of us, I’ll divide my lasagna recipe into two small square pans instead of making a whole 9×13 pan (which we could never eat before it goes bad) and freeze one.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I also divide up the lasagna because even with 5 of us, it takes a while to eat a full pan of lasagna!

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  13. Tammy

    11/09/2016

    What cookie dough recipe do you freeze? Do you freeze little balls of dough? Do you thaw them out before baking them? Does baking time have to be adjusted?
    Thanks!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I freeze any and all cookie dough — just in a big container, I don’t take the time to roll it into balls.

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  14. Jamie

    11/09/2016

    I’ve never done a massive freezer cooking day either, but always have a handful of meals or partial meals in the freezer by doing your method. I’m now getting ready for Baby #4 and have a goal of getting at least 30 meals in the freezer — by doubling meals a few times a week or putting leftovers in the freezer, our grocery budget has hardly noticed a difference and it hasn’t been any more work on my part. Win win!

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — congrats on baby #4! I know you’ll appreciate your meals and goodies in the freezer!

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