When I began making freezer dinners, my first step was checking out a few library books and a few websites I discovered that focused on freezer cooking. Using those tools, I made my first (and only) foray into once-a-month cooking.
After that attempt, I knew I had to find a new method. I loved the idea of having my freezer full of great entrees but, after really discovering the amount of work involved and some of the meals that were really just reheated leftovers, I knew I needed a different way.
Enter bulk cooking.
The main difference between once-a-month cooking and bulk cooking: the first uses a variety of recipes and ingredients, the second focuses on one main ingredient. I knew almost immediately that I found a method that would work for me.
I was already buying things when they were on sale, and by combining that with the bulk cooking method, I'm saving more money and time. Now I just rotate through the sales, focusing on whichever ingredient is running low in my freezer.
While slowly filling my freezer cooking recipe box, I started keeping a list of resources that have helped keep my freezer full. These are my must-haves:
Fix, Freeze, Feast is my favorite go-to resource for new recipes. Each recipe focuses on a club-pack sized package of chicken, pork, or beef (the book also includes veggie dishes, side dishes, soups, and desserts). I've made quite a few recipes from the book and, so far, we've only had one recipe that wasn't a big winner, and even that one was okay. This book is the first one I grab!
Saving Dinner freezer menus. There's lots of great stuff at Saving Dinner - she has Menu-Mailers (great for those who want someone else to plan their weekly menu and shopping lists!) but my favorite resources are the freezer menus. I've bought a few and will probably add more to my shopping list at some point. For those new to freezer cooking, that want the shopping list and prep list all planned for them - this is the way to go! Now that I have some experience, I use some of the recipes, along with some of my own from other resources, to make my own freezer plans.
Menus 4 Moms has some great bulk cooking resources. Similar to Saving Dinner, Menus 4 Moms has a subscription based program that takes care of your weekly menu and shopping plans. They also have a great bulk cooking section and a fabulous Busy Cook's Pyramid. I also appreciate the list of Foods that don't freeze well when I need to check out something that I'm not sure of. The bulk cooking section has some great plans for chicken, hamburger, potatoes, etc. If you need to figure out how to start your own bulk cooking plan, the ideas there are fabulous.
Between the websites above and some web searches for freezer recipes, I don't need much else, but there are a few more resources on my wishlist:
Make-a-Mix - I checked this one out from the library and I really like it. I already use some of the techniques mentioned - like making a master mix of cooked hamburger frozen in meal-sized portions for quick meals.
Don't Panic - Dinner's in the Freezer andDon't Panic - More Dinner's in the Freezer - I love that they offer recipe options for however many batches you want to make. For example, one recipe will have options for making one meal-sized portion or 2, 3, or more. These books are also at the top of my wishlist.
If you use freezer cooking methods, what resources do you enjoy having at your fingertips?