It’s now been over a year since we started seriously freezer cooking – we’re in the middle of our 5th session – and I expect to have meals through May/June. We’re trying almost all new recipes this time, with 2 favorites that we’ve previously made. Dad is getting two soups for his lunches: Slow Cooked Split Pea Soup and Tomato Leek Bisque. And I made some Cheesy Breadsticks (almost all of them mad their way into the freezer!) and Garlic Bread for appetizers. The rest of the meals are primarily for dinner.
I’ve talked about the planning and the shopping. But what about supplies? We cooked and canned a lot prior to starting freezer cooking, so we had many of these supplies already, but you do need larger pots and pans to be able to cook some of these recipes. We have an induction burner that is our primary burner, so you may not need to spring for the specific versions of things we have as we need the “induction-ready” stainless steel.
- Large stock pot – we have both a 20qt and a 40qt one. We need the heavy stainless steel for the induction burner, you might be able to find similar sized ones cheaper (although, those are pretty cheap!). The 40qt is used for cooking 5 lbs of potatoes at once, simmering soups (and canning).
- Large mixing bowls – We have a set from Oxo. The 5qt one is used a lot. If you try any of the recipes from the Dream Dinners book and triple them, the 5qt will barely hold it all. You’ll want several mixing bowls in general, of various sizes – we use them to store chopped onions before putting them in recipes, mixing sauces and spices.
- Measuring cups/spoons – several sets! We have 3 full sets and one partial set, and we’re still washing measuring utensils all the time. We use mostly pyrex 1-4 cup measuring cups.
- Good knives – whatever style/brand you like, you’ll likely need a chef’s knife, a slicer, and maybe a deboning knife or cleaver – depending on the meats and cuts you prefer. We each have a knife so that we can work at the same time.
- Onion Goggles – seriously, just get them (or come up with some other way to chop 10+ lbs of onions without crying).
- Saute pans – We have a 3qt one, and wash it often.
- Sauce pans – You’ll want at least a 2qt one, but the stock pots can replace sauce pans for the most part.
- Dutch oven – Several recipes want a dutch oven rather than just a stock pot, so you’ll want one – at least a 7qt one. It needs to be able to go from stovetop to oven.
- Crock pots – If you’re just doing single batches, you can get by with the standard 4.5qt crockpot. If you double or triple the batches, you’ll want the smaller one *and* a larger 6-7qt one. We have both because you want the crock to be at least 3/4 full of “stuff”, if you don’t have that much, the larger crock pot will be too big and burn your food.
- Freezing containers/bags – we’d like to use less zip-top bags for freezing, but we haven’t found a great replacement yet. We use the no-leak Pyrex (buy at shopworldkitchen.com for better prices) where possible, but for marinades, the bags are still the best. For soups, we use wide-mouth pint and pint and a half jars with storage caps. (Buy those at your local hardware store, much cheaper!) We even tried marinades in the mason jars once, but it didn’t work out so well. For casseroles, we use foil pans covered with foil (half-size chafing pans from Costco, once rinsed and clean, we can recycle them).
Much of this you probably already have in your kitchen. You may not have the large sizes that I mention here, but you can always reduce a recipe to fit whatever you have, instead of trying to make it all at once.