After a long day at work, sometimes the last thing you feel like doing is to cook a full meal (perhaps with hangry kids waiting). An easy way to combat that is to do a big meal prep once a week — or even once a month — and stock your freezer full of pre-prepped meals in Stashers that you can easily thaw out and have ready in no time.
Here are six tips and recipes to go from freezer to plate with little time or effort spent.
Double your recipe while cooking dinner and freeze the leftovers
If you are in the mood to cook or have some time on the weekend that you’re making a favorite family meal, double the recipe so you can freeze half for a meal later in the week or month. This is one of the easiest ways to have a meal waiting in the freezer, and you get the added bonus of enjoying a fresh meal at the same time!
Freeze veggie stock and make quick soups
I keep a half gallon Stasher in my freezer and fill it up with veggie scraps as I cook, and once a month or so I will boil it up into a veggie stock. From there it’s easy to freeze the stock in Stasher bags (like a Stand Up!) so that you have an easy base for any soup you want to cook up. Throw in any veggies, beans, or other goodies you have on hand and you’ll have a dinner in no time. This works well in a slow cooker or Instant Pot, too — here’s a veggie minestrone recipe for inspiration. And if you have leftovers, you can freeze those back in Stasher bags for future meals! It's the edible gift that keeps on giving.
Keep a stash of frozen sauces on hand
Make a big batch of tomato sauce, pesto, or whatever sauce tickles your fancy, and freeze it in Stasher bags. You can also freeze herbs in olive oil using an ice cube tray and then store the cubes in a Stasher bag. I find that having a sauce on hand makes everything so much easier— then I can quickly boil a pot of pasta or quinoa, or throw it on some leftover veggies, and have a meal in no time.
Batch cook and freeze your favorite meal components
Whether it’s veggie burgers, meatballs, or even beans (I like to buy them dry from the bulk section and cook them in big batches) or grains like quinoa or rice, make a big batch of your favorite meal components and freeze them— enough to last two or three meals. Then you can thaw and combine as you’d like— either adding them into what you already have leftover in your fridge, or making a new dish that takes a fraction of the time.
Freeze complete individual meals
Sometimes you want to go from freezer to oven to plate! Some easy things to freeze are burritos, pasta dishes like lasagna, or big batch recipes like chili, meatloaf, or curries. Take a day a month to create a few big freezer meals, so you can just stick them in the oven and bake when you are ready to go (fun fact: did you know Stashers can go in the oven?!).
Label the bag with the contents and the date for easy thawing
Did you know you can write on Stashers with dry erase markers?! That way when you throw leftovers or meal-prepped goods into the freezer, you can mark the date and what’s in it so you know exactly what you’re getting when you thaw it out and how old it is.
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Written by Sara Weinreb.