The freezer meal philosophy is a simple but powerful one. Make a plan for next week’s meals, purchase the ingredients, and make the meals ahead of time. Some people actually do all the cooking and then package the meals for freezer storage, others put the raw ingredients together and freeze it so it’s ready to cook.
I really like the idea of freezer meals and I have been somewhat successful with it in the past. It’s nice to be able to go to the freezer and pick out what you need for a healthy meal. It’s a time saver, for sure.
I have one hang up with the whole thing and it’s not the fault of the meals…my problem is the scheduling. We eat all our healthy, home packaged meals and then I don’t set aside the time to make more. I haven’t found a way to get the regular prep day into my schedule.
It’s about priority I guess. Maybe I need to get my planning better in line with doing dinner the easy way.
Recently, as I was looking for inspiration I ran across a post from A Life in Balance about freezer meals. It seems that every year in August, Barb gets to work putting up enough meals for the first 2 weeks of the school year. Now that’s a prepared mom!
I bet if we asked her, she’d say she uses this strategy consistently, all year long. Thanks for the inspiration, Barb. Be sure and check out her post – 50 Freezer Meals and Tips for Back to School.
My daughter, on the other hand, lives by her freezer meals. She has three children who always seem to have something planned, someone coming over, or last minute things that come up.
They are also always changing what they like and don’t like to eat, so having the knowledge that she can have a last minute backup meal in the freezer has saved her from panic on more than one occasion.
Simple Meal Ideas to Keep in the Freezer:
- Spaghetti sauce
- Macaroni and cheese (with chicken, ham, bacon or beef)
- Pot pie filling
- Sausage (links and ground)
- Turkey (ground and whole)
- Chicken (Breast and ground)
My son-in-law works for a food distribution company so once every month or two, they will stock up on chicken breast, pork roasts, hamburger, and steak. These meats usually come in 30-50 pound boxes so it’s easy to break these down into meal size portions.
Related post: A Week of Freezer Meals in One Day
This is super smart and saves so much time and money because you don’t have to defrost more meat than you’ll need for one meal.
Dinner Planning with Freezer Meals
Another smart thing she does is to make sure that there are plenty of sides and bread on hand; things like garlic bread, rolls and lunch bread. Plus, she keeps corn, peas, broccoli, and green beans in the freezer. They are purchased in Costco size bags.
Making sure there is a variety of foods in the freezer makes your family mealtimes easier. We are both growing gardens and are sharing the produce we are growing. Squash and peppers are things we are dehydrating as well as flash cooking and putting in the freezer for stir fry and soups.
Keep the Freezer Organized
Having these items sorted so they are easy to find is key. If you have to spend 20-30 minutes digging through your freezer to find what you’re looking for, you probably won’t use the freezer to prepare meals anymore.
I know that if I dig too often and it’s a mess, I’m much less likely to spend the time to search for what I need. Accessibility is top of the list of me. My freezer organization system works well as long as I’m the only one running it. Once the rest of the family gets in there, all is chaos!
Start with making a list of what’s inside your freezer and if you are using a freezer system like mine, mark where it is located. Keep the list on the outside, in a place where all can see it.
The list should include how many meals of chicken, steak, etc. you have and when you use one, you update your list. That way you don’t have to even open the freezer to know what’s in there. This inventory list makes it so anyone can help with meal planning as well. They can read the list, see what meats we have available, and pull what’s needed.
The inventory list also comes in handy for planning. It can be used as a visual representation of a low inventory and trigger your next meal planning day.
Dinner planning with freezer meals can be easy, but thinking ahead is the key. Do you have a hard time remembering to restock the freezer or do you have a plan to share with us?