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Cooking for the Freezer..

in Old style MoneySaving
508 replies 100.7K views
Having trawled through many of the so called frugal sites on the net this is something that I keep coming across. The idea is that you buy stuff in bulk and spend just a day cooking an entire months meals which you can freeze to bring out later in the month as your own ready-made meals. The claim is that you can halve the monthly food bill.
Now this appeals - not only cos of the money ;) but also because with a 1 yo and a 3 yo I often have to break off cooking tea to separate them forcibly and something I could bung in the oven and leave would therefore be a good idea.
Before I go the whole hog and end up with an entire months worth of spag bol because I've run out of inspiration does anyone out there do this kind of thing?


  • MagentasueMagentasue Forumite
    4.2K Posts
    I used to do it more than I do now. I'd make sixty pasties on a Sunday or a dozen apple crumbles because my friend had an apple tree and used to give me boxes of windfalls that had to be used up. Now there are six of us, it's more like making double and freezing one. I like the idea of easy meals but I also like freshly cooked meals! The nearest I get now is spending all day Sunday filling up the cake tins and having the pastry rolled out and in tins for a flan on Monday and a lasagne sitting in the fridge for Tuesday.
  • I used to 'cook for the freezer' more than I do now, as I'm a SAHM, but I often used to cook big batches and freeze stuff in portions. I used to do:


    This may sound like a small list, but by varying the ingedients, this list can be quite expansive ie chicken, beef, prawn or veggie curries or casseroles.

    Soups can also be frozen, as can things like lasagne, canneloni, althought these latter ones need proper dishes to freeze in, where as the others can be frozen in bags.

    If you use shop bought cook-in sauces, try freezing chicken or meat in the size of portion you will need, already cut up if necessary. That way, you can just defrost, pour over a sauce and bung in the oven. You can also pre-cook and freeze your rice.

    Why don't you take a wander around the frozen food section at your local supermarket and see what's on offer, then go home, cook your own, bag/plate it up and freeze it. I have to say though, cooking for a whole month for a family is a daunting task. I'd rather do it in smaller quantities, certainly to start with.
  • Liz19Liz19 Forumite
    673 Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    I do try and do this. I usually have spaghetti bolognese, chilli, fish pie and shepherds pie cooked and in the freezer but it would be nice to know what others do because it is easy to get in a rut and make the same things all the time. It is very satisfying to spend a day cooking and fill the freezer, it is just a pity that people insist on eating it!!!:)
  • Anne_Marie_2Anne_Marie_2 Forumite
    2.1K Posts
    Like Magentasue, I used to do a lot more few years back, mainly because I was working shifts, although never enough for a whole month! I wouldn't have enough containers to store the meals in, besides some foods do need to be freshly cooked. I always make excess and freeze of things like tomato sauce, spaghetti bol, chilli, curries, dhal and other lentil stews. Also always seem to cook far too much rice, so usually have a portion of that tucked away in the freezer. When I roast veg, I always have extra, so freeze that for additions to anything later on (pasta, pizza, soup). Try to freeze soup, but it's usually gone so quickly, no matter how much I make - and I alway make a massive pot.
    When I make quiche, usually do 2 or 3 and freeze them. Usually buy large roasts, cook and slice, freeze in individual portions, as hubby only one that really eats meat. Also handy when meat eater appears and we are all veggy and no extra to go round another mouth.
    Freeze left over mashed potatoes in individual portions, or enough for the family, must admit I do tend to do a bag of potatoes at a time, as I can't be bothered peeling them all the time.
    When doing pastry or crumble mix, I make extra with just flour and marg rubbed together into fine breadcrumb mixture and freeze in bags. It's handy just to add some water and salt for shortcrust pastry, or sugar for crumble topping, or base for white sauce - I am so lazy sometimes, its dead handy to have it in the freezer, and you can use it straight away.
    Same with breadcrumbs, bag of them lurking in the freezer too, good for bread sauce, toppings.
    As your children are quite young, might be a good idea to freeze some food in ice-cube sized portions, then when frozen bung the ice cubes in a bag. You can use as many as they need. I still do this with somethings like tomato sauce, pesto sauce, gravy from the roast.
    Am sure others will be along soon with loads of good suggestions.
  • tifftiff Forumite
    6.6K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker Savvy Shopper!
    I've never done this but would like to. There wouldnt be enough room in my freezer though, unfortunately. The best I can do is fill my slow cooker right up and freeze the leftovers into portions, also when I do a roast I usually buy a very large joint, use enough for a meal and then freeze into family size portions. I did this with pork and when I took it from the freezer made sweet and sour in literally seconds. If I have leftover spag bol, curry and rice etc, I put both a portion of curry and a portion of rice into the same pot and freeze. That way there is a complete meal in one pot.

