The Ultimate Freezer Meal Post
Does preparing Freezer Meals interest you, but you’re just not sure how to get started? This Ultimate Freezer Meal Post will provide you with everything you need to plan, shop for, prep, and freeze yummy meals for your family! I know that family life can be very busy, and this post has been designed with exactly that in mind!
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Let’s begin with a little planning!
Meal planning can be a little overwhelming, so finding what works for you is key! You may want to start by using this free Meal Planning Printable to help you brainstorm the types of meals your family enjoys! Some families do an amazing job preparing monthly menu plans, but I have found that tackling this on a weekly basis seems to work better for our family.
Does your list of ideas include any meals that could be made-ahead and frozen days or weeks in advance? You may be surprised at how many things that you can freeze and keep for later! This kind of planning can be a life-saver – especially on those busy weeknights!
Next, let’s get organized as we prepare to shop for our needed ingredients!
You may want to kick things off by doing a quick inventory: a Pantry Inventory as well as a Freezer Inventory! What do you already have? What do you need? This Pantry Inventory Printable
and this Freezer Inventory printable will ensure that this first step goes smoothly!
Also, taking inventory of your pantry can give you a few ideas on what easy freezer meal to make!
While you’re at it, take a look in your freezer to see how many freezer meals you have! You may have 2 containers of lasagna that you forgot about!
New to giving your freezer a workout? This Freezer Guide includes recommendations for various types of foods and the length of time for which they can be frozen.
Once you’ve taken inventory, it’s time to prepare your grocery list! I love this Free Grocery List Printable:
I know meal planning isn’t for everyone, but it has been a total time and money saver for me. We throw away much less food, and there’s rarely the panic of “What am I going to make for dinner?!” So I use the boxes on the left side of my printable to plan meals, then write my categorized list using the rest of the sheet, and my grocery trips go oh-so-smoothly! –Abby Lawson
In addition to gathering groceries, gather supplies: I love disposable foil pans with lids (smaller sizes typically purchased from Dollar Tree, Wal-mart, or couponed at Target/larger sizes typically bought in bulk at Sam’s Club) for most casseroles, etc. and gallon-size storage bags/quart-size storage bags (usually couponed at Harris Teeter or bought in bulk at Sam’s Club) for soups, prepared meats, etc. I also keep a Sharpie marker close by to use for labeling, etc.
P.S. See those Slow Cooker Liners? No more Crock Pot cleaning – yes, yes, you heard me correctly!
Next time you’re in Target, grab a box [or two…or three]…I mean it!
Preparing the Meals
The first thing I do is prep my protein. In one session, I will brown 2-4 lbs. of ground beef. That morning, I will also have filled my crock pot with chicken tenderloins – allowing them to cook on low throughout the day.
I prefer chicken tenderloins to chicken breasts because they cook a little quicker! But don’t worry, you can cut your chicken breasts into chunks to make them cook just as quickly.
If I have another pound of ground beef leftover, I will add taco seasoning and freeze it in a gallon size bag to use for taco night. If I have any chicken leftovers, I will shred it up – adding taco seasoning to a portion of it (to use one night for chicken taco salads) and BBQ sauce to the rest (to use for BBQ night.) These prepared proteins are great to pull out and warm on nights when you are short on time.
If I’m feeling extra energetic, I will do everything in one day; but other times, I will prep my protein on one day, and then put the meals together the following day (placing the cooked meat in the fridge until I’m ready to complete the meal prep).
My Favorite Freezer Meals to Make Ahead
My freezer meal routine most definitely varies – depending on what’s going on in our lives at the time – but these three pasta freezer meals are go-to favs in our house! They are super simple but also super delicious!
Chicken Penne Pasta:
- Penne Pasta Noodles
- 1 Jar of Alfredo Sauce
- 1 Can of Drained Peas
- 4-6 of the cooked chicken tenderloins (sliced/diced/shredded/or cubed)
- *Pepper to Taste
- Angel Hair Noodles
- 2 [Cooked/Diced] Chicken Breasts
- 2 Cups of Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- 1 Can of Cream of Chicken Soup
- 1 Cup of Milk
- * Salt & Pepper to Taste
- Top with another cup of Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Angel Hair Noodles
- 1 Jar of Spaghetti Sauce
- 1 lb. of cooked ground beef
- Top with Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
*All three of these meals can be baked at 350 degrees for approximately 20-30 minutes. If they are still frozen when you throw them in the oven, you will probably need to double that time.*
You can also check out my Freezer Lasagna Recipe Here
Sometimes I place each of these recipes in to large 9 x 13 disposable foil pans, but I also like to divide the entrees up into even smaller pans.
