A fast-paced lifestyle can get in the way of wholesome meals. Often, busy weekdays lead to take-out food or microwave dinners.
Fortunately, you can avoid this dilemma by following a popular meal preparation method known as freezer cooking. As the name suggests, the method involves freezing cooked meals. It is often done in bulk to prepare food for several days or weeks. Leftovers can also be frozen and reheated another day to save time and food. Foods that can be frozen and stored include meat, soups, stews and casseroles. However, ingredients like milk, cream, fruits and vegetables should be kept out of the freezer.
As a meal prep method, freezer cooking is meant to greatly reduce the hassle of cooking while ensuring that the food you eat is clean and nutritious. If you can squeeze in a few minutes of cooking at home, give these freezer-friendly recipes a try.
Chop cauliflower, onions and cashews and add turmeric. Afterward, place the ingredients in a bag or container and freeze. When you are ready to cook, thaw the ingredients and throw them into a pot. Add three cups of water and stir until the soup reaches the desired consistency.
Prepare the sauce by blending olive oil, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin and tomatoes, then use the sauce to marinate boneless chicken thighs. At this point, you can freeze the marinated chicken inside a Ziploc bag until you are ready to cook. Serve alongside tacos, salads, rice or mashed potatoes.
Mexican shredded beef
Create a spice mix using turmeric, salt, pepper, cumin and coriander. Afterward, rub the spice mix onto beef ribs or beef shank. To cook, use a slow cooker and let the beef sit until it is tender. Once done, use two forks to pull the meat apart until it appears shredded. Serve alongside tacos, rice or leafy greens.
Prepare the meatball mix by combining ground beef, pepper, salt, minced onion and chopped rosemary. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and roll the mix into meatballs. Bake the meatballs for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Serve alongside pasta and vegetables or freeze in an airtight container.
Steak fajita foil packets
Prepare a meat rub by combining cumin, chili pepper, salt, minced garlic, minced onions and paprika. Bind everything together by adding a tablespoon or two of olive oil and rub onto a steak. Prepare foil packets using two sheets of aluminum foil. Cut the steak into equal parts and place each cut inside a foil packet. Add bell pepper strips or a cup of rice. Close the foil packet by folding along the edges of the two aluminum sheets. Cook using an oven or grill and serve alongside leafy greens. You can also freeze the packets for later use.
To properly store freezer meals, let the food cool down completely, preferably to room temperature, before transferring it onto a freezer-safe airtight container. Doing so prevents spoilage caused by Salmonella bacteria. You should also avoid filling the containers to the brim because food expands as it freezes.
If you plan to create several freezer meals, it is good practice to keep track of the date each meal was frozen. You can do this by adding labels to containers using sticky notes or strips of painter’s tape. (Related: Tips and tricks for eating healthy on a budget.)
Moreover, reheat food only until it is hot throughout to eliminate frozen bacteria. Avoid cooling and reheating food more than once, as this increases the risk of food poisoning.
If you have bits and pieces of leftover ingredients, then you can easily create freezer-friendly casseroles, soups and stews. You can even get creative and experiment with various ingredient combinations. After all, you can never go wrong with a good ol’ casserole. You can also use a slow cooker to create a tender meat dish. So grab your crock-pot and whip up a gourmet meal that is guaranteed to last for days.
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