Are you always in a panic as dinner time approaches trying to rustle up something for the family to eat?
How would you like to spend one afternoon a week, or even a month, preparing meals ahead of time, so that you can just grab something from the freezer, defrost it and serve up a home cooked meal without the panic?
Sound good? Keep reading because we’re going to let you know how you can make one whole month of make ahead freezer meals recipes in five simple steps!
Step 1: Stock Up on Freezer Cooking Supplies
Before you jump in and start to make your own freezer meals you need to make sure you have some freezer-safe supplies.
You don’t want to skimp on these things, because poor quality or inappropriate packaging can actually spoil your food.
There’s no point spending a day preparing food for the rest of the month if you then end up eating takeaway every night because everything got freezer burn right?
Cook Ahead Freezer Meals Supplies
Our readers LOVE this little gadget for standing baggies up while you fill them!
It’s genius! Just clip the bag to the hooks and it holds it open for you, like the extra pair of hands you always wish you had!
If you like to rinse and reuse your ziplocks then its ideal for standing them up to dry too.
Here’s a list of supplies you need for making your freezer meals:
- Freezer meal containers – you’ll want various shapes and sizes to suit the different recipes. The best place to buy these baking pans is usually from Costco or Sam’s Club or even the Dollar store.
- Storage containers – you’ll need a few plastic or glass containers in different sizes. Make sure you buy freezer friendly ones like these to make sure your food doesn’t spoil.
- Freezer storage bags – you can’t go wrong with Ziplock as long as you buy the freezer friendly ones.
- Storage bag holder – This little gadget is just genius. You know how hard it is to try and hold a ziplock bag open so you can fill it? Not any more!
- Sharpie markers – you don’t want to have to guess what’s in any of the containers or bags once it’s frozen so be sure to write the name of the recipe on it with a Sharpie marker which won’t rub off!
- Food processor – you don’t need a food processor to batch cook, but it saves a heck of a lot of time, and that’s what we’re trying to do here right? Something like this one which is very affordable would be a worthwhile investment if you don’t have one already.
When you’re just starting out stick with the freezer storage bags. But when you decide that you want to freeze meals for your family every month you’re better off investing in one of these to really cut down on the risk of freezer burn.
Step 2: Choose Make Ahead Freezer Meals Recipes
Some foods just don’t like to be frozen. Like sauces that have been thickened with flour, they tend to separate once they’re frozen and end up sort of yucky! Cooked potatoes don’t always fare too well either, and can end up being gritty.
So if you can’t just freeze any recipe, what can you freeze?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are 30 freezer friendly recipes to get you started; that’s a whole month of dinners you could prepare in advance!
The recipes are a mixture of make ahead and then freeze and reheat, and ‘dump’ dinners, which means you bag up the raw ingredients and then thaw and cook (usually in the slow cooker) on the day you want to eat them.
Oh and if you’re just getting started we’d recommend making a week’s worth of recipes in one go, rather than a whole month’s worth. Just until you get used to the process of batch cooking and freezing.
Easy Freezer Meal Recipes
We searched high and low and these are the top freezer meals recipes we could find to help you make cook ahead freezer meals!
- Beef and Corn Casserole – can be gluten free if you need it to be.
- Hawaiian Chicken – a chicken dump recipe, with a surprising ingredient!
- Avocado Chicken Enchilada Casserole Recipe – a great way to liven up a chicken casserole.
- Shepherd’s Pie – quick and easy to prepare, and always a hit with the family, or a sick neighbour!
- Homemade Hamburger Patties – cost much less than at the burger joint and taste much better too!
- Super Sloppy Joes – the perfect way to end a busy day.
- Chicken Cheddar Ziti – a really simple recipe, but you can mix it up by throwing in some broccoli, or using a can of black beans and a jar of salsa instead of the tomato sauce.
- Honey Lime Chicken – Assemble the ingredients, freeze and then thaw and dump in the crockpot.
- Beefy Baked Ravioli – an easy fake out lasagne.
- 10 Minute Lemon Chicken Soup Recipe – perfect comfort food that’s great for dinner or lunch.
- Tuna Casserole Freezer Meal – for a nice change from chicken or beef.
- Not So Spicy Chicken Vegetable Soup – make it in the slow cooker on or the stove top.
- Homemade Chicken Pot Pie – so good you might want to make up two or three!
- Bacon Wrapped Chicken with Rosemary – super easy to prepare for freezing and then you can cook it in the crockpot or the oven.
- Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork Roast – freeze the raw ingredients and then just thaw them out and throw them in the slow cooker.
- Sesame Chicken Potstickers – try different fillings to see which your family likes best.
