Packed restaurants, drive-thru lines so long they back up traffic, and grocery stores hawking ready-to-eat meals all point to the hectic nature of modern family life. Who has time to cook a meal every night while juggling work, kidsâ€™ homework and activities, and other household chores? You do, if you â€œshopâ€ from your freezer every day.
Freezer cooking is the art of assembling meals ahead of time and freezing them so that theyâ€™re ready and waiting when you need a meal. It ranges from dumping raw ingredients into a freezer bag to assembling and cooking an entire casserole that just needs to be reheated. While freezer cooking may seem daunting, it really isn’t, and it can benefit your family by reducing stress, saving money, and improving your familyâ€™s nutrition.
You know the drill. You walk in the door with your brain still at work and your hungry kids in tow. You try to figure out what to do for dinner while unloading backpacks with an exhausted, whiny toddler attached to your leg. Frustrated and overwhelmed, you pull that package of chicken nuggets out of the freezer and search for some baby carrots to throw on the plate. You can avoid this stress by freezer cooking. With freezer cooking, meal planning is done in advance, and you donâ€™t have to make last-minute runs to the grocery store. If you forget to take something out to thaw, it’s no big deal; thatâ€™s what microwaves are for.
Prepared food and restaurant meals are expensive. Prices for home-cooked meals are going up as well, especially meat. Freezer cooking lets you stock up on meat when itâ€™s on sale without having to eat the same thing every day for the next two weeks. If boneless, skinless chicken breasts are on sale for $1.99, you can fill up your cart, prepare a variety of recipes, and freeze them so that you can spread them out rather than eating all of that chicken at once. The same is true of warehouse clubs. Sure, they may have a great price on ground beef, but can your family eat that much? Yes, it can. Use some for spaghetti sauce, some for taco meat, and some for your familyâ€™s favorite casserole. The bottom line is, you can take advantage of sale and warehouse prices without getting bored.
Freezer cooking reduces the temptation to swing by your kidsâ€™ favorite fast-food joint or to take a shortcut with commercially prepared meals. Youâ€™re still getting a ready-to-go meal without having to shop and cook at the end of a busy day, but you get to control the nutritional content. Whether a family member has special dietary needs or you just prefer wholesome food, you can serve nutritious meals with no hassle.
If you feel a little intimidated at the thought of preparing a lot of meals at once, do a soft start. Next time you make your familyâ€™s favorite meal, triple the recipe and freeze two portions. The first time you go to the freezer and grab a delicious meal you donâ€™t have to prepare from scratch, youâ€™ll be hooked.