Food can be one of the highest monthly expenses for many families, and with good reason. Whether you’re 90% or 10% real food, all food costs money—so it makes sense to be thoughtful and plan what you are going to eat to help avoid food waste (i.e money down the drain).
Time is also a commodity that I know I just can’t get enough of these days! Whether you’re a parent with kids in activities, have a full-time job, or find yourself getting busier and busier (even with the help of technology and such), being efficient with your time is always a good goal. So today I’m excited to talk about a cooking method that can help you save time and money: make-ahead real food FREEZER MEALS that are both tasty and healthy!
Freezer cooking is simply making and freezing meals, or freezing prepped ingredients for a meal, in order to make that crazy dinner hour easier. It’s usually done in bulk so that you have a few meals stashed away at a time. Or you can simply double a recipe you’re already making, enjoy one immediately, and freeze the leftovers for later that you can defrost/reheat on a busy weeknight.
There are resources out there that have loads of info on freezer cooking, and we love how our friends at Once a Month Meals constantly inspire us to cook this way (freezer meals are their thing!). Their page is a great resource for all types of freezer meal options (from allergy-friendly to keto to super quick and more).
I think you know the answer to this is YES! Here are some ways freezer meals are good for your bank account:
Meats will need to be thawed for ideally 24 hours in the fridge before using, even though some ignore this recommendation and say it’s fine. In addition, slow cooker freezer meal ingredients stored in freezer bags will need to be thawed as the large square won’t fit in the oval of the slow cooker :). Foods such as some baked goods needn’t be thawed before enjoying.
As mentioned above, it’s not recommended to cook frozen meat, chicken breasts (or other parts of a chicken) frozen, rather they should be defrosted prior to cooking. This applies to the Crock Pot¹ and Instant Pot. The best place to thaw freezer meals is in the refrigerator.
Healthy freezer meals are possible, and we love how Once a Month Meals has turned a number of our dishes into freezer recipes! In fact, they even have a mini-menu with 5 freezer-friendly recipes that make 10 yummy dinners! And bonus—it’s FREE to get! Simply click here to get your free 5 healthy freezer meals. Busy weeknights are certainly easier with real food (unprocessed) meals prepped ahead of time.
Also, here are six of our real food favorites that can easily be turned into freezer meals:
Recipe: Slow Cooker Green Salsa Chicken
To Freeze: Add the chicken, spices, beans, corn, and salsa to a freezer-friendly baggie or container. Seal and freeze in fridge freezer up to 6 months, or in deep freezer up to 12 months. Thaw and slow cook as directed.
Recipe: Bolognese Sauce
To Freeze: Brown the ground beef and chop the veggies, then add to container or baggie with tomato sauce and spices. Seal and freeze in fridge freezer up to 6 months, or in deep freezer up to 12 months. Thaw and reheat in a skillet, and serve with pasta.
Recipe: Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken
To Freeze: Add the chicken, onion, chickpeas, broth, and spices to baggie or container. Seal and freeze in fridge freezer up to 6 months, or in deep freezer up to 12 months. Thaw and slow cook as directed.
Recipes: Slow Cooker Flank Steak Fajitas
To Freeze: Add the flank steak, peppers, onion, garlic, jalapeno, spices, and soy sauce to baggie or container. Seal and freeze in fridge freezer up to 6 months, or in deep freezer up to 12 months. Thaw and slow cook as directed. Assemble fajitas on whole-wheat tortillas and add favorite toppings.
Recipe: Best Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
To Freeze: Add the pork roast, onion, honey, vinegar, and spices to baggie or container. Seal and freeze in fridge freezer up to 6 months, or in deep freezer up to 12 months. Thaw and slow cook as directed. Shred and strain meat, and serve with favorite BBQ side dishes.
Recipe: Slow Cooker Steak Chili
To Freeze: Add stew beef, tomatoes, beans, onion, and spices to baggie or container. Seal and freeze in fridge freezer up to 6 months, or in deep freezer up to 12 months. Thaw and slow cook as directed, and then add preferred toppings.
As you can see, there are so many benefits to prepping freezer meals. Talk about getting organized (and saving time and money)! I have tried Once a Month Meals myself and know how much time it can save. With just a little prep work and one solid day of cooking, you can be set for weeks. Have you tried freezer cooking yet?
¹ – https://www.fsis.usda.gov/shared/PDF/Slow_Cookers_and_Food_Safety.pdf
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