Make Ahead Freezer Meals


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Make ahead freezer meals are always a good idea. Here are some tips for making easy freezer meals ahead of time as a food storage option.

Freezer meal preparation materials.

Make Ahead Freezer Meals

Whether you are planning ahead for an event (having a baby, surgery, leaving town.. etc..) or something unexpectedly pops up, you’ll never be sorry you have something on hand for dinner. No one has ever stood in their kitchen in a moment of pre-dinner crisis thinking, I wish I didn’t have all these delicious meals on hand that can be ready in minutes. But everyone can recall a time they wish they had a backup plan. New to the idea of freezer meals? We can help!

Preparation methods

There are several ways to approach the idea of making freezer meals. There’s really not a right or wrong way here. Just give it a try and see what works for you.

  • Double Up

The next time you’re making dinner, simply double (or triple) the recipe. You’re already making it, so why not add an extra teaspoon of garlic or an extra pound of chicken while you’re there. At the end of the prep time, divide the meal in halves or thirds. Cook one to eat that night, then bag and freeze the other for another time.

  • Prep once a month

Set aside one day per month to spend in the kitchen. You can save time by chopping all of one ingredient for the entire menu at the same time. For example, if several of the recipe call for chopped onions, there’s no reason you can’t spend a little extra time at the cutting board and get them all done, with no extra cleanup time in between. Once the food is prepped you simply bag it and move onto the next recipe. By the end of the day you can have a month’s worth of meals ready to go and your time in the kitchen is done.

  • Plan a party

Cooking with friends can be a great way to bond. Plus, swapping recipe ideas with other people is a great way to get out of a mealtime rut. Freezer meal parties can work in several ways.

  • Have everyone bring the ingredients for a different meal, then build the freezer meals all together. Everyone takes home one (or more, depending on how many servings you plan for) of each person’s meal. 
  • Invite guests to come prepared with enough freezer meals of one entrée to exchange with the other guests. The prep work is done in each person’s home, and the party is just a time to exchange meals — and socialize.
  • Have each person shop for certain ingredients, then divvy them all up at the party and build the meals together.
  • One person could be in charge of all the shopping and setup and guests at the party contribute money and join together to make the meals. 
    10 freezer meals in bags

How to Store Freezer Meals

The easiest way to store freezer meals is by using a separate plastic bin for your freezer. The bin I use fits snugly in our large chest freezer. I simply measured the inside of my freezer and went to the store and bought a bin that exact size. Putting your freezer meals in a bin is helpful because:

  1. It keeps all your freezer meals in one place. They don’t get lost in the depths of your freezer.
  2. It’s easy to remove and look through.
  3. If a bag leaks, it doesn’t get everywhere.
  4. Your bags won’t freeze into the grooves of the wire rods in your freezer baskets/shelves or to other items in your freezer.

Laying Flat vs Storing Upright

Some like to lay their freezer meals flat to save space but since I like to heat my freezer meals in a pressure cooker, it is easiest for me to store them upright. That way you can take it straight from the freezer and into the Instant Pot without thawing. When making multiple meals, separate with wax or parchment paper, that way your bags won’t stick together once they freeze (I learned this the hard way).

How Long Do Freezer Meals Last?

Freezer meals can last up to three months without losing flavor. They can go longer but you may have to add some seasoning to it to brighten it up again. Ideally, you want to use them up within 6-9 months.

How to Label For Freezing

Erica holding ten freezer meals in bags

Whenever you are freezing anything, whether it be meat, veggies, or a full meal, you will want to keep tabs on when you put it in the freezer and when it needs to be used by. I like to label my bags with the date I put it in the freezer, that way I can glance at it and know how long it has been and when it needs to be eaten. It is also helpful to write on the bag what the meal is. Once frozen, they can all look the same. If you want to step up your freezer meal game, you can also keep an inventory list taped to the outside of your freezer. You can keep tabs on everything in your freezer so you know what you need to use and when you should be rotating things out.

Make Ahead Recipes That Freeze Well

  • Flautas: An easy lunch or snack that reheats in about a minute
  • Lasagna Roll Ups: Prepare in a foil container, cover, and freeze
  • Pasta E Fagioli: This recipe can easily be split into 2 meals. Make it, eat half, and freeze the rest for later
  • Ham and Bean Soup: The best way to use up that leftover ham
  • Mom’s Chili: Fully prepare and freeze half
  • Manicotti: Stuff the manicotti and place back in the plastic tray the shells came in. Place tray in a freezer bag and heat up only as many as you need with your favorite sauce.Manicotti in a plastic tray

10 Freezer Meals in ONE Hour

Want to stock up on freezer meals or need a little more guidance on HOW to make freezer meals? You are in the right place! What if I told you that I can teach you how to make 10 freezer meals in ONE hour each month? And all for less than $2 a week! Come join us for our next online class where I will make freezer meals right along with you online and in the comfort of your own home.

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her three beautiful girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

More about Erica Walker

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