Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Once-a-month Freezer Cooking? I Think Not

In theory, I love the notion of once a month freezer cooking.  If you're not familiar with the concept, you basically prepare a month's worth of meals, typically about 10-15 different dishes in one day dedicated to nothing else but this Herculean feat.  Then, all month, you have worry free meals.  Just pop something out of the freezer and prepare as directed.

Unfortunately, there are about a billion reasons why I've found that this doesn't work for me.  Here are my top ten:

10.  I like fresh food too much.  There are very, very few foods that taste as good to me after they've been frozen as they do fresh without further preparation.  I can actually think of two dinner type dishes that meet that vital criteria: meatballs and pasties.  Sure there are tons of things in my freezers, but they are all ingredients in something else rather than a finished product.  I'm ever hopeful of finding more and plan on trying a bunch of new recipes over the winter to expand my prepared food freezer stock.

9.  It isn't as thrifty.  When you make all your meals at once like this, you typically buy all the ingredients for the big cooking day the night before.  This means you can't take full advantage of sales throughout the month.

8.  It's too painful.  Long hours on one's feet with limited moving about and endless hours of chopping or other tedious tasks is not my idea of a good time.  It is fine doing all these things in moderation though, which is why I have no problem cooking just about every day.

7.  I don't have the kitchen space.  I have virtually no counter space to work on.  It is a struggle sometimes to put together one meal in the space I have to work in.  Doing about a dozen would be darn near impossible.

Lots of stuff in my freezers, but nothing ready to eat for dinner!
6.  I don't have the freezer space.  One of the books I've read on once a month cooking claims that, even if you don't have a chest freezer, you still should have enough freezer space.  Obviously this book was not written by any sort of homesteader, gardener, or hunter.  There are no old, freezer burnt, forgotten mystery packages in my freezer taking up much needed space as one author suggested was likely the case.  There are a ton of fresh frozen fruits and vegetables from this summers adventures, as well as some acorns that are waiting to be processed, and bags of venison and chicken that will provide my family with our meat for the next few months, possibly the whole year.

5.  TOO MUCH PLANNING!  In order to coordinate that many meals, that far ahead of time, to make sure that every last ingredient is available in the quantities required, especially since I'd have to be doing it all with three little ones in tow....is it any wonder I referred to this entire process as Herculean?  And, despite rumors to the contrary, I'm not a demigod, so I tend to avoid tasks of that magnitude.

4.  The meals for the month aren't varied enough.  Sometimes, I don't want to duplicate a meal for a couple months.  I have enough meal recipes in current rotation, that I could easily go several months without repetition if I wanted.  And sometimes I do want.  Thirty meals would be too many to cook in one day though, so by doing this once a month cooking process, you are committing to duplication throughout the month.

3.  The meals for the month are too varied.  Sometimes, I want to act like a little kid and eat the same thing lots of times in one month.  With once a month cooking, you are committing to only eat those meals that certain number of times a month.  When they are gone, they're gone!

2.  Kids.  There is no way I can do even the smallest task without a million interruptions (amusingly enough, they interrupted me writing that sentence!), so I know there is no way I could accomplish that large of task in one day!

1.  If I did, by some miracle, have a day without kids, I wouldn't want to spend it cooking.  I'd want to spend it doing something I almost never do, like sit down and relax!

This isn't to say I don't do any cooking for the freezer; I just don't do it all at once.  Instead, I do a little at a time.  When I make something that freezes well, like pasties or meatballs, I make a mega-batch.  We eat some then and freeze the rest for future use, whether that be a few days or a few months later.  Much simpler, much easier, and much more possible with kids!


  1. I like to make gargantuan versions of pretty much everything I cook. That way if people show up unexpectedly (gee, like last night! lol) I have plenty of food to go around. Then extras go in the freezer with the name of it and the date it was made written on the side. Then, some night when I'd rather chew my leg off than cook, I can pull out that delicious chili or the incredible goulash I made last week.

    It helps a lot during times like right now, too, where we're eating a LOT of chicken because it's cheap and we can get local stuff. I try to get at least one beef dish and one fish dish into us per week, but it doesn't always happen (though tomorrow is beef pot roast night, YUM).

  2. I have a friend who does this. She goes "in" with a couple other ladies, they rent a couple hours at a local commercial kitchen and they make enough for their families of the dishes they like and are good at, then they swap some to try new things. It works for her, but I agree it a bit rigid for me.

  3. I'm with you, I'd rather just freeze the ingredients and make something of them. I also have a terrible time with meal planning in general, even for one week, so I can't imagine trying to do a whole month of meals. And really a lot of the meals I've tried to freeze don't taste great when they come out of the freezer. Chili and soups work great, but I've not had much luck with other things.

  4. I tend to do the majority of my prep work for the week, not the month. Like you, I enjoy too much of my food fresh to really get much out of the concept of freezer cooking. But weekly? That works for me. In about four hours I can have all the veggies for the week chopped, and a couple dishes prepped for those fast-moving days when I don't have time to cook. Works good for me, and even better, the kids like to help, so I get to spend time with them while teaching necessary skills.