Freezer Meals 101: Tips and Tricks for Successful Freezer Meals

Get my great tips plus a FREE printable shopping list for planning your freezer meals!

Twice in the last year my friend Wendy and I have gotten together and make multiple freezer meals. The last time we did our freezer meal shopping we used my new shopping list.  You can also use this if you meal plan for a week or two at a time. I am sharing it with you today along with some tips for making better freezer meals.
Freezer Meals 101 includes a Free Printable Shopping listThis Shopping list will help you plan 7 different recipes at a time. At the top of the list you put the names of each meal. Then you go down the list and put the quantities of each item you will need for your recipe. The shopping list has the following categories:

  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Canned Boxed Foods
  • Sauces and Condiment
  • Produce
  • Breads/Pasta
  • Spices and Extracts
  • Hard Goods (ie. plastic bags, foil etc.)
  • Other
 

Freezer Meals 101, Includes a great printable Freezer Meal Shopping List and some of the best tips and tricks for freezing! / Miss Information Blog/ #backtoschoolweek #freezermeals #makeaheadmeals 

First you will write the names of each recipe across the top.  Then you will put the quantity of each ingredient needed for that recipe under that recipes column. You can use the notes section to the side to write specifics like diced, chopped, etc. When you are finished you will total each ingredient to the LEFT! I know you are saying, “Isn’t that backwards?” Well yes it is and here is why, when you go shopping the quantity of what you need is right next to the ingredient so you are not having to drag your finger across the page. This also allows you to cut the ingredient and quantity off to make your shopping list more manageable if you wish before you go shopping.
Wendy and I used this the last time we did our freezer cooking and it make our shopping trip quick and easy. If you would like to download this shopping list you can do so by clicking on this link Freezer Cooking Shopping List

Freezer Meals 101, Includes a great printable Freezer Meal Shopping List and some of the best tips and tricks for freezing! / Miss Information Blog/ #backtoschoolweek #freezermeals #makeaheadmeals

Now I want to share with you some easy tips for freezing meals:

Prep:

  • Shop the day before you cook not the day of. If you have time shop your grocery flyers to get the best deals on each meat. Some stores price match, like Wal-Mart, so take your sales form others stores and they will match the price saving you run around time.
  • This is much more fun to do with a friend. Wendy and I made over 30 meals starting around 10 am and getting done about 4 pm. We took our time and a few breaks.
  • You will need multiple measuring spoons, measuring cups and big bowl and pots so if you are cooking with a friend have them bring there’s as well.
  • If you have kids ask the Dad’s to keep them busy or pitch in for a babysitter together.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, comfy clothes (in my case yoga pants and a t-shirt) and put on some good music.
  • Prep multiple recipes at once by dicing all your onions at one time browning all your hamburger together, etc., (see how to not cry when you chop onions here)
  • Write the name of the recipe, date made, and if there are easy instructions like just an oven temp add that as well. Do this BEFORE you put ingredients in the bag.
  • If you have a family of 4 and the recipe calls for 6 then double it and you can make it into 3 meals.

Cooking and Packaging:

  • If you have sauces that need to cook do these first so they can be simmering while you make other things. Let them cool some before bagging them.
  • If you are making recipes such as Manicotti use a Ziploc bag and snip the bottom corner to fill them. No need for a fancy pastry bag.
  • If your pasta comes with trays like Manicotti noodles save these trays to put the shells back in for freezing. This will help them hold there shape and you can slip it into a Ziploc bag with the sauce in another bag.
  • Some recipes do great in Freezer bags, When using these you will want to close the bag 75% then press out all the extra air before you finish closing it. Lay all your bags flat on a cookie sheet.
  • When making recipes with stuffed chicken breasts, pork chops or any individual meat item such as hamburgers wrap each one in plastic wrap before putting them in a freezer bag. This allows you to pull out only the amount you need each time. This is especially useful if you have kids that are often not there for dinner.
  • Casseroles usually do better in pans so invest in some good glass ones with covers or get throw away foil pans. Do not bother to get the foil pans with he plastic covers they are useless. You can wrap them in foil and plastic wrap and they will do just fine.
  • Get Reynolds Non Stick foil for casseroles topped with cheese, trust me it is worth the extra pennies.
  • Do everything in assembly line style. We made 6 pork roasts with the same recipe so we set up all our bags and put 1 ingredient in all 6 bags, them went to the next recipe. It makes it much easier.
  • Pull out all your ingredients before you start each recipe.
  • Don’t be afraid to customize the recipe to your families tastes. If your kids don’t like mushrooms leave them out or sub them with something else.
  • If you have leftover onions freeze them in 1 cup increments for using in recipes later. You can also freeze herbs in water, tomato paste and lemon juice in ice cube trays then pop them out into freezer bags for later.
  • Feel free to pop open a beer or bottle of wine while you cook it makes it more fun.
  • Plan to have one of the meals you are making for dinner that night, trust me you won’t want to cook something else! You may even just order Pizza which I know is so against what you are doing here but its sometimes necessary for your sanity.

Freezer Tips:

  • Lay your freezer bags flat in your freezer not standing up. You will fit lots more in.
  • Make a list of what you have in your freezer and put it on the door so you can mark them off when you pull one out. This will always let you know what you have. You can also use a dry erase marker on your freezer door.
  • If some of your meals are cooked first let the temp come down before you put it in the freezer so it does not lower the temp of your freezer too much
  • When you put a lot of freezer meals in at one time it will take longer for them to freeze. It can take up to 2 days.
  • How Long will your meals last?
    • Raw Meats – Chicken 10 months, Fish 2-3 months, Ground Beef 3 months, Pork Roast 4-6 months, Beef Roast 7-9 months, and Pork Chops or Ribs 2-3 months, Steaks 7-9 months, Whole Chicken or Turkeys 6 months
    • Cooked Meals – Meat and Poultry in Sauces 5-6 months, Pasta Dishes 2-3 Months,  Sauces, Soups and Stews  5-6 Months, Side dishes 2-3 months, Quiche or Egg dishes 3 months

Now it’s time to enjoy! Here is a freezer meal for Italian Pesto Chicken, and a post I did on 25 things you probably didn’t know you can freeze for you to get even more out of your freezer meals. Below that are some of my favorite Freezer Meal Cookbooks and tools for freezer cooking with your kids from Kizmos. 

Freezer Meals 101, Includes a great printable Freezer Meal Shopping List and some of the best tips and tricks for freezing! / Miss Information Blog/ #backtoschoolweek #freezermeals #makeaheadmeals

 

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Kelley Wilson

I love to cook, drink wine and craft. I live in Georgia with my husband and 2 sons. My goal this year is to become a better photographer and spend more time with my boys,

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