5 Things Thursday: Freezer Meals

After mentioning Monday that I’ve been making batch meals to freeze ahead for the twins’ impending emergence, I’ve gotten some questions about what my go-to freezer meals are, so I thought I’d share what you’re most likely to find in our freezer on the occasions when I do stock up.

1.

Spaghetti sauce—(sometimes I add the noodles or go ahead and put a lasagna together, but I usually just make the sauce ahead of time so I can thaw it and throw the extras in “fresh” when it’s time). I shared my semi-from-scratch “family” recipe here.

2.

 Chicken Pot Pie—another partially from-scratch dish that’s more or less an original recipe of mine (handed down from my mom and tweaked a bit). This is hands-down my husband’s favorite (or at the very least, most requested) dish AND the dish that has gotten me approached by mere acquaintances whom I didn’t even know read my blog…just so they could tell me that they served my pot pie recipe to guests/children/husbands to the tune of the Hallelujah Chorus.

(Okay, that might be a bit much, and I know I sound like I’m bragging, but believe me when I say that I am genuinely surprised by how many people have taken the time to tell me they love this dish…apparently, it appeals to a wide array of taste buds).

I shared my recipe here.

{Even if you never make this dish, you owe it to yourself to scroll to the bottom of the post and read the P.S. Seriously, very funny, and not because it’s my blog post}.

3.

Pesto Chicken Pasta—this one’s my clone of a dish from one our favorite upscale restaurants (we only like their lunch menu, ironically enough, because the dinner menu is too hoity-toity—and pricey—for our tastes). It’s crazy-easy to make but seems like you put a lot more effort into it than you did, thanks to rich pesto sauce, fresh tomatoes, and feta cheese (YUM). I’ve already blogged about this one too if you want to check it out.

{Pardon the ugly nighttime pic}

4.

Taco Soup—I memorized a recipe from some generic source or another at some point in the distant past and then proceeded to play with it over the years to fit our tastes. This is the one that I will eat over and over again, every day, for a week. I don’t know what I love so much about it, exactly, but I think it’s the combination of spice, different textures, and heartiness that keeps me coming back for more.

I always use ground turkey instead of hamburger, and it gives it a unique flavor that I really dig. I’ll post my recipe soon.

5.

Meatloaf—Also super-easy, super-yummy, and made with ground turkey (I actually never cook with ground beef).

Honestly, the word “meatloaf” kind of makes me gag a little. Even though I make and like my own. I have the same reaction to the words “meat pie.” {Shudder} For some reason, both conjure images of blood sausage and haggis for me. (And yes, I’m aware that makes no sense at all).

But my recipe is really saucy (and maybe even a little sassy) and different than any other meatloaf I’ve ever had eaten,. And my kids LOOOOOOOOOOVE it (which is great because I load it up with enough onions to make Shrek cry). I guess I need to post this one too.

(And lest you think that this entire post has all been a ploy to advertise past posts on my blog, let me assure you that all five of these dishes are currently residing in my freezer, waiting for the twins’ arrival).

20120711_233237-001

{Yes, I did just show you the entire contents of my freezer. Try not to judge either the messiness or the two giant containers of Blue Bell ice cream. They’re not usually there, but it was on sale. I have only had one bowl so far. ‘Course, we bought it yesterday. Okay, enough explanations for the dang ice cream already}.

So…now that I’ve spilled the taco soup beans, it’s your turn.

(Because the entire post has actually been a ploy to get you to give me new freezer-meal ideas…tricky, no?).

What are your ol’ faithful standbys either to freeze or just for daily dinner consumption?

I love all five of the dishes I listed, but I can definitely get in a cooking rut at times, and I am begging you for inspiration right now.

{Begging, I say}.

 

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

22 thoughts on “5 Things Thursday: Freezer Meals

  1. This may be a silly question (and it will definitely give you an idea of my cooking skills…), but do you cook your chicken pot pie before you freeze it or wait until you’re ready to eat it?

  2. I’m gradually increasing my freezer cooking, but I have to be extremely careful with what I choose to cook in batches because our freezer is quite small. So far spaghetti sauce and sweet/sour pork have made it in there. I imagine my cajun chicken alfredo would be a good one too.

