“What’s for dinner?” The age-old question that is asked in homes across the world. Wouldn’t it be nice to be driving home from work and not have to wonder what you will be making for dinner? The stress of the shopping, the prepping, the actually cooking, and the dreaded clean-up many times will lead to cereal in a bowl or worse. With all of this stress it is no wonder that fast food becomes dinner more often than not. You can solve this dinner dilemma with the perfect dinner solution. Freezer meals! Coming home after a hard day at work and knowing that you have dinner covered can make for a stress free and hassle free evening. Here are 4 tips in making freeze ahead meals.
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- What not to freeze: Freezing meals ahead of time is a genius idea for meal planning but there are some foods that do not do so well in the freezer. Lettuce, bean sprouts, and raw potatoes will turn mushy on you once you thaw them. Rubber eggs? If you freeze hard-boiled eggs this what you will get. Yuck! Any sauce that is egg based will end up curdling and separating when they are thawed. Many dairy foods like cream, yogurt and sour cream will become watery when they are thawed. Other than these items, other ingredients should be fine to freeze.
- Freezer Containers: Quart and gallon sized sealable plastic bags are perfect for most freezer meals. The key with these bags are to be sure that all the air is pressed out as much as possible and spread the food inside the bags evenly and flatten. Make sure that the seal is secure to help with freezer burn and spills. A money-saving tip, use reusable gallon sized bags. Another option is foil pans or baking dishes. The dollar store is a great place to find foil pans, sometimes in a 3 pack. You can also use your own glass or metal pans. Last idea for containers is Tupperware or any plastic container with a lid. These are great for soups but the downside is, they tend to take up a lot of room in the freezer. Here are some great options-
Freshware 15-Pack 3 Compartment Bento Lunch Boxes with Lids – Stackable, Reusable, Microwave, Dishwasher & Freezer Safe – Meal Prep, Portion Control, 21 Day Fix & Food Storage Containers (32oz)Vremi 18 Piece Glass Food Storage Containers with Locking Lids – BPA Free Airtight Oven Freezer Dishwasher and Microwave Safe Food Container Set – Small and Large Reusable Square Food ContainersMeal Prep Containers 3 Compartment [14 Pack] & Leak Proof 1oz Sauce Cups. Microwave & Dishwasher Safe, BPA Free, Bento Lunch Box Food Containers (Alive Green)
- Freezer Burn: Nothing is more disappointing than taking out a meal to thaw for dinner to only discover that it is freezer burnt. A couple of tips to help avoid this is reduce air exposure. Wrap items in a double layer of plastic wrap, wax paper, or foil and store them in a container or freezer bag this will lessen your chances of getting freezer burn. Also store smaller items like sliced veggies or liquids in smaller containers or plastic bags so that food fills the container with little to no space left. Last tip, rotate your meals in the freezer. Put your oldest ones near the front to be eaten first before the newer ones.
- Keep it simple: Start simple with your meals. The point of freezer meals is to keep you out of the kitchen and freeing you up to do other things you enjoy. If this is your first attempt in creating freezer meals try starting with a weeks or two worth of meals and keep a theme such as chicken and beef. These are great basis for many dishes. You can go as simple as chicken in a marinated or a couple of basic meatloaves. Add a couple of bags of frozen vegetables and a fresh salad and your family will think you have been slaving away in the kitchen all evening. Once you get into a rhythm than you might want to start looking into fancier meals to try out. The key is not to overwhelm yourself with too much at the beginning or you might end up with a trip to closest fast food chain.
Having a freezer full of meals is a comforting thought and takes a lot of anxiety out of dinner time prepping. Knowing that you will have more time to spend with family, watch your favorite TV show, or finally starting that book you have been itching to read is the goal in make ahead freezer meals. With these 4 tips the battle of “What’s for dinner” will be forever be in the past.
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