There is nothing more daunting than walking in the door at around 5pm, carrying an armful of snorting hungry kids, staring at an in-tray full of homework and listening to a continuous chime of incoming emails only to realise you haven’t yet thought about dinner.
We have all been there. There is often one day every week that is a tad more chaotic than the rest – chaos-day. Having a freezer full of home cooked freezer food meals is a really wise investment in your sanity and your family’s health and one of the best parenting tips we can provide. The benefits are endless, but most of all it is the peace of mind knowing that you can have dinner ready in minutes just by defrosting a meal and adding a few fresh ingredients, resulting in a calm and relaxing family mealtime.
Keeping a stock of fresh homemade and delicious meals in the freezer also helps with managing your food budget, avoiding those expensive and often unhealthy takeaway meals or when you have a busier-than-usual week with little time to prepare and cook.
So how do you do it? Here are 10 tips to help you keep a freezer full of nutritious meals for your family:
- Consider meal planning your weekly/monthly meals. This will not only save you time and money but is ideal for planning and defrosting the following days meal in the safest possible way.
- Do a monthly cook up to fill your freezer. On the first Saturday of every month, cook a range of meals – sweet, savoury and lunchbox snacks, and freeze these to keep you well stocked for the month.
- If choosing to do a monthly cook up, be organized and write down all your plans in advance. You only have to do this once per month, simply find the recipes, plan amounts, then write your shopping list.
- Start a Pinterest frozen food board or recipe file for all your favourite freezer meals.
- When you are cooking a casserole or lasagna style meal, double the recipe. Cool the extra portion and freeze (before the baking in the oven stage).
- Bulk-buy quick-cook fresh meats such as lamb chops when they are on sale, and freeze in individual portions for fast dinner ideas.
- Cook a large batch of meal bases such as tomato pasta sauce, Bolognese, soups. Freeze separately and then make different meals from them by adding fresh ingredients, rice or pasta.
- Allow around 50% more time to cook a meal from frozen. If cooking in the oven, you can cover food to stop it burning and remove the cover for the final minutes.
- Invest in some good quality food storage Tupperware and freezer bags.
- Keep your freezer organised and your food well labeled. This simple task will save you time in the long run, keep your freezer running at its best and most importantly keep your food safe.
Here are 10 simple Freezer-Meal ideas suitable for the whole family to get you started:
- Vegetable Lasagna
- Baked Meatballs in Simple Tomato Sauce
- Savoury Muffins (great for defrosting in lunchboxes)
- Crumbed Tuna and Vegetable Patties
- Apricot Coconut Muesli Balls
- Lamb and Quinoa Rissoles
- Toasted Muesli
- Tuna Mornay
- Tomato and Kidney Bean Pies
- Fish and Potato Pie
For more information on freezing and defrosting food, you can see the freezing and defrosting guide from One Handed Cooks.