Freezer Meals

I’m currently 38 weeks pregnant and I’ve yet to pack my hospital bag. BUT I do have a freezer full of meals that I can chuck into the crockpot/oven with little to no preparation so that we can eat when the baby is here!  You win some, you lose some.

Many people recommended getting some freezer meals ready to have on hand for when baby comes and I figured this would be a helpful thing. Truthfully, ladies in their first trimester of pregnancy probably ought to have freezer meals ready as well because that’s really when you don’t feel like cooking!

Now, I am in no way, shape or form a professional in the world of freezer meals. In fact, I’ve only ever frozen one meal (the chicken enchiladas listed below). When I was working full time, this was super helpful to have on hand…but I never got my act together by making a lot.

Turns out, I was actually pretty picky about choosing freezer meals. I mean, get on Pinterest and you will see that there are about a billion different posts on freezer meals. But a girl’s gotta have standards. I couldn’t just throw myself at any freezer meal I laid my eyes on. So here were some of my rules as I set out to find respectable freezer meals:

  • Some healthy meals. I feel like there’s an abundance of freezer meals that fit into the category of comfort food…which isn’t always the best for you. I wanted a bit of a mix-some comfort, some healthy. I chose ones that had some veggies. I tried to choose whole grains where possible. And if it called for sugar, I used coconut sugar or agave.
  • If it had 4 ingredients or less, I passed it up. Because, seriously, if I’m not able to just dump 4 things into a crockpot, I’ve got more serious problems going on. Why take the extra time and freezer space on something you can throw together in 10 minutes or less??? Maybe that’s naive of me, but…
  • I wanted a couple of meals for the oven simply because, while crockpot meals are easy peasy, you do have to remember to put them in the crockpot 3-4 hours before you eat. And oven meals usually just take 30-40 minutes. Much more last minute friendly.
  • I wanted something that would work for quick lunches (Taquitos was my answer).
  • And at the last minute, I threw in the beef stroganoff because I realized the only other meat I had was chicken and I wanted a bit more variety.

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Anyhow, here’s how I did it! Scroll to the bottom for recipes!

First I did a ton of research! I browsed Pinterest and some of my favorite cooking websites as well as cookbooks for recipes and tips on freezing food. Some things contradict…so you just kinda have to go with what sounds okay to you (for example, I found several meals with potatoes…but lots of places said not to freeze potatoes. I opted to not use recipes with potatoes).

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I made lists and ended up settling on 10 different recipes that would equal 10 meals and  2 options for lunches.

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Once my recipe list was finalized, I went through each recipe and created a grocery list. Lots of items didn’t get on the list because it’s just stuff I like to keep on hand. But then I went grocery shopping. (Ben made our cute table👆!!)

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I was nervous about having enough energy to get all the meals finished in one day, so I did a couple things the day before to prep. I went grocery shopping and labeled all my containers. The day before, I also cooked and shredded all the chicken I needed for the recipes and I made the enchilada sauce as well. I was so glad I did this before hand!

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Day of, I started with the oven meals and Taquitos because they’re a little bit more labor intensive and require some actual cooking. I made enchiladas and Tuscan pasta (each divided into 2 pans, which made 4 meals). I would highly recommend cleaning as you go so you don’t get overwhelmed. Especially if you have a teeny tiny kitchen like me. I cleaned each bowl after using it, so I only rotated through 2 or 3 bowls (according to size) instead of dirtying every bowl in my kitchen.

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Then I worked on the bagged crockpot meals. I chopped veggies for all (for example, 4 recipes called for onions, so I chopped all 4 onions at once and divided between the appropriate bags). This went a lot faster than than the oven meals.

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When I thought I was finished, I went over each recipe again I to double check that I hadn’t forgotten anything.

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Then I sealed everything and squished it all into my freezer.

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After I finished everything, I realized I had forgotten to make a few batches of freezer brown rice…but one look at my freezer assured me that there was absolutely no room for this to happen so I kicked that idea to the curb. If the contents of our freezer slim down in the next little bit, I still might make this, but most likely I’ll just end up making rice as needed.

I made my freezer meals at 36 weeks pregnant. I wanted to have enough energy to get it done while being close enough to my due date that I wasn’t jumping the gun. I was so glad I did some prep work the day before. I was able to get all my meals ready the day of, but you can bet your butt that my feet were achy by the time I was finished…and I may or may not have needed to lie down for a good 20 minutes afterward before I was ready to conquer the rest of the day;).

After we give these recipes a try, I’ll get back to you on how we liked them (the only one I’ve tried is the enchiladas and I LOVE them! If you don’t have the cookbook, check with your library to see if they have it!) Also, lots of the links direct to pages with several more freezer meal recipes. Click through for more ideas from other peeps!

Freezer Meal Recipes (the ones I used:)

Our Best Bites Creamy Chicken Taquitos (very lightly adapted. I chose this to have a lunch option of just taking out and cooking one or two at a time).
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup green salsa
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic, or garlic powder
2 Tablespoon sliced green onions
2 C shredded cooked chicken
1 C grated pepperjack or plain jack cheese
small flour or corn tortillas
salt
Olive oil

To Prepare: Combine all ingredients up to (and including) the cheese. Stir well. Warm tortillas in the microwave between 2 sheets of damp paper towels (just do 3-4 tortillas at a time) for about 20-30 seconds to make them pliable. Put about 1/3 cup of the mixture into each tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down on a pan. Brush olive oil on the top of the taquito and then sprinkle with salt. At this point you can bake them at 425 for 15-20 minutes (or until golden brown). To freeze, put the pan of them into the freezer for about an hour or until they’re set and won’t stick together or unravel. Remove from freezer. Put in ziplock and seal well, then return to freezer.
To Cook (after being frozen): Preheat oven to 425. Place taquitos on cooking sheet. Bake for 20-25 or until golden brown.

