Last week my entire house caught the dreaded flu. Because we were all confined to the house for a week, I decided to make lemonade out of lemons and get ahead on our freezer meals, which had dwindled to zero. I knew I wouldn’t be able to tackle as many freezer meals as I normally can, because I had all sick and clingy kiddos, so I decided to make 16 of our favorite tried and true meals. Although I went into this with the low expectations of it taking me a couple hours more than normal, it actually took me all day! I guess that is what happens when your nursing a baby and catering to the needs of three boys who feel pretty yucky. Either way…I am so happy that I bit the bullet and did it, because I now have more time in the evenings to have fun! Here are a few tricks and tips I have learned to help the freezer meal prep process run more smoothly.
- Make duplicates of everything! It is so much easier to make two or three of a meal you know you love one time, than to make it three separate times! My family loves meatloaf. I always mix enough meatloaf to make three separate loafs each time I make it. It requires no extra effort or mess, but makes three dinners instead of one!
- When your short on time, make easy dump recipes. You know, the recipes that require you only to literally dump ingredients and raw meat into a freezer bag and freeze it. They maybe take 5 minutes to put together and are so easy!
- Cook all meat for meals that require pre-browning together, and then divide it. For example, if you want to make Lasanga soup and Sheppard’s pie, brown the beef for both together at one time and then just split it in half. Sometimes I will pick freezer meals to prep that have the same pre-browned meat to save time!
- Befriend the food processor. Seriously….it is a life saver. I count how many onions, bell peppers, etc. I need for all the recipes I will be preparing and then I dump them into the food processor and they are chopped within seconds. It requires no onion crying and no exhausted hands from chopping and saves me so much time!!
- Soup is a great friend when it comes to freezer meals. You can literally make a double batch in a giant pot, eat it for dinner that night, and freeze the other half for the future.
- Turn your meal making time into girl time. I most often will call a friend and see if she wants to pick three meals to make and swap with me. We both will make four of each meal we choose (a double batch for both of us) and then swap. We end up with twelve meals each! We do this together in one of our kitchens and it usually just takes a couple hours all while chatting and giggling with each other. I have done this with up to seven friends at one time, so the sky is the limit, and how much counter space you have in your kitchen! The girl friend thing works great when your kids are with you because one of you can take care of the kids when they need something while the other keeps going.
- Take advantage of the curbside pickup available at stores like Walmart of Kroger if you can. I will shop all ingredients I need online the night before, have my groceries put in my car for free the next morning, and then come straight home and divide the ingredients into the different recipes before I actually start. I find this so much easier than trying to collect random ingredients from my kitchen and corralling them together. Everything is in the grocery bags, so I can just take them out and get started. No endless searching through my pantry and realizing I don’t have onions because they went bad!
I hope this inspired you to try out freezer meal making! For my family it has been a complete life saver! Have a great week!