It’s 5 p.m. Do you know what everyone in your house is going to eat for dinner? Ahhh, that frantic feeling of searching through the fridge, pantry and freezer. Trying to come with up with something – anything – that is edible. And when you can’t find anything, then you’re trying to think of where you can run really fast to get something for the whole family that is somewhat healthy AND won’t break the bank.
That used to be me. I would be winding up the day at work and feeling the stress of “what am I going to feed my family for dinner” almost every night. I used to love cooking elaborate meals, but those days were long gone because #kids and #work and #tired. Instead, I would stock my pantry full with cream of something soup, hopefully have some meat in the fridge, get home and try to whip it together as fast as I could because my family would be starving after work/school.
At the end of the day, your family HAS to eat something. And that something costs money and takes someone’s time to prepare.
Finally, I had enough and started Googling things to try to figure out how I could improve this ridiculous process and cycle that I had gotten myself into of not knowing what was for dinner (I am a former consultant, so I like process efficiency). I knew meal planning and setting a “menu” each week was key, but what I struggled with is the time and effort of preparing the meal that I planned each night after work. The after work crazy time is just not conducive to chopping a million vegetables or cooking something for an hour and a half. That’s when I discovered freezer meals, and my life was FOREVER changed.
Things I love about freezer meals:
- Can make them as hard or easy as you want
- Can buy meat on sale in bulk and make into recipes and freeze for later (no one wants chicken every night.)
- Meal planning and prep is literally an 8-minute process each week (here’s a super not-fancy video I posted on my meal prep)
- You learn all the things you can FREEZE (believe it or not, you can freeze milk)
- It can be a long or short process to prep meals – some people dedicate a whole day, while others do a little here and there
- YOU choose the recipe, so they can be as healthy as you want them to be, and you can adjust for your family’s tastes
- They come in all varieties – some require little to no preparation the day of prep (i.e. dump ingredients into a bag and cook the day of) and some require just heating up already cooked dishes
- Buy frozen veggies as a side dish, and you have a complete meal
*The one thing that I will point out, if I am putting in my crockpot for the next day, I usually set an alarm on my phone to remind myself to get it out of the freezer the night before! Otherwise, I will forget. But now there are some AWESOME instant pot freezer meal recipes as well that you can cook straight from frozen!
Personally, I coordinate a group through the Hy-Vee Simple Fix program (formerly known as the DISH program) at my local Hy-Vee on a monthly basis, as well as preparing freezer meals myself. It’s a fun and convenient way to get together with others that want to make freezer meals, and you don’t have to shop or prep the ingredients. Just show up, assemble the meals, pay for them and leave! If you’re interested, email or call the store and ask to talk to the Club Room manager or the Simple Fix coordinator. We have some family favorites that are from Hy-Vee that I shared on my own blog!
Here are some amazing resources that are dedicated to freezer meal cooking:
- Once a Month Meals (can get a membership for more perks)
- Awesome blog post on freezer meal cooking
- And of course, there are TONS of cookbooks – but this is one that’s fairly easy and the first one that I bought and got started on!
Freezer meal cooking is NOT for everyone, but if you haven’t given it a try, maybe it is just the solution that you and your family are looking for! Give it a try and if you have a favorite recipe that you like – let me know.