Freezer meal recipes save you time, money and headache in the meal prep department. Check out my tips to get stress-free dinner on the table!
It seems to be our families expect to eat every day.
I know, the struggle is real.
But sometimes, we don't feel like cooking. I mean, I have a food blog for goodness sake, and sometimes I just don't feel like cooking.
There are plenty of other things to do. T-ball, harvest time, swim lessons, volleyball practice, shuttle kids, feed the cows, mow the lawn. Sleep.
You get the idea.
That, my friends, is why make ahead meals enter our lives.
Meal prep and making freezer meals doesn't have to just mean making a batch of lunches or breakfast for the week. It can extend to desserts, snacks and more for the coming weeks!
Why make freezer meal recipes?
- You save time. You have a home cooked meal with little effort at mealtime. You've already done the work!
- You save money. Convenience foods are expensive and have less nutritional value than what more of us wish to feed our families.
- You don't have to be a great cook to make homemade freezer meals. Seriously! You just need to pick up some basics from the grocery store and follow directions. I'll help you!
- Surprise guests will be a welcome surprise instead of a "what am I gonna feed them??!?" freakout moment.
- If you get sick, your family has easy meals to prepare. We all know how tough it is when mom goes down!
- You can make meals ahead of time for the holidays, BBQs, and parties. Assemble your dishes a week or two in advance and you'll eliminate holiday stress and enjoy your special events!
- You eat together. Make ahead meals can help get your family together around the dinner table. I don't know about you but my family stalks the kitchen when they smell food cooking. It even draws the teenagers in!
- You can help others. Meal prepping and freezer meals are a great way to make meals for an elderly friend or family member, as an awesome gift to a new or expecting mom or family, or even to give as a gift to a friend who's having a bad week.
How to Make Freezer Meals
There are no fancy tools required. In fact, you probably have some of the items needed to stock up on meals.
Here are some of the basics I use and you can pick from these as well as what's already in your kitchen.
- Pint Size Mason Jars with lids
- Sectioned/compartment containers
- Freezer meal bag holders
- Quart Sized Freezer Bags
- Gallon Sized Freezer Bags
- Cutting Boards (at least two) a set of sharp knives and mini choppers
- Glass or Clear Storage Containers so you can see what's inside. Save time - and dish washing effort - by using microwave save containers!
- Foil Baking Dishes in various sizes, depending on your recipe. I don't like to tie up my casserole dishes in the freezer!
- Freezer Tape for Labeling (painter's tape works great too!)
- Heavy duty aluminum foil
- Fine tipped permanent marker
Who are freezer meal recipes for?
Who Are Freezer Meals Ideal For?
- Stay at home moms, wanting to get ahead of the dinner game
- Working parents with little to no time to cook during the week
- Single or two person households wanting meals to make without leftovers. Freezer meals for one or two people is an awesome way to minimize time in the kitchen without scouring "cooking for two" recipes.
- Anyone who wants to minimize time spent on meals prep and shopping
Misconceptions about Freezer Meals
- Preparing make ahead freezer meals recipes doesn't have to be an all weekend or all day affair.
I mean, do you want to spend an entire weekend in the kitchen, deboning five whole chickens?
Right, I didn't think so.
- You don't need to make a ton of meals at one time.
One of my favorite ways to stay ahead is to make a few meals at a time. Sometimes, even means making one extra dish when I'm making supper.
In fact, my favorite way to stay ahead with freezer meals is to spend one hour a week making meals. Four hours a month - I can handle that!!
Little by little, these meals add up and make a major impact on dinnertime!
Make Ahead and Freezer Meal Recipes
Is chicken on sale this week? Buy some and make all chicken basked meals to freeze for later.
Or, if you're a farm wife like me you may have a stash of beef, pork or other meat in your freezer. In our case, beef for days!!!!
Think about what you could do with pre-assembled marinades in your freezer. It's like a meal, minus the meat. When you're ready to cook it, you can combine your meat and the pre-made marinade for a few hours or overnight!
When looking for freezer friendly recipes, of course you can look in cookbooks and on Pinterest for ideas. And here too, of course!
But you can also pick tried and true recipes that you already love to make as freezer meals.
Foods that don't freeze well are things like:
- Raw eggs in their shells (but eggs can be frozen for later!)
- Certain veggies like lettuce and cucumber
- Raw potatoes (they'll generally turn black in the freezer)
Foods that freeze but may look sketchy when you thaw them:
- Gravies - these may separate but they'll pull back together when you reheat them.
Foods that freeze well that you can stock up on as you cook or buy them:
- Cooked rice or other whole grains like quinoa
- Shredded cheese
- Leftover stock and broth (freeze portions in ice cube trays or in 1-2 cup portions)
- Leftover tablespoon portions of tomato paste.
Be sure to pin this for later!
Tips for Freezing Your Meals
- When you seal your food for freezing, remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
- Make sure you use freezer tape or some method to attach the recipe name to the meal somehow. Write it directly on the bag, use a label, or even double bag the meal in a gallon sized freezer bag.
- LABEL, LABEL, LABEL!!! Did I mention you should label? No one wants to dive into a dinner of mystery meat!!
- Write the date made on the container.
- A freezer meal inventory sheet is a great way to keep track of what options are in your freezer. Don't let the fancy name fool you, it's basically just a sheet with the meal names. Wouldn't you rather glance at a paper instead of randomly rifling through your freezer?
- Freeze your foods laying flat. once frozen you can stack them alongside each other like library books!
Types of Make Ahead Meals
Batch Cooking - This means making multiple batches of a recipe to be portioned out for future meals.
You can make batch meals and ingredients when you have block of time.
Ideas for batch cooking:
- Baked potatoes in the fridge to use in dishes throughout the week
- Prepared meats and sauces
- Making a big batch of a beef chili recipe, sloppy joes or slow cooker brown rice.
- When making pancakes, waffles, bacon, muffins, etc. make extras to have on hand in the refrigerator or freezer
Meal Prep - Basically, think of this as pre-meal production.
- Pre-chopping vegetables like onions, peppers, etc. to be used in meals later in the week.
- Cooking a batch of roasted veggies to be incorporated as sides and into recipes during the week. Things like roasted Brussels sprouts
Make Ahead Meals - These are meals assembled and ready to cook, or they can be frozen (uncooked) and saved for later.
Having everything ready to go, no chopping required is pretty darn amazing!
Frozen Pizza - Just kidding - well, kind of!! Let's keep it honest here. There will be nights you don't want - or can't - cook anything. Keep an emergency pizza stash in your freezer at all times. I do!
Freezer Meal Recipes
- Oven Baked Eggs
- Egg McMuffin Sandwich
- Low Carb Crustless Sausage Quiche
- Make Ahead Breakfast Ideas
- Meal Prep Breakfast Burritos
- Homemade Turkey Burgers Recipe
- Chicken Parmesan Sliders
- Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken
- Slow Cooker Shredded Buffalo Chicken
- Chicken Fajita Soup - Instant Pot or Slow Cooker
- Baked Italian Sliders
- Crockpot Mexican Shredded Chicken
- Slow Cooker Brown Rice
- Minestrone Soup
- Lasagna Cups
- Crockpot Healthy Meat Sauce
- Sheetpan Chicken Fajitas
- Green Chili Pork Burritos
- Pulled Pork Lettuce Wraps
- One Skillet Pork Tenderloin with Apples
- Turkey, Kale and White Bean Soup
- Keto Meatloaf Muffins
- Beef and Broccoli Crockpot Recipe
- Easy Pork Fajitas
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