Last Updated on June 22, 2018

I don’t know about you, but there are some days at our home when life whizzes by so quickly and all of a sudden it’s 5 p.m. and dinner isn’t even a figment of my imagination. For most people, the fallback is to call and order takeout or run and get something at the grocery store at the last minute.

But this is stressful and expensive, not to mention unhealthy. There must be a better solution!

For me, the solution to the 5 p.m. “What’s for dinner?” panic is called “freezer cooking.” If I forgot to pull something out from the freezer earlier in the day, I can just pick a meal from my freezer stash that defrosts quickly — such as meatballs.

I can pair this with some frozen veggies, rice, and maybe a fruit salad. No one even has to know I forgot about dinner until 30 minutes before it was supposed to happen!

When I first tried my hand at this thing called freezer cooking, I immediately fell in love with it. I spent less time in the kitchen cooking, I spent less time washing dishes, and I always had food at-the-ready.

In the beginning, I spent entire days in the kitchen, making dozens of meals over the course of a day or two. It was a beautiful thing to stock my freezer for the month — in just the course of a number of hours.

But it was a big time commitment. And, as time marched on, our family grew, and the demands on my time increased.

As a result, I found that it was no longer quite as feasible to find big blocks of time in our schedule to do full day or half day cooking sessions. I was so committed to freezer cooking that I determined to find a way to make it work.

After some contemplation, I decided to try doing mini half-hour or one-hour freezer cooking sessions once a week. To my delight, I found it worked wonderfully for us! It wasn’t too hard to find a shorter time slot each week to do some extra cooking and baking, it wasn’t exhausting like my marathon cooking sessions had been, and it was a lot easier to clean up from when I was done!

While I might not be making 20 or 30 meals at a time, by devoting an hour each week to cook food for the freezer, we always have some meals in the freezer for those busy days when I don’t have time or energy for cooking. And truly, I’ve been amazed at how much I can do in one hour of focused cooking in the kitchen!

No matter how busy you are, I’m positive you could find 30 minutes or an hour each week to cook or bake a few extra things to stick in your freezer. I promise the work will be every bit worth it — especially the next time you realize that it’s 5 p.m. and you’ve don’t have anything planned for dinner!

What makes the hour before dinner easier for you?


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  1. Will you please share some of your recipes?

    1. Kelli, Crystal has a TON of freezer friendly recipes on her recipe page – http://moneysavingmom.com/recipes I’ve had a lot of fun trying those out and my family is in love with the BBQ meatballs! Blessings, Katie

  2. I make a double recipe of everything I make for dinner. Then I freeze what we don’t eat (one of the batches or half of what I made). That way I’m adding no additional time to anything, but I always have food in the freezer. if I’m making something that doesn’t have “batches” like a roast beef or something, I’ll often make a lot of side dishes such as potatoes, and salad, and cooked veggies so that half of the roast beef will be left over. Then I can freeze the roast beef and left over gravy to make hot roast beef sandwiches for supper another time.

    1. I do the same thing Carla Anne. If I buy a large family pack of meat, I will cook all of it and freeze half. I always make a double batch of rice and freeze half to make my own microwave rice bags (these are great!). Lately, I have been making 2 extra meals on the weekend since we have 2 nights during the week that we get home late from afterschool activities. So far, just by doing this it has been a life saver and money saver! I’m hoping to try to find more time to do a bit more freezer cooking. I’m looking forward to trying some of your recipes. Thanks!

      1. Jen, Ok, now you have to tell me how you make the microwave rice bags. What kind of bags do you use?

        1. I bought the Brown Rice frozen bags from Trader Joe’s several years ago, and in reading the ingredients and doing a little research, I discovered that all it really is is cooked brown rice, tossed with a little olive oil to keep it from clumping together. Amazing! I hope that helps! (I freeze it in quart-size freezer bags, then just dump it out into a glass bowl that has a lid to microwave for a few minutes.)

  3. I love preparing things for the freezers that are not exactly full freezer meals but can help make meals in a hurry. Often I will buy a family pack of chicken breasts and cook them all up at once, then after they are cooled I will cut them into bite size pieces and place on cook sheets to freeze in the freezer for about 1 hour. When the pieces are firm I then place them all in a freezer bag to throw into casseroles or on top of pizzas or heat and place on top of a salad. I have also as of late made triple batches of cookies and frozen cookie balls in this similar manner then when we want a fresh batch off cookies I just have to thaw and cook. I love my freezer.

  4. I had never tried freezer cooking before until I started following your blog (Money Saving Mom) almost 2 years ago! I’m still fine tuning the process and meals we like most often from the freezer but it is my number 1 way to speed up the dinner hour. 🙂 My favorites that typically live in the freezer are: shredded chicken, cooked ground beef, beans, rice and hamburgers. With cans of tomatoes and chicken broth stocked in the pantry, and refrigerator staples like milk and plain yogurt, I can easily come up with a meal in that my family will enjoy.

  5. I LOVE cooking extra foods for the freezer. I never brown just enough burger for one meal – always two or three…and rice…and spaghetti sauce…and….One of my favorite things to put in the freezer is grilled burgers or chicken. If you steam them to heat them up, they taste just like they came off the grill. Another favorite is shredded chicken and sloppy Joe’s. With homemade buns in the freezer, these meals take only minutes to heat up. I can’t remember the last time we had to get a takeout or a boxed food to have a quick meal.

  6. I work outside the home in a full time job so I really dont have time to dedicate to this so what I tend to do is to make double the amount of something Im cooking, and freeze it, ready to be used on another meal another day. Sure makes life much easier!

  7. Thank you for this. Those posts are what encouraged me to start freezer cooking, that it was possible without a huge time commitment. My husband and I have just started Sunday freezer cooking. We made Turkey meatballs (http://www.1plus1equals9.com/?p=111) last week and they were amazing. So versitile. Thanks again.