Prep for Fall 2020 Phase 1: Freezer Cooking Complete

Oh what a relief it is to have 24 meals prepped and ready for my family this fall!!

No matter what comes our way, we will be prepared….at least for a few weeks where dinner is concerned.

I attempted to follow the schedule (see that schedule and the recipes: link here ) for pulling all this together as per written, but I also chose a week that wasn’t probably ideal for tackling the project.

So….it took me 8 days to have it all finished. I spent around 1-2 hours each day in the kitchen working on the project (including clean-up).

Had I not had some other unforeseen circumstances that required my time and energy, I think 6 days with a day to rest would have been perfect.

A Few Takeaways:

Ensure you have enough freezer space to handle all these meals before making a big grocery purchase. I have a freezer attached to a fridge that was emptied out specifically for this project and it’s about 2/3 full now (it looks fuller than that now because I’ve got a few breakfast things on the top shelf that were prepped previously). If you have more pantry space than freezer, consider meals that the majority of ingredients store in the pantry. This will still allow you to have some meals “prepped”.
–Whether you use these recipes and this schedule or not, be thinking about how you can group meals that have similar ingredients for prep on the same day so that you aren’t doing a lot of preparation repeat along the way.
–Try to think a day ahead. For example rice, even when cooked in the instapot (<– instructions link) takes a bit of time AND the recipes in which I used rice could stand a day of the rice sitting and drying out a touch. So, it made sense to cook that rice a day or two ahead of the meals including this ingredient.
–Whether space is an issue or not, try to store as many meals in freezer zip-top bags as possible (and be sure to lay them flat). It won’t be ideal for every meal but for those that it does, this saves a LOT of space in the freezer.
–In an effort to hit two birds with one stone, plan to make double of one of your recipes daily to eat for dinner that night. This will save you from slaving in the kitchen morning or afternoon, then having to return to do the same to prepare dinner that evening.

I do have a few loose ends to tie up with this first round and that centers mostly on side dishes. Some of these I intend to make and others just require purchase from the store.

I will always be looking for a fresh option, when available, but I want to ensure that we have something on hand in the evening that fresh isn’t an option.

All the prepped meals are noted on an inventory list and I’ve included what side option I want to have on hand to go with each meal. As I’m placing my weekly grocery order, I will add an item or two off the list of things that still need purchased and get them inventoried/tucked away in the freezer and pantry.

This magnetized dry-erase sheet is coming in super handy with keeping track of meals on hand as well as the odds and ends I need to be adding to grocery orders. It also comes with dry erase markers, an eraser and a few magnets…helping to pull together my “command station” that I’m hoping will help keep us more organized (and less clutter!). I’ll tell you more about this another time!

In an effort to continue growing our ‘on-hand’ food supply, I’ve got another <much smaller> round of freezer cooking on my brain. BUT I’m going to give it a minute before I dive into that. I want to ensure I have all the loose ends from the first round tied up AND my garden is starting to produce which means I’m going to be elbow deep in canning here soon!

Other Ideas for Fall 2020 Preparation

Having 24 dinners on hand is all well and fine but I acknowledge that this isn’t the only area of preparedness that’s smart to have taken care of ahead of the curve.

In the coming weeks I intend to share with you more on the following preparedness categories:
–pantry essential odds and ends
–household essentials
–medicine cabinet

I hope that, even if you’re not joining me on this exact preparedness journey, this is helping to spark some ideas of how you may want to start some preparedness of your own for your family.

In a situation with so many unknowns, with so many details outside of our control, it’s nice to find the things that we very much get to decide and control all on our own.

Hope you are staying safe out there, my friends, and enjoying the winding down of summer!


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  • Marian Tomberlin

    This is such good information! Lately I’ve had some food missing from my delivery orders and several substitutions. Haven’t seen that for several weeks so am wondering if this is a new trend or just a coincidence. I am just trying to keep our freezer filled and to have prepared food for those times we don’t want to cook is simply a smart idea. Thanks for the direction!

    • Hilary Doyle

      The ripple effect of the first round of shut-downs is sure to be felt somewhere, at some point, some how….right? I, too, have had trouble finding some basic pantry staples week to week and it further confirms the “feeling” that’s motivating me to get prepared. The beauty of all of this is I’m not purchasing things we won’t eat so one way or another nothing goes to waste (but I’ve ensured we aren’t scrambling either).

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