Make-ahead freezer meals are often the perfect solution when the need for a homemade dinner meets the reality of a busy life. But if you’re going to take the time to plan, prep and cook a freezer full of convenient, nutritious meal options for your family, make sure you pack them correctly. With a little extra care, you can make sure they’re as tasty coming out of the freezer as they were going in.
Make your own slow cooker kits
We love our slow cooker for easy, no-fuss meals. You can take even more fuss out of slow cooking by making your own freezer-ready kits. Load up freezer bags with the ingredients of your favorite slow cooker recipes and then store flat in the freezer. You can then defrost and pop in the slow cooker when you’re ready. Just remember, load the freezer bag in reverse order so when you pour the contents into the slow cooker, everything will be right side up.
Stock up on freezer bags
When space is limited in the freezer—and when isn’t it?—zip-top freezer bags are the best option, especially for freezing soup. Smaller bags can be used for single servings, while the larger ones will fit a meal for the whole family. Put the filled bags on a tray in the freezer to be sure that they freeze flat, making them a lot easier to stack as you stockpile. Keep a marker handy to label them all, including the date they went in the freezer.
Use foil pans
Disposable foil pans are a great way to store frozen dishes like casseroles and lasagna. Build these favorites just like you would in your trusty 13×9 pan, then seal and freeze. You can find these pans—and a wealth of other cooking supplies at dollar stores. These pans are especially convenient when gifting freezer meals to friends and family—you never have to worry about getting your dish back!
Glass containers are your friends
If you’re packing single servings to pop into the microwave at work, small airtight glass containers are easy to transport and tuck into the crowded office fridge. Start your meal planning and freezer meal journey fresh with a new set of freezer-friendly food storage containers. The stackable sizes will help keep everything tidy (and help portion control).
Invest in a vacuum sealer
If you want to take your meal planning and freezing to the next level, consider investing in a vacuum sealer. Since the vacuum takes out all the excess air from the package, it can extend the life of your frozen food. If you’re looking for a good model to start with, try this vacuum sealer.
With the right tools for the job, you’ll have a freezer full of homemade meals in no time!