A few years ago, I learned a tremendous amount about prepping meals ahead of time and freezing them. It really saved me a lot of time and money. When I get a job, we tend to eat out because it’s harder to keep up when I’m so busy. So having those recipes on tap is important for us.
I also learned that I am unable to do the all day marathon prep sessions. One day I spent something like 14 hours prepping meals that ended up lasting me for almost 8 weeks. However I also learned that after spending that long in the kitchen, I didn’t even WANT to go to the kitchen to cook the already prepped meals! I spent like a week doing fast food or insta-food from the grocery store because of it.
The thing I found that works best for my family is taking an hour or two and setting up 4-5 meals. That gives me a week or two worth of food (most give us leftovers) and I can manage the ingredients/shopping and prep time far better.
I thought I would share some of my favorites, our variations, and some tips that might help if you’ve never done this before. A couple of years ago, I posted an article for those starting out on this prep and freeze journey. I would recommend checking it out as it has a lot of answers to questions.
And here’s where I just share a ton of links to recipes my family and I love.
Loaded Baked Potato Soup. My family and I love this one. It’s an excellent comfort food!!! We usually serve it with a salad and quesadillas or grilled cheese sandwiches. We have noticed that if you use different types of potatoes the consistency comes out different. But if it ends up being too thick, you can always add milk and thin it out.
Slow Cooker Taco Soup. A few years ago I found the Mommy Hates Cooking website and I loved it. There are fabulous recipes, time saving tips, and she’s just a lot of fun to follow!
Fifteen Minute Sloppy Joes. This one is from a good friend of mine. Though I grew up with Manwich as a regular staple of my childhood, I realized a few years ago that my kids hadn’t enjoyed the messy treasure that can be a great sloppy joe sandwich. I always do mine with a slice of melty cheese….nom! This recipe is not only simple and fast, it’s delicious!
Slow Cooker Marinara. I grew up in an area where Italian food is no laughing matter. People are hard core serious about their lasagna and their sauce. (Tomato gravy anyone??) Until a couple of years ago though, I confess to using jar sauce for all of my creations. Until we found this recipe. Seriously this is AMAZING marinara and my family will not touch the jarred stuff again. The only thing we change in this one is the pine nuts. For some reason, that never really stuck with my family. But we make double batches (sometimes triple!) of this recipe and then we spend the next few days/week having spaghetti, meatball subs and homemade pizza. Once you try this, you won’t go back to the other stuff! And it’s really, really easy!
And for this last recipe, we do the same concept, but we use the marinara I just posted above. Our entire family finds something in this that they can eat and we manage to do it for a whole week with this recipe. You can serve it over pasta, rice, or as subs. Happy Family Cacciatore.
I’d love to hear if you try any of these or what you think of them!!! The taco soup and cacciatore can be put into bags and frozen ahead. Just cook the meat for the soup first and then it’s only a heat up in the slow cooker. The cacciatore doesn’t need the meat cooked first (at least we haven’t) as long as you put it in the slow cooker for long enough to cook it through thoroughly.