Longtime readers know I always like to say that the key to avoiding processed food is planning ahead, and I’ll admit that my backup freezer is often an essential part of that equation. But even if you don’t have an extra freezer, making better use of your existing freezer (do you really know what all is in there?) could make real food much more realistic. And by that I mean getting dinner on the table fast!
“Freezer cooking” is really not a new term, but when it’s used, probably many of you think of all things casserole-y. Casserole recipes often include those condensed cream soups and other processed foods that we’re all trying to avoid, which is why I’m excited to share some up-to-date tips and advantages of homemade freezer cooking in today’s sponsored post, inspired by our longtime partner (and friend!) Once A Month Meals. They’ve got great advice on how to pull together a variety of wholesome freezer meals that will be ready in a jiffy on those busy week nights or when you just don’t feel like cooking (it happens to the best of us!).
What is Once A Month Meals (OAMM)?
In a nutshell, OAMM helps you fill your freezer by creating monthly menus out of seasonal recipes that you cook all in one day. You can read our review of their service here.
OAMM gives you all of the resources to make this experience easier than you may think; sure you will have to spend extra time on your cooking day/weekend, BUT there are lots of benefits to be had by cooking ahead of time:
- Control the Ingredients
This is a big one. Not only can you be selective about what ingredients you include, but more so about what you DON’T include. Substitute whole grains where white pastas and such may have otherwise been used; choose local/grass-fed meat, organic vegetables, and natural sweeteners instead of the alternatives.
Often times if you were to select a frozen meal, even from a trusted store (like Whole Foods Market), they will include a laundry list of ingredients that simply are not necessary. By preparing your own wholesome freezer meal, you’ll know exactly what is going into it and where it is from, and I guarantee it will taste much better. Plus I know that those who have family members with food sensitivities or allergies are singing the praises here. It’s easy to remove gluten, dairy, nuts and other allergens. They even have a handy-dandy Allergen Menu.
- Control the Packaging
In an effort to reduce waste and also keep your food free from potential environmental contaminants, you can choose to freeze your prepared foods in glass, reusable foil pans, or bags (which do stack nicely and allow for use of lots of nooks and crannies).
- Control the Portion Size
Have you ever noticed how expensive frozen meals really are? To feed a family, you almost need to buy quite a few for one meal! When you make your own, you can adjust the quantity accordingly. I often like to double recipes (while I’m at it) just so that I have more foods I can stash in my freezer. They make great additions to my girls’ lunches and are also fantastic to pull out in a pinch. On the flip side, if you are only cooking for one or two people, OAMM makes it easy for you to cook and package single servings, too. For those watching portion sizes, this can also come in handy.
Once A Month Meals is offering a discount for 100 Days of Real Food readers (you!) which expires on 4/20/2015. The code is “100DAYS” and it’s good for 25% off the initial purchase of a membership (monthly or yearly).
A Few “Freezer Cooking” Recipes (to get you started!)
Top 10 Recipes (in no particular order)
- Copycat Amy’s Kitchen Mattar Paneer
- Copycat Kashi Soaked Multigrain Waffles
- Copycat Trader Joes Chili Lime Chicken Burgers
- Copycat Kashi Lemongrass Coconut Chicken
- Copycat Smart Ones Fire Roasted Vegetable Soup
- Copycat Amy’s Mexican Tamale Pie
- Mock Annie Chun’s Asian Chicken and Noodle Bowls
- Creamy Tomato Soup
- Family Approved Skillet Mac and Cheese
- Crispy Coconut Chicken Strips
Have you tried freezer cooking yet? We’d love to hear your comments and tips below!