(Effortless) Freezer Cooking

VegetablesPhoto Credit

Written by monthly contributor, Natalie Didlake.

I love having frozen food to pull out in a pinch!

But how and when to get it in the freezer, in the first place?

With a little planning ahead, it’s easy to make a little extra here and there, and stick the extra in the freezer. Soon enough, the freezer will be full of homemade meals! (Or at least meal starters.)

Getting Started

The best thing I did when I got started was to sit down and brainstorm. I thought about all the meals we typically ate, and wrote down what steps I could complete in bulk, and freeze ahead…things like chopping veggies and pre-cooking meat or beans. Now, I can open the freezer nearly any night, and find at least some of my meal prep there, ready to go!

Here are some of my favorite things to keep in the freezer.


Chopping fresh veggies every night for cooking is time consuming! I love having them in my freezer, ready to throw in the pan.

I’ve had success with carrots, celery, green pepper, and onions (double-bag onions so that your ice doesn’t taste oniony!)

Someday, I might even make my own custom, frozen “mixed veggie” bags, for standard dishes in our house.

What to do:

  • Buy in bulk, and plan to freeze, when a veggie is on SALE! I bought green peppers recently for $.35 each! A perfect opportunity to buy and freeze!
  • Peel/chop vegetables in large quantities.
  • Put them in zipper bags and freeze! Break off a chunk when you’re ready to cook.


Having frozen, pre-cooked meat really cuts down on dinner prep time ! Getting it into the freezer doesn’t even require much extra planning or time…just a little extra money up front. I wait to buy extra until I can get it on SALE! Sometimes I can diffuse the cost of the extra meat, by planning other, cheaper meals, like bean dishes or pancakes.

The great part is, once you have a stocked freezer, you won’t have to buy and cook multiple meats in one week…because you will have already have them frozen! You will then only need to buy and cook what needs replenishing.


  • Begin by planning a meal into your weekly menu that uses beef. Buy several extra pounds (like 5 lbs. of ground beef, instead of 1 lb.)
  • Cook, divide, and freeze in zipper bags.

But don’t just cook a bunch of plain ground beef! Think meal prep. Some of my favorite beef meal starters are:

  • Taco-flavored meat
  • Italian sausage
  • Turkey burgers -make and freeze patties
  • Meatballs – separate into 1-meal portions and freeze separately
  • Meatloaf – mix, form, wrap, and freeze. Thaw in fridge 24 hours
  • Stroganoff meat -brown ground beef with onions/mushrooms


We all have our different ways of buying/cooking/serving chicken…but I can’t resist mentioning my new fave way to do chicken. I have started cooking 10-15 lbs of bone-in breast at once, at the beginning of the month! Sometimes I’ll take a bit out to freeze raw, for cooking later. But the rest, I cook, bones and all. From that, I fill my freezer with LOTS of chicken stock, and tons of cooked, shredded chicken. Chicken for the month, done!

Here’s a link to a great how-to if you want more details.

Breakfast Ideas

  • Muffins – Making a double batch, and freezing the extra, is a painless way to stock the freezer. I like to make mini-muffins for breakfast-on-the-go or trips.
  • Pancakes -My husband doesn’t care for thawed, reheated pancakes, but the smaller members of my household could care less! (Especially when they contain chocolate chips.)
  • Yogurt – freeze yogurt in small cups. Thaw for an hour or so, toss in fresh fruit and granola.

Other Meal Starters

  • Pizza – make multiple pizza crusts, wrap extras well, freeze. It might be fun to put the toppings on first…homemade frozen pizza!
  • Quiche – One of my fave freezer meals! Making multiples is so easy! Mix all ingredients of your best quiche recipe together, freeze, one quiche per zipper bag.
  • Beans – Canned beans are easier, but dried beans cooked at home are cheaper and healthier. I cook large quantities and freeze for later use. Be sure to label, or you’ll end up with “unidentified frozen objects”!
  • “Leftover Soup” – Throw any extra cooked veggies in a med/large container. Put in the freezer. Once it starts to fill up, throw it all in the crock pot with some seasoning, a little tomato sauce, and you’ve got veggie soup! Cook on low all day. Or, even better, add leftovers from a beef roast, and have veggie beef soup. Yum!

What are you going to freeze? Can’t wait to hear your ideas!

About NDidlake

Natalie Didlake is the mother of three lively little ones, Sabrina (age 5), Roarke (age 3), and Alexia (age 2). She has been married to the winsome and brilliant Aaron for 6 years. They live in Mississippi, where they still have no clue how to be "southern." Natalie's goals are to bring the gospel to bear on every ounce of womanhood, love and enjoy her family, and maybe capture some of it in writing. In between, Natalie likes to squeeze in cooking, blogging, taking pictures of her cute kids, couponing, and saving oodles of money by bargain-hunting. Natalie blogs at Guarded by the Gospel.

