The Quick Start Guide to Freezer Meals
Have you wanted to try making freezer meals but not known where to start? The quick start guide to freezer meals is here to help! Freezer meals are the smartest thing I have ever done to save myself time, money and sanity. I love not having to decide what to make for supper every day.
In this quick start guide to freezer meals, you will find everything you need to try this method of cooking and see if it’s right for your family. I thought the easiest way to explain this would be to answer some of the most common questions I get about freezer meals.
How should I start?
Planning out a full day of freezer meals is daunting. Even doing a one hour mini session could be too overwhelming for some. My suggestion for those who want to try their hand and freezer meals but not jump in headfirst is simple. Take a few of your family’s favourite recipes that would freeze well and double them. Eat one for supper that night and freeze the other. After a week, you’ll have supper for the next week.
My guess is that after experiencing that second week of being able to eat ready-made meals without having to do any cooking, you’ll be ready to jump into making large batches of freezer meals in no time!
What recipes work best?
If you are wanting to use your own recipes, there are some that adapt well to being frozen. Things such as chili, taco meat, spaghetti sauce, lasagna, sloppy joes, chicken with marinades, soups, and casseroles are all examples of recipes that double easily and freeze well.
Once you are ready to branch out beyond your own recipes, you can find new ones to try in our freezer friendly recipes or dive right into our freezer meal plans that include shopping lists and printable labels.
If you prefer to take the hard part (planning and creating your shopping list) out of things, come and join our Freezer Meals 101 Club where you can choose from our tried and true recipes designed for freezer cooking and your shopping list is done for you.
Here are a few recipes that I recommend starting with:
- Best Ever Freezer Spaghetti Sauce
- Ground Beef Stroganoff
- BBQ Shredded Chicken
- Cajun Sausage and Veggie Sheet Pan Meal
- Lemon Pepper Chicken
- Pizza Casserole (kid friendly)
- Baked Tortellini Alfredo
- Egg Roll in a Bowl
What can I freeze?
Many foods can be frozen. Not all foods freeze and reheat well, mostly due to texture issues. There are some adaptations that can be made to account for this.
One example is that milk inside a freezer meal recipe does not reheat well but a substitute of evaporated milk or a high fat cream can be used in its place. You can read a more comprehensive explanation of what freezes well here or you can download this free cheatsheet about what freezes, what doesn’t and how to make adjustments in recipes.
What containers should I use?
My preference for freezer meal containers is using large resealable freezer bags because I find that I can fit the most in my freezer that way. Some people use aluminum foil pans so that the container can go directly in the oven. I find I can’t find nearly as many of those in my freezer and I don’t like the garbage it creates.
Some people are concerned about storing food in plastic. Alternatives include glassware, silicone containers, and mason jars. The freezer bags that I use are BPA-free and safe for using with food for freezing.
What supplies do I need?
If you are just doubling your usual recipes, the only supplies you will need are what you would normally use plus the storage containers. If you are planning an actual freezer meal session or full day, you will need large bowls, measuring spoons, measuring cups, knives, sharpies, resealable freezer bags, and a can opener.
I highly suggest that you invest in an electric can opener. It saves a lot of time but also it saves your wrists. I wish I had bought mine sooner. It has been a worthwhile investment for freezer meal assembly.
There are a few other things that are not necessary to have but do make things easier. Labels are great as you can fit a lot more information on them such as the cooking instructions and even serving suggestions. A Sharpie works for labelling until you get to the point of printing out labels. A mandolin or food processor speed up the time spent prepping vegetables such as onions and peppers but are not a requirement. Knives will do the trick but are not as fast.
I don’t think it’s necessary to invest in those contraptions that hold your freezer bags up. It works just as well to place your freezer bag inside a plastic juice jug or container and fold the top of the bag over it.
How long do freezer meals keep?
The general rule of thumb is that you can store your meals in the freezer for 3-6 months. Removing the excess air from the bags will help prevent freezer burn and make the meals last longer.
Starting by doubling some of your tried and true recipes and freezing them. I think you’ll find that the freedom that comes with having meals ready to go every day will be life-changing. That may sound extreme, but take it from me, a busy mom of 7, truly life changing!
Filling your freezer really is as simple as that. This guide to freezer meals will hopefully give you what you need to gain a bit of confidence and give it a try for yourself. Let me know how it goes!