August 2016 Moms

Freezer meal planning

Happy Monday! 

I'm starting a list of freezer meals because I discovered after my first and going back to work that as much as I love to cook, I didn't want to whip up a fresh home cooked meal every night when I got home from work.  And since I like to cook and have done most of the cooking since I finished law school, my husband is not great at putting meals together anymore.  That may change with the arrival of this baby, but in anticipation and with a chest freezer that is no longer full of just breast milk, I'm making a list of freezer meals I'd like to have ready over the next 19 weeks.  Does anyone have any go-to meals they freeze?  I can share what I've put together if anyone is interested, they are all from Pioneer Woman and my favorite, Smitten Kitchen.
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Re: Freezer meal planning

  • I would love ideas for freezer meals also! We are adding a 4th child and the two youngest will only be 16 months apart. I appreciate anything that makes life easier!
  • This is on my to-do list as well! I thought this would be much easier for me, but until the past week or so, I have not been very interested in food at all. I had no desire to prepare dinner for the night, much less prep dinners I won't be eating for a few months. Hopefully this changes and I'll become more interested in actually tackling this project in the coming weeks. 

    I love Pioneer Woman and her Chicken Spaghetti freezes well (though it's not healthy at all). I would like to have things that I can just thaw and put in the oven or put in the crockpot. I'll definitely do a lasagna

    I'm definitely interested in seeing other ideas!
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  • Also would love to hear others ideas! We're planning on some chicken enchiladas, spaghetti pie, maybe some soups, and my mother in laws meatballs and chicken pot pie. 
  • @MamaKSquared Agree that Pioneer Woman's Chicken Spaghetti is not healthy!  But I figure that if you plan to at least have fresh veggies or salad on the side and don't exclusively eat the pasta, it's balanced out.  There are a bunch of scones on here because they are so easy to eat with one hand and have fruit in them.  They freeze really easily in the correct shape if you cut them before flash freezing (freeze on the tray and then after about 30 minutes, put in a storage bag) and only need a couple extra minutes in the oven when you end up baking.  Same goes for chocolate chip cookies!

    Oh, and one I forgot to add that I already do often is this broccoli soup recipe:
    Yes, I'm obsessed with Smitten Kitchen.  I pretty much exclusively use her site for recipes because they are good 99% of the time and easy to follow.

    If anyone has go to recipes they use for freezer meals, please share!

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  • I plan to make some from Skinny Tastes Casserole menu:

    Last pregnancy I took a day off of work and made 6 or 7 casseroles in one day. It was a TON of work, but it really was worth it. Hold on to these meals until all your visitors are gone. I made the mistake of letting my in-laws know I had done this, so they thought it would be fine for us to eat those while they visited. Definitely regret doing that b/c I had hardly any leftovers and in times where we really needed a freezer meal, we were out. 

    Meals that have frozen well: taco soup, enchiladas, shepard's pie, chicken pot pie, any type of pasta/spaghetti/ziti bake
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  • Freezer meals are life savers.  I just made a few the other week, so that I can heat them up real quick and not stress too much.  I love egg muffins and really any other muffin for breakfasts, other things I have on hand right now:  chicken nuggets, quinoa/broccoli bites, broccoli nuggets, and sweet potato tots.

    I love crockpot chicken meals, and my favorite thing to make as a freezer meal is lasagna.  I'll see if I can dig up the recipes...
  • Check out Skinny Taste for some great healthier recipes.  The Cajun Chicken Pasta is similar to the Chicken Spaghetti and much healthier.  I have frozen portions before and just add a bit of milk when I reheat.  

    I would highly suggest using the time now to make the recipe and test with your family.  Then go ahead and make a double batch to freeze! 

  • I love Wildtree's freezer meal workshops. I've gone to three different ones through the last couple years and keep remaking the meals we loved from those.  It's also nice to come home with 10 (or 20 for a family of 2 and a baby) after a couple hours with friends.  I'm really hoping a friend or two have parties before this next baby comes. 
  • I've got a bunch of recipes but they all came from the book Don't Panic Dinner's in the Freezer and the follow up More Don't Panic Dinner's in the Freezer.

    These were recommended to me by a mom friend and they're great! Not only do they give you tons of options, but give you proper amounts to accurately make the recipe x3, x6, or even x12. That's very handy if you want to bang out a ton of each recipe.
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  • You ladies are so smart! I'm gonna check out those cookbooks @JLyn821
  • So I have what may be a stupid question. How the heck do I make room / keep it empty enough to put meals in my freezer? I feel like we don't have that much in our freezer and it is CRAMMED.

  • @allisun85 Do you have room for a chest freezer?  If you are planning on breastfeeding, it will come in handy for that as well!  You can store breastmilk for so much longer in a deep freeze.

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  • We would if we put it in our dining area... Do those need special plugs?

    And I am planning on pumping for day care, and I've been worrying about that too!

  • Allisun85 said:

    We would if we put it in our dining area... Do those need special plugs?

    And I am planning on pumping for day care, and I've been worrying about that too!

    No they dont need special plugs.  We had ours in the garage but it started to rust a tiny bit so we moved it to the sunroom.  It has been WONDERFUL for storing breastmilk and just other food like staples and freezer meals.  We have easily saved that much money in being able to buy in bulk and shop sales so it was really worth the investment for us. 

