Honestly, it's not ideal. There is definitely a bit of a loss of flavor when it comes to freezer cooking. However, it's a great alternative to grabbing food from a restaurant or if you are desperate, and I have found some tweaks that have made freezer meals MUCH more enjoyable this second summer that I have done them.
This summer, I have been fortunate that I had some personal time to use up before June 30, so I took off a couple hours early each Monday in June. So, I would still cook as usual on Mondays and we would typically have leftovers from that night and from whatever I prepared on Sunday. Which meant that really I only had to worry about dinner one night, which is typically Tuesday. All of my freezer meals (and most actual meals I cook) are larger, which means we can get at least 2 meals out of them. We don't mind leftovers, so this is great!
As I mentioned earlier, I did make some tweaks this year that made the flavor much better. For instance, last year I would assemble EVERYTHING but this year, I wait until I'm about to put the dish in the oven to add a topping such as cheese, or the crackers for a poppyseed chicken. Additionally, I try to let the dish sit at room temperature a bit before baking - if not, it seemed like I needed to slightly adjust the baking time to accommodate for the fact that it had been in the fridge. Also, I found it typically took 2 days in the fridge for a dish to thaw out - which works well since I menu plan on Sunday, I'll just pull whatever out of the freezer then and it's ready to go for Tuesday!
I like to take a day in late May (and another in June/July if needed) and just devote it to making up freezer meals. I try to do a variety so we get to eat a variety. This year, I ran out of time to mix things up, so I ended up just browning a couple lbs. of hamburger meat I had thawed - we used it then for spaghetti and tacos and I was able to save a little time. I always make sure that if I make a dish that has tomato sauce or something of the like in it to store it in a glass container or anything NOT foil/metal, because the metal/tomato mix can pull out acid. I don't have a ton of casserole dishes and you'll see below that we like tomato sauce, etc. so last year I bought a couple of these and it worked out great! Easy to stack too :)
Here are some of the recipes we have used and like!
Spicy Sausage Pasta (sub tomato sauce for Rotel)
Skinnytaste Baked Broccoli Mac and Cheese (I add in chicken to make this a pretty complete dish)
Chicken Spaghetti (We aren't huge fans of the Rotel so I'll omit that next time)
Bow tie fiesta (I omit the onion and pepper and sub tomato sauce for the salsa)
Chicken Pot Pie (the crust would not get crispy, so I probably wouldn't do this again OR I would make the filling and freeze it, then pour over the crescent rolls prior to baking)
I also did a baked spaghetti, poppyseed chicken and tater tot casserole - recipes I've basically come up with on my own after testing out several. If you are interested in those, let me know.
Having these meals on hand has been a HUGE lifesaver to us in eating healthier for the past couple summers. I've learned that basically any meal can be made into a freezer meal, you pretty much do everything but bake! I have an extra fridge/freezer downstairs, and that's where I store mine.
I keep telling myself that every month, I should double one or two meals to keep these on hand year-round, not just in the summer yet. I haven't gotten around to that, but I think it would be great to have around!
So ... questions? Do you have any favorite freezer recipes I need to try?