Weeknights are fast and furious at our house. We roll into the house like a tornado, hungry, tired and wanting to do nothing more than spend a little quality time with each other. I knew when I went back to work, cooking dinner wasn’t going to be high on my list of priorities. For the weeks prior to my return I tried to think of how to prepare for those nights. Enter freezer cooking.
Like millions of others, I’ve pinned about a million freezer recipes and blog posts about how to make 40 meals in one day. It always seemed totally overwhelming to me. I also craved variety, which a lot of those posts didn’t necessarily offer. Then I read one blog that made a lightbulb go off. I didn’t need to think in terms of complete meals, but rather in terms of components. Ding ding ding.
So before returning to work, I made a few full meals such as enchiladas, baked ziti, chili, and of course handy breakfast foods including burritos and egg sandwiches. I’m all about grab and go.
Then I switched into component mode. I watched the ads at local stores for sales on natural and organic meats and produce. I slowly started stocking up on basics for meals. I wanted to have the most time consuming parts of meals done for me.
Here is a few of the items of what I prepared:
-2lbs of ground beef (one seasoned for tacos, one plain)
-Grilled 4 chicken breasts (used in salads, eaten whole, etc.)
-Shredded chicken (2 large breasts for soups, sandwiches, etc.)
-2 meatloaves (in freezer containers ready to go directly into the oven.)
-Spaghetti squash au gratin (easy side that could go in the oven with the meatloaf)
-Cornbread (for the chili of course)
-Rice (freezes really well and no waiting for 30-45 minutes for it to cook)
I wanted to make enough but not too much that it got freezer burnt. I’ve been loving cooking this way during the week.
Now on Sundays, I prep all the meals for the next week. I start by writing down what we’re going to eat for dinner each day. Then I’ll grab any component from the freezer that we’ll need, such as a meat or side and have it defrosting in the fridge. I’ll chop up all the fresh veggies or fruit that we need and put it into Tupperware. Before work the day of each meal, I’ll pull out any dry ingredients I may need and put them next to the stove so that I’m not searching for them while holding Anderson and getting Ella a snack.
It’s so worth spending about an hour on the weekend prepping. We’re still getting nutritional meals, with minimal effort, on the table by 5:30 at the latest.
Does anyone have any other tips for fast weeknight meals? Favorite recipes to share?