Make Ahead Meals and Freezer meals

Having a good selection of make ahead and freezer meals on hand, really makes dinner a breeze.  I’ll share with you some of my easy recipes and quick dinner ideas to get you started.

 

Easy Recipes: Make ahead meals and freezer meals it's a keeperIf you’re a busy mom like me, you know how hard it can be to get a homemade dinner on the table every night.  There are three things I do to make dinner time less stressful: meal planning, having a good selection of easy crock pot recipes and having some make ahead meals and freezer meals on hand.    So when my family asks what’s for dinner I’m prepared.

Preparing for Make Ahead Meals

Every Sunday I prepare my family’s meal plan.  This includes pulling together any recipes that I need, filling out my meal planning printable, taking inventory of what I have in my pantry, fridge and freezer and updating my grocery list printable.

free grocery list printable

 

I usually do my grocery shopping on Sunday too.  Once I get home and put away all of my groceries, I get started on my make ahead meals and freezer meals.  I start by going through my recipes to see what can be prepared ahead of time.  Things like chopping veggies, mixing sauces, assembling casserole and pre-cooking meats are all tasks that can be done ahead of time.   I then package everything up and label it with the recipe and day of the week.  All of these tasks only take me an hour to an hour and a half.

My goal is is to spend 30 minutes making dinner each night.  By spending an extra hour or so on Sunday, I can ensure that my hands-on time during the week is minimized.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s an investment well worth making.

Tips for Make Ahead Meals and Freezer Meals

  • Chop Veggies:  Chop all of the veggies you will need for the week at one time.  Veggies like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. can be washed, chopped and stored for later in the week.
  • Mix Sauces:  If my recipe calls for a sauce or marinade, I mix it up an stash it in the fridge.
  • Assemble Casseroles:  Casseroles can easily be assembled ahead of time and stored in the fridge until you’re ready to bake them.
  • Label, Label, Label:  I can’t stress this enough.  Make sure all of your prepped food is clearly labeled so you can find it (and tell what it is) later. I use my handy freezer inventory printable to keep track of what’s stashed in my freezer.

free Freezer Inventory printable

  • Have the Right Tools:  I keep a stock of zip top freezer bags in quart and gallon sizes, plastic deli containers (I buy these in bulk from my local restaurant supply store) in pint and quart sizes, and disposable baking pans in various sizes (pie plates, 9×9 and 13×9).
  • Double Up:  Look for recipes that can easily be doubled so you can have one this week and freeze one for later.
  • Stock Up:  Stock up on ground beef, boneless, skinless chicken breasts when they are on sale.  You can season and brown the ground beef and freeze it in one pound packages.  Roast seasoned chicken breasts and either freeze whole or cut into one inch pieces and freeze in one cup packages.
  • Make Big Batches:  When you make things like rice or pasta, make a double batch and freeze some for later.  I freeze rice in two cup servings.  For pasta, cook it to al dente, toss it with olive oil or butter to keep it from sticking and freeze in zip top bags.
  • Freezer to Slow Cooker: I freeze the ingredients for my slow cooker meals.  When I’m ready to make the recipe, I place the frozen ingredients in the slow cooker, add any sauces, herbs, etc. then set it and forget it.  Be sure to check out my Easy Crock Pot Recipes.

A Word of Caution

  • When making soups and stews, store your starch (potatoes, rich, pasta) separately.  They will turn to mush.
  • Some cream or cheese based sauces do not freeze well.  The sauce can separate when thawed.

 

Here are some resources for make ahead meals and freezer meals that you might like too:

20+ Easy Recipes for Make Ahead Meals & Freezer Meals

Below is a list of my favorite make ahead meals and freezer meals.  Make sure you check out my recipe for Chicken Pot Pie Puffs — it’s one of the most popular recipes on It’s a Keeper!

Make Ahead Meals

American Pierogies
Chicken Cobbler Casserole
Chicken Divan
Chicken Pot Pie Puffs
King Ranch Chicken Casserole
Chicken Broccoli Tortellini Casserole
Chicken Cannelloni with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Balsamic Marinated Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Pork Chops with Rosemary Garlic Rub
Drunken Pork Chops
Honey and Spice Glazed Pork Chops
Molasses Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Ham
Chicken Corn Chowder
Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Freezer Meals

Spicy Turkey Meatballs
Super Strombolis
The Best Meatloaf
My Favorite Mac & Cheese
Penne with Roasted Vodka Sauce
The Best Wimpies (Sloppy Joes)
Pasta Fagioli
Italian Wedding Soup

Want more easy recipes? be sure to check out these pages on It’s a Keeper:

 

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