How to Enjoy Making Freezer Meals

Despite my life’s hectic nature and my yellow half of my personality that only wants to just have fun, my family still enjoys a homemade meal at least once a week–and on that occasion, I don’t even have to cook it. FREEZER MEALS, baby. They’re life saving, I tell you! (On the other nights, I like things that are Fast & Fancy.)

There isn’t much doubt that freezer meals are the stuff of a parent’s dreams, but if you’ve ever attempted to prepare them solo it can become a bit of a $*&@ show. One ends up at 2 am surrounded by 10 or more meals, a filthy kitchen and maybe not even enough room in the freezer for everything. My brief revelations today include how to do freezer meals in two completely non-soul sucking doable ways–one is even fun!

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Freezer Meals Method #1

In the fall a genius friend invited me and two other friends (four people total) to participate in a freezer meal making night at her house that changed the freezer meal game for me. The setup and execution is simple, and the entire method is FUN!

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Photo credit: Holli Coats
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Friends not pictured to protect the anonymity of the group-HA! Photo credit: Holli Coats
  1. My friend selected those in the group not just because she enjoys spending time with each of us, but also because we have similar sized families and thoughts about nutrition. You don’t want to make freezer meals with someone who doesn’t eat the same way as you, due to factors like taste, nutrition, cost, allergies, etc. Keep the group quiet amongst mutual friends to not cause any hurt feelings. You can be my BFF, but if we don’t eat the same, chances are I won’t want you in my freezer meal group. No hard feelings, but dinner is serious to me. Ha!
  2. Pick one night each month and a host. Spouses will need to put the kids to bed solo. If you’re a single parent, be willing to host the group each time so you don’t have to get a sitter.
  3. Each person finds a recipe and lets others know what it is in advance to ensure everyone is OK with it. We generally rotate one person to do a vegetarian meal each month.
  4. Each person purchases the ingredients for 4 batches of the recipe she chose. Bring these ingredients to the chosen night. Depending on kitchen setup, you might want to bring an extra good knife and prep bowl. Always bring disposable storage materials in which to send food: aluminum pans, plastic bags, foil, plastic wrap, etc.
  5. Make the 4 batches of your meal at host home. Laugh, talk, cook, and enjoy adult only time! This is my favorite part to be honest!
  6. Leave with 1 batch of your own meal and 3 other unique meals from the other participants.
  7. Feed your family one of these freezer meals once a week until next month. And pat yourself on the back!

Tips for Method #1

Side dishes: we try to make freezer meals that only require one side (like a salad or rice) to complete them. The goal is to NOT have to cook or prepare much food the night you utilize your freezer meal.

For the summer: we are considering doing grill/kabob bags, because lasagnas and stews are just not what you crave in the heat.

On months when one or more people can’t participate: either skip the month, or make fewer batches of the recipe based on amount of attendees.

In tiny kitchens: You don’t need a large kitchen to host. We have spread out to other tables (or you could even set up a card table in an adjoining space) for food prep. Somehow, everyone sharing 4-5 range burners and 1 oven has worked too. You can always make your group smaller if you live in a tiny space.

Freezer Meals Method #2

If you find yourself making a homemade meal another night of the week, simply double the recipe, then label and store the second batch in the freezer for next week, or next month. Voila! This is a super easy option and doesn’t require much extra freezer space!

For this option, you may want to invest in some BPA-free baking dishes which can be stored in your freezer and still be used in the oven. Here are 8″ and 3-quart options.

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What do you think? Any other freezer meal hacks that I’m missing? I’d love to know in the comments. Thanks for reading! <3

XO-

 

 

 

 

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Graham busted into the photo shoot! Photo credit: Holli Coats

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2 thoughts on “How to Enjoy Making Freezer Meals

  1. I love freezer cooking! I like to add to my freezer at least every other week, pulling as we hit work and life busy seasons. It’s also a great way to save money since I buy meat and big ticket items when they’re on sale.

    My easiest freezer meals are marinated meat that can be pulled out of the freezer for a quick meal. This mostly looks like me buying a couple family trays of chicken breasts. I cut any fat off, chop to the appropriate sized pieces, and put in a ziplock bag with a marinade before freezing. This works great for fajitas, teriyaki, and any other favorite marinade. This along with a freezer pack of veggies and maybe some rice make a great meal. At the same time I typically like to do an easy Italian breeding which makes for a very easy chicken parm direct from the freezer on a weeknight.

    To save time on clean up I like to aside time (typically naptime) on one day to cut up and break down one type of meat. This allows me to isolate the mess of cutting boards, knives, counters, etc. to one thing and means I get several meals with one clean up. If I’m baking something like muffins I can work on the clean up while I’m rotating pans in the oven or if I was really on top of things I could work on another recipe.

    I also like to freeze components of meals like sauces in ice cube trays to portion out, frozen individual meatballs, cookie dough balls, chicken nuggets for my sons, spinach and fruit for smoothies, and muffins for quick breakfasts on the go.

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