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Dinner's in the Freezer!

Preparing freezer meals can help you stretch your budget and your time. You can make your own convenience foods with your favorite ingredients that are on sale at the grocery store. If you are on a special diet, you can adjust the recipes to fit your needs. Later, all you do is thaw and cook.
Dinner's in the Freezer!

Photo used under license from www.thinkstock.com

Making Freezer Meals

Try making several recipes on a “cooking day” with family or friends. Keep things moving smoothly with these tips:

  • Be sure you have space in your freezer before you begin. You may need to reorganize your storage area.
  • Gather freezer containers or freezer bags, marking pens and other supplies you need. You might prefer to use disposable foil pans, especially if you are exchanging meals with other people.
  • Check which ingredients you already have, and then create a detailed shopping list that combines the ingredient amounts from all your recipes. For speedy shopping, organize your list according to the layout of your favorite grocery store.
  • Organize your workspace and assemble the tools and equipment you need.
  • Combine similar tasks. If several recipes require chopped onions, chop them all at once.
  • When using zip-top freezer bags, squeeze out as much air as possible. Flatten the bags to stack easily.
  • Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator.

Stock-up Ideas

These are some “make-ahead” meals that you can prepare and freeze in meal-size portions. Simply thaw in your refrigerator or microwave oven. Don’t thaw foods on a countertop or sink because bacteria can grow and produce toxins that can survive cooking.

  • Meatballs
  • Taco meat
  • Lasagna
  • Barbecued pulled pork or beef
  • Breakfast burritos
  • Chili (see the recipe on the back)

See http://tinyurl.com/foodpres for a week’s worth of recipes and menus from Utah State University.

Julie Garden Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Featured in Food Wise August 2014 newsletter (PDF).

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