It doesn’t have to end with pizza crust, empty cereal bowls and hurt tummies…
You know what I’m talking about. That night where you don’t know what to make and there’s nothing in the fridge to throw together. The fast food worker is calling your number and yet you’ve sworn off fried foods forever.
You resort to pouring milk over a few crumbles of gluten-free cereal found at the bottom of a mostly empty cereal bag and heating up a frozen pizza you had no idea was at the bottom of your freezer.
The night ends with rubbery pizza crust, empty cereal bowls and hurting bellies, but it doesn’t have to.
The night could have ended very differently had there been a make-ahead frozen meal in your freezer. It could have easily been thawed and heated to provide a warm, nourishing meal. Your husband would give you a standing ovation that ends with a slow clap started by your offspring. You’d be carried on shoulders out of the kitchen and into your bathroom where a warm, sudsy bath is drawn. You’d be left to soak and relax while your happy household cleaned the kitchen and put themselves to bed. You’d. Be. A. Hero.
Doesn’t that sound fantastic? That latter is my dream and yet the former has been my reality. In a moment of clarity I’ve sworn off those nights of craziness. My solution: Make Ahead Freezer Meals.
Make-Ahead Freezer Meals take a little preparation, but they are very worth the effort.
–You have the security of knowing there’s always a healthy dinner in the freezer
–You have the freedom for spontaneity knowing there’s a quick meal available
–You save money by not eating out
–You stay committed to your goals of eating healthy food!
Getting Started with Make-Ahead Freezer Meals
To get started you need a few supplies and a plan.
Step One: Stock Up on Supplies
You’ll need containers to store the food, permanent marker and labels (I use masking tape because it’s usually what’s around). You’ll also need multiple pots and pans, and mixing bowls. A food processor (I love this one) is handy to cut down on time with chopping and a slow cooker (here’s a good one) can be helpful if all your burners are spoken for.
A Word on Container Options
Right now I use whatever containers I find in my cupboards. One day I hope to invest in a set of square glass containers. You have lots of different options. Here’s a list of a few.
You’ll want to look for:
Air-tight containers are best to prevent freezer burn
Flat, rectangular containers stack easily and compactly
-rectangular glass containers (find them here through my Amazon affiliation)
-mason jars (find them here through my Amazon affiliation) *make sure to leave enough space for expansion or the glass will break
pros: eco-friendly, doesn’t leach toxins into foods if you heat them
cons: expensive, if you don’t store food properly, the glass may break (unless freezer safe…I have seen this happen with mason jars though)
-inexpensive (round) containers (find them here through my Amazon affiliation)
-rectangular containers (find them here)
-plastic freezer storage bags
pros: inexpensive, easy to find
cons: not eco-friendly, can leach harmful chemicals into food if heated
Foil and Paper
-aluminum foil containers
-aluminum foil (double wrap foil around food if you plan to freeze it longer than a couple weeks)
-wax paper (find natural ones here, wrap around food and store in freezer for a few weeks, longer could result in freezer burn)
-wax paper bags (find natural ones here)
pros: inexpensive, reusable, I prefer the natural waxed paper to aluminum
cons: not great for long-term freezing, aluminum is not a renewable resource so it’s not , it’s also been linked to alzheimer’s disease (read more here)
Note: Although aluminum is an option, it’s not one I recommend for food. I don’t ever use aluminum, but I know some people do so I still listed it.
-reusable bags (find them here) A reader mentioned how much she enjoys this brand of resuable storage bag. I checked it out and it even works to freeze food! You can find different sizes for all your needs.
What supplies do you use? What containers have you found to be most helpful? Step Two is the plan. Stay tuned!