Freezer meals are a great resource for your real food kitchen.
Easy freezer meals make a real food kitchen possible.
That is why we want to give you the key to creating your own make ahead freezer meals.
Think about it…
What are the two things that very often stand in the way of serving your family real, home cooked meals?
Let’s face it, it takes more time to prepare real food.
And it’s often more expensive.
Especially when compared to the dollar menu at your favorite fast food restaurant.
But we here at Getting Real in Your Kitchen hope to change that for you and help you cook healthy meals…
And one way of doing that is with make ahead freezer meals.
Getting Real in Your Kitchen teaches busy moms how to meal plan for their families. If you are new here, please take a look at the following:
- About Us
- The 5 W’s of Real Food
- Creating a Real Food Kitchen
- Meal Planning On A Budget
- How To Make Time For Real Food
How To Use Freezer Meals
Freezer meals are the path to make ahead dinners…
And what could be better than a dinner all ready and waiting for you!
Now what do you think of when you think of freezer meals?
Maybe a casserole tucked away in your freezer waiting for the day you don’t want to cook?
Yes, that is one way to go. And I’m going to share with you one of my all time favorite freezer meals in this post.
But what if there is another way to use your freezer as you plan for make ahead meals?
Imagine having a freezer full of what you need to make dinner fast for lots of different nights!
Imagine having the right ingredients for what you plan to cook already in your freezer.
Well you don’t have to imagine it…
You can do it and we will show you how!
Five Steps To Make Ahead Dinners
- It’s all in your head.
- Planning is key.
- Always be thinking ahead.
- Waste not want not.
- Think outside of the box.
It’s All In Your Head
It’s time to start thinking about your meals and your freezer in a whole new way. Out with the old and in with the new.
Planning Is Key
I’m sure you’ve heard “if you fail to plan you are planning to fail”. That quote by Benjamin Franklin couldn’t be more true as you travel this real food journey.
Always Be Thinking Ahead
It’s like when you’re driving a car. You have to look ahead in order to avoid any mishaps and it’s that way in the kitchen too.
Waste Not Want Not
You are paying good money for the food you buy for your family. Don’t let any of it go to waste. It’s all good and it all has a purpose.
Think Outside of the Box
It’s time to be creative and find some new uses for some old favorites.
The Key To Make Ahead Freezer Meals
So how do you make that happen?
Our free recipe Ebook will show you how!
This book is the key to make ahead freezer meals.
Sign up for 7 Mix and Match Meals and you’ll see how the whole thing works.
And as an added bonus, you’ll get some delicious, kid friendly recipes too!
- Easy Crock Pot Beans
- Spanish Rice
- Tostada Salad Bowls
- Chili Mac
- Chili Boats
When you get your copy of 7 Mix and Match Meals you’ll see for yourself how to use leftovers in several different meals, each with a different twist so you won’t get bored.
How to turn your leftovers into freezer meals:
Using the recipes from our eBook as an example, Easy Crock Pot Beans is a side dish one night, a Tostada Salad Bowl another night, Burritos another night, and Nachos yet another night.
That’s three different meals and one side dish all from one pot of beans!
And that’s how you have to start thinking.
When you cook something start to think about how you can double or triple it and what you can turn it into.
Now staying with the same example, you probably don’t want all of those bean meals in the same week.
So use the beans for dinner tonight and then freeze the rest into three divided portions and you have the basis for the other meals in the weeks to come.
See? Is it all making sense?
How about the Chili?
- Make a double or triple batch of chili (depends on the size of your family).
- Have Chili the first night.
- Divide the leftovers in half and freeze in two separate containers.
- Now you have two new dinners waiting for you.
- Chili Mac and Chili Boats!
So if you haven’t already, be sure to get your free copy of 7 Mix and Match Meals so you can get all of the recipes.
And be sure to keep your thinking caps on because it doesn’t stop here.
You can take this idea as far as your imagination will allow with all of your favorite go to dishes.
Just remember to…
- Always make extra.
- Freeze the leftovers in the quantity you will want to reuse.
- Think of ways to repurpose what you freeze.
Make Ahead Meals For Lunch
Also, freezer food doesn’t just work for dinner.
It’s great for lunches too.
Just the other day I realized that the single serving of homemade soup I wanted to eat for lunch was on its third day in the refrigerator. I usually don’t like to keep food past three days. And it was already past lunch.
My first thought was to throw it out, but I hate to waste perfectly good food. Instead, I grabbed a freezer container, transferred the soup, labeled it and froze it.
Then a couple of weeks later, when I needed something for lunch, I remembered about the soup. It was like having a free meal!
Foods You Can Freeze
And you can do this with all sorts of foods.
There is no need to let any food go to waste.
Here are some examples of what I’ve frozen in just the last month…
Grated mozzarella cheese.
I never seem to use all of the mozzarella so I grate the whole head and freeze what’s left in a freezer bag.
I made pizza the other night and had a lot of pepperoni leftover. Since I knew it would spoil before I used it again, I stuck it in the freezer for another pizza night in the future.
You can freeze lunch meat too. Did you know that once opened, lunch meat should be used within 3-5 days?