53 Responses to (Effortless) Freezer Cooking

  1. Cindy April 25, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    Lots of great ideas. Just have to make the time – keep forgetting about all the time I will eventually save with a stockpile of freezer meals!

  2. Robin October 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Thank you, these tips are awesome! I’ve got a 1 year old and a very picky husband…Needless to say, we are busy! I’ll definitely be trying this, and maybe this way I can even get daddy to cook while I’m working..(long shot maybe, but we’ll see! lol)

  3. Tera June 23, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    On the topic of thawed, reheated pancakes… we toast them from frozen in the toaster oven. They taste almost as good as the original!

  4. Rachel July 1, 2011 at 7:19 pm #


    Appreciate your post and all of the great ideas! Love the idea of freezing meals ahead of time. I was inspired and found a GREAT website with SIMPLE and FREE monthly menus, grocery lists, and printable labels. You can chose from six different menus, including a whole food menu and baby food menu. The menus are geared toward those doing once a month cooking, but is still a great resource for recipes.

    The Address is:



    • Natalie July 2, 2011 at 6:45 am #

      How funny! That’s the website I’ve been using too, a great resource for recipes. Their lemon rice is great.

    • Connie October 28, 2011 at 10:12 am #

      Hi, I’m new here. Just started learning all these wonderful things. One thing I wanted to share. When buying chicken don’t get regular chicken at the store unless it’s free range organic chicken. The other chickens pass by the inspector at 90 chickens per minute or more and he cannot pick out the problem chickens. They also all go to a soup mix because when they are butchered there’s fecal matter to deal with. So they send it to a place they call “fecal soup.” They sit in this for long enought to absorb 10% more weight to the chicken originall intended to clean off the feces. If they did not do this they would lose an average of $40,000,000.00 per year in revenue. I raise my own chickens. I hatch out my own so that when too many roosters are hatched, they become our eating birds. Consider buying chicks and raise them for your meat and butcher them yourself. It’s not that hard. I have “butcher days” when too many roosters are roaming around, I’ll let them get big enough and kill them. Then you can take parts that you may not use to eat but you can make broth out of it. And the day before you butcher, place the animals up in a cage with only water so you do not have fecal matter to deal with at all!! Just a thought :o )

  5. Stella July 1, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    I have always wanted to try this in some form, but I am concerned about freezing in plastic. There isn’t any other really good way than plastic is there? Because I wonder as the product thaws in the plastic if there is any release of chemicals. There is so much to worry about these days, I feel I never know what is truly safe.

    • Lindsay July 2, 2011 at 6:56 am #

      The only concern with plastic is if you heat it up. Just make sure your ingredients are cooled completely before putting it in a plastic bag/container and then don’t heat it up in these containers. Leaching only happens when exposed to heat. But ultimately, I wouldn’t stress about it. It is really not worth it.

  6. Ashley June 29, 2011 at 6:17 am #

    Another great post, with lots of useful ideas! Thanks a bunch!

  7. Modupe June 28, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

    I must try onions and carrots….

    Sliced mushrooms work well too :)

  8. Suzy Q June 28, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    Another good way to freeze fruits and veggies or even meatballs so that they don’t stick to each other and make it hard to take out only what you want, Is to freeze items spread out on a piece of wax paper (on a cookie sheet) and THEN put in a bag.

  9. Morgan June 28, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    Has your husband tried warming them in a toaster? I actually like them better when reheated in a toaster than when they are fresh off the griddle. They get a slight crust on them but stay soft on the inside.

    • Natalie June 28, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

      Thanks! I will have to try pancakes again! :)

  10. Kelly June 28, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    This is a tip that I use that has helped me so much. I haven’t seen it on this web site but I hope it is helpful. When making a meal to freeze, such as lasagna, I line my baking dish with plastic wrap first. Place the food in it as I normally would, meat/cheese/noodles. Place the dish in the freezer to freeze. After frozen, remove the frozen meal from the baking dish using the plastic wrap. I place the meal in a freezer bag and store in the freezer. This allows me to reuse my dish and avoid spending money on disposable aluminum pans. When it’s time to cook, I take the frozen meal from the freezer bag, place in the dish I froze it in, and allow to thaw in the fridge. Hope this helps!


    • Natalie June 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

      Yes, great tip! I have also used aluminum foil to wrap/freeze. Labeling is oh-so-important though! It’s always fun to try to figure out all those “mystery” items in the freezer!

