Freezer meals have been a HUGE lifesaver in our household these days. The meals that were made at the end of my pregnancy and tucked away in our tiny freezer have lasted us 3 weeks into our little one’s life! Preparing freezer meals was the best decision ever. Ever. Seriously. When days are spent nursing (biggest challenge ever), changing diapers (she still hasn’t pooped on me), trying to put our little Quinn to sleep (she only falls asleep when she’s being cuddled), and wondering why in the world I can’t manage to get anything else done (see all the above reasons)-cooking has been the last thing on my mind.
Here are some tips I have from my first adventure in freezer cooking:
1. Pick out the recipes you want to make (read: pick things you know you’ll like) and try to figure out how many pans, bags, etc. it will take to make all of the recipes. If your freezer is small like ours, doing this will ensure that you don’t make more than will fit into your freezer.
2. Once your recipe list is made, make a list of the quantities of ingredients you will need to prepare said recipes. Now go through your kitchen and cross off any ingredients you already have enough of. The rest is your grocery list. If you’re like me, you’ll make a final draft of the list that puts ingredients in the proper order that you will find them in the grocery store. By golly, I love me a good list.
3. Grocery shop and do a little prep one day and do the cooking the next day. (I didn’t do this and I was pretty tired afterwards.)
4. Clean your kitchen up before you start cooking. It will get very messy during the cooking process, so it’s nice to start with a clean slate.
5. Prepare dishes with similar ingredients at the same time. For example, I made the spaghetti sauce and sloppy joes at the same time. I browned the hamburger for both recipes and was able to prep the onions, green peppers, and garlic all together.
6. Label the pans and bags with what is in them, the date they were prepared, and the cooking instructions.
7. Play music while cooking and dance a little. Nobody said freezer cooking had to be boring.
There’s something wonderful about knowing that you have a freezer full of food to get you through busy times. It’s just one less thing to worry about. Less cooking, more baby snuggling.
Now onto the fun stuff, here is a list of the dishes I prepared:
Calzones Fill these up with your favorite pizza toppings and get ready for a hearty meal.
Spaghetti Sauce A recipe for spaghetti sauce that makes a ton, so split the sauce into multiple freezer bags and you’ll have many Italian meals on the ready. Can be added to your favorite noodles!
Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches Nothing wrong with a good hot roast beef sandwich. Just add chips. 🙂 A reheating tip: let the sandwiches thaw out before heating them up, nobody wants to take a bite out of frozen roast beef–we learned this the hard way.
Pecan-Stuffed Chicken Breasts A healthy, flavorful, and fast weeknight supper; add some veggies on the side and you’ll be pleasantly full.
Sloppy Joes Sloppy joe, slop-sloppy joe. An oldie but a goodie.
Shredded Chicken–boil chicken breast for about 15 minutes, shred, and season with garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, and a dash of cayenne pepper. Store in zip lock bags and thaw out the day you feel like having a fiesta for your mouth. Great for tacos, enchiladas, burritos, taco salads, and nachos.
Peach Crisp This freezer dessert will come in handy when company comes over. Top with ice cream!
Chocolate Chip Cookies Slice and bake chocolate chip cookies. Gotta keep that cookie jar full.
Pie Crust Pie crust that’s ready to roll out and fill up with your choice of filling. This crust is also great for making pot pies!
Chocolate Banana Bread Dessert or breakfast? I’m not sure, but I don’t care because it’s so good!
Banana Bread A little banana bread in the morning makes me happy.
Apple Butter Muffins Take a muffin out of the freezer the night before for a great breakfast on the go the next morning.
Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets Way better for you than store-bought oatmeal packets…you know exactly what ingredients are in these.
There you have it, folks! My first try at freezer cooking was a success. I’m already working on a list for the second round.
And because it would be wrong to do a post on freezer cooking without showing the cute reason behind it…