With today’s hectic schedules and pricey restaurant meals, it’s no surprise why make-ahead meals are growing in popularity. And it isn’t just helpful to take one more thing off of your crazy long scroll (AKA your to-do list), it’s smart! Prepping meals ahead of time can help ensure that you’re feeding your family nutritious, home-cooked meals at a moment’s notice.
PHR Plus wants to help make your week go much more smoothly. We’ve compiled 6 of our favorite make-ahead freezer meals you can try this month!
6 Freezer Meals for Busy Moms
Paleo Crock Pot Beef Fajitas
2lbs of flank steak OR beef sirloin tip (any lean beef cut will do)
1 large onion, chopped
1 large poblano pepper or 2 jalapeños (if you can take the heat), seeded and diced
2 color bell peppers, seeded and chopped
Homemade Spiced Rub:
1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of black pepper
2 teaspoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon of cumin
¼ teaspoon of garlic powder
¼ teaspoon of onion powder
⅛ teaspoon of cayenne pepper (add ¼ if you like the extra kick)
fresh avocados or homemade guacamole, lime slices, fresh cilantro, non-grain tortillas, romaine, chopped cherry tomatoes, etc.
- Prepare ingredients from salt to cayenne pepper in a small bowl and then rub your aromatic spiced rub on all sides of your beef.
- Place your spiced rub beef at the bottom of the crock pot.
- Chop all your onions and peppers and place over the beef in the crock pot.
- Cook on low for 9 hours and enjoy. I know people get uneasy about leaving a protein in the crock pot all day that does not have a lot of liquid because they think it will burn, but I can assure you it will NOT burn. The vegetables and beef will emit a lot of juices in the cooking process which will give it enough to keep it moist. The last thing you can say about this meat is that it is dry; scouts honor!
- When you get home or at the end of the cooking time, shred the beef and mix your veggies and enjoy. I serve mine with big romaine lettuce wraps to substitute for a tortilla. I have also served it over my Cilantro lime cauliflower rice and eaten as is. Don’t forget to top it with fresh avocado. I usually make homemade guacamole with just avocado, cilantro, fresh squeezed lime juice and a little salt)
(courtesy of Our Full Plate)
Healthy “Fast Food” Paleo Chicken Nuggets
boneless skinless chicken, cut into small chunks – about 4 breasts, or 6 thighs (or a mixture). I used breasts only
1 cup of buttermilk, or milk plus a tablespoon of vinegar
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 Tablespoons dried parsley
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.
2 teaspoons Frank’s Red Hot sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
coconut flour – about a cup
4 more eggs
almond flour – 2-3 cups
- Marinate the chicken in the buttermilk at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- Drain the chicken and discard the buttermilk. Put chicken into a food processor with 1 egg, onion powder, parsley, cheese, hot sauce, salt and pepper.
- Blend ingredients with the regular blade, until a paste is formed and all ingredients are combined.
- Sprinkle coconut flour on a cookie sheet, and drop chicken mixture onto it. I used my cookie scoop to make evenly sized blobs.
- Flatten each blob with your fingers, and flip over so that all sides get covered with the coconut flour.
- Beat the other 4 eggs in a bowl, and dredge each nugget in the egg wash, then coat in almond flour. I find it easiest to do the almond flour step by putting the almond flour in a gallon zip lock bag, then tossing in a few egg-covered nuggets at a time, shaking to coat. (Please put them on a different baking sheet, instead of plopping them back on top of the coconut flour like I did. It’s annoying to have the coconut flour on the outside!)
- Bake in a preheated oven (350 degrees Fahrenheit) for 12-15 minutes. Check to make sure a fat one is cooked all the way through.
- Freeze on a cookie sheet, then vacuum-seal to save for later.
- When reheating from the freezer, microwave until heated through. If you want your outsides more crispy, then you can lightly fry in a pan with coconut oil after microwaving. If you ask me, it’s worth the extra step.
(Courtesy of Joyful Abode)
Lemon Garlic Dump Chicken
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp parsley flakes
2 Tbsp lemon juice (or the juice of one whole lemon)
4-6 chicken breasts (or 8 to 10 chicken tenders)
- Place all ingredients into a 1-gallon freezer bag. I used wide mouth half gallon mason jar to hold the bag upright while I filled it with the chicken and other ingredients.
- After sealing the bag, turn the bag over several times until everything is combined and the chicken is well coated. Freeze flat.
- Thaw chicken. Pour chicken and marinade into a baking dish, turn chicken to coat. Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes.
(Courtesy of One Good Thing)
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2 pounds lean ground beef
1 large onion
2 large carrots
2 cups fresh baby Spinach and Swiss chard
1 large head of broccoli
3 cups whole grain bread crumbs
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup A1 or Steak sauce
1 cup Sweet Baby Rays original barbeque sauce (or your preferred BBQ sauce)
- Thoroughly wash all of your fresh vegetables then rough chop the carrots and onions down to 1-2 inch size pieces.
- Use a food processor to dice them down Combine the vegetable mix with both meats in one large bowl.
- Chop down the bread and pulse into crumbs, again you can use a blender or food processor.
- Add to the combined meat and veggie mix. The liquids from the vegetables will make this a bit wetter then you might be used to – that is alright. You’ll want that for the first part of cooking before the fats from the meat start to come out in the slow cooker.
- Press into your slow cooker so it is the same height then prick with a fork across the entire top. That will allow the flavors of the sauces to really infuse themselves into the meatloaf.
- Pour the Worcestershire, A1 and barbeque sauce across the top, quick combine with the fork. Cover and cook on low for about 3 hours.
(Courtesy of Thrifty Northwest Mom)
Black Bean and Quinoa Enchilada Bake
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeds removed, diced
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, seeds removed, diced
1 cup corn frozen kernels
Juice of 1 small lime
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups red enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
Toppings: Sliced green onions, avocado slices, sour cream, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Add quinoa and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Cover quinoa and set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat the tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the peppers and corn. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. Add the lime juice, cumin, chili powder, and cilantro. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- In a large bowl, add the cooked quinoa and black beans. Add the sautéed vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Pour in the enchilada sauce and stir. Add 1/2 cup shredded cheese.
- Pour the black bean and quinoa mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining shredded cheese. Cover the pan with foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil. Bake an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and edges are bubbling. Remove from the oven, and let cool for 10 minutes. Garnish with toppings, if desired. Serve warm. (Recipe courtesy of Two Peas and their Pod)
Beef and Corn Casserole
2 pounds ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
12 oz. can kernel corn, drained
20 – 24 oz. tomato soup – this can be creamy tomato soup that is gluten free or gluten free condensed tomato soup
1 Tbsp. ketchup
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked gluten free noodles*
1 1/4 cups grated cheddar cheese
- Brown the ground beef until no longer pink, adding the onion about halfway through cooking time. Put cooked meat mixture, corn, soup, ketchup, and seasoning in a bowl and mix.
- Cook noodles (al dente). Drain. Mix into the other ingredients. Put the whole thing into a large re-sealable freezer bag. Remove excess air and seal.
- Put the grated cheese into a medium re-sealable freezer bag and seal. Staple it to the top of the other bag, being sure to staple above the seals on both bags. Lay flat and freeze.
- On cooking day, thaw the bag, carefully remove the staples and throw staples away. Pour casserole into a baking dish and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes, covered. Uncover for the last 10 minutes of cooking. (recipe courtesy of The Chaos and Clutter)
When you don’t have the time or energy, meal prepping can seem like the biggest pain. But it doesn’t have to be. Master meal prep with these 3 extraordinarily easy tips.