It’s that time of year again! We are all in the swing of new school schedules, team sports and the changing weather. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, do not worry. Even if you are a new mom with a growing family, we have all the ways to get ahead of the meal planning and prep game so you can enjoy 2021 with everyone. Get inspired with this handy guide and enlist a kitchen buddy. “Many hands make light work,” they always say.
What’s the best strategy for acing the craziness that comes with the end of the year? Planning, prep and your freezer, of course. In this article, we will show you how to plan, shop, prep and present some truly inspiring meals. The kind that will save you money, time and energy. Read on!
How to Meal Prep
First off, you should ask yourself what your family collectively likes to eat. What can be prepared and frozen in bulk for those crazy weeknights or last minute gatherings? Take into account taste preferences and food allergies. It is also important to remember the basics like food thawing and reheating. Is your budget a factor?
There is Strength in Numbers
A good strategy is to enlist the help of a friend or family member that might want to partner up with you to shop and prep in bulk. Combine forces with a friend who is equally on board with you and make a day of it. Go get your nails done afterwards? Why not? You both deserve it.
Creating the Shopping List
Some big box stores and shopping clubs sell meat, vegetables and dairy in bulk. Do not be afraid to ask for a bulk discount.
What are Some Good Recipes for Healthy Freezer Meals?
For absolute beginners, freezer meals need to be uncomplicated to put together, thaw and reheat. This includes minimal cooking and chopping before freezing too. You want real foods with some vegetarian options, some smaller portioned meals for those nights when the kids are away and ultimately, meals that will make your family go ”Wow! This is so good!”
Here are some great recipes to start with. Once you get the hang of it, you might want to prep and freeze meals all year.
Raw chicken pieces, broccoli, carrots and a side of cooked rice are perfect when cooked with some teriyaki sauce!
For a meatless Monday vegetarian meal, frozen tortellini can be packaged with a cup of shredded parmesan cheese and tossed into a casserole dish. It bakes within minutes! Be sure to sprinkle on some breadcrumbs for a crunchy topping if it suits you.
Who does not love a hearty lasagna? With or without beef crumbles, lasagna is easy to thaw overnight in the fridge and then bake while the kids are doing their homework. This also means you can take a moment for yourself.
Nacho Tortilla Soup
Take a simple, canned chicken soup and add extra chicken, diced tomatoes, onions, sliced black olives and some jalapenos. Thaw in a stock pot over low heat and serve with tortilla chips, salsa and sour cream.
Following a low carbohydrate, Paleo diet? Beef and broccoli thaws and cooks perfectly together since they are the same consistency. Add a little soy sauce, sriracha and some toasted almonds. You are good to go.
Loaded Potato Soup
This recipe is perfect for a cold, blustery day! It is gluten free, vegetarian and crock pot ready. All you have to do is pop it into the crock pot from the freezer and let it slow cook all day long. You will then come home to a creamy potato soup with onions, carrots and celery. If you would like to make it meatier, add cubed ham or bacon.
These are always something to please everyone. Simply cut a roast or steak into strips. Then, put seasonings such as cumin, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt into a Ziploc bag along with sliced bell peppers, onions, diced tomatoes and some broth. It is easy to thaw and reheat on the stove top!
Any day can be taco Tuesday! Pre-cooked Mexican seasoned ground beef, diced tomatoes, onions and sliced black olives can be frozen and then reheated with sides of all the family’s favorite taco condiments!
Why not make some breakfast burritos for the busy mornings? Scramble eggs with cheese, onions, cubes of ham or bacon bits and then roll into flour tortillas. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, label with the date and then pop into large Ziploc bags. The night before, simply thaw in the fridge. Pop in the microwave and you have got a healthy breakfast that will take you straight to lunch.
The Perfect Chili
Finally, no list of freezer meals is complete without a solid chili recipe! If you use beef or chicken or go meatless altogether, chili is the most economical recipe that can be adapted so many ways. Thaw in a crockpot all day or in the microwave and then set up the table so the fam can make their own chili creation!
You are Freezer Meal Ready
There is no need to stress about feeding everyone at the end of the day. With a little planning and prep, you will be all set up for busy days and even busier nights.