How to make your own frozen dinners

Busy parents, couples and singles are always looking for ways to make a quick meal they can eat on the run. When time is limited, why not consider preparing food in advance and freezing it for easy cooking later on? Darlene Christensen, a Utah State University Extension Agent in Tooele County, offers some information about making your own freezer meals at home!

Freeze foods to save money

Preparing several meals at a time and storing them in the freezer is an excellent way to save both time and money. It also provides an answer to the daily question, “What’s for dinner?” Preparing freezer meals is a popular way to cook. There are numerous cookbooks on the topic, as well as many websites that list a variety of techniques and recipes. Consider the following tips to prepare freezer meals.

  1. To begin, consider working with family members or friends when preparing the meals to move things along quickly.
  2. Select recipes and create a shopping list for all entrees and side dishes. Organize your list by store sections. When shopping, take advantage of store sales and coupons.
  3. The night before assembling the meals, stir up mixes, cook large food items such as whole chickens and organize your work space. Place recipes in sheet protectors. Create combined work areas for dishes using similar ingredients. Gather cooking dishes, storage items, marking pens and other needed items.
  4. When cooking, prepare ingredients that are the same for several recipes, then divide the food. For example, chop onions for all the dishes, or cook all the ground beef and separate it for individual dishes. Create assembly lines. Remember to follow good food safety practices.
  5. Once assembled, label all food items, including name of the food, date and preparation instructions.
  6. Use freezer bags and sturdy plastic containers to seal your food.
  7. Freeze food items. If making sloppy joes, tape hamburger buns to the meat mix package and freeze together.
  8. Take food items out of the freezer the night before you plan to eat them and thaw in the refrigerator.
  9. Incorporate healthy side dishes into your meals using fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads and milk.
  10. Consider using “quick mix,” the equivalent to baking mixes purchased from the store. It is about half the price, is more nutritious, and can be used to make such things as biscuits, pancakes and muffins. The recipe includes nine cups flour, one cup plus two tablespoons nonfat dry milk, four teaspoons salt, one and three-fourths cups shortening and one-third cup baking powder. Stir baking powder, dry milk and salt into the flour. Stir all dry ingredients together until mixed well. Cut fat into flour mixture until all particles are thoroughly coated. Store in a tightly covered container for up to six weeks at room temperature. For recipes that use quick mix, click here.

For more frozen meal (and once-a-month-cooking, aka OAMC) ideas, click here! Article courtesy Utah State University Extension