Creating a stockpile of healthy, homemade freezer meals has been on my to-do list since I started grad school, but I never had the time to get organized and make it happen. This year, however, I've found some major motivation for spring cleaning and organization: the arrival of my first baby in early June.
So join me over the next several weeks as I take my freezer from disorganized disaster zone to fully-stocked, home-cooked dinner central (I hope!).
The Project: Stock My Freezer with Healthy, Homemade Meals
Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I am a little obsessed with my freezer. I freeze beans, I freeze brown rice, I freeze oatmeal, soups, cookie dough, winter greens and whatever else I can set aside for a rainy day. I am always glad when I've made enough of a recipe to freeze a couple full meals for busy nights, but I never get organized enough to fully stock my freezer.
Luckily, I am so terrified about how exhausting and disorienting life will be with a newborn in the house, I am committed to doing what it takes to fill my freezer with an arsenal of nourishing meals for the busy summer ahead.
Being a freezer-obsessed individual, I already have an idea of what recipes freeze well and have a few ideas for favorite meals I can make and freeze. But we don't want to be eating the same thing for months, so I want to seek out some new freezer-friendly recipes that my husband and I will enjoy.
And as my collection of food storage containers can most accurately be described as "random," I'll be investing in a good set of freezer-safe, microwave-safe glass containers to store all the finished food.
Week 1: Clean Out My Freezer
I thought about not sharing a picture of my freezer in its current state because it is horribly messy and embarrassing, but...I want to be real. My freezer is over-filled, overflowing and definitely not ready to accept a stockpile of frozen meals. The first step in this project was doing a major clean sweep.
So I grabbed a big garbage bag and tossed out all the freezer-burned meat, year-old frozen cookie dough, stale nuts and other unusable ingredients I found hiding in the depths. I also wiped down the interior of the freezer — how does dog hair get in there?? — and reorganized the remaining food.
After: a little better!
It's not perfect, but it's getting there. In the coming weeks I'll make an effort to finish off most of the Trader Joe's frozen ingredients we keep for nights when my husband is in charge of dinner and use the meat we have in the meals I plan to freeze.
Do you have any advice for me?
Whether you regularly fill your freezer with meals for later, or you've tackled a project like this for a new baby on the way, I'd love to hear your suggestions! What are the recipes, supplies or advice you wish you'd had before stockpiling your freezer?
(Image credits: Jessica Fisher; Anjali Prasertong)