Freezer Meals

I live a very busy life, as do most people.  With the combination of school, jobs, kids and being sick my family does not always eat home cooked meals.  I have always wanted to be the kind of Mom that makes beautiful meals from scratch every night but that is just not the reality of my life.  However, my friend Jodi introduced me to freezer meals and they have changed my life.
I take one day make a ton of meals that go in the freezer and then pull them out when I need them.  I am able to plop them in the crock pot in the morning and come home to a hot, home cooked meal at night.  It has been a learning experience.  I’ve made some meals and loved them, others not so much so.
This month I decided to make 20 meals and include some non-crock pot meals.  So, some of these you need to grill/bake at night but its much quicker than normal because all the prep work has already been done. I did all my grocery shopping and cooking in one day.  I spent $115.83 on groceries which comes out to $5.79 a dinner.  This is quite a bit higher than I would normally spend because I did not coupon.  I will still need to add sides to these meals but I wont spend to much more there because I am back at the couponing game! But $5.79 for a main dish for 4 people is still A LOT less than eating out. Also, a tip for saving money: if you do not own enough casserole dishes to freeze meals, buy them at the dollar store.  I got 9×13 disposable pans in a pack of 3 for a $1.

I thought I would share the recipes I used this time. I made two of each recipe.  Disclaimer: I have not tried all of these yet so I don’t know how they will turn out.
Sweet and Tangy Meatballs
My kids love this recipe!
Appx 36 meatballs
16 oz grape jelly
20 oz bbq sauce
Split between 2 gallon freezer bags, seal, mix, lay flat, freeze I actually combined this all into one bag.  We like to have leftovers for Mike’s lunch.
Directions for Bags:
Cook on low2-4 hours. Serve over hot rice with a side of veggies
Taco Soup
1 lb Ground Beef
1 Can Black Beans
1 Can Kidney Beans
1 Can Corn
1 Pkg Taco Seasoning
1 Pkg Dry Ranch Dressing Mix
1 small Onion, chopped
1 28oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
Mix together in 1 gallon freezer bag, seal, lay flat, freeze
Directions for Bag:
Cook on low for 6 hours. Garnish with sour cream and tortilla chips.
Tator Tot Casserole
1 lb Ground Beef
1 small Onion, chopped
14.5oz Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/4 cup Milk
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 16oz Package Frozen Mixed Veggies
3 Cups Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 medium pkg Tator Tots
9×13 Pan
Brown beef and onion. In a bowl mix soup, milk, and sour cream. In a 9×13″ freezer pan layer
ingredients evenly as follows: beef/onions, frozen veggies (break up clumps), soup mixture,
cheddar cheese, tator tots. Freeze.
Directions for Bag:
To serve bake uncovered at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until tator tots are brown and casserole is bubbly This did not seem any where near enough.  I think she intended for you to pull it out the night before and thaw.  I tried it this way and it turned out great closer to 50 minutes.
Orange Chicken
3-4 boneless chicken breasts, chopped into 1 inch chunks
1/3 cup flour
1/2 Tbs salt
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbs ketchup
3 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate (little or no pulp)
4 Tbs brown sugar
A pinch of red pepper flakes (1/8 of a tsp)- you can always add more after it’s cooked
In a bowl, combine the raw chicken and flour. Toss to coat. Pour into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag.
In a small bowl, combine the orange juice concentrate, salt, balsamic vinegar, ketchup, red pepper flakes, and brown sugar. Pour sauce into a quart-sized Ziploc bag. Seal.
Place the bag of sauce into the gallon bag of raw chicken. Seal and freeze flat.
Directions for Bag:
To reheat, take the meal out of the freezer the night before and let the chicken and sauce thaw in the fridge. Once thawed, pour the raw chicken into the slow-cooker. Pour the sauce over the chicken and cook on low for 3-4 hours or high for 2-3 hours. Serve over rice.
Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells
12-16 jumbo pasta shells
water for boiling pasta
4oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese + 1/4 cup for topping
3 tablespoons prepared pesto (homemade or store bought)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot over high heat, boil water and prepare pasta shells as directed on package. Cook pasta shells only until al dente. The pasta will finish cooking when the dish is baked. Drain the pasta shells and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients, except the 1/4 cup of cheese for the topping. Fill the pasta shells with the filling and place in a baking dish.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over filled shells.
Cover and Freeze
Directions for Bag:
When ready to prepare, defrost. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake shells uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until shells are bubbling hot and cheese melts.
Cilantro Lime Pesto Chicken
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves (do not include stems)
2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sliced, toasted almonds
3 tablespoons chopped, fresh garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 cup shredded asiago (Parmesan or Romano can be substituted too)
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup chicken broth
Blend in blender.  Pour in gallon size freezer bags and add 3 cups shredded chicken.
Directions for Bag:
Place in crockpot on low for 2-4 hours or defrost and heat up in skillet.  Serve in tacos.
Honey Chicken
4 chicken breasts
1 cup apple juice
2tsp minced garlic
4 tbsp honey
Combine ingredients in gallon size freezer bag. Lay flat and freeze.
Directions for Bag:
Remove chicken from marinade. Discard leftover marinade.
Grill chicken breasts over medium heat until completely cooked, flipping once. Will need to cook about 7 minutes per side.
Pineapple Pork Chops
4 Pork Chops
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1 tbsp Sesame Seeds
1 tbsp Sesame Oil
Ingredients for cooking day:
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1/4 cup Balsalmic Vinegar
1 can pineapple chunks
Combine ingredients from first list into gallon size freezer bag.  Lie bag flat in freezer. Freeze.
Directions for Bag:
Thaw. Heat grill to Medium Hot. Place the marinated pork chops on the grill once it has preheated.  You can discard the rest of the marinade. Grill the pork chops until  done, around 6 minutes per side.  While the pork chops are grilling, add maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and fresh pineapple to a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes, until pineapple starts to break down. Serve the pork chops hot with pineapple on top.
Cream Cheese Chicken
4 chicken breasts (cooked, shredded)
1 packet of dry zesty Italian seasoning
1 can of cream of chicken soup
8 oz of cream cheese
¼ cup of butter
½ cup of water
salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients in gallon size bag.  Freeze.

Directions for Bag:
Put in crock pot on low for 4 hours.
Stuffing Chicken
Recipe by I cant remember
2 1/4 cup cubed, cooked chicken
2 cups sour cream
1 can cream of celery
1 1/2 shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup green onions
1/2 cup chopped celery

Ingredients for cooking day:
1 box stuffing mix, prepared

Combine all the ingredients from the first list in a 9×13 pan.  Cover and freeze.

Directions for Bag:
Spread prepared stuffing over the top of the casserole and bake frozen and covered at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours then uncovered for 15 minutes.

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