For me, there are some months that feel longer than others. October, January, and April have sat highest in ranking order since for years. The reality is, it doesn’t matter how unmotivated I am feeling, my kids still need to get to school in clean clothes and eat every day. I’ve developed some strategies to capitalize on the weeks I’m highly motivated and have a little extra time on my hands. Here are my top tips for freezer cooking and meal preparation to help you keep your sanity during the football season:
I’ve figured out that spending a few hours on Sunday prepping food for the week can reduce the dinner prep time to 15 minutes or less. This begins with a meal plan. I check the freezer, fridge, and pantry to see what I have on hand that can be made into meals. From there I plot out the best order for a simple meal plan.
Here is this week’s example complete with my time-saving strategy:
Sunday Meal: Grilled Turkey Burgers, red potatoes, cucumber
Additional Steps: Grill Chicken to be used in upcoming meals, brown up ground turkey and season for tacos. Freeze in a glass container to be used later in the week.
Monday Meal: Instant Pot Pork Chops with cream of chicken soup and stuffing, broccoli (steam up twice the broccoli needed for the meal)
Tuesday Meal: Grilled Chicken from Sunday, Steamed Mixed Vegetables, Brown Basmati Rice (cook double the amount needed)
Wednesday Meal: Chicken “fried” Rice Ingredients: leftover chicken from Sunday, Broccoli from Monday, Mixed Veggies and rice from Tuesday.
Thursday Meal: pull out that taco meat from the freezer, open a can of black beans and a bag of tortilla chips.
Friday Meal: leftovers
This strategy has served us well not only with meal prep, but also with our grocery bill. When all the food for the week is cooked and prepped there is no need for takeout.
I’m a big fan of the crock pot and the Instant Pot. More than once I’ve forgotten to thaw out meat before the kids arrive home from school and ask what we are having for dinner. Freezer meals are great for all three meals of the day. Here are my favorites:
- Grilled meat for salads
- Quoina and veggie bowls
- Dump Chicken
- Chili and Soup
- Marinaded Pork Tenderloin
- Chicken Parmesan Bake
- Shredded Chicken (tacos, add to pasta, bbq sandwiches, burritos)
- Ground Turkey (sloppy joes, tacos, stroganoff)
- Spaghetti squash casserole (mine is any veggies I have and a jar of marinara combined with squash and topped with mozzarella cheese OR chicken and black beans with peppers, corn, and onion combined with enchilada sauce and squash topped with Mexican Blend shredded cheese.
- Freezer mashed potatoes
- Pizza Doughs
- Cookie Dough (form in balls instead of tube for quick cookies in any quantity)
- Dinner Rolls
- Spaghetti Squash portioned in 1 cup servings
Taking out time to think about meals a little more strategically over the weekend helps in the chaos of the school week. I’ve learned that anything I can do to lighten the load keeps me motivated and my family is happier too.