  11. Florence June 28, 2011 at 7:44 am #

    Is it O.K. not to blanch vegetables before freezing them?

    • Natalie June 29, 2011 at 11:27 am #

      Blanching preserves nutrients…blanch fresh veggies for best results! It’s very easy.

  12. Lacey Wilcox June 28, 2011 at 5:21 am #

    Love this! Great ideas–and so excited to hear you’ve had good luck with the chopped veggies! I’ve tried freezing herbs in ice cube trays, and had zero luck. I’d love to hear how you dry yours!

    • Kirstie June 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

      I haven’t found an herb yet that I couldn’t freeze using this method- you put as much as you think you will use for a single use in a small ziplock bag. Seal it almost to the end and then stick a straw in and suck the air out to vacuum-seal the herbs. You kind of have to practice removing the straw and quickly zipping up the rest of the bag so air doesn’t get in. I put up tons of dill, parsley and basil last year from my garden and had enough to last pretty much all winter. And they are very easy to chop when they are crispy and frozen right out of the bag. They don’t look as nice as fresh, but they taste just as good.

    • Natalie June 28, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

      I hang herbs upside down (so the oils will not drain out of the leaves) in my utility room for a few weeks until leaves are dry and crunchy. Then crush and put in containers.

  13. Jana June 28, 2011 at 5:20 am #

    I’m curious- how do you freeze pizza crust and do you freeze it uncooked? I make my own but don’t bake it before putting the toppings on. I’m trying to find a way to freeze them without wasting a lot of packaging.


    • Kim June 28, 2011 at 6:14 am #

      I make my pizza crust then bake for 8 minutes on 400 degrees. Then I freeze it and just pull it out when I’m ready to add the toppings and eat.

    • Julia June 28, 2011 at 9:16 am #

      We usually make smaller ones (easier to slide onto a pizza stone) and freeze them, raw, on a cookie sheet then put them in a gallon sized ziplock after they are sufficiently firm. You could even reuse the ziplock or use a bread bag.

    • Natalie June 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

      I precook pizza crusts like Kim does (see below), separate them with a bit of wax paper, and stack them in an unscented (clean!) trash bag, tie it well, and freeze! I can stack several that way in each bag.

  14. Judy@Savoring Today June 28, 2011 at 4:38 am #

    My neighbor and I have been doing once a month cooking together for more than 14 years now and we’ve tried freezing just about everything at one time or another. We are pretty picky about flavor and texture of frozen items. Onions become very strong in the freezer, so once frozen you can use less of them in a recipe. Garlic and butter in a food processor makes a great compound butter that freezes well too. Grilled chicken freezes superbly, so you might try grilling cut-up, bone-in chicken pieces (legs for kids) and b/s chicken breasts in large quantities. No shredding involved (unless you want to), they are ready for meals and the flavor is great. Veggies are the most delicate. I’ve done some reading about what restaurants do, which is to quickly blanch them with a cold water bath before freezing–this was good advice.

    Great post! There is so much we can do to economize and make our own “convenience” foods, this is definitely a great start.

    • Natalie June 28, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

      Wow, good for you Judy! I’m a bit jealous! ;) I would probably try once-a-month cooking if I didn’t have three toddlers! Can you recommend any good websites with recipes, etc? I have really enjoyed momsbudget.com

      • Judy@Savoring Today June 28, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

        Yes, it is harder with toddlers, ours were that age when we started :) We always used our own recipes and other we collected along the way with MasterCook software as our organizer for monthly cooking. Since our families didn’t like casseroles we learned to use regular recipes and figured out what parts could be done in advance through trial and error. It has worked great–we love having a menu hanging on the fridge and knowing what’s ready to make in the freezer. It’s been great cultivating friendship along the way too.

        You have a great blog here, I enjoy your posts very much.

  15. Tidy Brown Wren June 27, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

    At the end of the summer when tomatoes are in abundance, I roast them with olive oil and then freeze them in ziploc bags. The roasted tomatoes add an amazing flavor to soups and sauces in the middle of winter. This works really well with those cherry tomatoes that seem to over-produce. I just slice them in half or roast whole.

  16. heather June 27, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Oh, forgot one of our favorite frozen entrees. We buy the little turkey cutlets with a piece of bacon wrapped around the edge – only when on sale! Then put 4 in a ziploc with Allegro marinade and freeze. Then it marinates while it defrosts and you have a great meal, ready to grill!

    Also Feta Greek burgers – ground beef, mixed with feta cheese, spinach and a little egg. Form patties and freeze. Great way to add some greens and flavor to a fast meal!

