Do you ever find that you simply don’t have the time to make dinner and get it on the table every night? Do you find yourself wishing that you had a stockpile of healthy meals that were already cooked and ready to go? If so, then freezer cooking might be just the answer that you have been looking for.
I’ve been doing freezer cooking for the last couple of months using some recipes that I found from my friends over at The Six Sisters. Here’s a link to their whole category of quick and delicious freezer meals. I’m not a great cook, so their simple and easy recipes are just about the only recipes I ever try to make and they’ve been a big hit with my family. Read to the end and I’ll share some simple tips with you.
What is Freezer Cooking?
What is freezer cooking you ask? Freezer cooking is the preparing the ingredients for a meal ahead of time, then storing them in the freezer to prepare at a later date. Once you have all the ingredients together, you can easily toss them in the crockpot or the instant pot for a quick and easy meal. Freezer cooking means that no matter how busy the week ahead is, you still have meals for your family for dinner without having to pick up fast food. Saves you time and money and generally, you end up with a healthier meal.
How to Get Started with Freezer Cooking?
Now that you know what is, you might be wondering how to get started making your freezer meals. The easiest way to begin freezer cooking is to simply make double or triple batches of meals that you know your family already enjoys. Have one for dinner, and then freeze the rest for later use. That’s easy enough.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to freeze complete meals, you can freeze parts of meals to give you a head start on making dinner as well. For example, you can freeze portions of browned hamburger meat into appropriately sized portions for your family. Later that meat can be used for tacos, soup, chili, spaghetti sauce, or a casserole giving you a head start on your meal prep. It is super easy to brown a 5 lb package of hamburger meat to freeze instead of just cooking what you need for a single meal.
That’s called “whack-a-meal”. If you take the browned meat, put it in a gallon ziplock bag and spread it out as thin as you can get it. It’s not only easy to store, you can also just whack it on the counter a couple of times to get it broken up. Then you can just dump it frozen into your recipe or run the whole bag under hot water for a few minutes. Easy-peesey!
Marinated grilled or baked chicken also freezes well and can be portioned and added to a variety of dishes as well. Meat is not the only thing you can prepare in advance and freeze though, you can also freeze pre-portioned servings of cooked rice, beans, and vegetables. You can also tweak the recipes as needed to work around food sensitivities or picky eaters.
I prefer to make “dump” meals. I pick out 4 or 5 recipes I want to make, buy enough ingredients to make 2 or 3 meals worth of each recipe. Then I spend a couple of hours sorting out all the ingredients and dumping them into bags. Dump meals usually consist of a protein, sauce or marinade, and vegetables or rice that are all placed together in a freezer bag and frozen. Like teriyaki chicken – a package of chicken (I prefer thighs, but most people like breasts), a package of frozen Asian vegetables, a bottle of teriyaki sauce. Make up some rice and boom – dinner! Buy three sets of each and you have three complete dinners hanging out in the freezer, ready to roll!
When you are ready to use your prepackaged meals, just put them in the refrigerator the night before to thaw, and then “dump” them in your slow cooker in the morning. Dinner will be hot and ready, and your house will smell amazing when you get home for dinner. Or most of them come with instructions to make in the Instant Pot. Pressure cookers are marvelous, aren’t they?
Supplies You Will Need
Before you begin freezer cooking there are some supplies that you will need to gather to make storing your meals safe and easy. I LOVE these little dealies to hold the bags open. Usually I am doing this all on my own and I need my hands to open cans and packages of ingredients. These come in a set of 6, so I can prep 6 different meals assembly-line style on my kitchen counters. And then they fold down nice and flat for storage.
Crockpot liners – oh my goodness, these things are such a life saver! Scrubbing out my crockpot is about my least favorite chore, so I always keep half a dozen or so of these babies on hand.
You’ll also need a Sharpie to label your containers. I prefer gallon sized Ziplock bags, but some people use aluminum pans or freezer safe storage containers. I like the Ziplocks because you can squish all the air out of them and get them as flat as possible so they don’t take up a ton of space in your freezer. I made a dozen meals on my last round, so that takes up a bit of space in your freezer. You can also send them home with your grown kids or share them with friends or neighbors who aren’t feeling well and need an easy meal.
There you have it, now you know what freezer cooking is and how to get started preparing freezer meals for your family. Do you plan to start freezer cooking? It can really be a great way to take some of the stress out of your day by knowing there is always something delicious waiting in the freezer for dinner.
Oh my gosh, your terms made me laugh. “Dumping” and “whack a meal” – love it.
Glad you liked it!
I love your definition of “whack-a-meal”! These are great ideas that I need to try more often!
Cool! Glad the post helped you.
I love this! I’m on board – freezer cooking is a great way to meal prep. It reduces food waste, saves time & money, and is often healthier (not to mention tastier), easy, and overall efficient.
Yes, we’ve been doing it for nearly 6 months now and we’re loving it. So much easier and cheaper than fast food.
I’ve been meal prepping for 8 years, but have never thought about freezer prepping. Thanks for introducing me to this.
Good for you! Yes, give freezer cooking a try. The Six Sisters have a ton of freezer cooking recipes on YouTube.
I love “whack a meal”! I have always done this with my left overs for example I need half an onion for a recipe, I’ll cut it all and freeze half to use later. I never thought to do it with all the ingredients!
Yeah, I need to be more organized about that. Speaking of which, I left something on the stove – yikes!
So true. Especially with COVID, we go thru a lot more food having everyone home. And I can’t eat any more chili! I love chicken teriyaki. Good idea to have crock pot liners on hand. Groceries are a big budget item for most families.
Yes, we’ve been huge fans of philly cheese steak sandwiches from my freezer meal recipes. Easy and delicious and we can usually get several meals out of them.
I’ve been meal prepping for a few years but had never seen those baggy rack stands! I might have to pick some up and try them.
Yeah, they’re super cool. I’ve even caught my husband using them. I also like those plastic containers with compartments for my meal prep. I bought a dozen of them and they stack so nicely and keep the food nice and separate. Amazon has some cool goodies!
Thanks for the tips. Will definitely have to give it a try now that I’m starting back to school.
Yes, absolutely. We’ve had two freezer meals already this week. It does take a few hours of work to get them together, but it’s so nice to just pop it in the crockpot and go about your day.
Great tips! Thank you for sharing!
Thanks for stopping by.
I love those little bag holders! Thanks for the tip 🙂
Yes, those are the BOMB! I caught my husband using them the other day to sort out all his nuts and bolts into little ziplock bags. Boys and their toys….
Thanks for the tips!
I’m so glad you found them helpful.
Great tips. Freezer cooking saved me when I went back to work full time. A friend and I made 20 meals in a day… a very long day. I use my crockpot often, and I use my instant pot when I forget to put the meat in the crockpot. lol. I need those bag holders, they make it so much easier to fill the bags.
I know! Aren’t those darn things brilliant?? I have to say, your name always catches my eye. My one and only bridesmaid at my wedding 35 years ago was named Cheryl Pankratz. I lost track of her decades ago, but I always remember her when I see your name.
Great tips. Thank you for sharing
Thanks for stopping by, I hope you found this info helpful.
Great information and pictures.
Thanks for visiting. I’m glad you enjoyed it.