1. Shop one day, prepare meals the next.
The day after your big shopping trip, chop all the vegetables first (a food processor or mandolin slicer will save you tons of time), then open all cans needed for sauces. After everything is prepped, measure and add ingredients assembly-line style.
2. Buy large quantities of meat on special.
Discounted meat at most grocery stores gets marked down in the morning — around 9 A.M. where I live. Call your store’s meat department to find out when they discount meat then stock up!
For more ways to save on meat, check out Bizarre & Extreme Ways to Get Meat for Cheap.
3. Freeze and bake individual portions of lasagna in mason jars.
Because sometimes a whole lasagna is just too much. Instead, prepare and freeze lasagna in wide mouth canning jars. Then when you’re ready to eat, just pop a jar in the oven (don’t worry — canning jars can stand the heat).
4. Freeze soup in muffin tins first for easy individual servings.
Ladle prepared soup into muffin tins, and pop in the freezer until solid. Then, remove the muffin tins from the freezer and place in a sink filled with an inch of hot water. Slide a knife around the outside of each of the soup muffins to coax them out, and place the mini-soup muffins in labeled freezer bags. Use within a month.
Learn how to properly freeze individual ingredients in The Ultimate How-to-Freeze Guide.
5. Fill bags easily with hands-free bag holders.
No more spilling all the food you just prepped! Get two of these babies for about $8 on Amazon.
6. Print directions on mailing labels.
The ink from a Sharpie sometimes wears off in the freezer. Instead, print directions and write the date on sticky address labels.
7. Poke holes in meats to allow the marinade to enter.
8. Put the meat in the freezer bag last for Crock-Pot meals.
This way, the meat is the first thing you’ll dump in your slow cooker and the first ingredient that gets cooked.
9. Form and freeze meatloaf in foil and plastic wrap.
Instead of buying a bunch of disposable aluminum loaf pans, line your regular loaf pan with enough foil and plastic wrap to close over the top, then press in the meat, and cover. Once the meat is fully frozen, remove the foil-wrapped loaf from the pan and label. When you’re ready to cook, just remove the meat from the plastic and foil wrap, place in a loaf pan to thaw, and bake.
10. Tired of casseroles and stews? Make dinner “kits.”
If certain ingredients need to be cooked separately, package them in smaller, individual bags first then throw all the components in a bigger freezer bag. Frozen dinner kits that work well include pizza, fajitas, tacos, and stir fry.
11. Double a recipe every time you cook if you can’t spend a day prepping a bunch of meals.
This is one of the easiest ways to get started with freezer meals. Prepare double the ingredients every time you fix dinner, and cook just half. Freeze the other half for later.
12. Avoid dishes calling for potatoes.
Unless you’re looking for that mashed potato taste and mushy texture, avoid freezing then cooking potatoes. You’re better off adding in fresh potatoes while your freezer meal cooks.
13. Lay freezer meals flat to save space.
14. Throw a freezer meal party.
Learn from each other, save time, and add variety to your meals by throwing a freezer meal party with friends. Thriving Home Blog has some great ideas for throwing your first party.
15. Freeze breakfast burritos and sandwiches for all those busy mornings.
Freezer meals aren’t just for those busy weeknights — they’re perfect for hectic mornings too. Wrap individual burritos and put-together sandwiches in foil or plastic wrap before placing in a freezer bag.