Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Stocking Freezer Meals for the Holidays



We already have a to-do list that is much too long with everyday things right?  But now the holidays are approaching and it’s about to get even longer- more errands, more school activities, more parties… With all that running around you’ll probably have the impulse to give up on that yummy meal you planned to fix and just grab something out.


I’ve definitely felt this way before.  The tricky part of this whole circus is that since you are busier, more stressed and likely exposing yourself to more germs- your also more likely to get sick during this time- just what you need right?

I’ve mentioned freezer meals before on the blog but I’ve never talked about the ins and outs of filling your freezer.  And I think this is a perfect time to do so since the holidays are just around the corner.  Hectic schedules, errands and more events make this a perfect time to embrace all things frozen!


In case you’re wondering, I haven’t always had such a profound love of frozen food.  I’ve pretty much had a mental block towards freezer meals until recently.  The problem is, I was equating these meals to the nasty grocery store meals you find in the freezer case.  These are full of crazy ingredients, they lack healthy portions of veggies and usually taste blah. 

What I’ve realized though, is freezer meals can taste fresh, full of flavor and be interesting- when they come from your own kitchen.  They also can be extremely healthy and make life super easy on hectic days!


Easy Freezer Meals

So what makes a good freezer meal?  Surprisingly, more things than not.  Below is a list of the types of things I like to freeze.  It will give you an idea of the versatility of freezer meals.  Anything with sauce, marinade or other liquid will work well.


Soups, Chilis & Stews- These can be fully cooked and frozen in single or family portions.  A meal is as easy as defrosting and heating.


Marinated Meat or Veggies- Freeze raw meat or veggies (or both!) in a marinade.  Allow to defrost (this is the marinating time) and grill or bake.


Crockpot Meals- Freeze raw chicken or beef with cooking liquid and spices.  In a separate container, freeze veggies.  You’ll cook your protein on low for 6-8 hours and add the frozen veggies during the last hour.


Casseroles or dish meals- These can be partially or fully cooked before hand.  You’ll defrost and either reheat or finish cooking in the oven.


Curries & Stir Fries- Curries, Stir Fries or any other meal with sauces are easy and freeze well.  Freeze raw meal in sauce or marinade (you can also precook it so it just needs reheating) and thaw and cook.  Add frozen veggies during the last few mintutes.

Getting It Done!

So, you know you want to get your freezer full of yummy meals but you don’t know how to make it happen.  Here are some tips on simple ways to get meals prepped and in the freezer.


Make an extra serving- Each week, plan to cook at least 1-2 meals that will freeze well.  Make a double batch and freeze half! This is my favorite method and takes a fraction of the normal time to prepare since you are already making the meal.


Make a batch of similar meals- Pick 3-4 meals that have similar ingredients and prep them at the same time.  This will cut down on prep time since they all share ingredients.  An example would be chicken and a chopped veggie mix.  You can make 3 batches and turn then into green curry, stir fry and ginger chicken.  All different meals but only the sauce is different!


Take a morning for meal prep- designate a morning for a massive freezer meal prep session.  Gather ingredients for 8-12 meals and take 4 hours to get them all done.  This can be a lot of work at one time but you’ll have over a week’s worth of dinners complete!

Try a freezer meal swap- Get together 4-5 of your friends who eat real food and have a swap.  Each person will make enough meals to swap with each person.  Specify what ingredients are or aren’t ok (such as soy, dairy, wheat, etc) and how many people your meals should feed.  You’ll end up with a variety of quality meals and maybe some new recipe ideas!



Ok, ready to stock your freezer and make life easier?  Check out the links below for some meals perfect for freezing.


13 comments:

  1. This is a great reminder to prep for the busy-ness that's always a part of the holidays. Every time I pull a freezer meal out to heat up, I'm thankful I made the effort!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too! I do a little happy dance when I've had a long day and I can pull out a freezer meal!

      Delete
  2. This is a great post...being prepared really does pay off and will definitely help you enjoy the holidays! Thanks for the tips. :) I'd love for you to share this (and any other post you'd like) on my new blog hop, {Wheat-Free Wednesday}! Hope to see you there! :)

    http://www.annemariecain.com/wheat-free-wednesday-11-07-12/

    Anne-Marie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks Anne-Marie, enjoying the holidays is the goal right? :)

      Delete
  3. Nice post! I only have the freezer in the refrigerator (not a chest freezer) but I find that we can pack quite a variety of meals into it. Another type of food that's very easy to freeze is burritos. We have freezing instructions for burritos in our recipe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We were limited to the refrigerator freezer for quite awhile too and it can actually hold a lot of meals if you organize it right. I love doing burritos or enchiladas too! great tip :)

      Delete
  4. I love it! I really need to get into freezing more meals so I don't get to the end of the day and think DANG IT what are we eating tonight? Thanks so much for sharing this on Simple Meals Friday! This goes really well with the meal planning book I just reviewed and have a giveaway running for right now. Ill be sure to share it with my followers. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yay, I'm glad it goes with your giveaway- i didn't see that... I'll have to go check it out :). And yes, freezer meals are a total lifesaver on those days!

      Delete
  5. Thanks for the posts and the recipe links...it's so nice to know a meal is ready to go in the freezer! I make up pizza crust mixes in advance so I can make homemade pizzas in a jiffy! Thanks again! Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yum, pizza! I don't know how GF pizza crust would hold up but that is a great idea for normal crust!

      Delete
  6. this is something i need to just suck up and do. now that i'm working a "real" job (42 hours a week plus 10 hours total travel time), i need to get this done. Otherwise we don't eat until 8pm each night. great suggestions you've made here!


    thank you for sharing your post with us at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up! I hope to see you again this week with more seasonal and fresh/real food posts :) xo, kristy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yikes Krisy, you sound super busy! Taking a morning to make your meals for a week or too would definitely help you. The busier we are, the more we need freezer meals!

      Delete
  7. I freeze nearly everything I cook for easy freezer meals. Chili, and most other stews and soups work well. Lasagna is also a good one. Pancakes and waffles for breakfast. Meatballs are best when flash frozen on cookie sheets first so they stay separated. Some pasta does well, others not so good experiment. I use zip lock bags and glad ware containers. I usually only cook once or twice a month and freeze enough food to last several weeks.

    Loni Andrew

    ReplyDelete