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.