I have never had a desire to spend an entire day cooking in order to freeze a month’s worth of meals. But, when I learned I would be having surgery, I knew that having some meals in the freezer would be a huge help.
I spent a few hours, spread over several days and stocked the freezer with 10 meals.
Stocking a freezer can come in handy not only when you’ll be recovering from surgery, but also if you’re expecting a baby. We’ve also frozen meals to eat on vacation when we were staying in rented vacation homes.
Decide which meals you want to make
I searched for recipes that were easy to cook, without too many steps and also easy to prepare. I knew that my family would be doing most of the meal prep for a few days and I needed to keep it as simple as possible for them. That also came in handy when I felt like doing some meal prep. I was very glad it was simple. For a list of meals that freeze well, click Frozen Food category.
Make out your grocery list and shop
I have two Fill Your Freezer Menus and grocery lists here on Eat at Home (Week 8 and Week 28). You may want to make more meals that those menus include, or just try different meals. It’s essential to shop with a list when you are going to be cooking multiple meals in a short time. You will not want to run out to the store in the middle of cooking.
You might also want to do the shopping over a few weeks in order to take advantage of sales. I have a freezer full of pork that I was able to “shop”, which helped keep my costs down.
Don’t forget to buy foil pans if you’ll need them. I also purchased freezer tape so I could clearly label each dish with cooking instructions.
Wash the foil pans or gather casserole dishes and make room in the freezer.
Decide what type container each dish will go in and make sure it’s clean and dry. You’ll also need to make room in your freezer. I put my husband on this task. It took some rearranging and stacking, but he made it all fit.
Plan the order for cooking the meals.
I focused on one meal at a time. That’s not to say I didn’t have things going for several meals at once, but my focus was on one meal. Look ahead to see if there are things that need to be thawed out or if you need to cook meat to shred for a dish. These things can be happening while you work on other meals. I also grouped meals that required chopped onions or other veggies. It was efficient to have the cutting board and knife out for those meals.
Cook the meals
If you’ve chosen meals that have easy prep and assembly, the actual cooking won’t take too long. Move smoothly from one meal to the next. When I made a pot of soup, I realized that I didn’t need to heat it. That saved time I would have spent heating and cooling the soup. I also just browned the Smothered Steaks instead of cooking them all the way through. We cooked them in the oven long enough to be done in the middle.
Keep a list of meals handy and check things off as you go. It’s also a big help to wrangle someone to wash dishes as you cook 🙂
Label each dish and keep a master list.
I labeled each meal with a paper note and freezer tape. Be sure to include the name of the dish as well as the cooking instructions. I also made a master list of meals that we hung on the fridge. This included where to find the meal (in the freezer in a foil pan or ziploc bag etc) and what side dishes I had planned. This kept everything very easy for my family and for me when I felt up to getting dinner ready again.