Saturday, December 5, 2009

Nesting: Filling the Freezer

I much prefer posts with pictures, so here's a photo of a nest that Grandpa and Grandma found recently and brought over to show the girls. I'm in full "nesting" mode lately (in between naps). One thing I've been trying to do is stock up my freezer as much as possible. We have a chest freezer that we didn't have when either of the girls were babies, so this is my first time really stocking it with meals.

An easy way to fill the freezer is to simply make double of anything you are cooking that can be frozen. We've been eating easy meals lately like spaghetti or eggs and toast which don't really need to be frozen. When I do have something on the menu like chili, soup, or a casserole, its simple enough to double it and freeze half. If I'm making a 9x13 casserole, I can either make two full pans, or make two 8x8s from the one recipe. We like having lots of leftovers, so I usually do two full pans and freeze one.

For a casserole type dish, I sometimes use disposable foil pans (that I wash and reuse). I also have a few extra glass pans that I've collected; these get covered with plastic wrap and then foil on top of that. Chili or chicken pot pie filling goes in a plastic freezer bag (after the food is cooled off). I also use canning jars and plastic lids for freezing things in. Remember to label your dishes with what's inside, the date, and simple baking instructions (350 for 35 minutes, etc). I also find it helpful to keep a list on the refrigerator door of what I currently have in the freezer.

Our freezer was already a bit full with blueberries, strawberries, diced tomatoes, and other summer produce, but I did manage to fit some meals in. If you're looking for ideas, here's what I have frozen so far:

tofu pasta shells - tofu, spinach, and lots of cheese stuffed in jumbo pasta shells and covered with spaghetti sauce and more cheese
taco meat
cooked ground meat - I do this all the time, brown a pound of meat and then only use half of it for spaghetti and freeze the other half
chicken pot pie - freeze the filling and a shell, assemble and bake when needed
frozen pizzas from the grocery store (shhhh...)
a couple kinds of muffins
black beans - rehydrate and cook the beans and then portion out and freeze
freezer jam - this is very easy to make and the girls love it
a few casseroles my mother in law brought over
extra bread dough

I still need to make another batch of chicken stock. I divide the stock into large canning jars and put the meat right in there with the broth so that when I make soup I just have to add the veggies, noodles, and some more broth. One chicken makes 4 or 5 jars and I use those to make a large pot of soup so it goes a long way. I'll have to blog about this next time I do it, it makes the best soup.

Anything else that I cook in the next few weeks will probably get doubled and frozen if I can find the room to stuff it in there. I also freeze things like cookies, granola bars, pancakes, etc. Even after the baby comes I'll continue doubling meals and freezing them just because its nice to have something ready to go for those days I don't feel like cooking. In the summer this doesn't work as well because we eat more salads and fresh veggies, but winter foods seem to freeze well. Its also nice to have a freezer meal on hand to take to a friend if a need arises.

Do you have any other freezer tips to share? Favorite freezer meals? Ways to package frozen dishes for the freezer? Please share!


  1. I love freezing meals.

    Usually once a month a take a day and cook away - chili in the crock pot, ground beef and potatoes, soup, meatloaf, meatballs etc etc etc. :)

    One of my favorites to freeze is shepherd's pie - I freeze same way you do with the aluminum tins, but you can get family size and individual servings - so if my husband works late and wants something or I'm working and he wants to eat on his own they're great!

    I enjoyed reading your blog.

  2. I love freezer cooking so much that I have a category devoted to it on my blog (here) - my favorites are casseroles, but I do big batches of everything - chicken, hamburger, beans, etc. - so if I want to make something not in the freezer already, I have a few steps out of the way. Happy nesting! :>)