- Mini Bacon Cheeseburger Calzones – perfect for when the kids have their friends over for dinner.
- Sloppy Tamale Pie – so quick to prepare, and on the day you want to eat it you can let the slow cooker do the work.
- Quick and Easy Tortellini – feed a family of four for less than six bucks.
- Crockpot Mexican Chili and Cornbread – assemble the raw ingredients and freeze, then thaw and throw them in the crockpot. It’s almost too easy!
- Beef n Bean Burritos – perfect if you need to eat dinner on the run one evening.
- Chicken Parmesan – just heat it up and serve over your favourite pasta.
- Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas – Here’s something a little different to stock your freezer with: Empanadas, and if you’re short on time you can even make them with a store bought pie crust!
- Skinny Tex Mex Casserole – This Tex Mex Casserole is really simple to put together but tastes so good your family will be requesting it again and again.
- Canadian Bacon & Potato Chowder – Did you ever thinking of preparing chowder as one of your freezer meals? Here’s a great recipe for you to follow.
- Simple Slow Cooker Lasagna Soup – If you’re a soup fan then check out this lasagne soup, deliciously filling and your slow cooker does all of the hard work!
- Slow Cooker Ginger Peach Chicken – This recipe is delicious and a change from your usual chicken recipes, and best of all it only has five ingredients and takes just a few minutes to make.
- Skinny Baked Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese – If you’re on a diet then this is the perfect freezer meal to add to your collection – for those days when you’re craving mac n cheese but you don’t want to waste a whole day’s worth of calories in one meal!
- Swiss Cheese Chicken – make sure you follow the freezer directions so you don’t end up with a soggy top!
- Lemon Garlic Dump Chicken – this versatile recipe can be baked in the over, the crockpot and even outside on the grill!
Print out the recipes you want to make and store them in a folder in your kitchen so that once you’ve defrosted the meal you can remember how to cook it! Alternatively you could write the cooking directions on the package or bag when you’re preparing it to be frozen.
Step 3: Chill it Before you Freeze it
You can’t just take a meal out of the oven and stick it straight in the freezer unfortunately as that will raise the temperature of the freezer, causing havoc to the food you already have in there!
Instead you need to cool the food quickly, before you put it into the freezer.
- Give it an ice bath – put some ice water into the sink or a bowl that’s large enough to fit the pan or dish into. Make sure the water isn’t so deep that it comes up over the top! Leave the pan in there for about five minutes. If it’s a soup or chili you can stir it occasionally.
- Transfer it to the fridge – pop it in the fridge, uncovered and leave it there until it’s cool.
- Contain it – transfer the meal to a plastic container or storage bag. If you’re using a bag make sure you squeeze all of the air out before you freeze it.
- Record it – record the recipe name and the date on the container/bag with your Sharpie marker and pop it into the freezer.
If you’re putting together a recipe that you’ll heat up in the slow cooker don’t put the veggies in with it as they can end up all mushy. Cook the veggies by all means but freeze them in a separate bag so that you can heat them up just before you’re ready to serve up the meal.
Step 4: Freeze it Quickly
The best way to keep your meals fresh and full of flavour is to make sure they freeze quickly.
- Give it some space – your meals will freeze more quickly if there is room for air to circulate around it. So if you’re making a month’s worth of meals in one day, don’t try to freeze them all at the same time!
- Check the manual – some freezers have a quick freeze shelf or drawer, or a button you can press to lower the temperature to help the food freeze more quickly. Check your manual to see what your freezer can do.
You don’t have to store soups or stews in containers. If you put them in a storage bag and lay them flat while they freeze you can then stand them up end to end so that they take up less room in the freezer!
Step 5: Defrost it Properly
When it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labour and eat one of your yummy frozen home cooked meals you MUST make sure you defrost it properly.
- Back to the fridge – the best way to defrost your meal is to put it back in the fridge the night before and leave it to defrost slowly.
- Enlist the microwave – if you forget to get something out of the freezer the night before then the second best way is to use the defrost function on your microwave.
- Never at room temperature – you should NEVER leave frozen food out on the worktop to defrost at room temperature because you run the risk of contamination. Though to be fair my mom does it every day ad has never had a problem – touch wood!
There you have it. Stress free homemade freezer meal creation in just five simple steps!
~Clare, currently pinning to Freezer Meal Recipes
Countdown to Christmas
- Step 1: Stock Up on Freezer Cooking Supplies
- Step 2: Choose Make Ahead Freezer Meals Recipes
- Step 3: Chill it Before you Freeze it
- Step 4: Freeze it Quickly
- Step 5: Defrost it Properly
- Countdown to Christmas