Welcome to a whole new year of Simplifying! While most of these monthly posts this year will be centered around making life easier with a baby, they are definitely universal enough for everyone! January is a perfect month for cleaning out and restocking the freezer. A lot of us are gearing up for new schedules, big goals, and with the momentum of the new year, we have the energy to prepare ahead for the approaching slow down that usually happens late February. We are ready for Spring, but it may still be cold and snowy. We have lost our energy from the new year’s sheen. And a freezer full of healthy meals will keep us going until the warmth and sunshine comes back. Ready to get started?
Make a plan.
Ready to go all out and make all this month’s meals at once and eat out of the freezer every night? Or do you just want a handful of staples for those extra hectic weeknights? Making a list of meal ideas, recipes, and a schedule for making it all will really help once you get to cooking day. You may be able to do it all at once. Or you may need to break it up. For example, I am working on stocking my freezer for after baby comes, so I have a plan for breakfasts, snacks, lunches, and dinners for at least a month to balance out what friends will bring over. Each week I pull a handful of meals from this list to shop, prep, cook, and store to keep things manageable over the coming weeks.
Don’t try new recipes.
It may be tempting to make all the recipes from a brand new cookbook you just got for Christmas. Or a blog recipe you saw yesterday. But since these meals won’t be eaten right away, you want something you know is good to look forward to. And you want something that you know will hold up to freezing, thawing, and reheating. While adding one or two new recipes can be okay, make sure most of your plan include tried and true family favorites, that everyone can look forward to eating.
Store in manageable portions.
It may seem convenient to freeze entire casserole dishes of food, but if you are wanting to feed just one or two in a hurry, thawing a whole casserole can take a while. And once an item is thawed, you don’t want to refreeze it. Think ahead to how each dish might be enjoyed and store accordingly. For me, this means single serving containers of everything, so I don’t have to worry about the husband wanting something else or needing to feed myself for lunch during the day or wasting the food already in the fridge.
Keep it simple.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew! Start out small. Make Plan A, then build on it with Plan B, until you get an idea for how long it takes you to shop, prep, cook, and store meals. Some people can multitask easily, cooking up two or three dishes at once. Others, like me, prefer to do one recipe from start to finish before starting on the next one, cleaning as I go. Whatever your method, keep it simple. And don’t stress out about it. This is supposed to be helpful, time-saving, and possibly fun (if you are someone who loves being in the kitchen and the sense of accomplishment of filling your freezer with delicious meals!)