Freezer Cooking Guide: Tools for Successful Freezer Cooking
To be successful with freezer cooking it's important to have the right tools. Some of these things you likely already have; others you may need to purchase in order to make your freezer cooking go as smoothly as possible.
1. The Right Freezer — Although you can use the freezer over your refrigerator, it may be difficult to fit a lot of food in there. We like to purchase meat in bulk, and we also freeze fruits and vegetables during the growing season, so our freezer tends to not have much room left over for freezing meals. We purchased a frost-free freezer from Sears so that we would have room for all of our bulk purchases and bulk cooking sessions. You could try searching on Craigslist for a used one, but I recommend getting a frost-free freezer. We had one that was not frost free, and got really tired of defrosting it all the time!
2. Large Bowls — When you are preparing food in bulk, your job will be much, much easier if you have large bowls in which to mix your food. Shoot for at least a 32 cup mixing bowl.
3. Large Pots — If you're going to cook large amounts of food, you'll need large pots in which to cook it! 16 qts. is a good size; although you may like having more than one.
4. Freezer Bags — Freezing food in bags and laying them down flat is a good way to optimize freezer space. Just make sure you are using freezer bags, and not just plain plastic ziptop bags. The freezer bags are much thicker and will prevent freezer burn.
5. Glass Baking Pans — If you're going to double, triple, or quadruple a casserole recipe, you'll need enough pans in which to cook it! You can buy disposable aluminum pans, or just invest in several glass baking pans that you can use over and over. (If you want to have meals in the freezer that you can take to sick or bereaved friends at the last minute, use aluminum so that they won't have to wash dishes or remember to give your pan back.)
6. Permanent marker — You need to label all your food, and a sharpie works best for writing directly on the bags. If you don't want to write directly on something then buy some masking tape, write on that, and stick it to the dish.
7. Quality knives — Don't skimp on the quality of your knives. You want to be able to cut veggies easily and quickly.
8. Two Large Slow Cookers — Use one for a freezer meal and a second one for dinner the night you're cooking all that food for the freezer. You'll thank yourself at dinner time! (I prefer an oval shaped slow cooker, because I can fit larger items in it, such as a long roast.)
9. Ice Cube Trays — Great for freezing left over broth and stock to use in recipes later.
10. Mesh Colander — I prefer mesh for draining since very little other than water can go through.
11. Large Food Processor — If you are going to be chopping large quantities of vegetables, a food processor will make the process go much faster!
12. Cutting Board Set — Having cutting boards dedicated for meat and vegetabes will keep you from contaminating your food.
13. Apron — This is not a necessity, but it's nice to have something clean to wipe your hands on instead of your clothes. Plus, it's fun to put on an apron and get into the mood to cook.
14. Comfortable Shoes — You're going to be standing for a while, so you need to wear something that will keep your feet from aching. I have these and wear them all day, every day without any foot pain. My favorite shoes ever!
Take the time to ensure that you have what you truly need before giving freezer cooking a try. It will be so much easier with the right tools!
Be sure to check out the other posts in the Freezer Cooking Guide: