10+ Tips for Preparing Freezer Meals!
(Follow me on facebook!)
Oh, freezer meals are the love of my life. They’ve made cooking a decent dinner possible when I was so busy I thought we’d surely be reduced to canned soup five nights a week. I have ironed out a few kinks over the past year and would love to pass on what has worked for me.
For me, the idea of ’freezer meals’ is preparing a batch of meals, putting all the raw ingredients needed for one meal into a Ziploc and freezing it. It is also typically only the main portion of the meal (example: marinated chicken), meaning you will likely have to add simple, freshly cooked sides such as rice and roasted veggies the night it will be eaten. This concept of not precooking or preparing full meals ahead of time has many benefits (fast and tasty), which I have raved about in another post.
To get you started, I have written a post for preparing a batch of six meals in one hour:
Here are my tips:
- Stick with your tried and true recipes. When you get more familiar with what freezes well, look at what you already regularly cook and convert them to freezer meals. Ask yourself what portion of it are you able to prepare ahead and freeze. I have experimented in past and ended up with four of the same meals in the freezer that were gross. Fail.
- Collect a list of your favourite freezer meals. Keep the list in your recipe book. I really only rotate the same 10 recipes and stick with them. This makes planning much easier and eliminates the need to have to pull out all of your recipe books and start all over each time you plan to stock your freezer.
- Keep it simple! I fight the urge to add chopped onion and garlic to my spaghetti sauce every time I make it. The purpose of these meals is to bang out as many as you can in the shortest time possible. I also only make about 5-10 meals at once. Once a Month cooking just doesn’t work for me, I can’t spend a WHOLE day cooking.
- Don’t precook the meat. (I precook the ground meat). It takes way too long to stock the freezer with fully cooked meals and let’s face it… If it takes too long we will never get around to doing it. Unless that’s just me… And reheated previously cooked meats tastes like, well… eating reheated cooked meat. Ick. Freezing meals before cooking the meat helps maintains its texture. It’s easier and tastes better. Win-Win.
- Put your meals together the day you buy your meat. Ground meat is especially vulnerable to growing bacteria in a very quick time.
- Do not put meat into the freezer before it is prepared into a meal. I only buy meat I have a freezer meal plan for. Chicken gets marinated, ground meat gets cooked, vegetables and sauces get added to the bag.
- Use Ziploc bags to store the saucy stuff and disposable tins to store the casseroles (if you make any… I usually don`t). I know storing food in plastic isn’t the best for our health but I focus on ‘reducing my exposure` and to me eating a home cooked meal that was stored in plastic is much healthier than eating take out. It takes up much less space in the freezer and using tins makes clean up a breeze. Just throw it out.
- When getting your ingredients into the Ziploc put the bag in a container, with the bag opening curled over the edge of the container to help hold the bag open while you dump the ingredients in. I use my blender, with a cloth over the mixing blades. I have used a little bucket in the past.
- Fully cool the meal before freezing it to reduce frost bite. If I have precooked anything, I pack it in the Ziploc and put it in the fridge for an hour or two.
- Have dinner already made the night you will be putting together your meals. Either a can of organic soup (focus on keeping it simple!) or use your last freezer meal. Do not plan to cook dinner for that night AND make 6 meals for another night. You will be a mess and never do it again.
- Pawn off the kids. I usually let my husband know ahead of time he is going to be on his own for bath and getting everyone ready for bed that night. All I usually need is about an hour. I’ve worked out a fast system.
- Have machines do work for you while you are busy. I always have the bread maker working on pizza dough while I am putting everything together. I can use the dough for, well pizza, or little pizza pocket type things for lunches at the later date. (Freeze the dough and an idea will come to you later) I also bake a few chicken breasts or thighs to dice up and use on the pizza in the next few days.
I hope these tips help! ~ Kristin