For busy families, make-ahead recipes and freezer meals can be lifesavers.
If you haven’t been doing this, you’ve been missing out on a time-saving device all busy parents and business professionals should be aware of.
Why You Should Embrace Make-Ahead Meals
Make ahead freezer meals will only make you busy in the kitchen one day a week.
You can make a variety of meals with one meat type (or a variety of vegetarian meals, depending on your family’s preferences). If you’re busy, you definitely want some ways in which you can make creating meals less time-consuming.
When you’re too busy, it can be easy to feed your family foods that are less healthy for them. Instead of throwing together sandwiches full of over-processed meats, start planning meals ahead and make sure your family gets the healthy foods you really want them to eat.
What You Need to Be Prepared
If you want to be prepared when it comes to preparing food ahead of time for your family, you’ll want a few things on hand (aside from a freezer to store the food in).
Slow cooker meals and make-ahead freezer meals will become your new ways of making meals on a regular basis because you’ll realize how easy it is to just turn on the cooker or toss a container in the microwave and have dinner ready at the end of a hectic day.
Start off by knowing what foods are good for you and your family. Stock up on healthy ingredients for complete meals, like soups and stir-fry. Veggies should be a major part of every meal you make – they are good for the entire family and full of vitamins and minerals.
Check the USDA’s recommended food groups and serving sizes for the whole family on MyPlate.
Teens, adults, and younger children all need different portion sizes, and it’s important to the health of your family to serve everyone the right portions.
Every busy household needs a slow cooker in the kitchen. This is a device that will help you save time. You can even cook a whole ham or turkey in it if you have the right sized cooker and the right size cut of meat.
You can plug your crockpot in when you get up, toss in the ingredients for dinner, and let it stew for the day while you get your work done.
When cooking meats in it, you can then break them up to toss into your freezer meals to cover the rest of the week’s dining schedule.
Freezer Safe Storage Containers
You definitely want to have some storage containers on hand. Make sure you purchase baggies and containers that are specifically made for use in the freezer. Other containers may allow your food to get freezer-burned faster.
You can store food in containers for individual eaters or in larger ones for the entire family. This all depends on what you’ve made and who will be around to eat it. No sense in storing enough for the whole family on a weekend when the kids are all staying at a friend’s house.
You most definitely need recipes. Scour the web for family-friendly recipes that are freezer friendly. Some of your best search terms are going to include “make-ahead recipes,” “family-friendly recipes,” “freezer meal recipes,” and “slow cooker” or “crockpot recipes.”
A good idea would be to start up a Pinterest board where you can save the best recipes you come across. This makes them easily accessible from your phone or tablet, so you can have them right there in the kitchen when you need them without searching through books.
Freezer Meals Save Time
Making meals you can toss in the freezer and reheat later allows you more time with your family when it’s time to eat. This way, you only need to “slave away” in the kitchen one day a week, instead of seven.
Freezer meals don’t have to be fully precooked and ready for the microwave either. You can prep and package meals for the crockpot and dump them in and go. This gives you a chance for a “fresher” meal than what you get from something precooked and frozen.
Plan ahead, and on your next trip to the grocery store, you can get the items you need for an entire week’s (or month’s) worth of freezer meals.
On your next free day, start cooking. Prep and cook it all in one day, and take the rest of the week as a stove/oven free vacation. This is especially great when it’s hot out!
Feature image via phillymag.com