Note from Rachel: This is a guest post from Cara of Health Home and Happiness. She has been meal prepping in the form of freezer cooking for years, and has become more intentional with it as her children have gotten older. She’s going to tell you a little more about how a little bit of meal prep now can really simplify your home life a LOT in the long run.
Rushing, stressing, and hurrying through dinner preparation can take all the enjoyment out of what should be one of the most bonding and relaxing parts of our day- the dinner hour. Even those of us who enjoy cooking find there are some days when we would just like to bippity-boppity-boo dinner onto the table.
The days when soccer practice runs long, you were called out of work to pick up a sick child from school (on the day you were going to grocery shop, of course), or the gorgeous fall leaves and last nice days of the season call your name and leave dinner forgotten about until everyone is is starving… those days all can make for a stressful dinner preparation.
For those of us that do not have a fairy godmother waiting at home to whip up a delicious and healthy meal, doing a little bit of meal prep one afternoon a week, or even one afternoon a month, can really save time, energy, frustration, and even money.
Time, Energy, and Frustration
When we prep our meals ahead of time and spend 2-4 hours of focused energy in the kitchen, we are able to produce an amazing amount of food and use that time efficiently. Every time we make dinner we end up getting out similar ingredients, using them once, and putting them away. Same goes with kitchen appliances, cutting boards, knives, and pots and pans.
When we cook on a larger scale, we use these same items, but we produce 3-10 times as much food, package and store it, and then we have 3-10 dinners that only take a minute to get on the table.
When we’re feeling creative, or we have some extra time, we go ahead and cook dinner normally. But if life is chaotic for a day, or even a week or month, relying on freezer meals can really lessen the burden of having to prepare dinner every.single.night. for that season.
When you clean out your fridge, how much produce do you find that has gone bad? How many times do you end up going out to eat because you’re too tired to cook or haven’t gone grocery shopping lately? When we have a full freezer with nutrient-dense foods already cooked and frozen, we won’t lose our beautiful (expensive!) groceries to the depths of the fridge.
The average family of 4 spends $900 monthly on groceries (source) and a whopping $225 each month going out to eat (source)! Of the groceries purchased, on average 25% goes to waste (source) because it goes bad before it can be eaten, totaling $225/month.
When we cook our groceries with intention in one big cooking day, we have the convenience of restaurant food, the cost savings of nothing being wasted, and the health benefits and superior taste of home-cooked meals made with ingredients that we trust.
We all know how important home-cooked meals are to our health. Not only because eating real food is better for us, but also because it will reduce our stress, and reducing stress is essential to living a healthy life as well.
For health, I encourage you to focus on protein and vegetables when you meal prep or freezer cook. I know baked goods can be fun to make, but your body will thank you if it’s easier to grab protein and vegetables than a pastry or sugary treat.
Where To Start
Rather than committing an entire weekend to freezer cooking, I suggest you start small and then work your way up. Here are some suggestions to help give you direction, whatever your meal prep needs are.
- DIY Soup Packs for Cheap Instant Homemade Soups
- The Ultimate Guide to Grain-Free Freezer Cooking
- The Freezer Cooking Class
Rachel Again: If the idea of freezer cooking overwhelms you, and you would like some help getting organized and following through, you should stop by and check out Cara’s Freezer Cooking Class. Each class has printable instructions and grocery lists, a delicious menu, and a complete video overview so you can really visualize how all this goes together quickly and easily.
Our family has had several of the meals from Cara’s freezer cooking class, my mushroom-hating husband loved her mushroom-filled meatloaf (Bacon-wrapped Meatloaf- Cozy Winter Suppers unit) and my sometimes-picky kiddos asked me to make Asian-Style Meatballs (also in the Cozy Winter Suppers unit) asked me to get Cara’s recipe. What I love about this class is that it only takes 4 hours to fill your freezer, AND the focus is on protein and vegetables, so the dishes are not only paleo, but they also are allergen free. If you aren’t paleo, don’t worry- nothing in here tastes weird. You can just add a starch (like rolls or rice) and dinner will be on the table in a flash.
It really does make it faster, less expensive, and easier to make a healthy meal for dinner than grab fast food or order takeout on busy days. Click on over here and check it out, I think you’ll like it.
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