My least favorite daily duty: the inevitable question of “What are we eating for dinner tonight?” UGH. Thankfully, I have found some ways around dealing with it every day–meal planning and freezer meals. Once every couple months, my (very cooperative) husband and I spend 2-3 hours in the kitchen prepping freezer meals. Normally we spend around $50 and make 10-15 meals.
During the month, I rotate through the freezer meals by adding them into our weekly menu plan. So easy! It also gives me the opportunity for easy service. Last week a friend had to take her husband to the ER and I was able to grab a meal out of the freezer and bless them with dinner that night.
Over the years, we have tried A LOT of freezer meal recipes. Good and bad. For instance, I would not recommend freezing potato cheese soup unless you like to throw things away. Many freezer meals kind of end up tasting like leftovers or seem to have no flavor. We have whittled our “tried and true” list to a few of our favorites and we tend to make them over and over again. I’ve created a printable version of those (with a link to the original sources) HERE.
Storing meals: All of the meals I use can be stored flat in Ziplock bags. I double bag (using freezer bags) all of them to prevent freezer burn. On the outside of the outside bag (got that??), I tape (packing tape) the label for that meal. It includes the name of the meal and instructions once it is pulled out of the freezer. (Example: Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes). This way when I pull the meal out (or give it away), I know what the heck it is and what to do with it. I’ve created a printable version of the instructions to go on the bags HERE. Most of the recipes I use for this activity are “no cook” recipes. Meaning, everything is raw when it goes into the freezer and is cooked afterward. This makes the prep time super quick and (in my opinion) makes the meal taste fresher.
Be sure to squish/suck as much air out of the bags as possible before sealing. This also helps prevent freezer burn and makes them more flat for storing. One trick I use is to seal the bag almost all the way, insert a straw into the opening, and literally suck all of the air out. I swear it works as well as one of those pricey vacuum sealers.
In my freezer, the flat meals store in a bin. I write the names of the meals on sticky notes and stick those to the bin so I can keep track of the meals I have available. You can also include the date that the meal was made on the sticky note. I would recommend rotating through the frozen meals every three months.
OTHER FREEZER TIPS AND TRICKS:
- A great list of food items that freeze well
- As a general rule, foods with a high water content, such as celery, mayonnaise, and some types of gravy, do not freeze well.
- Avoid freezer burn by following these great rules!
- Don’t use meat that is already frozen (unless you are cooking it in the meal prep). For instance when making chicken with a marinade to freeze, don’t use frozen chicken. Refreezing already frozen chicken can contaminate it.
- When making a casserole or other meal in a glass or metal dish, you may want to line the pan with foil, leaving enough excess foil sticking out on all sides in order to wrap around the whole casserole/bake/whatever. Stick it in the freezer overnight and then take the entire casserole, wrapped in foil, right out of the dish and put in a Ziploc and write what it is on the outside. That way your pan isn’t stuck waiting in the freezer until you eat that particular meal and it saves room.
- 10 more great tips.
Please share your favorite freezer meal recipes!