Whether you're a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, preparing meals can be a daunting and time-consuming task. When you or the kids are hungry, and you're short on time, it's easy to grab something not-so-healthy just because it's quick. But, by spending a few hours a week preparing meals and freezing them, you can eliminate much of the stress related to meal prep. The end result is that you'll eat better as well as save yourself so much time and money! But, what kinds of foods freeze well? How should you store them in the freezer? We will give you the low-down, along with some favorite recipes!
Tools of the Trade
You'll need a few things before you get started preparing and freezing your meals.
- Zip top baggies in gallon size and sandwich size
- Plastic wrap
- Large reusable containers that you don't need on a daily basis. We love these, made by Wean Green.
- Muffins and quick breads (like pumpkin bread) freeze really well. The best way to freeze them is to wrap each muffin or slice of quick bread individually, using plastic wrap.When you're ready to eat one, take it out of the freezer, unwrap it and set it on the counter for about an hour. It'll defrost slowly and no moisture will build up. Then, you can grab it and eat it whenever you have a minute.
- French toast and pancakes also freeze well.
Lunch & Dinner
When it comes to lunch and dinner foods, the key is to decide whether you'll freeze in individual portions or one large portion.
- If you freeze individual portions, they'll defrost/reheat faster. But, when it's time to eat, you'll have to decide how many portions to defrost.
- With one big batch, the defrosting/reheating time takes longer, but then you'll have a big meal to serve the whole family.
You can put frozen food straight into the oven or you can defrost it in the refrigerator and then heat.
When freezing individual portions, use muffin tins! Silicone ones work best, but your regular muffin tins will work too. Just be sure to lightly grease the muffin tin.
(Try our recipe for homemade natural cooking spray to safely grease your tins!)
Make your favorite chili, soup or sauce (like the pesto below!) and freeze it in muffin tins. Once it's fully frozen, pop out the individual portions and store them in zip top bags.
Slow Cooker Freezer Meals
- Put all ingredients together and freeze them raw.
- Take them out of the freezer the night before you're going to use them so they defrost. (It's ok if they're not 100% thawed by time you are ready to put them in the slow cooker, but they can't be frozen solid.)
- In the morning, dump them into your slow cooker and set it for 6-7 hours on low.
- Later on you'll have a great meal with no fuss!
Shelf Life of Frozen Foods
In general, frozen food keeps for approximately 1-3 months. For this reason it's helpful to keep track of the date you made each food.
- If you've made a big batch of food, label the container with the date.
- If you're storing food individually (like individual muffins or pancakes), make a list with the date prepared and tape it inside the freezer so you won't forget. It's quicker than labeling each individual portion!
Recipe Ideas--Meals that Freeze Well
Here are a few of our favorite recipes that freeze well. Many of these can easily be adapted to be vegetarian, too!
1. Zucchini Muffins (pictured above) from Yes I want Cake
2. Pesto (pictured above) from Rachael Ray
3. Crockpot Honey Sesame Chicken (pictured above) from Chef in Training
4. Sausage and Lentil Soup from My Baking Addiction
5. All American Chili from Cooking Light Magazine