If you are just starting out on your meal prep journey, this guide to Homemade Freezer Meals is a MUST! In this beginner’s guide, you will learn all of my tips and hacks to stay on track throughout the week with freezer cooking and stocking up on the necessities.
In the midst of transforming back to working mom status after my last maternity leave, I stumbled upon the concept of freezer cooking.
It blew my mind.
In basic terms, homemade freezer meals are preparing meals ahead of time and freezing them for later use. Freezer cooking is a strategy that I have used faithfully to prepare make-ahead meals that are homemade and nutritious to feed my family during the week.
It is the perfect solution for busy families that want to eat healthier weeknight meals instead of the typical high-calorie takeout food (bye-bye takeout pizza!).
Tips And Hacks For A Successful Day Of Freezer Cooking
I believe this style of meal preparation serves as the cornerstone of my commitment to health and weight loss.
It allows me to have control over the ingredients in my foods along with keeping portion sizes and calories in check! Planning and preparing meals ahead of time for freezing is one of the first steps in losing weight.
To get you started, I created this list of tips and hacks to serve as a helpful beginner’s guide for making homemade freezer meals!
Schedule Two Blocks Of Time For Meal Prepping
The first time block is to shop for all the ingredients and the second is to prepare and cook everything.
If you absolutely can’t find the time during the week or weekends to freezer cook, your next best bet is to cook double or triple batches of meals you are already making.
I personally prefer to cook every 2-3 weeks. That way I am only doing serious grocery shopping and cooking twice a month. With my busy schedule, that’s all I can handle.
Create A Menu 3-4 days Before Shopping And Cooking
Start by cooking recipes you know well. When cooking meals in large batches to freeze, it is safe and smart to begin with the tried and true recipes that you’ve prepared multiple times and your family likes to eat.
When you are just starting out, it is not the time to experiment with several new recipes, so I would recommend picking out 3-4 favorite recipes to get started.
As you get the hang of freezer cooking, you can add more recipes to your menu plan. The more you practice this method, the easier it will get. You will find the groove that works for you in no time!
Clean Out The Freezer
Before you start cooking batches of dinners to last the next 2-3 weeks, you need to make sure there is room in the freezer.
When I first started out, I used to forget to clean out the freezer and it never ended well.
Many people think that, in order to freezer cook, they need a large deep freezer but that’s actually not necessary. I have a large deep freezer and even on my heaviest cooking days, I don’t come close to filling it up.
For the most part, as long as my fridge freezer is cleaned out and organized, I have plenty of room to store all my meals.
Use Freezer Storage Containers And Bags
This may seem like common sense but, I can’t tell you the number of times that I would make huge amounts of food and could not find the lids or ran out of freezer bags. The lesson I learned from those experiences is to always check my storage supplies prior to cooking.
I primarily use disposable containers and freezer bags from brands such as Gladware® and Ziplock®. These products have worked perfectly for me.
In my research on freezer cooking, I have come across people using other methods of storing foods such as tinfoil, casserole dishes, or freezing in glass jars.
Be very careful with glass because water expands when it freezes!
Organize Your Recipes By Ingredients
Before I begin prepping, I first put all the ingredients for each recipe out on the table. This way I can make sure I have everything I need to begin and finish a recipe without having to send my husband back and forth to the store numerous times to pick up the missing ingredients.
Prep All Of The Ingredients
Clean, trim and chop all the of the protein, vegetables, and fruit. I would also shred the cheese needed and whatever else needs to be prepped ahead of time.
I have found this to be the easiest way to move seamlessly through each recipe and have 2-3 different meals cooking at the same time.
Put Together A Good Music Playlist And Start Cooking
When it comes to choosing a day, I always use my Sundays to do my freezer cooking. I start around 9:00 am and usually end at 3:00 pm or 4:00 pm.
I love to have my music playing in the background and just get to work enjoying my day of cooking.
The Best Homemade Freezer Meals To Try
Now that you have all of my freezer cooking strategies, it’s time to start cooking!
When it comes to choosing which meals to make ahead of time and freeze, I like to consider two things:
- What is going on in my life in the upcoming weeks
- What’s in season and on sale at my grocery store
Here are some of my favorite homemade freezer meals for beginners!
- Freezer Steel Cut Oats (Oatmeal)
- Freezer Smoothie Kits
- Sausage and Egg Breakfast Burritos
- frozen breakfast sandwich
- Pecan and Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies
Meats and Poultry
- Shredded Beef
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- Basic Shredded Chicken
- Turkey Meatballs
- Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes
- Chicken Quesadillas
- Mexican Shredded Chicken
- Buffalo Shredded Chicken
- Chicken marinade recipes
Fruits and Vegetables
If you are wanting to have whole meals put together, check out some of the best freezer casseroles to have on hand!
Types Of Containers To Buy To Store Freezer Meals
I’m sure you’ve noticed by now how much I LOVE the glass containers I use for meal prep. If you are looking for some other options or aren’t comfortable freezing meals using glass containers, here’s a list of the ultimate meal prep containers to use!
True and tested 😉
Making some of these homemade freezer meals can really help you through a crazy busy week! Freezer cooking can be so helpful to stay on a healthy track and avoid takeout. Share a picture and tag me on Instagram or Facebook if you decide to make this!
Fred Dustyhorn says
I should definitely try this out!
Joe Shuster says
Fantastic compilation of ideas and recipes. I see so many appealing recipes (as always!).