I had about 4 of the best lemons ever that my neighbor gave me and they had been in the fridge for a few days. I knew I wouldn’t use them right away but I didn’t want to lose them, so I squeezed them and apportioned the juice equally into an ice cube tray. When the cubes were frozen I transferred them into a freezer bag. Each cube was the equivalent of half of a lemon.
When I buy a can of Chipotle peppers I usually only use one or two. And you guessed it, not wanting to lose the remaining peppers I portion them out equally with the adobo sauce into an ice cube tray. I freeze the tray and then transfer the frozen cubes to a bag.
I’ve frozen fresh ginger too. I cut up the ginger into about ½ inch pieces and freeze in a freezer bag. It’s easy to scrape off the peel and chop the ginger when I need it for a recipe.
Or if I want to make ginger tea I just use the ginger piece, skin and all. I feel fine about not peeling it because I buy organic ginger. If you are not using organic you should probably peel it.
Slices of my homemade sourdough bread.
Bread crumbs made from the ends of my homemade sourdough bread.
I usually make a crockpot full of some kind of bone broth every week and I always freeze what I don’t use right away.
I usually freeze my bone broth in quart size mason jars. I’m very careful not to fill them too full. I don’t want the jars to crack when the liquid expands during the freezing process. I usually fill them about ¾ full which yields about 3 cups of broth.
The Other Tool You Need for Making Freezer Meals
The trick to using your freezer this way is remembering what’s in there. If you don’t remember what you’ve got you won’t be able to use it. And chances are you won’t remember.
That’s why we’re offering you this free printable Freezer Inventory. Just stick it on your fridge and always remember to record whatever you put in there.
Containers for Freezing Food
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Of course you want to have the right equipment for the job and you won’t go wrong with these reusable freezer containers…
Are you getting the hang of it?
I hope so!
Please share in the comments or on our Facebook page your favorite food to freeze and your favorite way to repurpose it.
Freezer Friendly Casserole Recipe
Of course it’s also nice to have a fully prepared casserole in the freezer and this Spaghetti Pie is one of my all time favorites.
I found the original recipe in a Christmas magazine many years ago. And I used to make it all the time when my kids were little.
Tip: It’s perfect to make for dinner and if you double the recipe there will be enough to assemble and freeze a second pie for another time.
Another Tip: This is also a great company dish. And if you’re entertaining a crowd you can always double the recipe and bake it in a large casserole dish instead of dividing it into two pie dishes.
I’ve also gifted this casserole to new moms on more than one occasion.
It’s always appreciated!
Over the years I had misplaced my recipe for this and I haven’t made it for awhile.
I was so happy to find a similar one as a guest post on Money Saving Mom by Brigette Shevy.
For my pie I used these ingredients…
Spaghetti Pie Ingredients
One pie serves 4-6 people.
- 8 oz of rice spaghetti noodles
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¾ pound of Italian sausage (you can use sweet or spicy or ground beef or turkey, whatever you prefer)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ medium onion, chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- Red pepper flakes to taste
- 1 cup of cottage cheese
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese, grated
- Parmesan cheese, to taste
Here is what I did…
- Cook the spaghetti noodles in boiling salted water until al dente, about 8 minutes.
- Place the meat in a medium skillet and salt to taste. Cook and chop over a medium heat.
- Add the onion and salt to taste and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Then add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste.
- Then add the basil and the red pepper flakes.
- Cook until bubbly and then simmer for 20 minutes.
- Once the noodles are cooked drain them and turn them back into the pot.
- Stir the egg and butter into the noodles and mix well.
- Turn the noodle mixture into a 10 inch pie plate and form into a shell shape.
- Spread the cottage cheese over the noodles.
- Add the meat mixture.
- Top with the cheeses.
- Bake in a 350 degree, preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until golden.
Freeze Now and Cook Later
- If you are planning on freezing this dish you can take it up to the point of baking it.
- Cover well with a double layer of foil, label and freeze for up to three months.
- Take it out of the freezer and put it into the refrigerator the night before you plan to serve it.
- Then let it sit out on the counter for about an hour before you plan on baking it and bake as directed above.
I hope you will try this! It is delicious!
Remember to pin this recipe
Freezer meals (the kind you make yourself, not what they sell in stores) are great for saving time and money while still feeding your family healthy meals.
And to help you out with this, we gave you:
- The book that gives the key to creating your own make ahead freezer meals.
- A Freezer Inventory List that will help you remember what you have in the freezer so that you can put those ingredients to good use.
- And a Spaghetti Pie recipe that can easily be frozen
If you didn’t grab your free recipe eBook, make sure to sign up now!
And, if you didn’t get the Freezer Inventory List, get it right here!
Here is a simple way to start using the tools above:
- Pick a recipe from the eBook. Try making enough of the base to use it in another recipe from the eBook.
- If you are freezing the leftovers, add it to the Freezer Inventory List so that you don’t forget about it.
- Begin to record anything you put in the freezer to keep those ingredients in mind for later use.
Once you get the hang of that, begin using these steps for all of your recipes. Pretty soon, you will have a good system down.
After completing the challenge above, come back to this post and let us know. We would love to hear about your progress.
And feel free to share this key to freezer meals with your family and friends. We can all use some helpful tips!
Do you struggle with meal planning? Go here to learn our super easy system for stress free meal planning.