Twofer – an unexpected freezer surplus

Last month I tried my own version of a freezer cooking day thanks to inspiration from Money Saving Mom and Life as Mom. I found lots of chicken breasts, ham and ground beef on sale, so I cooked that up and froze it in meal sized portions. Now it’s the end of the month and I still have a lot of chicken, beef, and ham in my freezer. I think it might actually last us most of March. I didn’t realize I had put so much away. Bonus.

Here are my lessons learned:

  • Do not chop and freeze six pound of onions thinking it will save you time. Just because they sell chopped frozen onions in the store doesn’t mean it will work at home. What I wound up with after all that chopping was watery bags of mushy onion that tasted and smelled really weird. I ruined two dishes with them before I threw the rest away. I’m not that upset at the cost, since I got all six pounds for under $2, but I really regret the chopping time invested! From now on I’ll just buy the frozen chopped onions or chop them as needed.
  • Freezing pizza dough didn’t save me time or wind up working very well. When I tried to freeze pizza dough I wound up with gigantic blobs of dough taking up space in the freezer. One of them exploded out of the freezer bag, and the second one exploded out of the plastic wrap but didn’t quite break the freezer bag. Neither tasted very great after being frozen and thawed. Moreover, homemade pizza is my go-to quick meal, and it’s not quick to have to take dough out of the freezer and wait around for it to thaw. I’d rather just make it as I need it – it’s super quick and easy.
  • I need a better way of keeping track of what’s in my freezer. I have a ton of stuff piled up everywhere in there – pumpkin puree, frozen vegetables, frozen produce from our garden last summer, chicken stock, random casseroles I didn’t label (oops), and all sorts of other things I can’t see because other stuff is piled on top. Worse, I have never defrosted the freezer (oops) so it’s got about an inch of ice along the walls. As soon as it’s warm I need to do a big clean out, thaw out, reorganization!

If you do the freezer cooking/once a month cooking thing, what are your favorite things to make? What always holds up well in the freezer? Are there other recipe components besides meats that you find easy to prep in advance?

8 thoughts on “Twofer – an unexpected freezer surplus

  1. I am with you on needing a better way to track what's in my freezer. Right now it's just a big black hole and one of my goals for March is to get it cleaned out & organized and figure out what I've got so I can use things up.

    I actually love to have onions in the freezer because my husband is much more likely to cook something that needs onions if he doesn't have to chop them. I've heard that if you blanch them first they freeze well, but I've never tried that.

    Instead I go ahead and saute them in olive oil or butter (or a mix) and then portion them out. I keep the seasonings to just salt & pepper so that they can go into anything and when I freeze them so that the bag is flat & they're in a thin layer, they defrost very quickly.

    It is a big pain the days I have my onion chopping/cooking marathons, but always so worth it for us.

  2. You sliced those onions in the processor, right? That might be the problem. See, if I'm chopping an onion, but don't need the whole thing, I chop it all anyways (with my knife) and put the extra in the freezer. I've never had the problem you mentioned. So, it could just be the method you're using, not the whole concept.

  3. I keep a list on the side of my fridge of freezer meals I have available. I also try to stack them in the freezer in such a way that it's easy to find them without having to dig around.

    I completely understand the onion mess. Been there, done that. I'd much rather just chop a few in my food processor and keep them in the fridge for the week. I think that peppers on sale are great to chop and freeze. Also, I buy big cans of diced tomatoes and sauce at Sam's and break them down into smaller portions and freeze those. That works out well and saves lots of money.

    I'm a big fan of freezing baked goods like breads and muffins. Those are nice to have on hand. Never defrost them in the bag, though, or they'll be a mushy mess.

  4. Sheila, I hadn't considered sauteeing the onion in advance, good idea!

    Thia, I did slice them in the food processor, but they weren't soupy when I did it, it's like they went mushy at some point between getting chopped (I used the food processor attachment that does slices) and getting thawed. I'm wondering if my onions might have been at fault. Good to know you've had good results!

    Monica, how do you wrap breads and muffins you freeze? I've had trouble with freezer burn on bread and with muffins getting an odd consistency. Maybe I should double wrap them?

  5. I'm not Monica, but I also freeze baked goods all the time and only had trouble with freezer burn on one loaf that got lost in the back of the freezer for a year.

    For quick breads, I wrap the loaf first in wax paper and tape it so it stays tight around the loaf. Then I put it into a freezer bag and and careful to get as much air out as possible. They've lasted 6 months in the freezer this way.

    For yeast loaves, I just put it directly into the freezer bag, but I've always used them within 2 – 3 months so I'm not sure what their upper limit is.

    Muffins I put into a shallow gladware/tupperware/whatever is empty container and freeze. They last for a month or two at the most since there is so much more air around them. I'm too lazy to try and wrap them up individually, but if I wasn't and I really wanted to protect them I'd flash freeze them and then wrap in wax paper and stash in a freezer bag.

    Really, I'm not trying to hijack your comments or anything. I just love using my freezer to make my life easier. 🙂

  6. I freeze chopped onions all the time. I just spread them out on a cookie sheet and then once they are frozen, I break them up and put them in a freezer bag.

    For pizza dough, I actually bake the crust first and then store it in an unscented trash bag in the freezer. I wouldn't do this long term, but I haven't had any problems with freezer burn, and I usually use it within a few weeks.

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