Storing meals in the freezer is an easy way for moms to save time and money, plus reduce the stress of menu planning for the week. In my house, I don’t dedicate an entire day to prepping freezer meals, but instead double or triple batch recipes, then tuck them away for future use.
Since I am already doing the work to prep and create a meal, it’s not hard to make a little more to be enjoyed throughout the upcoming week or months. Here are a few freezer-meal strategies that work really well in our house.
Put Breakfast on Ice
Breakfast is a meal that I like to keep on hand in the freezer since mornings can be stressful. With two kids going to different schools with different bus times, it is nice to be prepared for busy mornings.
I love to tuck make-ahead breakfast burritos in our freezer. They’re filled with meat, potatoes and veggies, and my kids can microwave them to take on busy mornings. Not only do these work as a satisfying breakfast, but they also make a great meal on busy nights or a filling after-school snack between activities.
Let the Slow Cooker Do the Work
Slow cookers are truly one of the greatest kitchen inventions, especially when it comes to getting a healthy dinner on the table for your family. Use it to make double batches of your family’s favorite meals. I like to utilize two slow cookers at the same time to accomplish the task of making a lot of food with a minimal amount of effort.
Whether it’s pulled pork for sandwiches, a satisfying stew or soup, pasta sauces or taco meat, the possibilities are endless when creating meals to freeze for upcoming busy evenings.
Tip: Spend an afternoon prepping marinades and meats, then store them in the freezer for grabbing ease when nice weather calls for cranking up the grill. Kebabs should always be on the menu!
Trade Meals With Friends
Freezer-meal prep gatherings can be organized with a group of friends, but if you want to keep things simple, consider just prepping on your own, then trading meals with them instead.
My best friend and I always trade soups and chili with each other. I use them for lunches throughout the week or store them in the freezer for later mealtime options. Instead of eating one soup for an entire week, I can trade half of it with her to provide a little variety.
Large-scale meal-trade gatherings can be helpful too, provided you all have similar taste in food. Select one dish, make five batches, then trade and freeze with friends for five different options to enjoy throughout the upcoming months.
Tip: Freezer meal parties are all the rage right now! Gather your friends, a bunch of ingredients, and host your own.
Make Holiday Preparations Easier
If you can believe it, I freeze almost all of my family’s entire holiday dinner every year, and it tastes just like the day I made it. Almost everything, except the turkey or ham, is made and prepped for the big day. Stocking the freezer gives me time to focus on readying the house for guests. You can make mashed potatoes, rolls, casseroles, sauces and gravy ahead of time, and break up the meal prep over the course of weeks instead of stressing over a marathon cooking day. Every year I congratulate myself for tackling the meal this way. And the best part? Your family can enjoy the yummy leftovers all week long.
Here are some quick and easy freezing guidelines for how long items will last in your freezer.
Baked quick breads: 2-3 months
Store-bought breads: 3 months
Flour: 1-2 years
Butter: 9 months
Margarine: 12 months
Hard natural cheeses: 6 months
Processed cheese: 6 months
Pork chops: 4-6 months
Beef: 6-9 months
Fish: 6 months
Chicken: 6-9 months
Bacon: 1 month
Egg substitute: 1 year
Keep these guidelines in mind when stocking up during grocery sales. After all, a freezer can be a great asset to any frugal family’s home!