Keeping track of what’s in your freezer and how long it’s been there is key to freezer cooking
One of the worst experiences for a busy mom is to open her freezer and wonder what is in a container and how long has it been there. Creating freezer meals requires a huge investment in time and groceries. The last thing you want to do is throw food away because it is too old or you don’t know how old it is. A critical piece of successful freezer cooking is efficient freezer management. You must keep track of what is in your freezer, the date it was frozen, and to use the oldest meals first. Without a good job of freezer management, freezer cooking can quickly lead to frustration. Freezer management has two major components, the freezer list and container marking.
A freezer list must contain three columns, the food type, the date it was frozen and the quantity. It’s easier to make the list on a computer but a hand written list works fine. Even if you make the list on the computer, print out a copy and fasten it to the front of the freezer for quick updates. Even with the best intentions, it is unrealistic to expect that you will always immediately get on the computer and update the list. Attach a pen or pencil to the freezer. As soon as you take something out of the freezer, change the quantity on the list. If you use the last of an item, make sure to cross the item off on the list. When, you make another batch of freezer meals, add them to the bottom of the list. It is important to add them to the bottom with the new date so that you can immediately recognize older items that need to be used next. If you made a new batch of meatballs and still had some left from a previous cooking session, it might seem easier to just update the quantity. However, that quickly gets confusing. By having separate entries you know the date of the meatballs that you want to use next. When planning the next week’s menu, you can focus on meals that are at the top of the list.
The second part of freezer management is marking your bag or container with a marker that will stand up to the freezer environment. It is important to include the type of food and the date that it was prepared. When you are tired after a long session of cooking, it is easy to skip this final step. A good idea is to go ahead and mark the bags and containers early in the session, before you fill them.
Every several months, you need to update your list and print a new copy. This is a great time to review what dishes you want to continue to prepare. If you quickly used all of a certain dish, it probably is either very popular with your family or one that provides a busy mom an especially convenient preparation and clean up. It should definitely stay on the rotation. A meal that is at the top of the list and not used means that you often didn’t choose to put it on your menu. Consider why and decide if it is a meal that should be dropped from your freezer cooking rotation. Meals that are in the middle might be alternated with a new recipe that you have tried and your family enjoys.
Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.
Please be aware that some links used are to affiliates. They are almost always to products I use and love.