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Last Updated on June 2, 2021
Taking time to cook a delicious meal every night isn’t always an option in the grab-and-go era. Easy-to-make sandwiches and pre-packaged meals have become a mainstay of many busy families’ diets, despite their weak nutritional value.
However, if you have an upright freezer like these, you don’t always have to resort to ordering takeout to spice up your regular rotation of dinner dishes. With an upright freezer, you can easily organize your prepped freezer meals ahead of a busy week, and it won’t take up much space in your already crowded kitchen or garage.
Whether you have a hectic week or just want to relax on the weekends, meal prepping can simplify your life while still allowing you and your family to eat satisfying, homemade dishes. Make-ahead frozen meals will always keep your family dinners fresh without having to sacrifice convenience or nutritional health.
Slow-cooker beef barbacoa
If you’re a family that likes celebrating Taco Tuesdays, this recipe is for you. Not only can you freeze the leftovers to heat up whenever you want a second round, but it’s easy to prep with a slow-cooker. Simply toss your seasoned beef roast into a slow cooker in the morning with beef stock and beer, and come back home to a melt in your mouth beef barbacoa. Break out the tortillas or prep some rice, and you’ll have a mouthwatering meal your family can enjoy any day of the week.
An Italian classic that won’t ever disappoint, lasagna is an excellent choice for a freezer meal and can be prepared for meat-lovers and vegetarian diets alike. Lasagna is a relatively labor-intensive meal, which means if your family frequently craves this pasta and cheese-layered extravaganza, it’s not always realistic to make it on-demand.
Luckily, lasagna freezes well with just a few tricks. To avoid soggy lasagna, freeze it after it’s been assembled but before baking. If you’ve already baked your lasagna, let it cool completely before placing it in your freezer. If your family members are prone to lasagna cravings, freeze your lasagna in individual servings so anyone can reheat a single portion when they please. For best results when reheating, transfer the lasagna to your refrigerator to defrost overnight, then bake it in your oven.
Before calling for pizza delivery, consider making your pizza at home and freezing any leftovers. Like lasagna, homemade pizzas should be frozen after baking the crusts and assembling the toppings, but before the final bake. If your family members each have different pizza topping preferences, homemade pizzas are the perfect option to satisfy everyone. Simply make and bake the crust and allow everyone to assemble their own personal pizzas. When you’re ready to freeze, place the pizza in airtight containers, and you can store it for up to two months.
Any stews or soups are the best options for freezer meals. Beef bourguignon is a rich, satisfying, and comforting dish you can easily serve over plain pasta. If you’re planning to freeze your stew, use rice flour as your thickening agent if your recipe calls for one. Traditional thickening agents like regular flour or cornflour will often separate when thawing. As always, allow the stew to cool fully before placing it in the freezer, and reheat in a saucepan on the stove after partially thawing for delicious leftovers.
Slow-cooker sweet-and-sour pork
If the temptation of Chinese takeout is too great, try making your favorite dishes at home. With the use of a slow cooker, sweet-and-sour pork turns into a meal that practically cooks itself. Toss all of your ingredients together in a plastic freezer bag and ensure you coat your pork in the sweet-and-sour sauce before placing it in the freezer. Two days before you’re ready to eat, place the bag in the refrigerator and let it thaw completely. In the morning, turn on your slow-cooker and return home to the mouth-watering smell of a delicious Chinese meal, ready to eat.
Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, but it becomes all too easy to skip on mornings when you’re rushing to make it to work and school on time. If your family loves their breakfast, but the idea of waking up early to scramble eggs and flip pancakes sounds exhausting, pre-made breakfast burritos may be the way to go. After assembling all of your burritos, individually wrap them in paper towels and foil, and place them in a freezer-friendly container or plastic freezer bags. To reheat, simply place the burrito in the microwave, and your favorite breakfast meal can be enjoyed at any time of day.
The bottom line
Being a parent is stressful enough without constantly wondering how to satisfy picky eaters and cook new nutritious dishes every day. Take the guesswork out of your family dinners with meal-prepping and freezer-friendly favorites. You’ll keep your family well-fed and satisfied on any given week.