Ok… I know we have all read tons about freezer meals (thank you Pinterest), however, if you have never tried them, I would seriously recommend considering them. I usually make freezer versions of several of my meals – if I’m cooking one serving, I will double it and freeze half. Typically this doesn’t cost much more and it is a time-saver, especially on busy days when you just don’t feel like cooking, but can’t bring yourself to order out (again). I also do these meals because it has been a budget saver. Seriously, by using freezer meals, I am able to stretch our food budget out and still have excellent meals! Moreover, since I work from home now, I am home many days for lunch and will thaw a single serving of soup for my lunch! Tasty and major budget saver! Here are some tips I’ve learned through making freezer meals!
1. Start with simple recipes, specifically ones that give freezer options (I have a couple here and here ) if you have never done freezer meals before (Note on this… if the recipe sounds bland before you freeze it, really think hard before you make 3 or 4 freezer meals from it – if you have questions about a recipe try it first as a regular meal and then transform into a freezer meal). Some things I personally have found are that sauces are great to freeze (pasta sauce, etc), however sauces and noodles mixed together – not so much. Also, meat is great to freeze, just make sure you freeze it in portions that you can easily thaw and use (don’t want to thaw 4 chicken breasts just to get 2). Also, soups are wonderful to freeze (and offer great single serving portion control).
2. The first couple times you make freezer meals, you will not be saving time… you will be reading and re-reading the directions and making sure you are doing it right, worrying about making sure everything fits in the bags perfectly, etc. This is ok, and as in anything, as time goes on, it will improve.
3. Invest in high-quality freezer bags. Not kidding on this one. Seriously, worth their weight in gold.
4. While we are on freezer bags – and I cannot stress this enough- LABEL, LABEL, LABEL! We all think we know what something is when we are preparing it, but trust me on this, just label the bags with the date, what is contained in the bag, and any special thawing instructions.
5. It seems like there are two schools of thought on freezer meals. The first is set aside one day and do a TON and then eat off of those for a while. The second is make extra as you cook and freeze part of the recipe when it is at a freezer ready point. I tend to follow a mixture of the two ideas. I typically will make extra of most of my meals as I go and then freeze the other half at appropriate times (i.e. for a pasta sauce, I will freeze once it is prepared and prior to it going on noodles). I also set aside a day every so often to make some easy bulk freezer meals. I like mixing both ideas because I don’t like to prepare my menus for a full month that far out (life changes, and my recipes need to reflect that).
6. Lastly, I encourage you to have fun with this! I have some girlfriends with whom I will have a freezer cooking day. We all agree on the recipes, go in on the groceries, and prep our little hearts out. We usually will have wine or mimosas and LOTS of catching up. And then we all go home with some wonderful meals that we can enjoy for the next couple weeks!
If you have any questions on freezer meals, please let me know. I am most certainly not an expert, but, I do have a lot of experience at trying! Also, I’ve definitely had some fails… so I am happy to provide lessons learned!
Until We Meet Again,