Hannibal Regional Blog

rss

Our blog offers content about healthcare, healthy living and the culture at Hannibal Regional.


Assembling Freezer Meals

Once you know what freezes well and what does not, freezer meal planning and preparing can begin!

Grocery Shopping:
Make your grocery list BEFORE going to the grocery store. Tip: Take inventory of your pantry, fridge and freezer before leaving the house. This will save money and help you avoid extra waste! Grouping similar items (like all seasoning, all produce, etc) will help you be most efficient with your time at the grocery store.

Preparing Ingredients for Freezer Meals:
When you feel most motivated, start preparing meals! This could take anywhere from 1-4 hours depending on how many recipes you are making. Review your recipes to see what needs to be completed ahead of time.

  1. Look to see which meats need to be cooked ahead of time. Some recipes call for raw meat to be thrown in with all the other ingredients before freezing, while others (usually ground meats in chilies or soups) need to be cooked ahead of time.
    1. Recommend cooking all meats at the start of prep so they are cooled and ready-to-go into recipes.
  2. Cook any pastas and rice that need to be cooked before frozen.
    1. Remember to cook them only about ¾ of the recommended cook time so they freeze better. For example, if pasta typically calls for 12 minutes of cooking, only cook it for 9 minutes for your freezer meal pasta dish.
  3. Cut, chop and dice any fruits and vegetables that are needed for recipes.
  4. Place all of these in refrigerator while you take a moment to clean pots, pans, and cutting boards.

Assembling Freezer Meals:
Label any freezer bags and casserole dishes (foil or glass work best) and focus on one recipe at a time. Line up freezer bags or casserole dishes. Have the measuring utensils you need out and ready for you to use. You will want to double check the recipe to make sure all ingredients are included. Place in your freezer and move on to the next recipe!

Labeling Your Freezer Meals:
Labeling meals is a very important step in freezer meal cooking! Write the name of the recipe, date made and instructions for finishing or reheating the meal. Having this information right on the package will save you time later trying to find it! It is recommended to eat frozen meals one to three months after making them for best quality.

Freezer Meal Cooking can save you time and the stress of making homemade meals on a busy weeknight. It can also help bring variety to your weekly menu. The best part: homemade freezer meals can be tailored to meet any of your dietary needs!

Blog post provided by:
Megan Kemp, RDN, LD


Introduction to Freezer Meal Cooking

How do dinners look at your house? Do you plan your meals ahead of time or tend to go with the flow? Planning to eat healthy plays a big part in actually eating healthy. If we don’t have healthy foods in our pantry or fridge, it is easy to overlook health and turn to convenient alternatives. Sure, convenience can mean high fat, high calorie foods but it isn’t the only option.

Freezer meal cooking is a great resource for those who want to eat healthy but have a busy schedule. Freezer meal cooking is planning and preparing meals ahead of time that can be easily frozen for later use. It could simply be doubling a recipe and eating one half for dinner and freezing the other half for future use. The benefit of freezer meal cooking is that it helps find a balance in convenience and health.

Assess Your Freezer Space:
Before you start looking for appetizing freezer meal recipes, you want to look at how much space you have in your freezer. Some recipes can be frozen in freezer bags and take up little space, while others, require 8x8 and 9x13 pans and need a little more.

Creating a Freezer Meal Recipe Collection:
You can start by looking at your own recipe collection. Shortly, we will review what freezes well and what does not which will help you better assess your recipes. Taste of Home has excellent freezer meal cookbooks and several blogs offer a variety of tried and true recipes from Six Sisters’ Stuff to Once a Month Meals.

What Freezes Well:
Meat, poultry and fish all freeze well. Raw meat is preferable for long storage because it doesn't dry out or get freezer burn as fast as cooked meat. Dough/batter of cakes, pies, muffins, bagels, breads, cookies and pizza crusts can also be frozen; they also freeze well already baked. Beans and rice can be cooked in bulk to save time and frozen to be used at your convenience. Cooked scrambled eggs freeze well.

What Freezes Okay but Texture Changes:
Fruits and vegetables all soften when frozen. Potatoes and mushrooms must be cooked before freezing or they may turn black and your dish will appear less appetizing. Cooked pastas will become much softer after they are frozen and should only be cooked about ¾ of the recommended time. Milk and dairy products can be frozen but may separate after being frozen. For best quality, only freeze these items for 1-2 months.

What Does NOT Freeze Well:
Vegetables such as lettuces, celery, radishes and cucumbers have a high water content and typically turn to mush when frozen. Mayonnaise tends to separate. Sliced and block cheeses tend to crumble and are hard to use when frozen.

Freezer meal prepping and planning can be done during our free time or when we feel most motivated. Focus on adapting your recipes to be healthier. Fresh & frozen fruits and vegetables can be incorporated into main dishes or used as quick and easy side dishes. If a recipe calls for canned goods, try low-sodium or no-salt-added. Traditional products found in the grocery store freezer section often have higher sodium content than fresh foods. However, your homemade freezer meals can be made lower sodium by replacing salt in recipes with Mrs. Dash seasoning or other herbs. By always having healthier homemade freezer meals assembled in your freezer, you will have them ready to go for dinner when you get in a pinch!

Blog post provided by:
Megan Kemp, RDN, LD


Tags

chicken Dietitians Dietition Eating Right freezer meals healthy foods Healthy Living Heart Health muffins Nutrition prepared recipes 911 active Activities Alzheimer's Disease appetizer appetizers Apples attentive physicians Auxiliary Awards Awareness back to school baking barley bbq beauty sleep Better Sleep blood pressure blood sugar BMI brain breakfast brussel sprouts busted butternut squash calories candy Carbs Cardiology chicken child development childbirth children chili cholesterol clean eating coconut oil cooking cranberry sauce cucumber dairy Daylight Saving Time Daylight Savings dessert dessert hummus diabetes diabetes alert day Diabetes Center Diebetes diet Dietary dietitian Dietitians digestive health doctor and patient relationship Doctors easter easter egg easy eat better eating Eating Right eggnog eggs exercise fajitas fall fiber flavoring Food food safety Foot Care fruits General gi tract Goals Grocery Shopping Guiding You To BETTER guilt free gut health gut-brain connection Halloween halloween candy hannibal regional happy health Health Living healthy healthy eating healthy food healthy living healthy recipe heart attack heart disease heart health heart health numbers Heart Healthy heart healthy oils helping those in need high fiber diet holiday holiday season holiday swaps holiday treat hyperglycemia Hypoglycemia kale less than 100 calories living healthy lowcalorie lunch magnesium magnesium deficiency management meal planning meal prep meals meat meatloaf mexican brown rice mini meatloaf myths New Year New Years Resolutions November nutrient dense food nutrition Orthopedics physical therapy picnics plant based nutrition poppy seeds prepared preparing protein psl pumpkin pie pumpkin spice pumpkin spice latte Quality quick quick and easy quick and healthy quinoa recipe recipes risk roasted chicken and vegetables salad dressing salmon salsa scholarship program school self care side dish sleep Sleep Apnea smoothie smoothie recipe snack snacks soup southwestern speech therapy spinach and artichoke dip Spine Spring Forward spring peanut pad thai substitutes sugar Summer Sunshine super bowl; Surgery sweet potatoes Thanksgiving tips toe walking truths ultimate salad vacations vegetables Volunteering warning signs weight control Weight Management wellness whole grain