One Now, One Later

I love to cook. Love to bake. If I had no other responsibilities, you’d likely find me in the kitchen. And I need to be in the kitchen, what with trying to feed all these people every day, but I also need to be elsewhere sometimes (says the dirt on my floor or the dust on my table or the little blue-eyed boy with Candy Land in his hand). One of my best tips for any busy family, big or small, is One Now, One Later.

If  you’re making a meal that can be frozen, make two. Once a Month Cooking doesn’t work for me. It’s just not possible to string together a full day devoted to the kitchen when I’m nursing every few hours, preschool pick up at 11, ballgames some evenings. But freezer meals are a must for busy days. My solution is that I always try to make double what we need of freezable dishes so I can put one pan away for later. Later comes with unexpected company, appointments that ran late, or when mama just flat out doesn’t want to cook!

One Now, One Later saves lots of time on harried days. It also saves money because we’re not using up “easy” food on those days. (I would say because we’re not going out to eat or doing take out, but when those options are 20 miles away, that doesn’t really happen, anyway.)

pot pieHow about that camera angle? The pan on the right is a 9×13. 😉

My favorite One Now, One Later dishes:

From Heather: “A post about using your freezer meals would be good! In your day in the life it sounds like you took your chicken spaghetti from freezer straight to oven in the morning. I’d love specifics on these workings.”

If it wasn’t 12:30 am as I’m writing, I would elaborate. But yes, I sometimes take them straight from the freezer to the oven. In that case, I put the cold pan in a COLD oven. Then I set the oven to 350° or whatever. No preheating. The baking time is longer, of course, but it works!

What are your favorite One Now, One Later dishes? (Obviously, the ones I listed are more casserole-ish. I do have some other freezer meal prep tricks that I’ll share sometime when I’m NOT trying to type a quick post in the middle of the night. 😉  )

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  1. Kelly Hess says:

    This Creamy Italian Chicken is a hit for my family!

    I always try and do Crock Pot Tuesdays at my house also, it is our hectic day and it is so nice to come home to a ready to eat meal!

  2. During the summer when I don’t want to use the oven, I have had success using indirect or low/med heat on the gas grill or our electric smoker without wood chips as outdoor ovens to heat freezer meals! Depending on how “thick” your meal is, you may want to designate a junky pan that you freeze in and pop out then pop back in to cook so you don’t end up with a mess. I have done frozen meatloaf and baked spaghetti both wrapped in heavy foil and without a pan with good results. Just make sure to check it fairly often because you can’t smell it getting cooked (or burned) like you do the oven! 🙂

    In a couple of months, I will be starting to cook and freeze meal components of our favorites: I brown several pounds of hamburger and freeze a little over 2c (abt 1#) in quart bags, flattened; I bake several pounds of chicken breast at a time, cube, and freeze in 2-3 c pkgs, also at bags, flattened – they thaw much faster!; homemade cream of mushroom soup, rice, cheesy mashed potatoes, etc. my wonderful mom comes and stays with me for a couple weeks post baby, and last time she loved how easy it was to keep us well fed between frozen meals and components. (Yes, I’m incredibly blessed by her. I know!)

  3. Great post….I know you stated this, but maybe it bears repeating….do not put a very cold casserole dish, especially glass or ceramic, in a hot oven…..the glass could explode….that did happen to my sister when she was an adolescent and babysitting for a family.

  4. When I come across chicken at a great price, I buy extras. Then I pull out large freezer bags, put 2-4 pieces of chicken in each bag, and then put a different marinade in each bag from lemon-basil, bbq, balsalmic, honey-lime, etc. Because I have been known not to really measure I can easily make 6-8 bags of different chicken recipes in less than 10 minutes. Then I can either grill, put in oven, or even add to other recipes depending on the marinade.

  5. Pizza dough is a nice, “one now, one later” dish. I do the same with taco meat, spaghetti sauce, and johnnie marzetti. I would definitely freeze soup as well, but my family won’t really eat it.

  6. Thanks!

  7. There are only two of us, so freezing half is a great option instead of dividing the recipe. Cooked chicken, browned ground beef and cooked sausage stay in my freezer most of the time. I don’t have to commit to a specific recipe with each meat and the longest part is already done. We commonly have homemade pizza, crock pot meals, a extra pan of lasagna or something to pull out and use. Check out for some ideas on gathering all of the ingredients in one place for a quick meal (think taco soup or other quick meals).

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