Keep the Freezer Stocked

posted by Andrea | 01/4/2011

Today is Day #2 of my 11 in 2011 Challengeand I’m in the kitchen!

A few months ago I mentioned how I save time in the kitchen by making double batches of meals and by using my monthly menu planners…but there are still so many days when I’m scrambling to quickly “throw something together” for dinner.

I hate that feeling, don’t you?

So, my “goal” for this year is to eat at least one meal a week from the freezer; which means I’ll have to keep our freezer stocked with delicious meals, baked goods, and snacks that can be ready at a moment’s notice. I feel like once-a-week is a very reasonable goal and I already met this goal last week with these awesome Chicken Enchiladas from the freezer!

Goal #2: Keep the Freezer Stocked

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Photo Credit: 1900 Farmhouse

If you’re looking to start saving time and money by stocking your freezer, keep reading… these amazing recipes might just revolutionize the way you cook!!


Fresh, Frozen, Fed – For Less

By: Lauren Reinhardt from It Can Be Done!

Every time I wander the frozen food aisles, I’m always amazed at the offerings. Burritos, pot pies, lasagna and other meals-in-a-bag. Then there is nearly every fruit and vegetable you can imagine…but at a price.

Oh, the cost of convenience!

But there’s a better way to utilize frozen foods — make your own!

Successfully freezing food and then using it to feed my family makes me happy, among other things. My freezing journey started after having my first child and freezing breastmilk. I didn’t realize it could be frozen, and it really got me thinking about other foods.

So now I freeze lots of regular foods, as well as entire meals in the freezer!

If you are like me, there are days when you just can’t see straight and you’re running around with your head very loosely attached to your body. And then you’re supposed to cook dinner? Ha, sometimes it seems like a cruel joke. But what a relief to pull a complete meal from the freezer as opposed to the pitiful, naked chicken breast aching for some creative recipe?

And I don’t even have to tell you that tasting fresh summer corn in the middle of January is an out-of-body experience!

The protein component in meals is almost always the most expensive, but my husband doesn’t think we’re really eating if there isn’t some kind of animal cooked up and served on his plate. That means I have to buy it when it’s on sale. When the ever-simple, boneless chicken breasts are on sale, buy them. If you like split chicken breasts, you can get them for a steal when they are on sale. Lean cuts of beef like London broil or other roasts are a huge value when stocked up on at a sale price! But then what do you do with all that meat?

Grind it, chop it, or keep it whole, depending on what the recipe calls for. The freezer is an awesome marinating assistant. Sometimes I’ll do batches of cooking, putting several of the same meal together and freeze it—uncooked. Sure, we store leftovers in the freezer, too, but I think food tastes better when it is frozen before being cooked, rather than defrosted to cook a second time.

Here are a couple of my favorite recipes for easy (almost effortless) freezer to table meals.

Sausage Balls

{Print This Recipe}

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. lean sausage
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheese (at room temperature)
  • 3 cups biscuit mix (like Bisquick)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Mix all ingredients together
  • Roll into 1-inch diameter balls
  • Set on tray and freeze until firm
  • Put desired number into freezer bags, label, and date.

TO COOK:

  • Preheat oven to 375 F.
  • Put frozen or thawed balls on baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper
  • Bake thawed balls for 10-15 minutes and frozen balls for 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven.

Make this easier on yourself by using a stand mixer if you have one. I do all the mixing in my KitchenAid. I have done it all with my hands (ew!) and a spoon (ow!), so it was a great relief when I realized my stand mixer could do it all—and much better.

We eat these delicious sausage balls for breakfast, and they are a standing request at all football tailgates.


Rotel Chicken Fajitas

{Print This Recipe}

In a 1 quart freezer bag combine and mix well:

  • 2 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
  • 1 can rotel brand tomatoes
  • Seal the bag and squeeze as much air out as you can without making a mess!

In a 1 quart freezer bag combine:

  • 1/3 cup Mexi-blend cheese (shredded)
  • 2/3 cup cilantro (chopped/optional)

In a 1 quart freezer bag combine:

  • 1 cup sliced bell pepper
  • ½  cup sliced onions
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms

Note, you can vary the veggies to suit your fajita preference. I almost always have onions on hand, so I usually skip them.

Insert all 3 bags into a gallon sized plastic freezer bag, and add 6 (8-inch) flour tortillas.

Then,  label or write the recipe title and date on the bag using a Sharpie marker (it’s the only brand that doesn’t run in the freezer!)

Place the bag in the freezer.

Day of Cooking Directions:

  • Remove pre-assembled rotel chicken from the freezer and defrost.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, cook chicken/tomato mixture over medium heat for until no longer pink, stirring occasionally.
  • In another skillet, heat some olive oil and saute onions, mushrooms, and peppers until just softened.

To Serve:

  • Spoon chicken mixture in center of each tortilla.
  • Add veg mixture and top with cheese and cilantro.
  • You can serve with a salad, or whatever suits your fancy.