    “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” - Dave Ramsey
  • TrowTrow Forumite
    2.3K Posts
    I would imagine people already do this - but just a tip - if you are cooking for dinner *and* the freezer things like soups and casseroles, keep the liquid to a minimum and it takes up less room in the freezer - after you defrost it 'just add water'. My hubby prefers a fairly liquid lentil soup so when he sees the lentil stodge defrosting he recoils in horror ;)

    It also means that your big pan of soup is the equivalent of a big pan and a half - take out the freezer portion and add water for your pan of soup.
  • greenlogogreenlogo Forumite
    231 Posts
    Soups can also be frozen, as can things like lasagne, canneloni, althought these latter ones need proper dishes to freeze in, where as the others can be frozen in bags.

    I've frozen portions of lasagne in bags quite successfully several times - I make it fairly "solid" - fairly heavy on the tomato puree in the bolognese sauce, not very much bechamel sauce and a goodly amount of cheese on the top. Then apportion it up as if you're going to serve it and serve it into freezer bags. Place the freezer bags into box and stick in the freezer. when solid, remove bags from box and you're done.

    Or canneloni, put the bags into the boxes first, so they've a bit of shape.

    Actually, I do this a lot for all sorts of things as it saves having tupperware in the freezer all the time (I'm in a TEENY rental flat atm, so I've no space to store stuff and therefore no stuff, so I've only a couple of bits of tupperware. The rest's in storage until the end of April). Just put the bag (or bags) into a box (opened out, to effectively line the box) and fill with whatever's to be frozen :T

    I actually like the frozen and reheated lasagne even more than the original as the flavour is more concentrated - and it's SO easy to heat up. It also makes for a great and very filling lunch if you've access to a microwave at work - I just put a portion in the fridge the night before and it's defrosted by lunchtime (The fridge at work is unusably smelly, and the fact it's still defrosting when it's sitting under my desk means I'm not worried about giving myself food poisoning...)
    Pre O/S: what's a vitamin? Does it begin with the letter e?Now: I'm not eating any of that pre-made rubbish...
  • MagentasueMagentasue Forumite
    4.2K Posts
    You can freeze dishes like lasagne in dishes that you've lined with foil. When semi-frozen, lift the lasagne out and wrap and freeze as normal. I also freeze things like (uncooked) pasties on baking trays until they're going solid and then put in bags. This way they don't stick together and can be cooked from frozen and turn out like freshly made.
    57 Posts
    I tend to freeze a lot of snack type foods. I always make sure my freezer is stacked up with homemade mince samosas and veg samosas as well as lamb mince kebabs and chicken mince kebabs. I find doing this very convenient as when the kids are hungry I can quickly give them a kebab roll or samosa. It also saves time and effort when you invite people round to eat as you have already got some snack foods prepared.
  • debbymdebbym Forumite
    460 Posts
    KAMRAY wrote:
    I tend to freeze a lot of snack type foods. I always make sure my freezer is stacked up with homemade mince samosas and veg samosas as well as lamb mince kebabs and chicken mince kebabs.

    Oh yum, love samosas and would never have thought of these :T
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