Cheerful Frugality Packs The Freezer
We did it!
One long day of shopping/chopping + 6 hours in the kitchen = a very full freezer
You can see the Once A Month Mom meal plan here. We prepared 15 recipes (x 4) for a cost of about $125 per family.
Is it possible to squeeze all this food in a standard refrigerator freezer? Yes!
While the experience is fresh in my mind, here are storage strategies for OAMC in a top-only freezer:
Use standardized pans. Even though I own a variety of casserole dishes, we bought 8 x 8 and loaf size pans (some foil, some metal). This enables us to stack without losing space.
Use gallon Ziploc bags. Lay flat when freezing so that the contents can be stacked on their sides like envelopes.
Use individual portions, flash frozen. The egg muffins, ham pockets, and fruit cups are all stored in bags.
If you have time, use a combination of square pans and freezer bags. Slip the frozen foods from the casserole dish into a gallon bag.
The biggest challenge in a small refrigerator freezer is air flow. I chilled all the pans first, using a cooler with ice as my cooking partner's refrigerator filled. At home, I froze the contents in 2 different shifts. The Ziploc bags I placed flat on the freezer bottom remained liquid on one side, so I stacked cookie cooling racks on the shelf to make the most of vertical space.
I may not schedule a mega-cook again soon, but now I know I can do it again without purchasing a freezer first.
That puts a lot of foil pans between my dinner table and the McDonald's drive-thru, and I'm awfully cheerful about that.
For more freezer cooking resources, visit Once A Month Mom. You can read my sweet partner-in-cooking's account here. For photos of my packed-to-the-gills freezer, swing by Like Merchant Ships later today.