One of the best ways to eat healthy is to eat at home more. But for any busy person, this becomes a real challenge when it’s 4:30 and you have no idea what to make for dinner. Prepping some ingredients and/or dishes ahead of time to stash in the freezer can save the day. Not only does it save you cooking time, it also saves you brain effort at the very time of day your brain is most overtaxed!
Sure, these mean a little more work on the weekend — but you can do it at a leisurely pace, when you’re rested and not rushed. Which I’ve found makes cooking so much more enjoyable!
NOTE: not all of these are real food/Paleo/Whole30.
Here are tips for stocking your freezer with precooked and seasoned meats, which gives you more versatility than already-assembled dishes. Includes instructions (but not exact recipes) for twice-baked potatoes, two different ground beef mixes, a teriyaki marinade that you can use on any meat, poultry or seafood (lots of sugar in it, though), and shredded chicken plus broth. Also has a few nifty tricks for neater packaging.
For the past several months, I’ve gotten into the habit of ingredient prep. This works really well for me! It’s less labor-intensive on the front end, and more flexible at go-time! (I was originally inspired by this post by Mel Joulwan at Well Fed.)
Here’s Pioneer Woman’s freezer cooking post. Not a lot of healthy stuff on the list, but I do love her tip for grilling whole chicken breasts and freezing them to have on hand for dozens of uses. I count about 11 main-dish recipes on her list, skipping the carb-laden ones.
Eight healthy freezer crockpot meals in 75 minutes, from New Leaf Wellness. Well, really four different meals, double batch of each. Beef Roast and Carrots – Chicken Fajitas – Mexican Chicken Soup – Garden Veggie Soup with Ground Beef.
10 meals in 1 hour – super organized and detailed; even includes shopping list! Really just five recipes; double batch of each. Honey Lemon Garlic Chicken – London Broil – Quick Taco Soup – Orange Glazed Pork Chops – Creamy Italian Chicken
10 meals in 1 hour, take 2; the no-bake version; includes five warm weather recipes that are cooked either on the grill or in the crockpot—no oven required!
More about the method…
Here are a couple resources that aren’t recipe lists, but more of a how-to go about mealprep and make it work for you.
From Mealime: Meal Planning: The Definitive Guide to Planning Your Meals Stress-Free. This is an exhaustive collection with tons of tips — how to plan, how to shop, how to cook, etc.
A planned/non-planned approach. No recipes here, but some pointers for stocking your freezer with ready-to-go meat and cheese portions, then how to plan meals the weekend or night before, taking into account your schedule, the weather, and what’s in your fridge that needs to be used up.
And here are a few ingredients to have pre-cooked and ready in the freezer: