If you're anything like me, sometimes you just don't have time to make dinner; or maybe you just don't have it in you. I know after a long day of errands, or sports, or sickness, or just life I don't always feel like cooking. My budget however tells me that going out is not an option, So, now what? What do you do on these days? Freezer Meals! My make ahead freezer meals have saved us so much money and time over the years I can't even tell you. They can really be a life/money saver on busy or hard days.
Every time I am getting ready to have a baby I try to put away a months worth of freezer meals. That way when baby comes, I don't have to worry about what my family will eat while I recover. I also do this randomly throughout the year. If I am making a meal that is easy to double, I always do. We eat one for dinner that night and put the extra in the freezer. It only takes a few extra minutes to double a recipe and saves me hours in the long run.
If I really want to stock up I can make a months worth of freezer meals in one day and not cook again all month. I have done this many times and let me tell you, it is WONDERFUL! I especially enjoy Once A Month Cooking in the summer when our days are busy and the weather is hot. That's when I want to be outside enjoying my children and our homestead, and not be inside heating up the house!
If you are considering doing some freezer cooking, whether it be just a few meals or a whole months worth, I hope you will try out some of my go to recipes. They just might make a believer out of you!
Freezer Meal #1 - Chicken Pot Pie
It's delicious and can literally be thrown together in 5 minutes or less for a one dish wonder that will have the entire family feeling all the fuzzies.
Freezer Meal #2 - Tator Tot Casserole
If you haven't tried it, you haven't lived! It is a southern delicacy and rightfully so. The big tall hubby pretty much hates every casserole ever made and even he is a believer!
Freezer Meal #3 - Cheesy Chicken Crunch
This is my mother in laws specialty and it is good ya'll! The chicken stays so moist and delicious and it is cheesy and crunchy and everything you want in a dish.
Freezer Meal #4 - Homemade Chili
Who doesn't love a warm bowl of chili? We eat ours served over corn chips and topped with sharp cheddar but you can serve it any way you wish and it is YUM!
Freezer Meal #5 - Cheesy Beef Enchiladas
So easy and delicious and can be personalized in any way you want.
Freezer Meal #6 - Spaghetti Sauce
You can turn it into anything you want. Regular spaghetti, baked ravioli, meatball subs...
Freezer Meal #7 - Panko Breaded Chicken Breasts
Oh.My.Word. They are heavenly. My kids joke that you can roll anything in Panko and it would be good and so far I think they're right. I make up a lot of these at once and portion them out into baggies and freeze, We use them as the main course, slice them to top our salads, and even use in quesadillas and sandwiches.
Freezer Meal #8 - Cooked Ground Beef
Ok, so its not a meal all on its own but, having it ready means making many meals in minutes, I buy ground beef in bulk and cook it all up at once. I usually season half of it with taco seasoning and leave the other half plain. I then portion it in 1 lb. baggies and freeze. Anytime I am super short on time I can pull out a bag and have a meal in no time. The options are endless, Tacos, Spaghetti, Nachos, Sloppy Joe's, Enchiladas, Taco Salad, Chili, etc.
Freezer Meal #9 - Breakfast Burritos
An easy way to use up extra eggs on hand and you can stuff them any way you like. We make them several ways here but our favorite is with sausage, egg, cheese and salsa rolled into a tortilla and individually wrapped and frozen. Easy quick breakfast that will save you from the fast food line.
Freezer Meal #10 - Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken
You literally dump it all into a gallon size bag and freeze. Come cooking day you dump it into the slow cooker and hours later dinner is done. It doesn't get much easier.
#1 Thawing before baking usually produces the best results
#2 Potatoes should always be cooked before being frozen
#3 Use foil baking pans. Then you wont have to worry that your favorite dish is tucked away in the freezer. Also, clean up is a breeze after.
#4 Freeze individual ingredients. So many things can be frozen including ground meat, raw hamburger patties, marinated and grilled chicken, many fruits and vegetables, cooked beans, rice, and more. By freezing individual ingredients, you can add them to many recipes quickly and easily.
#5 The best way to avoid freezer burn is to get all the air out of the bag or container before freezing. Air is not your friend! So press all the air of the bags, or double wrap using plastic wrap and foil for the freshest tasting meals possible.
#6 Make several meals at once by doubling or tripling a recipe. You will save time in the long run by making a bunch of meals in advance. I have made as many as 60 recipes in one day!
#7 Label EVERYTHING! You might think you will remember but I promise, you wont! You don't want to pull out chili thinking you have spaghetti sauce. Also give instructions on how to cook once thawed, Use permanent markers so it wont rub off.
#8 Don't freeze in plastic or glass containers. They will break and/or cause freezer burn and all of your hard work will be for not.
#9 Always cool pre-cooked meals before freezing.
#10 Have Fun! Be creative and cook what your family loves while saving time and money!