Inside: How I find easy, make ahead freezer meals for my family that doesn’t take up a lot of my time.
(This post probably contains affiliate links. My full disclosure policy is quite boring, but you can read it here if you’d like!)
I bet we’d be on the same page if I said “dinnertime is freakin’ stressful”. You know what’s my ticket to a stress-free dinnertime? It’s easy, make ahead freezer meals!
I’m going to show you how to quickly (like, really quickly!) find meals your family will love, and then give you all the tools you need to easily make ahead these freezer meals. This will save you SO. MUCH. TIME.
Say it with me: The freezer is NOT just for half eaten cartons of ice cream!
It is one of the best tools in your kitchen and it has the power to help you get dinner on the table in a flash so that your evening is not filled with angst and stress. I don’t know about you, but anything that saves me time and stress is a bonus in my book.
Having prepared meals in the freezer is critical to an enjoyable mealtime.
So what do you need to do before you dive head first into make ahead freezer meals?
1. Do a really quick purge and clean out of your freezer
Then go buy a bin that fits in your freezer to keep all your freezer meals in (I use this one but you can find a similar one from the dollar store, but keep in mind you’ll have to replace it every few months).
2. Sell your firstborn child and buy a second freezer (kidding. don’t email me.) aka Gather your freezer meal tools
If you’re anything like me…you thought freezing your meals in advance requires an extra freezer and buying plastic containers in bulk, hoarder-style.
Guess what? it doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, having an extra freezer is ah-ma-zing for buying food in bulk and making tons of freezer meals – I’d even go as far to say that an extra freezer would save you boatloads of money in the long run. But totally not necessary.
The only things you’ll actually need are a bunch of good quality gallon size freezer bags (don’t get regular – they’re not as thick) and a sharpie. That’s it.
3. Ok, now it’s time to find recipes
Here’s where everyone gives up. There’s just so much out there, that you don’t know to find the best make ahead freezer meals! I’m going to help you with that… First, some knowledge.
There are 4 different types of freezer meals:
- Cook ahead, freeze, and reheat (think: make two lasagnas then freeze one)
- Grab and go (think: burritos, muffins, sandwiches, filled meal prep containers)
- Pre-made meal components (think: shredded chicken, marinara sauce, chicken stock)
- Bag a slow cooker or sheet pan meal ahead of time (also called “dump and go” meals; just dump the raw ingredients into a freezer bag and freeze until cooking day)
If you’re looking to save time (which is what I’m assuming since the title of this post is How to Make Ahead Freezer Meals Even if you Have No Time) then I highly suggest (read: just do it and stop questioning me already) #4: the bagged crockpot meals.
You basically have 3 options for finding good recipes…
Don’t get me wrong, I love Pinterest, but it’s a black hole for recipes. So unless you want to start out looking for chicken freezer meals and end up reading about homemade play doh and DIY paper storage tower (yes, I just read that entire tutorial that we both know I will never, ever make) – just don’t go there for this.
There are tons of cookbooks and magazines just for freezer meals – this is a good DIY method, and there are some really good ones out there. It can be a time suck though unless you truly enjoy combing through cookbooks. Again, we’re talking about saving the most amount of time so this probably isn’t the best option either.
Freezer Meals expert
Use a site that is dedicated to ONLY dinners that are perfect for making ahead as freezer meals and there are a few out there, but none as popular as Once a Month Meals. And popular for a reason – their plans and recipes are basically plug and play! You pick one you like, adjust the servings, and BAM! Everything you need at your fingertips. I absolutely love it.
Here’s why I love Once a Month Meals specifically for finding make ahead freezer meals:
Simple – everything is laid out for you! You choose a menu and number of servings then the grocery list, labels, and instructions are all made for you.
Variety – There are so many types of menus! Paleo, clean eating, gluten free, keto, dairy free, etc. Remember, look for the crockpot “dump and go” plans to make it super simple!
Recipes – The recipes are from reputable, known-for-being-yummy websites like The Slow Roasted Italian, Nom Nom Paleo, The Girl Who Ate Everything, and 100 Days of Real Food. They’re all but guaranteed to be a big hit!
Peek – You can see the exact ingredients in each recipe before you decide on a menu, which is important if you have one kid who doesn’t eat mushrooms, another who is allergic to eggs, or any other picky eaters in your family (that’s my exact scenario up there!).
So go right now and get access to all the menus, and pick out one to start. Just ONE. Don’t get stuck with analysis paralysis!
If you need ideas, I’ve picked out my 5 favorite ones below ↓↓↓
Ok, you’ve got your plan all picked out and the grocery list is in front of you. Now what?
Now, if you want to save even more time (which again, is why you’re reading this, RIGHT???) – you’re going to order your groceries.
Yes, ORDER them.
Then get everything else from your local grocery store. I know most Kroger, Publix, Walmart, Target, Stop and Shop, and ShopRite have either delivery or pick up in the parking lot services. Check your local one though, it’s not always in all areas. Plus, there’s always Amazon in a pinch.
4. How to add these freezer meals to your meal plan
You’re doing theme nights, right? RIGHT??? Again, let’s save some time here, mama.
Go do that and come right back. I’ll wait.
Once you have your theme nights decided, now you can go find some menus that go with it and then plug in the freezer meal recipe to a spot on your calendar for that theme.
Here are my 5 favorite “dump and go” menus:
I don’t know what I’d do without having all these amazing make ahead freezer meals in my freezer. It is amazing how much stress can be cut from meal planning by having some, if not almost all, of the work of meal prep done ahead of time and frozen. Do it, and you’ll see 🙂
Once you have all your meals planned out, go grab this freezer meal planner so you can keep track of what’s in your freezer – even though it’ll all be in the bin you’re gonna buy 😉