As I have shared before, my freezer is one of the big secrets to staying on top of things in my kitchen. It helps me keep my budget low, manage my time, and it helps me to always be prepared, a crucial factor in feeding a family and keeping a shared table.
In my previous post, I shared how I use my freezer to keep my budget down by buying in bulk and reducing food waste. Here I am going to share a few more details about how I use the freezer to be ready with a meal in minutes. Honestly, without my chest freezer, it just wouldn’t be sustainable for me to cook for the people I love in the way that I do now. I just wouldn’t have the time to constantly make completely fresh and homemade meals daily.
Whether everyone is just tired and hungry at the end of a long day, or you have unexpected guests, it is always helpful to be able to pull some homemade goodness out of your freezer. In addition to all my bulk ingredients, there are always a few things tucked away in my freezer that make meal prep much easier. These are usually ingredients or meal components that I can mix together on the weekend and then freeze in single or family servings.
Examples can be things like cooked rice, or browned sausage or ground beef. These things can be used in so many ways that they are a great short cut. I also usually have some sliced fruit, ready to become a pie or a smoothie. I almost always have homemade stock available. I make it in the crockpot on days when things are not too crazy and then freeze it by the quart. This saves both time and money because I can through together soups with all the convenience of a container of stock but without the price or weird stuff.
In addition to meal components, I regularly use the axiom of ‘freeze half’ to ensure that I have ready-made meals always at hand. Whenever I cook a big batch meal, I take half of the leftovers and freeze them. Depending on how much food I have, I will either portion them out into individual servings, ‘lunch size’ servings for two, or enough for a meal for the four of us.
One quart of frozen soup is equal to two big bowls and makes a perfect weekend lunch. A tray of pasta is super simple to re-warm for the family. These kinds of things take the pressure off having to cook every meal but prevent my family from turning to convenience foods or the drive-through which have so many more additives, calories, and cost.
Finally, I use the freezer to keep baked goods on standby. People are always impressed when you have homemade cookies or muffins to serve your guests. But generally, right before people come over is not when I want to be baking. So I bake when I have time and inspiration and then freeze the items for when I have someone to share them with.
Quick breads, muffins, and cookies work best, but cakes without icing and unbaked pies are also easy to freeze. So whether I need a dessert for a crowd, some healthy muffins for a playdate, or banana bread for coffee with the girls, something is always waiting in my freezer ready to impress.
My freezer makes it sustainable for me to feed my family and friends, healthy home-cooked meals every day. Without these little hacks, I would be struggling to keep the fresh food coming. I would love to hear any other freezer tricks you may have!