Fall truly is my absolute favorite time of the year. And no, it is not because of pumpkin spice lattes or Instagramable pumpkin patch pictures (although I will probably be guilty of this). It is because for me, it represents the shift into warmth. That nostalgic, feel good, snuggle up kind of warmth. It is a fresh start, with the end of summer feeling so final, and trees shedding their leaves amongst the air that feels fresh and new. Fall is when things start to slow down, including my cooking. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE to cook during the fall, but it is typically the stew-simmering-on-the-stove-while-we-watch-movies-all-day-under-blankets type of cooking. Therefore, busy weeknight lackluster “whatever” meals always feel extra lackluster this time of year. So I thought it would be a perfect time to do another round of freezer meals so we can enjoy comforting and warm fall meals each day, while still keeping it light, and family friendly.
I think most people’s reaction (including mine) when they first consider doing freezer meals are either: “that is way too much work!” or “eating frozen meals every night does not sound all that great.” However, I am here to say that NEITHER ARE TRUE, as long as you do it right. Below, I have broken down what you need, how to conquer this, truly helpful tips to make this not a big deal, and of course yummy fall recipes that you and your family can enjoy for the next 4-6 weeks (meaning you do not have to cook dinner, like at all!). Trust me when I say, if I can do it, I promise, promise, promise you can too!
What You Need for Storage:
- Quart & gallon Ziploc bags (good for storing meats & soups)
- Aluminum or glass 8×8 dishes with lids (good for storing casserole-like meals)
- Plastic wrap (helps keep freezer burn at bay)
- Painter’s tape & Sharpie (to label your food)
- Don’t panic (it is all about mindset!)
- Make store list, adjust to your needs (no need to follow every recipe 100%, adjust to your family’s needs/likes, also make a store list & adjust portions as needed)
- Big day:
- Pick a date
- pick a date that you know you will have time and energy, never try to do this on a weekend that is already hectic or after a tough week at work
- Clean kitchen night before
- conquering this in a CLEAN kitchen is everything
- Wake up early
- I always make a point to get up extra early, the earlier I get up, the earlier I can get it done (last time I knocked it all out by 10am)
- Coffee & game plan
- get your coffee going & make a game plan as to exactly how you will tackle each dish – you will have the energy + clarity to get it done!
- I typically spend the first 30 minutes prepping ALL ingredients (ex. chop all the onions at once and place in a bowl), so then you can easily throw each meal together in a few minutes.
- I then prep my meals in batches. For instance, if there are 4 chicken dishes, I will get my containers out, then throw all the ingredients together simultaneously. It makes it less daunting, and is much more efficient.
- Take 5 minute breaks
- Since I do my meals in batches, I typically take a break after I finish a batch, it keeps me motivated and my energy up.
- Adjust recipes to family needs: size, spices, etc. (you want to prep something you KNOW everyone will love)
- Double up (double some recipes so you can eat through out the month)
- Freeze in single night portions (freezer meals do not make good leftovers)
- Know what to precook (I only precook ground meat, pasta, and soup – everything else is frozen raw)
- Plan fresh ingredients (always add a fresh ingredient the day you eat it)
- If you still feel overwhelmed, pick 3 dishes, try out for a week and see if it works for you!
#freezer30 Fall Recipes
- Raw squash does not freeze well, roast a few ahead of time, keep as halves, freeze and reheat.