I’m surprised you didn’t include vacuum sealing while discussing food storage. I have 10+ year old FoodSaver machine and it helps me store my portion-controlled servings of food for 6 or more months. (I’ve even had year-old frozen food that tastes as fresh as when I cooked it.) The vacuum sealing prevents the typical damage — freezer burn, dehydration, etc — that plagues frozen food in containers and air-leaking zip bags.
My daughter is using a contemporary FoodSaver model and she is very satisfied with it. I can’t vouch for other manufacturers’ products.
Two tips on storing individual sealed servings:Good labeling (with description and date), and an inventory log are both important to keep organized.
Might be a silly question but since I’ve never freezer cooked before, do you allow your frozen food to thaw out overnight and then reheat it or do you just heat it slowly straight from the freezer.
Also, if you are heading out to work and want to thaw something out, do you generally leave it in the fridge or just leave it on the counter so its full thawed when you come home?
Thanks for the great blog
I love your site, I love your recipes and meals! Thank you for sharing!
Hello, thank you so much for this very useful information. I will be adding a link to this page on my blog this week. Freezer cooking – where to start. I do hope this is ok. If it is not, please let me know I will remove it. Thanks again for all of your wonderful advice and tips.
Christi Wilson says
Thank you so much!!! Can’t wait to try some of the recipes!
Armanda Baez says
Your an absolute wonderful organizer! I love your recipes! I’ve used the taco meat and shredded buffalo chicken. They tasted so delicious! I have made pasta, pizza, tacos, soups, and quick sandwich snacks. Do you have any low-carb meal ideas with these two types of meat? Ive tried to think of what vegtables would be tasty with them. Thanks!
Darling O.. says
I’m a middle aged widow, empty nester, with diet controlled diabetes and a gluten intolerance. Any suggestions on where to find a list of budget, diet & freezer friendly foods for the gluten intolerant ?
I had been struggling to drop 10 – 15 lbs to reach my goal. But, via stress eating I have added 8-10 lbs. I must get back on track! ANY help would be most appreciated !
I know this is an old post, but in case anybody else needed this information, look for Paleo recipes. By definition, there will be no gluten.
I use seal a meal bags for freezing a lot yes they are a bit pricey but I thought about the waste as well and to just throw them away. Don’t they can be reused. An no not for food items but..I reseal bones, not everybody gets to compost, or things that don’t go down the garbage disposal so I don’t have to smell them. I use them to collect my used coffee filters coffee and all for a coworker, she uses them in her garden. With so much unavoidable plastic for me. I try to get the most of what I do use. We have a 2 use rule. Once for when it came in and one more time before it leaves.
Hello I have a question. I made breakfast burritos last Sunday for my husband. I waited until it was cool before I wrapped in the tortillas. Then it went in the freezer. My husband said it was very good but a little bit watery. Do you know what cause it to be a little watery? I would like to know before I make more today. Thank you.
Kimberley Johnson says
Hi there! I have come accross your blog from a friend of mine from america. I live in australia! One problem i seem to have is freezing meals. When do you pack the cooked meal into a container and into the freezer? I am always worried about bacteria getting into it somehow and need to know at what temperature does everyone put their meals into the freezer? As we are a small family of 3 (so far!) should we store them in small containers? As i know you cannot defrost a frozen meal and then re-freeze. i have done that accidentally once before with pasta sauce as i only wanted to give my 1 1/2 year old a little bit for lunch and it was in a HUGE container. Anyways, i guess thats all i need to know! Id love to start freezer meals up …just need to know when its safe to put them into the freezer after cooking the meal! 🙂 THANK YOU!! x
Hello there!! Here is a link to the USDA that goes over all kinds of information about freezing and thawing foods safely. This is what I follow. Pretty much I package up foods once they are no longer hot. Many times they are still a little warm when they go into the freezer. You don’t want to put hot foods into a freezer container because it can compromise the effectiveness. Also it can make your freezer work to hard to try to cool down/freeze hot foods.
I hope this helps. I will start going over more how to freeze individual meals to make it easier when you are only cooking for one or two.
Thanks so much for stopping by.
I will see if I can start a plan to try this – but my 4 year old would make this a lengthy venture. Maybe I could do middle of the night cooking? 🙂
As a single person, I find myself freezing spare portions anyway. I’ll keep an eye for easily freezable recipes on here.:)
Val-Mom Chats says
I own a freezer cooking site for beginners to advanced with weekly meal plans instead of once a month. I know once a month can get overwhelming for those starting out. I will frequently take two weeks menus, double up and fill the freezer. I did OAMC this month and yes it was cleaning for those days I cooked, but now my clean up is so light each night! I usually spread my big cooking into 2 or 3 days so I still enjoy it.
What is that website? I wanna try this but not sure where or what to begin with…
Deanna you can click her name & it takes you straight to her website. 🙂
I absolutely love freezer cooking. Clean up is a little rough, but it is still worth it. 😉
I agree! I pretty much use every pot and pan but I do try to clean as I go. And it is so nice not to have big cooking messes during the week. Thanks for stopping by. And I love your living on a budget site!
Mary Beth says
I like to make large quantities of spaghetti sauce, and soups to have on hand because i’m trying to not eat processed food.
Yes that is a huge reason why I freezer cook because I want to eat as minimally processed as possible. Thanks for stopping by MB!
Erin (Shortcut to Bliss) says
My girlfriends and I used to get together 2x a month and trade meals. We would each quadruple a recipe and then swap. It was so easy and cost effective to make just one meal.
I have thought about doing that. That would make it easier for sure. Thanks for sharing and stopping by!