An excellent method to always have home-cooked meals is to learn how to make freezer dinners, especially on busy weeknights when you need to serve a family. Freezer meals can be quite helpful if you detest cooking during the week.
We’ll show you how to prepare delicious and healthy freezer dinners in this post. To get you started, we’ll also provide you with 40 freezer-friendly food alternatives. These recipes will therefore help make your life a bit easier whether you’re pressed for time or don’t feel like cooking.
Have you considered creating freezer meals as part of your meal planning but are unsure where to begin? Learn how simple it may be to make a menu plan for your freezer and get ideas for meals you can freeze later. For speedy preparation, see also how to freeze fresh herbs and garlic.
What are Freezer Meals?
It is possible to prepare recipes in advance and freeze them for later use. It’s one of the finest ways to meal prep and prepare ahead. They can be family-sized amounts or individual portions.
How to Make Freezer Meals?
Create a Menu. Choose a few meals to prepare and decide whether you will consume some of them right away and freeze the “leftovers” or whether you will only prepare the meals to be frozen for later use. Buying a whole chicken could be more economical if you want to prepare several chicken dishes from it. You can then cut the whole bird into several dinners as needed.
Make a list after checking your current inventory. Utilize what you already have on hand and what can be purged from your freezer and pantry. Then write a grocery list for the items that are left. If you intend to make more than one meal for the freezer at a time, now is a wonderful opportunity to buy ingredients in bulk.
Make time in your schedule to prepare meals. Pick a day of the week to prepare 3–4 meals to freeze. If necessary, divide this into two blocks of time: one for chopping up the meats, vegetables, and seasonings, and the other for cooking and freezing.
Prepare the food. For each recipe, chop the fruits, vegetables, and meats simultaneously as you defrost, trim, and clean them if required. If you’re going to cook straight soon, arrange them on your counter in distinct parts. Divide into containers and keep in storage if cooking later.
Cook in bulk. For simultaneous preparation of your meals for the freezer, set up an assembly line of ingredients. Use additional pots and pans when tripling or doubling a recipe to handle such a large quantity at once. Then get the recipe ready to freeze.
Consider the size of the freezer you have. Determine how much room in your freezer you can set aside for prepared meals. Cooking more than one recipe for the freezer is a terrific choice if you have a deep freezer and plenty of room.
Try preparing items to keep in the freezer or freezing recipes on a meal-by-meal basis if you don’t have enough room. Use your leftovers for dinner the following week or portion out a meal for lunch.
Chicken Pot Pie
Whether you’re new to cooking or need a quick and easy meal, chicken pot pie freezer meals are a great option. They’re delicious and perfect for busy nights.
There are two basic ways to make them. The first is to use a store-bought pie crust. Alternatively, you can try making your own. The recipe is pretty simple, and you only need some common ingredients.
The other way to make a chicken pot pie is to use frozen veggies. If you’re not a fan of peas, you can substitute carrots and celery. You can add a dairy-free cheese sauce for an extra kick of flavor.
You can also make a chicken pot pie using leftover turkey. This is especially helpful if you’re going to freeze it for later. You can cook the filling in advance and then bake it later.
Stir Fry Chicken
Creating stir fry chicken for freezer meals can be a daunting task. There are several techniques for making the process easier. However, it is important to know how to choose the ingredients and what to use to ensure a successful meal.
One technique that will save you time and money is to purchase pre-bagged garlic. You can also use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth. This allows you to control the salt level in your stir fry.
Another method is to pre-cook the meat. Slice the protein into thin strips. This will add flavor and keep the meat from being overcooked. You can then store the chopped meat in a separate container. This method is also less expensive than purchasing whole garlic cloves.
Using dairy products to make freezer meals can save you time and money in the long run. Whether preparing a meal for your family or simply making a lunch for yourself, preparing frozen meals will help you get the most out of your ingredients.
One of the best ways to freeze dairy items is to use a specialized container such as an ice cube tray. This will allow you to freeze individual portions. For example, you can freeze cream-style cottage cheese for about a month. This type of cheese is a little crumbly, so you’ll need to defrost it in the fridge before using it.
Another great way to freeze milk is to purchase nonfat dry milk. This type of milk is made by removing the water from pasteurized milk. This makes it easier to store for a long time.
What are the Best Meals for Freezing?
Stews and soups Soups, like this instant pot beef and vegetable soup, are some of the best-frozen meals! They are simple to split down into single servings up to family-size meals and can be stored in the freezer for months. You can prepare a sizable batch to serve as several dinners.
Meats cooked and frozen for later use include chicken, ground beef, and meatballs.
