As I mentioned in this week’s menu plan post, each August I start pulling together supplies for school lunches. I’ve been doing this for about 4 years now; I picked this trick up when we had 4 babies in about 6 years. During the last trimester, I would do batch cooking sessions to help my husband out after the baby came; he would be the primary dinner preparer for the first 3 to 4 months until I could be more hands-free at dinner time. Now you’ll find me do freezer sessions for the kids’ school lunches.
Planning the Freezer Sessions
I start with a list of tried and true recipes for my family. Bar cookies generally pack well in a freezer container, and are easy to remove from the container. Cookie doughs without butter or less butter-centric bake better than doughs like chocolate chip cookie dough, even though that’s a favorite, too.
- Gluten-Free Gingersnaps
- Joe Froggers (a molasses-based cookie)
- Peanut Butter Cookies
- Soft Ginger Cookies
- Black Bean Brownies
- Chocolate Ricotta Muffins
I usually do 1 to 2 batches of cookie dough at a time, doubling the batch whenever possible. Most doughs can be doubled in my KitchenAid mixer with its 6 quart bowl. I just need to scrap the bottom of the bowl more often to ensure the ingredients are thoroughly mixed into the batter.
Packing the Cookies and Bars
Since we don’t reheat cookies, I generally use our remaining plastic storage containers for the baked cookies and cookie dough. The square containers that hold about 3 cups are perfect for packing bar cookies since they’re modular. I use the wider, shorter plastic containers for the round cookies. I store cookie dough in 2 cup containers, enough to bake about 2 dozen cookies at a time.
Making Your Freezer Plan
If you’re not sure where to start, ask your kids what their favorite cookies and bars are. Make a list, and pull out your cookbooks. Chances are you already have some favorite recipes marked for Christmas time. Some of these may work just as well for school time. Focus your efforts on bar cookies before the drop cookies. Bar cookies are much faster to make than drop or roll out cookies since you’re only touching the batter once when you put it into the pan to bake.
What are your family’s favorite homemade cookies and bars?