There is enough in each of these pans for two to three servings – which is usually perfect for our family to pair up with a side salad and my hubby’s favorite dinner rolls.
After dividing the meals up in to my pans of choice, I use my Sharpie Maker to label the pans.
Sometimes I will date them, but not always – It depends on how quickly I’m planning to use them.
When I’m preparing freezer meals for new moms, I make lots and lots of freezer meals – labeling them with dates. I keep some of these for my family as well.
However, I’m typically just preparing freezer meals to use as needed over the next couple of weeks or so, and when doing that, I typically forgo including the date.
Note: There are times when my freezer meal prep is as simple as this:
More Freezer Meal Recipe Ideas
Crock Pot Taco Soup is a perfect freezer meal! Assemble it. Freeze it. Then toss it in the slow cooker on the day you’re ready to enjoy it!
Ham & Spinach Quiche – Make One! Freeze Two!
How does this Brown Sugar Banana Bread taste after it’s been frozen? Perfectly perfect! This is great to make ahead of time…then freeze…then thaw to serve for breakfast to out-of-town guests.
While we’ve got sweets on the brain, there are few other yummies I like to make ahead and freeze for future use:
Have you tried these Cake Mix Chocolate Chip Cookies? Or this Walnut Pumpkin Pie? Or these Red Velvet Brownie Bars? Make – Freeze – Thaw – Enjoy! Yes, all of them!
More Freezer Meal Recipes and Resources
When it comes to freezer meals, The Pioneer Woman has you covered! She has loads of great advice as well as delicious recipes that have worked for her family of six! She is most definitely my go-to gal for all things freezer meal!
More Freezer-Friendly Recipes from The Pioneer Woman
THIS is also a fantastic collection of freezer meal ideas – with grocery lists included! All of these meals can be frozen without any cooking ahead of time. Simply combine the ingredients in plastic freezer bags and freeze for up to three months. If you want to download all 17 recipes/grocery lists, the PDF is right here! Simply click and save to your computer! Kelly has definitely thought of everything!
Such a great and organized post! I love learning more about freezer meals. I have only a few that I do and seem to be stuck in a rut. This should help!
I’m so glad we’ve connected, Tina! Be sure to let me know which ones you try and if your family likes them! 🙂 Let’s stay in touch!
I love making freezer meals, but I have a slightly different approach. I buy/make a lot of things in large amounts to save money/time/energy, but since I live alone I package everything in single-serving containers. I buy a box or two of those burger patty papers at Amazon and use them to make deli packs of various meats and cheeses for lunch. Just put each deli pack into a resealable sandwich size bag and then a large freezer bag with the label and date. The night before, I just take out whatever deli pack I want, thaw it in the fridge, and next morning making lunch is a snap. Amazon is a great resource for a lot of freezer safe containers and things. They also sell freezer tape and freezer labels, with adhesive that doesn’t leave that gummy residue everywhere!
This is so smart, Shari! I wish I had done more of this type of thing sooner!
P.S. I need to get some of that freezer tape!
Do you cook the pasta first before freezing or leave it raw?
Hey Amanda! I usually cook the pasta and then freeze~
How do you cook your chicken tenderloins in the crockpot? What else do you put in? Also, I’d love the recipes for that weeks meal plan that is shown! Thanks!!
Hey Tami! That planning printable came from ishouldbemoppingthefloor.com – She may have those yummy meals over on her site! She has SUCH great ideas!
I love having a few meals in the freezer for busy nights. Filling the freezer is on my list to do later this week!
Yes, yes, yes! I need to get our freezer restocked for the coming winter months. I like to have some soups ready to go for cold nights!
I really like the idea of breaking up the pre-prep. I’ve been doing it all on Sundays and I’m going to try breaking it up this coming week. Momma needs a day of “rest”! 🙂
How many family members would these feed? There are 5 of us, so just trying to gauge if I’d need to make larger batches. Thanks!!
We have been okay with one large pan…until recent months! ha! Our kids are eating more and more and we are moving into needing double batches! 🙂