A Helpful ADHD Tip: Freezer Cooking
Today is somewhat of a blogging cheat day. While looking to write some tips on meal prepping, I remembered a post I’d written almost exactly a year ago on the very same topic. I wrote it for my former blog – the pinnermom namesake, which failed spectacularly. I wrote it before I was diagnosed with ADHD, which makes for an interesting read, since there are hints and clues of my “condition” all over it.
The tone is slightly different, because I was still trying to appear as though I didn’t quite have it all together, but I was on the verge of it. (And all the ADHDers sniggered…). But as I was searching to write about this topic afresh, I discovered that the information within the post is still quite relevant to myself and the ADHD community.
At first, I was going to just “copy pasta” (as my husband would say) the post onto my new blog and be done with it. Then, I thought it would be too obvious that the me who wrote it then was coming from a totally different place than the me who’s writing now. So then I thought I’d just preface the post with some background and context and then “copy pasta” onto the blog. But then I realized… my old post was over 2,000 words. Damn, girl!
I know that (as much as you love me, I’m sure) you don’t want to read 4-5 pages of me giving make-ahead meal tips in an overly chipper and sickeningly informative way… So I’ve rewritten the information to better suit my audience. You’re welcome.
I will note, however, that the photos are from that original post. Give me a break!
The original title of the post was:
I’ve taken the liberty of renaming it:
Freezer Cooking: Easy Peasy Methods for ADHD Adults Who Can’t Stand Cooking Every Day but Don’t Want to Eat Out Either
What is freezer cooking?
Contrary to how it sounds, “freezer cooking” is not, in fact, the act of cooking with your freezer, but rather, for it. Typically when people refer to “freezer cooking”, they’re talking about Once-a-Month or Once-a-Week cooking. That is, when you plan out and prepare an eternity’s worth of food in a single afternoon.
This is not that.
I’ve tried that. I loathed that. I stuck with it for 5 weeks thinking if I could just tweak the way I was doing it, I could get the benefits to outweigh the costs. Hours of planning, hours of shopping, and over 12 hours cooking in a single day, and in the end I would be tired to the point of tears. Unbearably stressful! Would NOT recommend! Not for ADHDers. Not unless you can hyperfocus on cooking until the day after forever. And if that’s you, more power to you! Rock that kitchen!
For the rest of us, I have a few simple tips for making consistent homemade meals easier and reducing waste in the kitchen.
#1: Whatever you’re making, make extra.
It doesn’t hurt to do a quick Google search and make sure what you’re making is freezable, but aside from that, it’s extremely straightforward. You make soup? Double your recipe. Eat half. Freeze the rest. Then on Friday night when you really don’t feel like cooking and you’re really thinking about ordering pizza instead, but you’d rather not spend the money or ingest the carbs, thaw your soup and BAM! Dinner. Budget and diet rescued in one fell swoop!
I love doing this especially with breakfast food items. As you’ll probably hear a lot in the future, if I haven’t mentioned it already, I’m the NOT-A-MORNING-PERSON ADHD type. It could be said, actually, that I have the co-morbid condition of being a full-blown animagus. I turn into a bear every single morning. If I happen to be PMSing, I sometimes change into a dragon! (Beat that, Sirius Black!) The point being that in the morning, I don’t feel like cooking nearly as much as the girls and I feel like eating. So if I can pop pancakes into the toaster, or some bacon-egg-and-cheese-sandwiches into the oven real quick, that saves us from yet another bowl of cereal. Not to mention, it’s just overall better for our health and our ADHD brains to eat a healthy meal for breakfast. But this tip will work for any meal of the day.
It also works for straight ingredients. If you’re slicing up an onion, slice up a few onions. Whatever you don’t use, put it in a freezer bag and save it for another day. Your weeping onion eyes will thank you!
#2: Freeze in portions.
My second tip is to freeze your stuff in portions. You can decide if you want to freeze it in family-sized portions or individual-sized portions, but make sure they are stored so that you only thaw what you need. It’s not always best to refreeze foods. Once your food has been cooked, frozen, and thawed, it cannot always be frozen again. So do not store 10 pounds of meatloaf in such a fashion that you have to thaw it all at once. (Unless, of course, you and your family can and will actually eat 10 pounds of meatloaf in a couple of days….) Being mindful of portions will reduce waste in your kitchen. If you thaw too much and you have to toss it, that’s a waste of the time and money (and love) that went into making it in the first place.
Personally, if I’m gonna freeze stuff, I like to do it in both individual AND family-sized portions. That way, either need can be met at a given moment. If it’s just lunch time and the girls are having pb&j, but I want to have chili, I can grab a small container of chili out of the freezer and thaw it for myself to eat. But if I forgot to put the food in the crockpot for the 8th day in a row and we need dinner on the table in a half hour, it’s also nice to have some homemade pizzas ready to bake.
#3: Always freeze leftovers.
My final tip is also a waste-reducing tip. If you’ve made lasagna and your family only ate a third of it, and you know you aren’t going to finish it in the next few days, put that sucker in the freezer! Don’t let it go bad in the fridge, hoping that “someone” will eat it. “Someone” probably won’t. That meal is better off being served afresh in a couple weeks.
If you made cheese-stuff shells (omg, love those!), but you had way more filling than shells, freeze the leftovers! Then the next time you want to make them, you just have to thaw out the filling and BAM! You shaved time and energy off your cooking experience that evening.
Make it a habit…
I’ve got to admit… Since we moved last summer, I haven’t done hardly any freezer cooking. I’ve done breakfast foods, but I haven’t followed the wonderful tips I listed above. I guess I just got overwhelmed, thinking how empty my freezer was and how tedious cooking can be. And, of course, remembering those Once-a-Month nightmares.
But I’m telling you and I’m reminding myself that it doesn’t have to be a huge event. You and I, ADHD and all, can have delicious, home-cooked meals on a regular basis without killing ourselves for it. All we have to do is capitalize on what we’re already doing. It’s a matter of putting in a few extra minutes here and there.
So what do you think? Are you gonna join me in trying to get back on that train? I did it once! I can do it again! Share your thoughts in the comments below. And if you’ve got a great trick that’s working for you, I wanna hear about it! And don’t forget to check out my other meal prepping tips!