Our theme this February is Love Your Freezer! Jessica Fisher, our guest expert and the author of Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook and Good Cheap Eats, is one of the savviest people we know when it comes to the freezer. She's sharing her best tips this month to help us save money, save time, and love our freezers more!— Faith & The Kitchn Team
I’ve been cooking independently (not in my parents' home) for about twenty-five years. I’ve been a young college student, a newlywed, a high school teacher, and the mom of one, two, three… six children. While I don’t consider myself old, thank you very much, I guess I’ve spent a good amount of time in the kitchen.
Even before I moved away from home, the kitchen was one of my favorite places. Whether I was baking with my grandmother or helping my mom prep dinner for our large family, the kitchen was my happy place. And over time, my freezer has become one of my most beloved possessions.
Years ago, I called my husband sobbing. All he understood was that someone had died. Close! The GFI had tripped and killed power to the freezer. Everything was thawed and ruined.
The home freezer, that miraculous invention of the 1940s, was the place my Gramma John stored surplus vegetables from her summer garden; Aunt Peggy’s freezer had a never-ending supply of Otter Pops. My dad stored the vodka and his beer mugs in the freezer. Clearly, this household appliance can serve a multitude of purposes.
For me, it’s been a tool to help me save time, money, and to have a bit more peace of mind. Over the years my home freezer, whether the itty-bitty thing beside my refrigerator compartment or the deep freeze in the garage, has served me well. Here’s why.
I save time.
Through freezer cooking, I can stash a variety of home cooked meals and meal components to enjoy at a later date. I ensure that the meals are nut-safe for my daughter’s allergy as well as tailor each recipe to suit my family’s tastes and my ingredient standards. Those are hard things to come by in the frozen food aisle.
Currently I have three batches of taco meat, four bags of cooked chicken, four bags of marinated chicken, two batches of beef stew, and four dinners' worth of bolognese. These will make some great, quick meals in the month to come, saving me a ton of time shopping and cooking.
I save money.
Buying and cooking in bulk can save me a bundle, in part thanks to lower per unit costs on bulk items, but also because we don’t eat out when we have meals ready to go. Freezer cooking helps our family eat well – at home — and spend less.
In addition to my homemade meals, I use the freezer to help me stockpile good deals that I see. That might be a great sale on chicken breast or a killer deal on produce. I can turn in-season apples and pumpkins bought on sale into pies, sauce, and puree. My freezer helps me load up on the items we know we’ll use but don’t want to pay full pop for later on when we have a craving for grilled chicken or apple pie.
I have more peace of mind.
I’m not a prepper by any means, but I do feel better when I know we’ve got food in the house. Whether it’s illness, a dip in income, or simply I-don’t-wanna-go-shopping that might come our way, I’m prepared having a stash of meals and meal components in the freezer. I have an answer when a child asks, “What’s for dinner?” I can easily share with a neighbor in need. Heck, I can take a night off cooking!
My freezer is my faithful friend in the kitchen. It helps me feed my family well on a budget and pinch hits on dinner whenever I need it to.
This month I'll be sharing some of my personal strategies and best practices for saving money and time with the freezer. Some will be better suited to those of you with space in a deep freezer; others will apply to any size of freezer or household. And if you have specific topics you'd like to see covered, ask away!