Have you ever cooked freezer meals before? It can feel overwhelming to know where to begin to assemble so many meals at once. But having meals ready in the freezer is so nice knowing it was made fresh with natural ingredients and ready to go at any time. Isn’t it the best when you don’t have to think about what to make for dinner?
I hadn’t made freezer meals in a while. Actually, I have only ever done it a couple of times. To be honest, I am terrible at meal planning! So much so, boxed dinner deliveries like Hellofresh are amazing where everything comes ready to cook. Another option that works is to buy pre-made fresh dinners from Costco and throw them in the freezer. Most of the time I have a rough idea of what I want to make and try to have those things on hand. And if I am missing something, a knock on my neighbor’s door for the missing items is a huge blessing. It’s the best when you have a neighbor close by that you can trade food with. But when my young adult daughter wanted some healthy freezer meals ready to go, I was totally excited to put some together with her. Homemade freezer meals help make dinner affordable, healthy, and easy to cook (it’s hard cooking healthy for one person, so batch meals are definitely the way to go!).
Summer can be a great time to make freezer meals as there are so many fresh ingredients you can preserve for later. And if you are like me, I often get overwhelmed by instructions, so I love an easy-to-follow list! Here it is!
How to start your freezer meals
1. Find your recipes
Start with looking at what you have an abundance of in your freezer, pantry, and garden. This is a great way to use up what is needing to get eaten quickly.
Figure out which ingredients you would like to use. Then find inspiration on Pinterest or in your recipe books for the right recipes to use. I had a lot of zucchini from my garden, chicken in my freezer (which is why I decided to precook my chicken this time), and a ton of mushrooms that were all needing to be eaten soon, so I looked up recipes to include these ingredients.
2. Gather your ingredients together
Write out a list of ingredients you need based on your recipes. Then with a list in hand, grab what you need from the grocery store. Then gather all the items from your fridge, pantry, freezer, and you are ready to prep! I had most things already, so I just used what I had on hand and improvised where needed.
3. Chop, prep and chop some more
Grab a buddy who wants to do this with you, share the cost of the ingredients and divide up the results when you’re done. Start your prep by chopping all the things so they are ready to assemble. Get all your necessary items cooked and set aside. It’s easiest if you have one person chopping and the other one cooking and prepping the sauces. Having everything chopped, cooked, and ready, helps make it really easy to assemble your meals.
4. Divide your plates
Decide what containers work best for you to freeze. I love these metal throw-away platters but you could use reusable plastic containers to be more environmentally friendly and reuse them for the next time.
When everything is prepped, mix your casseroles in bowls or layered in dishes as needed. Layering your soups and stir frys in baggies is easiest to store in Ziplock baggies.
Once everything is assembled, label and date your lids and bags so you know what they are and how to cook them when you pull them out of the freezer.
Stack them in the freezer and you’re done! This is a great solution to have meals ready to go for if you have a busy schedule, want to take meals to a friend in need, or just need to preserve some perishables you have too much of.
And because a lot of you were asking for the recipes, here they are!
Here are some of the yummy recipes we used
I chose to precook the meat as I had a bunch I wanted to use up in the freezer. This also helps to make heating up later super quick and simple. Freezer meals are a great way to use up a ton of garden fresh veggies and all the things desperately needing to be eaten.
Country chilcken pasta
Mix together cooked pasta, mixed frozen veggies, some shredded cheese, shredded cooked chicken, 1 can of cream of chicken or mushroom soup, 1/4 milk, salt and pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder. Mix together in a bowl and place into freezer containers.
Honey garlic Stirfry
1. Chop stirfry veggies such as carrots, celery, onions, zucchini, peppers, corn, and any other stirfry favorites.
2. Blanch all your veggies for 1 min in a pot of boiling water.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together equal parts brown sugar and soy sauce (start with 1 cup of each and mix together more if needed. Add salt and pepper, minced ginger and garlic. Mix together to make teriyaki sauce.
4. Place your cooked or cubed raw chicken in a freezer ziplock bag. Add teriyaki sauce. Layer stirfry veggies on top or in a separate bag and place in freezer
While cooking chicken breasts, add salt and pepper, taco seasoning, 1 cup salsa, and place in a large freezer Ziplock bag to get ready for taco night!
Lime chicken fajitas
Cubed raw chicken, cilantro, 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 onion, 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed, 1tsp cumin, salt and pepper, 1 cup corn, 1 lime juiced and zested. Mix all together and place into ziplock baggies. Fry up until fully cooked and place onto tortilla wraps. Sprinkle with cheese if desired and serve!
Hope this helps you get started to create a bunch of yummy meals for you and your family. Let me know how it goes for you! What are some of your favorite freezer meal tips.? What are some of your favorite recipes?