  3. I have a very quick and easy meal, inexpensive too. Home made sloppy joe:
    ground meat/turkey, chili sauce; (I’ve used the store brand and it’s ok but I buy one name brand bottle & 1 store brand bottle), depending on how much meat you want to use. I usually make more so we can freeze and reheat for a quick meal. Also need green pepper diced and onion. The more you heat it up the better it tastes. A good meal for alot of people. Can serve with beans or salad/chips? Hope you’ll like it. The chili sauce gives it a kind of sweet taste. My kids always loved it.
    1. dice/saute green pepper til slightly browned. 2. Put in meat in same pan and let brown, also add diced onion to brown with the meat. 3. When all browned add the chili sauce and let simmer for about 1/2 hour. It smells great and tastes alot better than any mix, ugh. I buy sesame seed buns to put it on, always like them better than plain ones. I use about 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. meat using the two bottles of chili sauce. The green pepper sauted first seems to help give it a flavor that’s not there without it. When I get sauce out of the bottle there’s a tiny bit left so I just add a smidge of water and shake bottle to get rest out. Be sure to put the cap on bottle first. Hope you like it.

  4. Oh and enchiladas are a huge favorite too. I use Pioneer Woman’s recipe and change it up, ground beef or chicken.

  5. I actuallly like your freezer meals……….and I have made your chicken pot pie, which is a favorite of our house, too. :-) Along with Shepard’s Pie, Spaghetti, meatloaf (and I make mine in mini muffin tins, the girls love that they have their own little meatloaves), panko chicken is a favorite here too, chicken noodle soup, italian ‘wedding’ soup, bbq chicken, asian chicken salad is a new favorite, roast chicken, glazed carrots, broccoli and cheese. I got a good cookbook I saw on a blog, called Apples For Jam. I have made stuff out of it before. I’m trying to change up our meals here and found the girls will eat tilapia with a light garlic butter sauce, bbq pork in a crock pot. Just to name a few. Looking forward to seeing your taco soup recipe.

  6. What about homemade sausage rolls – everybody loves them and you can have soup as an entree if you like. I stocked up on washing powder and nappy san because I used cloth nappies for my babies – I thought I was saving the environment and saving money. Made alot of work for myself in the process. :-(

  7. I make batches of breakfast sandwiches to freeze. Makes it super easy to grab and go in the morning (just a whole wheat English muffin, turkey bacon, cheddar cheese, and an egg for each…). I usually make a couple dozen at a time, wrap each one in cling wrap, then pop them in freezer Ziploc bags.

    I also will cook up batches of ground turkey (like you, I don’t cook with ground beef any longer) and freeze in pound- and half-pound-size portions to make it easy when it comes time to cook. It’s already cooked and portioned that way; it just needs to be added to whatever dish I’m making.

    Pot roast is also one of my favorites to freeze. It makes such a ginormous amount that I can easily freeze a big bucket for a later time, and it freezes beautifully.

    And of course, lasagna. As long as I’m making one, I figure I may as well make 2 and freeze one for later!

  8. I know you already mentioned you have a taco soup but I have super easy, crowd pleasing soup?chili? who knows. For some reason we call it tortilla soup, but the only reason we call it that is because we put tortilla chips on top haha. And it’s not really a soup, it’s basically chili sooo anyway, it pretty much has a terrible and misleading name, but here’s the recipe:

    Ground turkey/ground beef maybe about 1/2 lb to 1 lb or more if you like it really meaty!
    1 onion (I don’t usually have an onion because my tummy gets angry at them, but I’m sure it’d be really good)
    2 cans of:
    corn
    diced tomatoes
    crushed tomatoes
    white beans
    red beans
    kidney beans
    black beans
    whatever beans suit your fancy
    1 pkg taco seasoning

    Brown the turkey or ground beef in the pot, with onion if you’re using one, dump all other contents in (drained or undrained, I’ve done both) add taco seasoning and voila! You can let that puppy simmer for however short or long, I usually do at least a half hour to an hour so the flavors have time to cozy up to each other. We top it with cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips.

    I make this for when we have people over because it’s sooo dang easy and so yummy. My hub requests this pretty much every week haha. Sounds like your chicken pot pie scenario with your hubs.

    Happy freezer cooking Abbie!