Note, you can do this with almost any marinade and veggie combo. You can even pre-cook rice and stick it in a baggie to go with the marinated chicken.

Another simple way to get dinners in the freezer is to make extra as you’re preparing whatever meal you already had planned. Just double the recipe; make half tonight and freeze the other half (without cooking it) for later. I do this with meatloaf, lasagna, etc.

What are YOUR favorite freezer recipes?

Lauren Reinhardt is a wife, mom, freelance writer, marketing/BD professional, and lover of learning. Follow her on her blog: It Can Be Done!

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13 comments

  1. Michelle C.

    01/04/2011

    Although I don’t do it as often as I’d like, I do like to make recipes that yield more than one meal – or double the recipe – so that I can get a freezer meal out of it. Last night I did just that! I received a simple and DELICIOUS recipe for chicken corn chowder. I didn’t even have to double it and it made enough for our meal last night, leftovers in my husband’s lunch today, and one freezer meal. Check it out!

    CHICKEN CORN CHOWDER

    1 can cream of chicken soup
    2 cans cream style corn
    2 large cans boned white mat chicken (do NOT drain)
    2 cups milk
    1/2 – 1 tsp pepper
    2 tsp instant chicken bouillon or 2 cubes crushed
    1 medium potato, chopped
    2-3 celery stalks, chopped
    (* I also added a cup or so of baby carrots and 1 chopped onion *)

    Directions:
    1. It’s a good idea to cook the veggies in the microwave before adding it to the soup (or boil until tender, but firm).
    2. Mix everything together in a large pot.
    3. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
    4. Serve, enjoy, and/or freeze! :)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for the recipe…I’m actually going to feature a special corn chowder recipe from a good friend in a few weeks! I’ll have to make both and compare!!

    [Reply]

  2. Stephanie

    01/04/2011

    I am so excited about this post because I got a foodsaver for Christmas!!! As soon as I buy my new pots and pans I plan on starting my own posts about what I cook and storing it in freezer. Easy meals, I’m all about easy meals!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Awesome Stephanie!

    I’m sure you will LOVE your foodsaver — and talking about your freezer adventures on your blog is a great way to stay accountable!

    Good luck :)

    [Reply]

  3. Tweets that mention Keep the Freezer Stocked « Simple Organized Living -- Topsy.com

    01/04/2011

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eric Smith, Andrea Dekker. Andrea Dekker said: New Post: Keep the Freezer Stocked http://goo.gl/fb/8eKy2 [...]

  4. Annie

    01/04/2011

    WOW…this is exactly what I’ve been looking for. My freezer is nearly empty right now and these recipes look delicious!

    I printed them both off and can’t wait to try them!

    Thanks!!

    [Reply]

  5. Jen

    01/04/2011

    Great tips and great recipes.

    I can’t wait to see what the rest of your 2011 goals are!

    Love your blog :)

    [Reply]

  6. Kristen @ JoyfullyThriving

    01/04/2011

    Great goal, Andrea! I just put three pans of chicken enchiladas in the freezer tonight, after making a batch for a family from church. I also strive to make my bed every day (in reference to your first goal) as it really does make a difference. Great minds must think alike, if I may humbly say so! :-)

    [Reply]

  7. Amber

    01/08/2011

    I love your blog! I want to start doing more make-ahead freezer meals, but I don’t have much freezer space. Any suggestions/solutions? Also, do you have any great make-ahead vegetarian recipes?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Amber!
    We just moved and we have a much smaller freezer too. To compensate, I’ve been freezing things in ziploc bags so they lay flat {like chicken broth, soups, stews, veggies, etc. It saves a lot of room. You can also save space by only freezing part of them meal ahead of time. For example sometimes I just free the “filling” for my chicken enchiladas instead of the ready-made 9×13″ pan. Finally, I use all square and rectangle containers because they take up less space than round or oval containers.

    I personally don’t have many vegetarian meals on my site, but we like vegetable stir fry, vegetables soups/stews, etc. You can see all my recipes here.

    [Reply]

  8. michelle

    07/13/2011

    How do you freeze meals? Ziplocs or containers? What about foil and or wax paper? Are there certain meals that don’t turn out as well? Do you cook from frozen or thaw first?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Michelle, when I freeze a meal, I completely cook and prepare all the ingredients, then assemble it, cover it, label it, and put it in the freezer. When it’s time to bake, I pull it out of the freezer in the morning to defrost and bake it according to the recipe directions after it has defrosted.

    I usually try to find containers with tight-fitting lids for my casseroles and baked goods, but I’ve also had much success with wrapping items in plastic wrap – then in aluminum foil or even zip-top storage bags.

    Here is a pretty good list of a ton of freezeable foods! Hope this helps :)

    [Reply]

  9. Nicole @ Keeping Up With The Kitchen Mom

    11/22/2011

    I love all these great ideas! I’m so glad I found your site on pinterest :) With starting nursing school in January I am desperately searching for an easier way to feed my family with a busy schedule. So thank-you!

    [Reply]

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