Wondering how to make freezer meals? It’s so easy. I’m here with some great tips on how to make easy freezer meals for those who don’t have the time to cook every night (which I think is everyone, right?) Make-ahead freezer meals are such an easy and cost-effective way to ensure you always have a hot, delicious meal ready and waiting. Here’s what you need to know about making freezer meals.
What You Need to Make Freezer Meals
Before you start cooking, there are a few things that you’ll need to prepare your meals.
I recommend using: 1) good quality, gallon-sized freezer bags (not those flimsy sandwich bags!) 2) a good quality chef’s knife, and 3) a cutting board.
As you get more experience, you may want to consider investing in a pressure cooker (Instant Pot) or a slow cooker (Crockpot). These come at various price points to fit most budgets, but here is the Instant Pot and Crockpot I use. I also strongly recommend buying some bag holders. These make the experience much more enjoyable, make meal prep quicker, and keep your kitchen cleaner. But they are not required; you can start without making a significant outlay.
You might need to pick up some extra items like herbs and spices, which will help to flavor your meals and keep them from getting boring over time.
Finally, you’ll want some labels so that you can quickly identify what’s inside each container or bag when it comes time to thaw and prepare your meal. Make it easy by using these blank labels for your freezer bags. and affix the labels to the bags before you begin.
Choosing Your Recipes
Next up is choosing your recipes! We have a great selection of easy freezer meal recipes in our database. (Sign up to get full access to our recipe database and more!)
When picking out recipes for your freezer meals, something that works well is picking dishes that have similar ingredients so that you can buy them in bulk and save money in the long run. You could pick several shredded chicken recipes to prep at the same time, or a number of different hearty recipes with a tomato sauce base. Whether it is burritos, chicken pot pie, or cheesy mac and cheese, there is something for everyone.
Prepping the Ingredients
After you’ve chosen your recipes, it’s time for the prepping! This step will help ensure that your food stays fresh and doesn’t get soggy or mushy when frozen. Start by washing your vegetables, chopping them as needed, then blanching them if necessary (boiling them briefly before freezing). Then, prep any meat dishes by trimming fat off the meat and seasoning as desired before freezing. Just follow the directions in our recipes, and you won’t go wrong.
Labeling Your Freezer Meals
It is easier to label your containers before filling them, so take a minute to label them with their contents so that you know what they are when it comes time for dinner later on down the line. This will save you time (and sanity!) when trying to find something quick in a pinch. Don’t forget to include the date they were prepared so you can eat them before they expire. And if you have special dietary needs in your family, such as allergies, gluten-free, or vegan, be sure to indicate who they are safe for on the label.
Assembling Your Meals
Now it’s time for assembly! Start by layering all ingredients into individual containers or bags according to their recipe instructions. Make sure to fill them out appropriately! If using bags, squeeze out any excess air before sealing them shut. If using glass or plastic containers, seal them tightly with lids or plastic wrap before placing them into the freezer.
Storing Your Meals
Finally, store all of your frozen meals in an organized fashion in the freezer. This could mean stacking them according to type (e.g., chicken dishes together) or separating them into categories like breakfast/lunch/dinner, etc. Make sure they fit comfortably together and won’t topple whenever someone opens the door! Also, don’t leave too much space between items, as this will cause cold air pockets, which can reduce shelf life significantly over time—no one wants soggy food, after all! Keep them separated by about half an inch. This ensures air can flow between the spaces and maintain an even temperature.
Enjoying Your Freezer Meals
And there you have it—all that’s left is for you to enjoy your delicious creations! Simply thaw them as noted below, then reheat according to their directions. Voila! Dinner is served!
It is safe to cook your freezer meals completely frozen in the Instant Pot, but I typically do not. I suggest thawing your meals in the fridge overnight, under cold water for a few minutes or putting them in a pot and giving them a quick cold-water bath. Why do I do this? Because I cook my recipes for a serving size of six, it can be challenging to fit the entire meal into my Instant Pot or Crockpot when its completely frozen. By thawing my meals, even for just a few minutes, I can break them apart into much smaller pieces and have everything fit. If you’re low on time or you have no issues getting your entire meal into your Instant Pot, then feel free to cook it frozen.
Just remember that your meal will take a little more time to cook if it hasn’t been thawed. When it comes to Crockpot, always thaw our freezer meal before cooking it. Cooking frozen food in the Crockpot can lead to growing bacteria in your food or even breaking your pot.
I hope this article gives you the confidence to start preparing your own freezer meals. Preparing ahead of time may take some extra effort upfront but trust me—it will be worth it when life gets hectic, but you have a hot meal ready to serve your hungry family.