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22 Freezer Meals for Busy Teachers

Sneak peek: How teachers can batch their meal prep in order to save time during the busy school year.

Are you ready to organize your meal plans for either an upcoming medical leave or perhaps just to have a stash of meals for the school year? As a teacher, weeknights are so busy during the school year, it can become a major struggle to get dinner on the table on time, if at all! When I was preparing for my second maternity leave I came up with a slow-burn system to start stashing our deep-freezer with meals on a weekly basis. Doing this, I managed to slowly build up 22 freezer meals for maternity leave. Of course, there are many reasons one might go on leave. Whether it is surgery, chemo, or perhaps a birth like in my own situation, it’s such a relief to know that nourishment for yourself, and those in your care, is squared away.

I’m excited to share my batching meal-prep secrets with you! This method is about ease and efficiency. Just as useful as the tips, I’m including the Google spreadsheet with the recipes I have tried and fully recommend. There were definitely a few recipes that flopped, so they didn’t make the final cut. The recipes I have shared are sure to be a home run!

The magic of batching is that you are already making the mess and spending the time preparing a meal each time you cook. If you double the recipe, it is only fractionally more mess and time.  It doesn’t take that much longer, and then you have that meal for a rainy day. From a benevolence standpoint, you can also double up the recipe in order to share one with a friend in need. Double the output for not-double the input is a great return on your time, which, as a teacher, is a precious commodity you likely feel there is never enough of!

Leading up to my maternity leave, my system was to make a freezer meal recipe from my list each weekend. I would double the recipe so we could eat one during the upcoming week, while also saving one for later. The nice thing about this method of building supply slowly over time: it would be a while before we repeated that meal again, since the extra meal was safely stashed away in the freezer.

*This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click through to one of the product links, I’ll earn a small percentage, at no extra cost to you.

Supplies

My favorite recipes on the Google Spreadsheet are starred for you:

*Chicken Posole Verde*

*Healing Chicken & Rice Soup*

*Enchiladas Suizas*

*Sloppy Joe Mix*

*Million Dollar Spaghetti*

*Chicken Tamale Pie*

*Chicken Parmesan Casserole*

Storage

I highly recommend using aluminum foil pans that have lids, because it makes storage so much easier. Let’s be honest, cleanup can really consume a large portion of your time as well, and in that way these pans are heavenly for both storage and clean up. In the event that you are dropping off a meal to a friend in need, it also reduces the tax on the receiver of how best to get the pan back to you! Finally, each dish will need to be heated back up, or perhaps the dish is only a quarter cooked and requires finishing in the oven: the lids work perfect for any instructions you might need to sharpie on there! 

With that, I write the basic warmup and/or finishing instructions on the lid, write the prep-date, crimp the lid securely on the pan, bing bang boom, into the freezer, clean as you like! If you prefer to stick with glass for your food storage needs you could use these instead. They say freezer meals can last up to six months in a deep freezer. I won’t lie to you, I have definitely had some in the freezer for even up to a year that were just fine (Not to say this is preferred, but sometimes you have a deep freezer chest and time gets away from you!). 

These gallon Zip-loc bags work great for storing picadillo beef, sloppy joe mix, and meatballs because they have a flat bottom making transferring the food into them much easier. Lay them out flat when placing them into the freezer, and they stack beautifully with minimal wasted space.

When it comes to soup, I like to store some in mason jars with these cute plastic lids. I also like to store a portion in gallon Zip-loc bags, as this method again, stores so well when placed flatly into the freezer. When using glass jars, I make sure to use clear scotch tape on top of the lid for writing the name of the particular soup, and the storage date with a sharpie marker. This is nice because you can take out just one serving of soup at a time, and the scotch tape peels off easily, so your lid doesn’t become riddled with an abundance of permanent numbers that take ages to wear off.

Plan

In order to begin stashing some meals for you and your loved ones, just make a copy of this Google spreadsheet. There is a column titled DATE on the spreadsheet so you can write in which date you made the recipe. You may think to yourself, “I already wrote the date on the lid, isn’t that enough?!” The date on the lid is nice, but filing out and maintaining your Google spreadsheet is what takes this from being a treasure hunt with expired dishes dating back to the days of your youth; to an organized experience full of poise and plan, easily helping you to best coordinate the consumption of the meals in orderly fashion. 

Once you have built up a full freezer, you can print off this list and tape it to the top of your deep freezer so you know what meals you should prioritize eating first. Checking them off as they’re used will ensure that you know exactly where you are at in the consumption phase, and mitigate the amount of searching tirelessly through the food bricks attempting to find a meal that isn’t there in the first place.

Now that you bought your supplies and printed the recipes, you are ready to start batching! Come up with a detailed plan of how often you plan to make freezer meals, or just loosely commit to making an extra pan of these recipes when you feel like it. Your tummy will thank you later when you can come home from work and simply pop a meal in the oven. Pro-tip: I prefer to print the recipes on paper ahead of time, so I don’t have to scroll on my phone with dirty hands while cooking. I have two binders in my kitchen- one for new recipes I want to try and one for tried and true favorites.

With a glorious school break on the horizon, now is a great time to put these tips into practice and try out some freezer meal-batch styled cooking. Full disclosure, I must admit that a lot of these meals are warm and cozy comfort food, and best to consume during the colder fall and winter months.

If you make some of these meals I would love to know which are your favorite. Comment below to let me know!

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