Beginners Guide to Freezer Meal Prep
Meal Prep can be so overwhelming, especially when you are just starting and you’ve never done it before. That’s okay! I’m here to help you because once you start meal prepping you will be AMAZED by how your life changes. We focus on freezer meal prep because there is nothing better than pulling something out of your freezer, cooking it with easy cooking instructions, and then savoring it–all without destroying your kitchen.
If you’re just starting out you’ll want to check out this list of My Top 10 Must-Haves for Meal Prepping. You don’t have to buy everything on that list because chances are high that you already have most of those items (or something similar) in your kitchen. These products do make things easier, quicker, and sometimes safer if you’re really committing to meal prepping I would definitely make the investment.
Second, you’ll want to find two meals that you know your family will eat. At my house, that’s Pulled Pork Sliders and Chicken Fajitas. Typically you’ll want to pick meals that are super easy to freeze. If you need some suggestions check out my list of My Top 10 Favorite Freezer Meals. Both the Pulled Pork and Chicken Fajitas are listed on My Top 10 Favorite Freezer Meals if you want to make those. You’ll want to make enough of those two recipes to get two full meals.
Then you’ll want to look at the recipe and see how many servings it makes. For example, if the recipe serves 8 people and it’s only you, your husband, and lil’ pup you don’t even have to double that recipe! You’ll just half the recipe (4 servings each) and separate it into two bags that can go into your freezer. Doing this will ensure that you’ll have easy leftovers for another dinner that week.
If the recipe only serves 4 people then you’ll definitely want to double the recipe in order to have leftovers. After the recipe is doubled and you know how much of each ingredient you’ll need to buy then you’ll want to create your shopping list. I like to do this in my Walmart Grocery Pick Up App. It’s so easy to add what you need to your cart with the click of a button that I can do it while cooking my daughter lunch, right before bed, heck I can do it even while I’m going to the bathroom (so my daughter isn’t grabbing at my phone #momlife). It’s really that easy. If you don’t have Gallon Size Ziploc Freezer bags you’ll want to add some to your shopping list as well.
Before you start prepping your freezer meals you’ll want to label your 4 Gallon Size Ziploc Freezer bags. With a permanent marker or Sharpie write the following information on each bag:
- What the meal is (i.e. Chicken Fajitas)
- The date that you’re prepping them (i.e. July 1, 2019)
- What additional ingredients you’ll need. (i.e. tortillas, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, etc.)
- Cooking method/instructions, duration, and temperature. (i.e. Instant Pot on Manual for 15 minutes then quick pressure release until internal temperature of 165 F)
Once you pick your groceries up, you’ll want to prep all your veggies that are included in the meals you’re prepping. Once they’re prepped (i.e. you’ve washed and cut you bell peppers) you can put them straight into your labeled gallon Ziploc freezer bags. You don’t have to portion them out yet (i.e. throw all the bell peppers straight into one bag labeled Chicken Fajitas), but if you want to you can (i.e. portion out your bell peppers so you’re putting 1/2 green, 1/2 red, 1/2 yellow, 1/2 orange into each of your 2 gallon Ziploc freezer bags labeled Chicken Fajitas). Prepping any veggies will save you lots of time later on. This also helps to prevent cross-contamination that can happen when using the same prep space for raw meat and veggies during a meal prep session.
Now it’s full-on prep time.
- Make sure you add the proper portions of your prepped veggies to each of your labeled bags.
- If any of the meat needs to be seared or cooked do that next (your recipe will tell you if this is necessary or not). If your meat doesn’t need to cook, you can add the meat later.
- Add any spices, sauces, canned goods to your labeled freezer bags (you can do this while your meat is cooking or while your cooked meat is cooling down).
- Add any meat or final ingredients to your labeled bags. Don’t let the meals sit out for more than 4 hours to prevent food-borne illness from developing.
- While pushing all the air out of your freezer bags close them tightly. Really be careful to get as much air out of the bags as you can to prevent freezer burn.
- Lay your prepared freezer meals flat on a cookie sheet. If you’re worried about them freezing together put some parchment paper in between them while they freeze.
- Put them in the freezer. When they’re frozen solid, remove the cookie sheet, and parchment paper.
- When you want to cook them put them in your fridge to defrost and then cook according to your recipe instructions.
There you have it! By following this Beginners Guide to Freezer Meal Prep you’ll have 4 meals ready to go for your family. It might be a little time intensive because you’re just starting out, but remember it’s a learning process and as you keep trying you’ll get faster, learn more tricks/tips, and fine-tune your approach along the way.
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