Make Ahead Freezer Meals: Types of Freezer Cooking

Having a stash of make ahead freezer meals for those busy nights when your tempted to grab take out can be a real time and money saver, but how do you get started?

There are four different types of freezer cooking, once a month cooking, once a week cooking, batch cooking and session cooking.

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Another method of stocking your freezer with a variety of meals and not spending all day or your whole paycheck is to organize meal swaps.

No matter what type of freezer cooking you try, always test that your family likes the recipe first.

Nothing is worse than wasting your time and money only to end up with a freezer full of stuff your family won’t eat.

Each make ahead meal method has its benefits and some will fit more easily into your busy schedule than others.

Types of Make Ahead Meals

Once A Month Cooking

Once A Week Cooking

Batch Cooking

Session Cooking

Meal Swaps

Once a Month Cooking

Once a month cooking, OAMC, means taking a weekend to prepare meals ahead once a month.

This generally includes prepared uncooked dinner meals only.

Most once a month cooks do not prepare 30 different meals but make 3-5 family portions of each meal.

This is the most misunderstood type of freezer cooking because people think they only have to spend one day a month, not a whole week end, preparing food and are disappointed to find they still have to cook dinner each night since the meals are not precooked.


  • Great way to get your freezer stocked.
  • It’s all done at once.


  • Takes a lot of time, planning, shopping, preparing, cooking and packing for the freezer.
  • Easy to get over whelmed, especially if cooking alone.
  • Way more steps and more dishes.
  • Cost can seem high because your spending most of you grocery money for the month all at one time.
  • Variety can be a challenge or exciting. Depending how you feel about such things.
  • Not good for a small freezer, the food takes longer to freeze and decreases in quality.

Once a Week Cooking

Once a week cooking, OAWC, means taking one day or afternoon during the weekend and preparing dinner for the weekdays, it might be cooked ahead but not always.

This method is more budget and time friendly to get started than once a month cooking.


  • Better variety
  • Not too much to take on by yourself; if you choose easy or similar recipes.
  • Shouldn’t cost more than you usually spend on a weeks worth of groceries.
  • Not long for food to freezer burn.
  • Fits in an above the fridge freezer.


  • It’s tempting not to freeze things. Why bother when you’re going to thaw it a few days. The problem is 3-4 days is as long as food should be in the fridge and preparing food on Saturday to eat next Friday without freezing is long enough to risk making your family ill.

  • Not much of a stockpile of freezer meals.

Batch Cooking

Batch cooking is double, tripling or quadrupling a recipe that you’re already making.

With this method, you get one for dinner and more for the freezer without the hassle of extra ingredients to prepare, extra shopping or much extra planning.

This is the easiest way to get stocked up on make ahead freezer meals.


  • Great time saver.
  • No new steps.
  • Not creating more dishes.
  • Not expensive to start.
  • Easy to plan for.
  • Use any size freezer.


  • No variety. But as you keep making batches of family favorite recipes, you’ll slowly stock your freezer.

Session Cooking

Session cooking is making a collection of recipes with the same main ingredient, one type of meat, or vegetable, that is in season or on sale.

This is the most budget friendly way to stock up on make ahead freezer meals.


  • More variety than batch cooking, but still limited compared to once a month cooking.
  • Can save money if your buying your main ingredient at a great sale price.
  • Fairly easy to plan and shop for.
  • Faster than once a month or once a week cooking.
  • Use any size freezer.


  • More dishes.
  • More time consuming than batch cooking.

Meal Swaps

Meal Swaps are groups of friends who all cook batches of favorite meals and swap them with each other to save on time and effort while adding more variety to their freezer.

This method is hard to set up as you find families similar in size and taste with your own but rewarding later.


  • Only need to plan, shop for and cook one meal.
  • Get a variety of meals in the freezer.
  • Less time cooking.


  • Hard to organize.
  • Must find families with the same size and tastes as yours.
  • Won’t always like the recipes.

Choose the type of freezer cooking that most easily fits your lifestyle, they’ll all get you a bunch of make ahead freezer meals stocked up.

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