FREEZER MEAL PREP For the Health Conscious Busy Bride
I am SUPER excited to share my new passion of freezer meal prep. My husband and I are super health conscious, and we are also very busy. The amount of time we spend in the kitchen making nut milks and bone broth, making gluten free sourdough bread and kombucha, and just the general every day prepping/cooking food is insane. We love it, but wow is it a huge time burden. We got in the habit of meal prepping where we’d cook a TON of food on Sunday to have on hand for the week. It was great while it lasted…Rory, my now two year old, was a newborn at the time and I did like having easy things on hand. However, I did realize that while I do love left overs, I don’t love to eat food on Thursday that was cooked on Sunday. We also made huge batches of things and I got sick of eating the same thing all week. So needless to say, it eventually fell by the wayside.
Fast forward a few months ago, I was craving some sort of way I could be more efficient in the kitchen. I had this idea…what if I could prep food and freeze it while it was still raw? It would last a while, all I would have to do is thaw and cook it when we want it, and best of all, it would taste FRESH! A little searching on Pinterest and I realized I did not invent this idea LOL. Which honestly, is even better…because there were already a ton of resources out there for me! No need to reinvent the wheel, right?
I found this SUPER cool site, Once A Month Meals, that has truly changed my life and how I think about cooking! What attracted me to OAMM is that there are a ton of filters you can sort recipes by…. Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Whole 30, AIP, Paleo, Vegan, Seasonal..ALL.OF.IT. That sold me. I wouldn’t have to deal with modifying recipes.
It’s $16/month and here’s how it works. You create your menu (you can have up to 5 menus at a time, 15 recipes on each menu). When you are ready to go, you click “DOWNLOAD” and you get a PDF that includes:
A complete grocery guide with all of the items you’ll need for your menu
A prep instruction list for chopping (how you should prep all items before assembling)
Assembly instructions (details how to prep/assemble all meals)
Thawing instructions for all meals
Cook instructions for all meals
It’s AMAZING. She also has you make two of each meal to save time on prep. AKA. If you make 5 menu items, you will end up with 10 meals. This is so genius because when I’m prepping broccoli beef, I may was well do it twice since I have all the ingredients out.
So now that I’ve been doing it for two months, here are my thoughts/tips so far….
I’m not sure how long I’ll keep my membership with OAMM, but I’m learning SO much on freezer prepping, so I’ll probably keep it a few more months to try out their different recipes and see which ones become family favorites! (A lot of the recipes are only available to members). I feel like I’m getting the hang of it down and could use freezer prep with other recipes I already know and like.
I’ve now realized, I will never (never say never)…re-phrase…I will TRY to never just prep/cook one meal. If I happen to be cooking a dinner for that night, I will be sure to now just prep double the ingredients and put one meal’s worth aside to freeze.
I did a marathon day where I prepped 20 dinners, plus 2 different soups that yielded four single servings each. That was WAY too long for me to be in the kitchen. I spent 3 hours, and Eric did all of the clean up. I now know that I cannot spend that much time in the kitchen in one stretch. However, I am now looking at my frozen meals like a bank account. I made a huge deposit and plan to never have a zero balance. As I withdraw meals, I plan to add a few back in here and there and hope to always have 5-10 meals in the freezer. All the other times I’ve prepped a few meals here and there and have thrown them in the freezer and that has been super enjoyable for me.
Here are the plastic tubs that I use to prep and freeze most meals. I like them because they are resuable. They say they are dishwasher safe but yeah…not really-ish. I always rinse them out with soap and super hot water and call it a day. It’s also nice to use the tubs because some of the meals allow you to cook from frozen in the Instant Pot, and the contents of the tub fit into the Instant Pot perfectly when frozen.
Freezer space. That’s just one thing I have no answer for. We have a huge deep freezer in our garage which makes it feasible for us to store all those tubs. It would certainly take up less space to use ziploc bags, but we’re trying to stay away from single use plastic. Maybe one day my stasher bag supply will build itself up!
I also selected the setting “Dump and Go” in recipe filters under preparation because all of those recipes allow you to just throw all the ingredients into a tub and be done with it. Some require a little cooking upfront which I don’t want to do. (Except for the soups! Those I cook, let cool, and then freeze in individual portions in mason jars to re-heat)
Not only has it saved me time, but it’s saved me a HUGE amount of mental energy! I don’t waste any brain power wondering what I should make for dinner because it’s already done (not to mention the time I save by not having to prep dinner)
I also like that I’m not committed to any particular meal at a given time. I can open our freezer and peruse the selection and decide what we want to eat tomorrow. We’re not tied down to any one meal!
Here are a few of our favorites from Once A Month Meals: (the below listed are all Gluten/Dairy free, and I believe all are Whole 30 too!)
Spicy Beef and Broccoli - grassfed flank steak is hard to come by, so I substitute grassfed stew meat. To cook, I let it thaw completely and do 20 minutes in the Instant Pot, immediate release, followed by adding the broccoli in for 1 minute per the recipe instructions.
If you have any questions, please post below! And if you have any freezer meal favorites, please share them with us!!
***This post does contain affiliate links, but all things that I use and recommend personally!***