  17. heather June 27, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    You didn’t mention freezing fruit! One of the best reasons to freeze ahead is to preserve your local produce while it’s in season. We freeze strawberries, whole or sliced with a little sugar added to be used as syrup for breakfasts, desserts or breads. Also blueberries, raspberries and blackberries on cookie sheets, then into ziplocs. A handful of frozen blueberries in morning cereal are my dad’s and grandpa’s favorite! Frozen berries are great for smoothies! Peaches and applesauce can be frozen too.

    For other veggies, we freeze lots of blanched corn on the cob, or cut off and frozen in ziplocs, and green beans, tomatoes and peas work well too.

    When a recipe calls for grated citrus peel, grate the peel of the whole fruit (or several, especially if they are organic), and put it in the freezer too. Saves a time-consuming step next time! I do the same with an overabundance of zucchini in the summer, for a zucchini cake recipe I use a lot.

    For saving food that you buy on sale, we freeze bread, nuts, flour, lunch meat and even bulk dried herbs with good results. If you’re going out of town, you can freeze your milk, but defrosted milk has a different taste – best for cooking or adding to recipes.

  18. Mandy @ BiblicalHomemaking June 27, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    Great ideas!! I love easy freezing! LOL! I do the very same thing with chicken! And it’s always ready for a fresh salad too! I just cook them @ 350 for about 20-25 minutes, (don’t overcook them, I’ve learned that the hard way!). Then heat in the microwave with a little water on a plate for about 2-3 minutes. Perfection!

  19. Chrissy June 27, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    I also do the soup idea. I take all my leftover veggies, pasta noodles (those little penne leftovers) and broths or even mash potatoes and it makes a yummy pot of soup once filled. I also do my spaghetti sauce with meat.

    But I really like the idea of taco meat and others you suggested. I also may try the chicken. I used to do a whole chicken once a week and shred and have ready for meals through out the week. But haven’t in a while.

    Thanks for sharing. Lots of great practical tips on freezer cooking.

  20. Luanne June 27, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    This is a fabulous post! Perfect ideas and simple tips anyone can use. I don’t freeze very often, but I am inspired to try this more!

  21. RE June 27, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    When tomatoes are in season, I make several batches of tomato sauce and freeze it. I am not a fan of canning, but freezing tomato sauce for pasta and pizza works wonderfully. Also, I freeze whole tomatoes. I just throw them in a freezer bag, and they are ready to go when I’m making soup, stew, or need to make more tomato sauce!

  22. Rebecca June 27, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    Thank you for the recommendations! Although I am sensitive (allergic?) to eggs, I think a quiche would make a nice easy meal for my family, so I just may have to do that, as we get eggs so cheap from local farmers.
    Over the weekend I froze a gallon of blueberries (three quart ziploc bags), and today I made blueberry turnovers, that my husband had requested, yummy!
    Next I am going to work on freezing our garden zucchini that I slice in different forms, (rounds, shredded, and spiral). Then it can be easily incorporated in meals. Thank the Lord for food processors, things were so time consuming before.

  23. JessieLeigh June 27, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    What great tips! I LOVE having pre-chopped or -sliced peppers in my freezer. So handy and a definite money saver. Thanks for including a link to my 5 meals out of 5 chicken breasts post. :)

    • Natalie June 27, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

      I LOVED your post on how to do chicken! Have cut my costs on chicken literally in 1/2, and now have an easy way to make broth/soup! Thank you so much! I totally needed the step-by-step, I never would have figured it out on my own!

    • Alyssa June 28, 2011 at 9:46 am #

      I loved your post too and will definitely be trying this the next time chicken breasts go on sale!

  24. Bethany June 27, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    I like to freeze raw homemade hamburger patties with plenty of spices. Or cooked meatballs loaded with minced onion, garlic, and parmesan cheese. Those are so easy to toss into spaghetti sauce! Chicken, shredded or chopped into cubes are great for stir fry or Mexican dishes. Last night, in preparation for after our third baby comes, I made over 4 pounds of hamburger patties, some portions of hamburger, chopped mushrooms, blackberries, and a pan of enchiladas made with corn tortillas. It’ll be easy for my husband to pull out a quick and easy dinner for my traditional “week off” postpartum when I get to do nothing but rest and nurse our baby. That week is definitely worth the prep time now!

