As a mom of four little ones, you would think I would have my meal planning together. My response would be “Meal planning? What’s that?” Up until about three weeks ago, I did not have a meal planning system in place. There were many days where it would be 4pm and I would think to myself, “What am I going to make for dinner tonight?” This was getting out of hand and I knew I needed to put something in place to help get me organized and prepared for dinner. I saw Kara Foster had posted about freezer cooking and how great it was to have meals ready to just throw in her crock pot. Kara has been a great help to me. Since meeting with her and taking notes while she did her thing, I have implemented a meal planning system and have gradually started making freezer meals.
Here are Kara’s tips and tricks to freezer meals:
I love doing freezer meals for my family. With 3 boys and working full time – it’s a sanity/life saver! There are several steps that go into the process before I even start to cook and freeze. Let me try to explain.
1. Prepare. I watch sales ads to see which meats are on sale and then decide on recipes.
2. List, List, List. I make a list of all ingredients needed. I make a list of all the meals I’m preparing and sides to go with. I decide if I will make a single or double of the recipe. Next, double check my cupboards to ensure I, either, have the ingredients needed or add them to my shopping list. Even if I’m sure I have the ingredient – I check. I also consider how I will freeze the food. Either freezer bags or aluminum pans – and I make sure I have enough.
3. Shopping. I typically shop a day or two in advance so I don’t have to do everything in one day. (That can be exhausting.)
4. Prepare. I always do cooked shredded chicken. This way I have prepared chicken for casseroles, enchiladas, salads, soups – basically any recipe that calls for the chicken to be cooked – its ready. I also then have chicken broth to use for soup and freeze any leftovers. I do this the night before in my slow cooker and then it’s ready when needed.
5. Cooking. When cooking I start with anything that has to simmer or bake, then I move on to quicker meals that will be placed in the freezer immediately. In other words I try to go from longer to shorter prep times.
6. List. I check the recipes off my list as I go. Then I make one list for the refrigerator so I know what meals are on hand. My husband and kids also like to choose which meal we will have for the next night. Typically we have two or three meals then a night of leftovers.
There are plenty of sites that offer freezer meal tutorials and recipes. I’ve found ones that work for my family. I’ve turned several recipes into freezer meals that my family enjoys. It doesn’t have to be labeled a “freezer meal” to throw it into the freezer. -Kara
Here are a few recipes that I have tried so far that I thought were great!! -Angie
If you have some freezer recipes that you love, please share them in the comments!!