Our Best Bites Vegetarian Black Bean Taquitos (sorry, this recipe can only be found in their cookbook).

{Edited to Add: The taquitos were some of the MOST helpful to have on hand. I’d absolutely make and freeze these again.}

Our Best Bites Chicken Enchiladas (sorry, this recipe can only be found in their cookbook).

Six Sisters’ Stuff Tuscan Pasta
1 (16oz) box of bowtie pasta
4 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
8 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into 8 pieces
8-ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed, drained and chopped
2 cups milk
8 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste, if needed
1 cup of chicken, cooked and shredded
Cook pasta according to directions on package. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes. Stir in basil. Add cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Add tomatoes. Add milk and whisk until smooth and sauce like. Stir in Parmesan, pepper, and salt. Cook 5-10 minutes until it’s at desired consistency. Remove from heat and add pasta and chicken. Stir to combine. To Freeze: Divide between two 9×9 inch pans. Cover with foil and freeze. To Cook: Preheat oven to 350. Bake for 40 minutes, or until heated through.

{Edited to Add: Somehow this recipe ended up being tastier after freezing it (which doesn’t make any sense in my head…). But it really was one of our favorites-enjoyed all the way around and something I’d definitely make and freeze again.}

Hello Glow Ginger Peach Chicken
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
12-ounce bag of frozen peach slices
1 sliced red onion
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons ground coriander
Place all in ziplock bag and freeze. To Cook: Empty bag into slow cooker. Add 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Serve with brown rice.

{Edited to Add: This recipe was really good, although next time I make it, I don’t think I’ll freeze it.}

Hello Glow Lentil Butternut Squash Curry
1 diced onion
2 cups red lentils
2 cups diced butternut squash
1 large sliced carrot
14-ounce can coconut milk
15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons salt
Add all ingredients to a ziplock bag and freeze. To Cook: Empty bag into slow cooker. Add 4 cups water. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Check halfway through and add more water if necessary. Serve with rice.

{Edited to Add: I made the mistake of making all these freezer meals verrrry close to Thanksgiving (and we just have the one freezer). I was gone when Ben was trying to make space in our freezer and he tossed this one! But looking at it now, I’m thinking I need to give it a try because it looks really yummy…Sorry I can’t give a real review!}

New Leaf Wellness Chicken Curry
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
6oz can of tomato paste
1 small onion, chopped (about one cup)
2 cups of frozen peas
14.5oz can of tomato sauce (about 1 3/4 cup)
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
Combine tomato sauce, paste, garlic honey and seasonings in small bowl. Place chicken, onion, and peas in ziplock. Pour tomato mixture over the top. To Cook: Empty bag into slow cooker. Add coconut milk. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low 6-8. Serve with naan and/or rice.

{Edited to Add: I honestly don’t even remember this one…which makes me think it mustn’t have been super great…???}

Chelsea’s Messy Apron Teriyaki Chicken, Quinoa, and Veggies
1 and 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup quinoa
2 cups beef or chicken broth
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce (low sodium)
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 large peppers
1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks (drained)
1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon water, optional
Place peppers, pineapple and chicken in ziplock. Mix remaining ingredients (except quinoa) in a small bowl and pour into ziplock. Freeze. To Cook: Thaw. Empty bag into slow cooker. Add 1 cup quinoa. Cook on low 6-8 hours or on high 3-4. If sauce is too thin when finished, mix 1 Tablespoon cornstarch and 1 Tablespoon water and pour into crockpot. Cook until it’s at desired consistency.

{Edited to Add: This one was really good and a great healthy option.}

Danica’s Sausage Tomato Tortellini Soup
1 lb Spicy Ground Italian Sausage
24 oz jar of tomato pasta sauce
15 oz can of northern white beans
3 handfuls of baby spinach
1 lb carrots peeled & sliced
1 small chopped onion
4 chicken bullion cubes
19 oz bag frozen or dried tortellini
Add all ingredients (except tortellini) to a ziplock and freeze. To Cook: Empty bag into slow cooker. Add 4 cups water. Cook on low 6-8 hours. 30 minutes before serving, add bag of tortellini.

{Edited to Add: I really liked this one, Ben just thought it was okay. It’s a very thick “soup” and might be more representative of tortellini with sauce…which Ben’s not a fan of heavy sauces (or sauce at all) so I bet that played into his not caring much for it.}

Super Healthy Kids Beef Stroganoff
1 pounds stew meat
1 pound sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 onion, diced
½ cup apple juice
1 tablespoon beef stock base
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sour cream
Add all ingredients (except sour cream) to ziplock bag and freeze. To Cook: Empty bag into slow cooker. Add 1 cup water. Cook on low 6-8. Right before serving, add 1 cup sour cream. Serve with rice or noodles and vegetables.

{Edited to add: This one was another favorite that everyone liked. I’ve made it again since (non-freezer version) and it remains a fave. The only thing I would change is that it is SUPER salty so CUT BACK the salt to 1 teaspoon and then feel free to add more salt to taste after you cook it. The first time I made it, I simply added more sour cream to combat the saltiness.}

 

{Edited to Add: I had lots of fun researching and making all these freezer meals but I have to admit that I absolutely went overboard! We had so much help from family members and friends that we had a difficult time making it through all the freezer meals I made. You live and you learn! Next time, I think I’ll make 2-3 meals to keep in the freezer and try to have ingredients on hand to make some of our favorite easy crockpot meals (And to just go with it if we end up just having to order pizza). Of the recipes I tried, I would most recommend the taquitos, the Tuscan pasta and the Beef stroganoff if you’re wanting to try some of these yourself. But there are tons of recipes out there so just go with what sounds good!}

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