In my mind, I look at restaurants and how many of their menu items must be prepped at least to a certain degree so that your food arrives at the table within a short amount of time. Even aside from restaurants, if you take a walk down the freezer aisle of a supermarket, you'll notice frozen dinners that have been prepped ahead... and the vast options of frozen dinners seems to be growing everyday. Taking a cue from restaurants and convenience meal ideas, it wasn't hard at all to make freezer meals that taste as good as if you made it the same day. Here's how...
- Decide how you want your meals to be prepared.
For the meals I prepared for my freezer, I chose to have them prepared either in a slow cooker/crockpot, baked in the oven, microwaved, grilled and also on the stovetop. Having meals prepared in a variety of ways keeps things fresh... because after while, if everything is microwaved or baked or grilled, etc, you'll lose interest in the meal.
- Approach a recipe and prepare it up until the last steps.
- For slowcooker/crockpot meals, gather all the ingredients that will need to go into the slowcooker/crockpot. If some of the ingredients need to be cooked first (ex: ground beef, chicken, etc), be sure to cook as directed and then combine with the remaining ingredients that will go into the slowcooker/crockpot. When you're ready to make your slowcooker/crockpot meal, all you'll need to do is defrost and throw it in the slowcooker/crockpot to finish cooking.
- For grilled meals, marinate and/or season meats and vegetables as directed in the recipe. When you're ready to grill, all you'll need to do is defrost and throw it on the grill to finish cooking.
- For baked meals, prepare the recipe up until the point where you have to bake it in the oven. Prepare the recipe in ovenproof, freezer safe containers (more on the containers in a bit...) When you're ready to bake, all you'll need to do is defrost and throw it in the oven to finish cooking.
- For stovetop meals, prepare the recipe up until the point where you cook it on the stovetop. When you're ready, all you'll need to do is defrost and finish cooking on the stovetop.
- For microwaved meals, you'll want to prepare the recipe completely as directed. Allow it to cool and then freeze so that when you're ready to enjoy it, it can be heated up.
- Use the appropriate food storage containers for the freezer.
- Disposable Muffin Pans: I used these pans solely for muffins I made in advance. Having a disposable pan made it more convenient to freeze muffins in smaller batches and hold it's shape.
- Disposable Loaf & Bake Pans: I used these pans for a variety of dishes including lasagnas, casseroles, meatloaf, breads, etc. They're a perfect container to hold a meal enough for 2 people and are great to go from freezer to oven.
Stay tuned for the freezer meal recipes! With my baby boy coming home from the hospital tonight, we'll be enjoying all the freezer meals I've prepared starting Monday.