I don’t post a lot of recipes here, mostly because I’m not great at coming up with my own things. However, I am pretty awesome at following a recipe.
I have a ton of freezer recipes on Pinterest. I know the website can be crazy overwhelming, especially when you search for freezer meals. And there are so many websites/blog posts that have “50+ recipes for freezer meals!” Sounds great, right? Except you look through those and realize that your family will eat a grand total of 3 of them. Well, that’s not helpful. Here’s how to take all those overwhelming recipes and make a freezer meal plan that works for your family.
First, make a list of all the recipes you like from various websites. Pin them. Print them. Whatever. Just make sure they’re easily accessible for down the road. But make sure you have a list. If you’re just starting out with freezer meals, I recommend not having more than 5 or 6 recipes. Then double or triple them. Since they’re going in the freezer, you can spread out similar meals over several weeks. Then it’s not like you’re eating the same thing every night.
Don’t try and do months of meals the first time you tackle this. It will be too overwhelming. Also, keep in mind how much storage space you have. If you have a separate freezer, you’ll probably be able to do more than someone with only a freezer and refrigerator.
Next, make an ingredients list and group the same products. Write down everything you need for the first recipe, then write down everything you need for the next recipe, excluding things needed in the first. For instance, if the first calls for hamburger meat, write it down. If the third, or forth, or fifth recipe needs hamburger, don’t write it down again. Put another mark next to the original (or a x2, whatever works for you). I also like to put the amount you’ll need for each meal, so you’re not overbuying.
Make sure you have plenty of storage things to put your new meals into before you eat them. I use freezer bags or aluminum tins. Both are easy to get in bulk. For those who prefer not to use plastic, look for pyrex or other glassware that has a sealable lid. Just keep in mind that you won’t be able to use your glassware until you’ve eaten your freezer meals.
Once you have your recipes and your lists, it’s time to head to the grocery store. For your first time, I would not recommend heading to a warehouse store, because the sizes may be too large for your recipes. Buy everything you need, and don’t overdo it.
Once you’re back home, divide all your ingredients into separate meals. You don’t necessarily have to divide up everything; if you have hamburger for two recipes and just bought one large package of it, don’t worry about making sure it’s evenly divided between the two at this point. Just keep it in the back of your mind that it will go to several things.
Start labelling your bags. Since I use freezer bags, I simply take a sharpie to them. I write the name of the meal, the date, and cooking instructions. You don’t want to go looking for instructions later when you’re in a rush. I do the same with foil baking pans; they usually include a foil or cardboard lid that I write on.
Get started on your recipes. If any of them require cooking, go ahead and do that. Add spices or sauces. On the recipes that don’t need any previous cooking, start measuring and dividing ingredients. Put everything in the appropriate bag, dish, or tin.
Aluminum pans and dishes can be placed in the freezer as-is. As for plastic bags, squeeze out as much air as you can, then place them flat on a jellyroll pan, and into the freezer. If you freeze them flat, you can store more, and they will be easier to thaw later on. Once they’re mostly frozen, I take out the pan and rearrange the bags in my freezer so they’ll be easy to get to.
Thawing and Eating
When you’re ready to take advantage of your freezer meals, just pull one out of the freezer and get started on reading the directions on the bag. If you need any other ingredients, make sure you have them. If something needs to be thawed before cooking or putting in a slow cooker, toss it in your fridge the night before. Some recipes can go straight from the freezer to the oven.
Once you’re done with everything, you can add some of your freezer meals into your meal planning each week, or you can use them when you’re exhausted and just don’t feel like cooking. What I love to do with some freezer meals is take them to friends who are expecting a baby or may have just had surgery. That way, they can have some homemade meals without the effort of cooking. That’s the great thing about making freezer meals; you can save time, save money, and even be a blessing to others in the process.