Freezer Meals add to the comfort of your home in so many ways. First off, it makes for a much calmer Mama. When Rugby season starts back up and I get home at 6:15 in the evening, dinner is already in the crockpot, ready to go and smelling amazing. I’m not rushing about, and trying to get dinner on by bedtime and I’m not stopping by McDonalds, spending money I can’t afford to spend on food that is terrible for my family’s health. Freezer Meals can be very healthy, easy to assemble, easy to cook and just an all around sanity saver for all involved. Plus, it’s extremely friendly to your wallet. This last round of Freezer Meals I made got me 20 meals for $375! That’s for 8 people!!! (so if you’re a family of four, you could make 40 meals for $375!)
(all those cherries are from our tree and I intend to get as far into Winter as possible with them! And the sour cream buckets are what I use to freeze all the bone broth I make for soups)
Freezer meals don’t have to be crock pot meals
In fact, if you don’t own a crockpot, you can still make a months worth of meals that you can grill, saute, bake in the oven, or soup that you can heat up on the stove top. But I do like crockpot meals because it gives me the freedom to be the Mom cheering on the sidelines (or reading a good book) that I want to be. I can be more versatile, I can read my five year old our favorite book, I can concentrate on homeschooling, I can go for an evening walk with my teenage daughter, I can pick my husband up from work, I can answer a phone call from my aging Aunt, I can be more than just someone who is trying to feed stomachs, I can feed hearts and souls too.
Lets get started!
I know that the idea of making so many meals at once seems extremely daunting and overwhelming, but let me assure you that conglomerating all of your work into one chunk and saving yourself a months worth of work is well worth it.
- Find something productive for your children to do, or if they’re little, get a mothers helper to be around so that you won’t be interrupted. (I lucked out this last time. Everyone took their birthday money to Walmart beforehand and bought themselves Lego sets. They were immersed for hours!!)
- Compile a notebook of recipes specifically for freezer meals and crockpot meals. I use plastic sheet protectors because I can get a bit messy. Keep a list in your binder of foods that freeze well and those that don’t. (potatoes don’t freeze well!!!)
- Make a giant shopping list of all the ingredients you need. The trick is trying to find recipes that share ingredients. Mexican, Asian, Indian curries all share similar ingredients like Chicken, Onions, Bell Peppers, etc. That way, you are buying more of the same thing, rather than dozens of different ingredients.
- Shop in the morning! That way, you can get back home and get right down to it. It may be hard to fit all those ingredients in the fridge for another day.
- Put on peppy music. Something that will keep you going. Get your groove on, boogie on down, get funky! Dance in your apron girl!
- Start with a clean kitchen, there is nothing more overwhelming than having a sink full of dirty dishes that you have to work around. Also, you won’t be searching for the veggie peeler because it will be clean and in the drawer, right where you put it. This saves so much time and hassle. Make sure to clean as you go, keeping things clean and organized makes for quick work!
- Have supplies ready to go. Namely ziplock bags: gallon or better yet, 2 gallon if you are in my family. Have a good working Sharpie, and don’t forget to make room in your freezer!
- Keep a knife and chopping board for veggies and a separate knife and chopping board for meat. Get out your can opener, get out the salt and pepper, get out the olive oil and make a station, so that everything is streamlined and you’re not doing more dancing around the kitchen then is needed.
- Wear good shoes, especially if your deep freezer is somewhere else and you need to be putting meals one by one into the freezer. (I usually wait til I have about 3-4, I put them in a laundry hamper and transport them. Less trips.)
- Go with your gut instinct. If a recipe sounds disgusting… it probably is. Cooking chicken with a bottle of salad dressing is usually unappetizing. Making Asian food using ketchup is gross. It just is. Be discerning. We’ve found that a lot of Asian dishes using things like soy sauce, and pineapple doesn’t cook up well in the crockpot after freezing. It turns funky. I usually bake those or saute. The consistency of the sauce is much better.
- Watch for cooking times when you do crockpot cooking. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve over cooked things and had them taste horrible, or have that slightly burnt taste because I didn’t pay attention to the cook times. Chicken is famous for this! Pork shoulders, Chuck roast and soups are a lot more forgiving.Chicken thighs cook much better for a longer cook time than chicken breasts. Chicken breasts can turn out rubbery and blah if you overcook them.
- Make sure to thaw out your freezer meal. Every now and then you can get away with sticking something in the crockpot that is frozen, but I usually thaw them out first. Things don’t stick together and cook unevenly if they have been thawed out first.
Some recipes for you!
I have found that websites like Budget Bytes or Living Well Spending Less have a ton of amazing recipes. I get most of my recipes from those two sites. They seem to capture my opinion on cooking. I like natural ingredients. I’m not a “cook chicken with a jar of this and a can of that” kinda gal. The fewer ingredients, the better as far as cutting down costs, but also simpler things just tend to mesh better in the freezer or in the crockpot.
Here are some of the meals I made this month.
Marinades for the grill: (I always cut chicken breasts in half length wise so that I get more chicken breasts for my dollar. They absorb the marinade better and cook in less time)
- Yogurt Curry Chicken Marinade: a half tub of yogurt, 3 Tablespoons of Curry powder, 2 teaspoons of lime juice, 2 teaspoons of brown sugar, some salt. Place chicken and ingredients in a bag, mix well. Grill when ready. Serve with Basmati rice and naan bread! So good!
- Cilantro Lime Chicken: this is our favorite! And honestly, you can do this with chicken thighs and bake it at 400 degrees for an hour and it is AMAZING! Cut up one bunch of cilantro, a dash of olive oil,3 tablespoons of lime juice, fresh minced garlic, (everyone has different tastes, I’m not going to restrict your garlic use.)salt and pepper. Mix well with Chicken. Serve in tacos or shred chicken for burritos. Goes well with Cilantro lime Rice!
- Coconut Lime Chicken: toss chicken breasts in 1 can of coconut milk, 3 Tablespoons of Lime juice, freshly minced garlic, salt and pepper, and 3 teaspoons brown sugar. Serve with rice. (put the lime in the coconut and eat it all up!)
- Honey Dijon Chicken: toss chicken in 4 tablespoons dijon mustard, 3 Tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 3 Tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. This can be grilled, or baked in an oven for 25 minutes at 350 or if using Chicken Thighs, 400 for an hour.
- Chicken Fajitas: I usually saute mine in a wok. A much better, less mushier option! Slice thinly one onion, 2 red bell peppers and 1 green bell pepper. Next, thinly slice chicken breasts finely. Add to this combo: Salt, Pepper, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon chipotle powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon coriander, 1/2 chili powder. Saute in olive oil til crispy and serve with tortillas.
For the Crockpot:
Easy Freezer Pulled Pork served on a bun with coleslaw. So good, so easy!
Chicken Ropa Vieja, going to serve on Tortilla chips!
Balsamic Beef, served with Egg noodles
Thai Peanut Pork with Red Peppers serve with rice noodles!
5 spice chicken, served with rice.
southwest chicken, serve with Spanish rice or tortilla chips!
I also bought things for the freezer like ribs on sale, hamburgers, hot dogs, extra drumsticks I can stick on the BBQ with some sauce. Because after all, it’s summer and the time is right! I might not make these freezer meals every single night. We love nights where I make a salad, with some garlic bread and call it a night. We also intersperse things like Bean and Cheese Burritos, or Lentil Stew to keep grocery costs low. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask and I will try to answer them as quickly as possible.
The Hygge Homemaker,