SAVE TIME AND MONEY ON FAMILY DINNERS!
1: YOU’LL HAVE TO COOK FOR AN ENTIRE DAY
Nope. You could choose to do it that way – like spend an entire Sunday making a bunch of meals that can last you a month but if you don’t have an extra freezer (see myth # 3) you won’t have room for that. If you lead a crazy busy life or are a single mom like me, you just don’t have that large time block. There are multiple ways to do Freezer Cooking and doing “once a month” meals is just one option. You could also:
Cook twice + freeze one
Making a lasagna or enchiladas? Chili or potato soup? Just make extra and freeze it. You’re spending the time making the first one, might as well spend an extra few minutes and make two! This is how I began my meal-freezin’ journey, just by freezing extra soup, spaghetti sauce (or gravy as we call it #italiansunite). Try this one, it’s totally the easiest.
Bag a slow cooker meal ahead of time
Oh this one. Now this one I personally think saves the most time. Because there’s no cooking involved (#timesaver) and most of them go from freezer to slow cooker (#megatimesaver). If you can throw in a crockpot, you can probably throw it in a bag and the freezer. I always go for the no-cook recipes, even more of a #timesaver! There are lots of suggestions on Pinterest, cookbooks devoted to slow cookers, and blogs you can check out.
Freeze cooked, individual meal components
Freezing individual parts of meals would save you a ton of time too! Taco meat? Homemade chicken broth for soup? Make a slow-cooker full of pulled chicken breasts and use it for enchiladas, chicken soup, or philly chicken sandwiches.
Focus on one: breakfast or lunch or dinner
You don’t have to freeze dinners. You could just freeze breakfasts (man, how much time would that save in the morning???). Think: muffins, breakfast burritos, bagels with cream cheese, smoothie packs, the list goes on. Or you could do lunches and freeze individual soups, chili, mac + cheese, sandwiches, burritos. It doesn’t always have to be about dinner!
2: SUPPLIES ARE TOO EXPENSIVE
Sure, you could go out and buy an a brand new Instant Pot, and those cute little glass containers, some reusable freezer labels, and even bag holders.
But you really don’t need any of that.
At the very least, you’ll just need some plastic freezer bags in quart and gallon size and a sharpie! (I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess you probably already have those???) And maybe an extra roll of plastic wrap or aluminum foil, depending on what you’ll be freezing.
I’m going to say something mind-blowing here – you would even save money if you DID go out and buy those things. Ya know why? Because that $100 you spend NOW will prevent you from spending lots of money LATER. Like take-out, drive-thru, last-minute groceries, etc.
freezer meal myth #3: YOU NEED AN EXTRA FREEZER
Is an extra freezer mega helpful? Heck yeah. I had a small stand-up one and it was great because I could buy meat in bulk when it was on sale and freeze it. But you definitely don’t need one. The freezer attached to your fridge will hold plenty, especially if it’s well organized. I suggest some plastic bins from the dollar store to help utilize every inch of that baby. Plastic file folder bins work especially well and if you label it by type of food, you’ll not only be able to stock it but actually find everything!
4: YOU’LL BE EATING CASSEROLE AFTER CASSEROLE
Oh man, nobody loves a freezer casserole (except maybe Grandma). Here’s the thing: you can freeze just about anything with a little prep before hand. Again, nobody says you have to prep your meals ONE way. If you don’t like frozen lasagna, guess what? Don’t freeze lasagna. What about Grilled Pineapple burgers? Tuscan Chicken soup with breadsticks? Quick and creamy Mac ’n Cheese? Garlic Bread Meatball Subs? None of those are a mushy casserole and they’re all meals you can freeze ahead of time.
5: IT’S BORING, THE FOOD WILL TASTE LIKE FREEZER BURN, AND YOUR KIDS WILL HATE YOU
Okay, that might be a little dramatic, but people really feel this way! I know I sound like a broken record by now but you can just make what you already like and eat! And as for freezer burn, there are two main ways to avoid it:
1. Don’t leave it in the freezer for too long
2. Protect it well – Use plastic bags designed for the freezer because they’re thicker, use a straw to suck the air out of the bags before freezing, put a layer of saran wrap over a casserole before aluminum foil. You get the idea..
Now, if your kids hating you for freezing meals, well that’s probably a bit extreme. But if they are that concerned with kitchen shenanigans maybe you should promote them to #kitchenmanager!
6: YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO BUY EXTRA FOOD AHEAD OF TIME
I don’t know your specific situation, but I’d bet my cup of Cinnamon Spice coffee that you could work it into your budget. You’ll probably find that you CAN do it with a little creative meal planning and budgeting AND that it will save you money in the long run. Having a meal in the freezer means you don’t have to spend money last minute ordering take-out. But honestly, it’ll definitely save you more than a few bucks – you can do some serious budget-slashing with freezer meal prep.
7: YOU HAVE TO USE THE MICROWAVE TO RE-HEAT
I don’t really like reheating stuff in the microwave, so we’re probably on the same page there. If you’re NOT doing the 30 meals in a day kinda’ thing (see myth #1) then the freezer will just be storage until the day of, then you’ll actually COOK it the same day you eat it. Avoiding the rubbery reheats! If you are doing the 30 meals in one day kinda’ thing and you are reheating an entire dinner, just utilize your stove instead. I really don’t use the microwave to heat anything up (I do have a few exceptions, like #caramelpopcorn).
Ok, there you have it – all 7 myths that I’ve ever heard about freezer meal planning. Ready to give it a try? It definitely saves you money and time, but most of all – it’ll save your your sanity on those days where the proverbial straw is going to break your back!
So, ready to get a tattoo on your bicep that says “I heart freezer meals” yet???