  • Agree with PP about the chest freezer. If you have room, it is great investment. You may even be able to find a good one used on craigslist or the likes. I stored so much breastmilk in them and all of our freezer meals. We can also load up on meats at Costco or Sams and have room for that stuff.
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  • We've been considering a smaller chest freezer, but we haven't purchased one yet. 

    Another thing I plan to do is pre-cook some meats to freeze. They're not full meals, but already cooked ground beef/turkey or chicken strips is great to have on hand to add to pasta, salads, for tacos, etc. 
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  • People who have chest freezers - My DH would like to know if it needs it's own breaker.

    He's on board with this!

  • JEMNJEMN member
    I love using I Am That Lady's freezer  meal plans. She has all different ones, crockpot freezer meal plans, grill freezer meal plans, and just regular freezer meal plans.
  • @Allisun85 our chest freezer is in our garage and does not have it's own breaker.
  • @Allisun85 Ours does not have its own breaker.  I think we went with this one from Home Depot and so far it's working well!

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  • Ok, I am completely new to freezer meals. For something like enchiladas do you cook them completely and then portion them into plastic containers?
  • @meow719 you could. I would probably freeze them uncooked tho so they were fresh and not just reheated.
  • Check out six sisters website.  They have crockpot meals with grocery lists.  I've done them and they are good.
  • I have been doing freezer meals throughout the past year because of crazy work schedules.  I purchased several sets of Snapware glass storage containers from Costco so that I don't have to worry about freezing / heating plastic and it can go into the oven in the same container.

    Some of my favorites are:

    Stuffed Peppers:  Brown ground beef, add Herdez salsa, black beans (optional), and rice, stuff into peppers and freeze.  Thaw and bake until the peppers are soft.

    Beef Soup:  Beef with a bone or soup bones, onions, carrots, celery, beef bullion if needed, cook then add canned tomatoes.  Freeze in batches, serve with freshly cooked noodles.

    Chicken Soup:  Chicken, onions, carrots, celery, parsley, chicken broth.  Cook and freeze in batches and serve with fresh noodles or rice.

    Beet Soup:  (Time / mess saving tips:  use a stainless steel pot, use precooked beets and cut them after you place them in the pot, puree in the same pot after cooking with a stick blender.)  I serve with unsweetened cashew milk instead of sour cream for dairy free option.

    Chicken Curry:  Chicken, chicken broth, onions, carrots, potatoes (optional), cook until soft, add bell pepper slices, mushrooms, pineapple (optional) yellow curry powder, ground red pepper, and cook until peppers are soft.  Add coconut milk.  Freeze.  Thaw and serve with rice.

    Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls:  Ground beef browned, add a head of chopped cabbage, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, spices.  Simmer until cabbage is soft.  Freeze.  Reheat and serve with rice.

    Meatballs:  The key to a good Italian meatball is fresh celery and celery leaves.  Ground beef, celery, onion (optional), garlic (optional), eggs, seasonings (add ground red pepper or red pepper flakes for a little spice if desired.)  I use almond flour instead of bread crumbs to make gluten free.  Meatballs are great frozen because you can serve them with spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, pasta, or on sandwich buns.

    Zucchini Noodles are lots of work but you can do the work up front and freeze them but you have to blanch the squash / zucchini first.  Once you have your noodles into the desired shape, freeze in plastic bags.  Thaw and then pan cook in olive oil with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

    In the summer time I also like to wash and freeze and fruits that we aren't using fast enough and use them in smoothies.

  • meow719, I would always recommend the meat be fully cooked before freezing so that you don't have to worry about a frozen dish reaching a specific temperature .
  • I usually cook, or three quarters cook a meal before freezing. Quiche is something I make and freeze all the time, and I three quarters cook it. I think it cooks for 45 minutes, so I cook it to 30-40 (allllmost done) then freeze it. That way it still needs to brown, but once it does, it's done cooking AND hot.

  • "Oh La La Chicken" is amazing although the combo sounds strange. I've bought all ingredients, made several batches and tossed in a gallon bag to freeze.  Let thaw in fridge overnight and throw in crockpot on morning. 

    4-5 Boneless skinless chicken breast
    1 packet onion soup seasoning
    1 Can cranberries
    Throw it in crockpot on low and let cook all day. Dinner time shred it and you can serve over rice or wrap it up in a tortilla or flatbread.

    I was skeptical at first when I got it at a Freezer Meal Swap but its one of my faves now. 
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  • I am following this!  My biggest issue is with giving birth in early August, I'm only going to be able to make freezer meals through maybe October.  I've read it's not good to freeze longer than about 3 months... anyone know if that's true?

    With that being said, I'm not really looking to make anything super hearty like stews or even soups.  Any good recommendations specifically for the summer?  I'm not exactly queen of the crock pot, meaning my experience is limited to like chili, stew, and the occasional chicken dish, so any suggestions are welcome!
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  • We have our chest freezer in an extra storage closet plugged into the wall. No additional breaker needed for us either. Ours is from Sams.
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  • @lucypod With our first, I made a baked ziti and the chicken spaghetti from Pioneer Woman the weekend before he was born and we didn't eat them until August or September, well after I went back to work.  Tasted great.  I'd recommend putting plastic wrap over the top and then aluminum foil to help prevent freezer burn.

    As for a lighter freezer dish, I really liked this one from Smitten Kitchen with summer squash and lemon.

    She specifically made that dish because of your exact dilemma of heavy dishes in warmer months!  I've tried it and thought it was great.

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  • Kimmie4422Kimmie4422 member
    edited December 2017
    *Removed for TOU Violation*
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