While I do not advise freezing pasta meals with added sauce, sauces such as spaghetti sauce can be frozen independently. For a quick and simple dinner, store in glass jars or other freezer-safe containers. When ready to make, cook the pasta from scratch.
Smoothies: I adore having freezer-ready smoothie packs available. For a quick breakfast or snack, combine fruit, non-dairy milk, Greek yogurt, leafy greens, oats, and nut butter to create different flavors.
Breakfast portables Breakfast is frequently ignored, whether you are rushing out the door or are too exhausted to prepare a meal. Spend some time preparing a few different breakfast dishes, such as a burrito, waffles/pancakes, or muffins, to store in the freezer.
Potato and rice casseroles, like this one with chicken and rice, make excellent freezer meals. For simple freezing and baking, prepare in disposable baking dishes. One of the best dishes you can prepare in advance and freeze is a casserole. You may create several casseroles by utilizing the same basic ingredients but varying a few.
Stocks and broths – Although these aren’t complete meals, keeping chicken stock and vegetable stock in the freezer will make meal planning easier and ensure that you always have the components you need for dishes.
What Meals should I Avoid Freezing?
Pasta with sauce – Once the pasta has been cooked and combined with the sauce, freezing and reheating it won’t taste the same and may result in a gummy texture. The workaround in this situation is to cook the pasta partially, let it air dry, mix it in with the oil, and then freeze it separately from the sauce.
Meals with a sauce made of cream – Think of a creamy soup recipe or shrimp alfredo. Ice crystals are created when the milk freezes and separates from the water. Cream-based soups will probably disintegrate and lose their texture and consistency after reheating.
Dressings – Mayo-based dressings tend to split once thawed and are not very freezer friendly.
Fried foods – Regrettably, fried dishes frequently grow soggy and fail to crisp up as they would when freshly prepared. You won’t get as much of the desired crunch from fried meals.
Other dairy products – Sour cream, milk, and cream cheese may not freeze very well in recipes. It won’t have the same fresh texture. For the best texture and quality, omit the cream from soups that typically have it while freezing and add it after reheating.
What are the Different Methods of Freezing?
When it comes to freezer-safe containers, a zip-top bag takes the prize: the Ziplock bag. You can easily write on the bags, and you have a great option of sizes. It is a top option for meal preparation for freezing. The recipe should be removed in a Ziplock bag with as little air as possible to get the most out of these bags for freezing. Make careful to allow additional room so that the food can expand as it freezes. When initially frozen, lay the bag flat for simple stacking and storing. Additionally, make sure the zip top is properly closed to avoid leaks and freezer burn.
Before freezing, inspect your plastic bags for rips or tears. If the bag continues to fill with air after closing, either there is a hole in the bag or the top isn’t completely sealed.
Silicone bags are quite strong and ideal for freezing. They are also recyclable. Use in the same way as zip-top bags are used.
As a safety precaution, you should always lower the temperature before freezing anything. Hot food can heat the items nearby if it is immediately placed in a freezer in a sealed container.
Mason Jars: Pick freezer-safe mason jars since their stronger glass can withstand temperature changes. To allow the food to expand during freezing, leave a 1-inch gap from the top of the cover. Store-bought jars can be reused to store bulk dry foods, but because the glass is thinner and less durable, freezing is not recommended.
Safety advice: Leaving a space is crucial since the pressure from freezing can cause the glass to break or the lid to come off. Avoid putting the jars in warm water to thaw them out since the glass could become unstable and break. If you intend to use frozen food kept in mason jars, allow yourself some time because it’s preferable to let it defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
Wrap: To help insulate food for freezing, use foil, plastic, or parchment paper. With certain foods, combining foil and plastic can be advantageous.
Aluminum pans: Prepare meals in disposable pans and cover them with plastic wrap, foil, or a lid for bake-ready freezer dinners. Before baking, take off the cover.
Food can be easily stored in plastic containers with lids, which are also excellent for stacking. Use freezer-friendly tubs, which are thicker and better able to maintain freshness.
To make cooking simpler, learn to prepare your meals for the freezer that can be prepared ahead of time. To make it simple, use as many frozen vegetables as you’d like.
Alternatively, you can prepare everything from scratch in bulk to get multiple meals for the effort required to prepare just one.
In either case, it only takes a few minutes of preparation to pull together a satisfying home-cooked lunch. Additionally, provided the break room has a refrigerator and microwave, you are welcome to bring a home-cooked lunch to work.
It’s a wholesome food that’s simple, affordable, manageable, and as nutritious as you like.