Sometimes, a very small amount of effort is worth its weight in gold. Or butter.

You learn a lot when you have a baby, even in the kitchen. While the prep work I did on the savory end was immensely helpful and sustaining for us in those first postpartum weeks, the best thing I did was make and freeze balls of cookie dough. While I recovered and we learned how to care for my newborn (who is already 6 months old now!), we had freshly baked cookies whenever we wanted them. Which was a lot.

These days, I don’t have much time to spend making dinners to freeze — but I can always find a little time to make a batch of cookie dough, roll it into balls, and freeze it in a Ziploc bag.

This is my new default when it comes to cookie making. Instead of making 28 cookies and then eating them immediately (I have no willpower), I can make three cookies and devour them while they’re still warm, then do the same thing the next day. If I have a guest, I can throw some cookies in the oven and make tea. It only takes 30 minutes or so to make the dough, ball it up, and freeze it, then around 15 minutes in the oven when I’m ready to bake.

You can freeze nearly any kind of cookie dough, as long as it’s heavy on the butter. Crumbly cookie dough, or lighter cookie doughs like merengue and those made entirely with almond flour, doesn’t freeze as well. Here are two of my favorites — these have been a mainstay in my freezer for the last six months!

OATMEAL SPICE COOKIES

Oatmeal cookies on a plate

OATMEAL SPICE COOKIES

(Inspired by Quaker Oats' Best Oatmeal Cookies recipe)

Yield: 28 cookies

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick oats)

2 1/4 sticks butter, softened

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS

Sift together flour, spices, salt, and oats. In another bowl, beat sugars and butter together until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined.

To freeze: Roll into tablespoon-size balls and place on a baking sheet. First, freeze balls for at least 20 minutes (I have forgotten them overnight and it’s fine — just long enough for them to hold their shape) on the baking sheet, then put into a Ziploc bag and freeze.

To bake: Preheat oven to 350 F and place frozen dough balls in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes. You can also let them come to room temperature and then bake, but...why?

SUGAR COOKIES, WITH FLAIR!

Two sugar cookies on a plate

Sugar Cookies with Flair.

(Adapted from Life, Love, and Sugar blog)

Yield: About 30 cookies

INGREDIENTS

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup sprinkles for mixing in

DIRECTIONS

Sift together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and egg yolk, followed by vanilla extract, and mix thoroughly. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined, then mix in sprinkles until thoroughly incorporated.

Freeze: Roll into tablespoon-size balls and place on a baking sheet. First, freeze balls for at least 20 minutes on the baking sheet, then put into a Ziploc bag and freeze.

Bake: Preheat oven to 350 F and place frozen dough balls in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.