Hi there! I know it can be hard to find the time for cooking, especially when our lives get hectic. That’s why I love freezer meals! They make it so much easier to have a delicious home-cooked meal on the table without all the hassle. But what makes a good freezer meal? Let’s take a look!
Freezer Meals 101
Freezer meals are any kind of dish you can make ahead and freeze for later. This can include casseroles, slow cooker dishes, burritos, enchiladas, meatballs—anything you can think of! The great thing about freezer meals is that they are so easy to make ahead and save for future use. All you have to do is place the ingredients in airtight freezer bags. I recommend using good quality, gallon-sized freezer bags (not those flimsy sandwich bags!) They can lay flat in your freezer and take up less space than a bulky container. Just make sure that any bags used are made specifically for freezing, not just regular sandwich bags, which can easily rip when frozen solid! Then place your bags or freezer-safe containers in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.
Be sure to label them with the recipe name, date of preparation, and cooking instructions to save any confusion when you are ready to cook! I recommend printing these labels on computer paper or water-resistant stickers and taping/attaching them to your bags PRIOR to meal prep.
Casseroles and One-Dish Meals
These are one of my favorite types of freezer meals because they require minimal prep work. All you need to do is assemble your ingredients in a baking dish, casserole pan, or even a large freezer bag, then freeze it until you’re ready to bake or cook it. This type of meal typically requires little more than tossing some ingredients together and throwing them in the oven or slow cooker when you’re ready. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
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Hearty Freezer Meals
If you’re looking for something more complex and substantial than just tossing ingredients together in a pan or bag, try making hearty freezer meals like meatballs or enchiladas. Some of these recipes require cooking before freezing. This way, the flavors will be more pronounced and the texture will remain nice and tender after reheating. To make these dishes even easier, try using cooked shredded chicken or ground beef from your grocery store’s deli section as part of your ingredients list. It’ll save precious time while still making sure your dish tastes fantastic!
Cooking Your Freezer Meal
When it comes time to cook your frozen dish, there are several options available depending on what kind of meal you made:
- Oven: If you made something like lasagna or enchiladas that needs baking again before serving, preheat your oven according to instructions and bake until heated through (usually around 25 minutes).
- Crockpot or the Instant Pot: If you made something like chili or stew that needs to be cooked before serving, by thawing them overnight in the refrigerator, and then cooking in the Crockpot or the Instant Pot. Slow cook on low heat for 4-6 hours (or high heat for 2-3 hours) or follow your Instant Pot directions.
- Stovetop: If you made something like meatballs or burritos that only needs to be reheated before serving, transfer them into a pot over medium heat with some oil and heat until hot throughout (usually around 10 minutes).
Get Creative With Your Freezer Meals
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your freezer meals! Try adding cheese or parmesan on top of casseroles before freezing them for extra flavor when reheated; mix up different vegetables into dishes like chili or stew; add spices like garlic powder or oregano; use leftover shredded chicken instead of ground beef; substitute different types of beans; swap out beef broth with vegetable broth — whatever suits your taste buds!
Freezer meals are an amazing way to save time while still enjoying delicious home-cooked meals any day of the week. Whether you’re making something simple like lasagna with store-bought noodles or taking some extra time on something heartier like meatballs with homemade sauce — just remember what makes a good freezer meal: minimal prep work beforehand combined with fantastic flavor at the table.