When I was pregnant I knew I wanted to prepare some meals for when Piglet was born. I was anticipating late nights, times when he wouldn’t want to be put down and it would be hard to cook. In an effort to avoid reaching for the takeaway menu I spent the two weeks prior to Piglet’s birth in a flurry of activity creating freezer meals that could be tossed in the oven.
JHogg will be the first to admit that he’s not the best in the kitchen, so I got aluminium food boxes (like the ones you get from the take away) to put the food in. I could then write what was in it on the top, as well as basic instructions for cooking so that when needed JHogg could take charge of the cooking.
Those newborn days have now gone, but I still batch cook freezer meals for busy days. I find that it not only saves us money, but it also saves me a lot of stress. I always plan our meals in advance, but things don’t always go the way you expect so having a back-up in the freezer ready to go is perfect. These days I am using my pyrex dishes to store the food since they are reusable.
There are so many options for what you can have in the freezer, but here are our favourite freezer meal ideas.
Frozen Pasta Dishes
Lasagna takes a bit more effort to make, but if you’re doing 3 or 4 at a time it is totally worth it. I usually make a few beef lasagnas and a few using a bacon bolognese for a bit of variety. Layer it in to the the dish you want to freeze it in, then put it in the freezer before you bake.
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While you’re making your lasagna, make some extra cheese sauce and use it for macaroni cheese. Pop it in to the freezer before you bake it. When the time comes to cook it then sprinkle some extra cheese on top before it goes in the oven.
Make the bolognese and freeze it, then you only need to boil pasta on the day you want to eat it. The bolognese can be defrosted and heated in the microwave for speed. Serve with a sprinkle of cheese.
Spinach And Cheese Stuffed Shells
This recipe for stuffed shells is super easy to make and tastes delicious. They are best defrosted for 24 hours in the fridge before cooking.
Frozen Mexican Meals
Chilli is a staple freezer meal in our house. It holds it’s flavour really well when frozen so you don’t have to compromise on taste. I keep some microwave bags of rice in the cupboard ready for a quick meal a short notice.
Make a classic enchilada dish with your favourite meat or vegetables and freeze before baking. This is JHogg’s favourite meal by far, fresh or from the freezer, so it is a staple around here.
Cook up your fajita fillings in advance and let them cool, then store them in the freezer in bags. Let the portion defrost in the fridge for 24 hours before cooking, then fry them up again and eat in tortillas as usual. I actually really enjoy using the fajita filling on top of baked potatoes too.
Shredded Beef Burritos
These beef burritos are individually wrapped and frozen, which makes the perfect for eating alone or having a snack. The recipe is designed with freezing in mind, and they taste delicious too.
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Comfort Food Freezer Meals
A top tip for cooking cottage pie is to let the meat cool before putting the potato on top, that way it doesn’t sink in to the meat. Easy to cook straight from frozen, cottage pie is the ultimate comfort food and can be stuffed with veggies to give you a healthy homemade freezer meal.
We are pretty new to shepherds pie but it has become a bit of a freezer favourite. It’s not something I cook regularly so making it in bulk and freezing gives us the option to pull it out whenever we want.
Sounds like junk food right? I prefer to make my own chicken nuggets using chunks of chicken breast and crumb coating, that way I know exactly what is in them. They are good for around 6 months in the freezer so you can do all the messy making at once and enjoy them for a long time.
Sweet And Sour Chicken
This does take quite a lot of effort, but it is totally worth it. As a type 1 diabetic I often find a takeaway hard to control my blood sugar levels, but I can enjoy that kick of Chinese food by making it myself. Sweet and sour chicken freezes well, and can be reheated with rice or noodles when you want.
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Can You Cook Meals Straight From Frozen?
Yes! You need to adjust your cooking time, usually adding around 30 minutes to what the recipe specifies. If you want to make sure your dishes are cooked then insert a food thermometer and make sure it reads at least 70C (160F).
How Long Can You Keep Homemade Freezer Meals?
You can keep your meals in the freezer for around 2 or 3 months. After that you will find that they are not as good quality, although still edible. I make sure I label each of my dishes as I put them in the freezer with a date so I know when to use them by.
Freezer meals definitely saved us in those early months of parenthood. I can highly recommend giving some of these a try!
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