I've made some freezer meals in the past, but yesterday I decided to embark on a new adventure...making lots of freezer meals all at one time! First, I scoped out what was on sale at Ingles to help me decide what recipes I wanted to conquer. I decided on a few recipes that require some of the same ingredients since it was my first go at it. I also wanted to create meals that I already am familiar with making so that the process would be quicker. I ended up preparing ingredients for chili, beef stew, beef stroganoff, chicken rotel, chicken with veggies, and potato soup. While I was at the grocery store, I also stocked up on gallon-sized freezer bags. This is a must-have for this project.
Here's how I did it:
1) First, I decided to make two bags of each meal since I bought my meat in bulk.
2) Then I labeled each bag with the name of the meal and any further instructions for later using a permanent marker (how much water or cheese to add, how long to cook it, what to serve it with, etc...). This took about 10 minutes.
3) I got out all my vegetables and chopped everything I needed all at once (potatoes, onions, and peppers for this set of recipes). This took about 15 minutes.
4) Then I got out my other ingredients, which included a lot of canned goods (soups, whole kernel corn, and chili beans), as well as all of the seasonings I would need, and grouped them together by the recipes they would be going in. This took about 5 minutes.
5) I used separate bowls for each of my three meats- chicken, ground beef, and beef tips. I chose not to precook the meats for my particular recipes because I will be cooking them in the crockpot later. Depending on your needs or particular recipes, you may want to precook the meat.
6) I worked with one meat at a time, preparing all the ingredients for each meal and filling the bags appropriately. I did most of the mixing right in the bag rather than in the bowl. Making two of each recipe helped speed things up a bit, and the trashcan was right beside me so that cleanup was super easy. Prepping each recipe took between 5-8 minutes, depending on what had to be added or mixed.
7) As each meal bag was full, I made sure to press as much air as possible out and lay the bags flat. I double and triple checked the seals on each bag, too.
8) As I changed from one type of meat to another, I had to do some quick sanitizing anyway, so I took the time to take a set of bags to the freezer. I chose to lay my bags flat so they will freeze more evenly.
9) When everything was in the freezer, all I had to clean up was my cutting boards, knives, and three meat bowls. The entire process only took about 2 hours to complete, and it was super easy! I will definitely be trying this out again, and maybe I'll venture out with some different recipes.
Let me know if you try this out, too. I would love to hear how things go for you and if you have any other helpful hints!