  25. Mary Ann June 27, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    I wasn’t sure how to incorporate freezer cooking when we changed to a low carb, high protein diet this spring. I had always made mainly pizzas, casseroles and baked goods before. Now I focus on ground beef (taco meat, sloppy joes, plain meat), cooked and shredded beef and chicken, cooked lentils, cooked brown rice, chopped veggies, meatballs, meatloaf, spaghetti sauce (serve on spaghetti squash). I really love how truly effortless it is to fill the freezer. These things don’t take nearly as much time as my previous freezer cooking sessions used to take. I’ve frozen baked and unbaked crustless quiche before– thanks to your reminder I may do those again soon. My husband would like that!

    Right before we started the no-bread diet, I made up a bunch of homemade pizza kits which were awesome! So much fun to just pull out, top and bake. Here’s my post about them:

    • Ashley June 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

      Thank you for adding this! We’re a primal/paleo family most of the time and this is wonderful advice!

  26. TJ June 27, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    @shannon – Personally I make a crustless quiche so the crust isn’t an issue for me. But I have the same question – do you freeze raw and then thaw and cook?

  27. Natalie June 27, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    I tried “flash” freezing onions on a cookie sheet so they wouldn’t stick together, before transferring them to another container, but they still stuck. No luck. I chop a ton, throw them all into a huge ziploc, DOUBLE BAG as to not have all my other freezer food onion-y, and freeze. I just break off a chunk w/ a butter knife to cook. Fancy, I know! ;)

    I don’t season chicken at all, just plain, but I did read recently of someone precooking chicken in salt, pepper, garlic, and a little broth. Sounds good to me, neutral enough to use in anything!

  28. Karla June 27, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    I love these ideas, but I often go back and forth between whether to freeze for later or just have leftovers on hand for another meal. I’m also worried that freezing certain items – like peppers – will change their texture or make them taste funny. I’ll freeze extra meat, chicken broth, that sort of thing, but haven’t ventured out into lots of other things. I like the idea of carrots, though, since I always cut them up and add them to pasta water (along with chopped spinach at the end). I wonder if chopped spinach would freeze nicely… Since we have a garden this year, I’m trying to figure out the best way to preserve some of our produce (if we don’t eat it as it ripens).

    I used to freeze yogurt in ice cubes when making baby food or for smoothies, but have never tried freezing it in large batches. Does it incorporate nicely when thawed? I started making crock pot yogurt, so I get a nice big batch each time. I love it! Last time I made it, I got a gallon of whole milk, used some to make buttermilk, and poured the rest in the crock pot. I had a bit of strained yogurt leftover from a previous batch, which I like to use for a starter because the end result seems thicker.

  29. Brooke June 27, 2011 at 8:42 am #

    You’ve inspire me!

  30. Wendi @ A Southern Yogi June 27, 2011 at 7:23 am #

    I appreciate this article so much becaue I try to freeze things but I don’t do a very good job. I’ve gotten better about how I package them to keep them freezer safe. One question, do you freeze herbs at all? If so, how?


    • Natalie June 27, 2011 at 10:54 am #

      I tried freezing herbs but I thought it was too time-consuming and messy for the result I got. I opted this year to dry the extra from my garden. I have heard of freezing herbs in ice-cube trays and popping them out for individual use. Also, fresh ginger can be frozen for up to 3 months and grated right out of the freezer. Hope that helps!

    • heather June 27, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

      We dry our herbs, then freeze them to keep them fresh longer (and keep the bugs out). Like Natalie said, we also make things like pesto out of our basil and freeze in ice cube trays so they are ready to go.

  31. Shannon Hazleton June 27, 2011 at 6:07 am #

    What a helpful post – thank you. I had no idea you could freeze yogurt… and I am wondering about your quiche… do you freeze it un-cooked in the crust?

    Thanks for all the helpful ideas!

    • Natalie June 27, 2011 at 10:45 am #

      Well, I’m lazy when I make quiche….no crust! I pour the uncooked quiche mixture into a ziploc and freeze flat. To cook, I thaw all day in the fridge, pour into a greased dish, and bake. Happy freezing!

      • rebecca June 27, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

        Thank you for this idea! I did not know that you could freeze eggs before cooking! We have laying hens so we always have extra eggs and now I can just put any extra in the freezer this way! Thanks!

  32. Kelly June 27, 2011 at 6:07 am #

    GREAT ideas! I love freezing stuff too and am learning to do it more and more!

    Two questions:

    In what portions do you freeze your onions?? (I have a bag of organic onions and am thinking that since we don’t eat them raw, I need to just chop and freeze them but can’t decide how to ensure I can take out only the quantity I need when cooking a dish.)

    How do you season your chicken breasts that you cook in bulk??


    • Natalie June 27, 2011 at 10:50 am #

      Oops, Kelly! Replied to your comment, see above.