  9. I love freezing muffins for quick snacks for my kiddo and myself! Here are my two absolute favorite recipes:
    Eggy Breakfast Muffins
    http://www.simplifylivelove.com/2011/12/eggy-breakfast-muffins.html
    These are super flexible too, you can change the meat, veggies,etc and they turn out great. I like to use the diced ham I can find at the stores (quick and easy) and I don’t always use the onion and sometimes I just grate up my veggies finely and don’t saute them (I told you it was flexible!). If I have zucchini or squash that I’m not going to be able to use before it goes bad I grate it up and put in the freezer to make these muffins later (just thaw and drain a little). I prefer to use baking spray with flour and no muffin cups.

    Banana Berry Muffins
    http://www.bakerella.com/paper-pans/
    These are divine with fresh blueberries but frozen blueberries work fine, especially if you’re freezing them anyway. You can also substitute chocolate chips for the blueberries if you need a chocolate fix (and really who doesn’t! :-) )

  10. holy cow! how is your side-by-side fridge so wide? Seriously, mine will hold a max of one 9″ tin pie pan (barely) and here you have two ice creams and two yogurts. hmph.

    uh, good for the freezer: meatballs (I use the same recipe for meatloaf, hamburgers and meatballs. shh!) for sandwiched or with red sauce. My fave is dumplings or potstickers – linglings are pretty good if you don’t want to make ‘em from scratch. Cilantro-almond pesto as an alternative. Individual portions of fish. Leftover rice/spaghetti can be quick-fried with a little soy sauce and an egg scrambled in (+ fish sauce and/or hoisin if you’re adventurous enough). Frozen waffles (homemade) or egg muffin sandwiches as bfast for dinner…

    Not freezer but tasty: beans (canned or if you’re uber healthy/cheap cook up a whole pound and freeze) for taco nite, nachos, salad. In college we would mix red sauce, cheese, beans and leftover rice – an asian interpretation of spanish/mexican rice.

  11. I wish I made more freezer meals, but either don’t have the time or too lazy to make the time. Maybe something I can start after I graduate college or in the fall when it’s cooler. Making big batches of meals is a great go-to plan for a family who is constantly opening and closing the fridge/freezer thinking something new is going to jump out and land in their hands when they’re hungry.

    I used to make one big meal on Sunday that the family could warm-up throughout the week, for instance (2) 10×13 pans of lasagna, or 1 huge pot of spaghetti. Wow come to think of it, usually all pasta related items..hummm maybe I should bake more chicken breasts and then the fam can warm them up as needed.

  12. I, being single, am bad about preparing meals to put in the freezer. However, Mother Teresa always keeps some standby’s like chicken spaghetti, chicken & dumplings, and the old faithful, chicken soup. I am sensing a theme here…I think she really likes chicken. However, I am always grateful that she keeps the chicken soup on hand for days when I am feeling a little under the weather. Also, I LOVE Taco Soup…my aunt calls it Turkey Taco Soup because we also use ground turkey, and I experiment with different versions each time I make it.

  13. I freeze crockpot lentil soup pretty regularly.Here’s the recipe I loosely follow except no oregano and I replace most of the water with Pacific Organic Vegetable Broth: http://fix-itandforget-it.com/blog/2012/01/25/greek-lentil-soup/.

    I also make Borscht (beet soup) and it freezes beautifully – not to mention beets are really good for you. If you’re interested in that recipe, send me a message and I’ll type it up for you. I make my own ham stock for it instead of beef and it’s sooooo good, the kids gobble it up and don’t even notice all the veggies.

    I do the spaghetti sauce thing like you, but I also make oodles of meatballs. I know you say you don’t do ground beef so that might not appeal to you, but meatballs are pretty versatile. You can do spaghetti with (duh), Swedish meatballs in mushroom gravy, meatball subs, glazed or BBQ meatballs…all so yum. Plus you can make them in bulk. When I do it, I use 3 lbs of ground beef and 3 lbs of ground pork (and lots of good bread, actually), make them about an 1 1/2 inches round and it makes a good 3 – 4 meals worth for a houseful of boys. I bake, not fry, so it goes faster. I’ve never tried ground turkey but combined with the pork they still might be good (the pork is what keeps them from being typical dried out orbs of blah). Anyway, let me know and I’ll write that one up for you, too.

    Not sure how brave you’re feeling, but if you get ambitious, roast a turkey or bake a ham. Yes, right now in the middle of summer – do it overnight. I’m totally serious. Make a meal of it, then slice up the leftover meat and freeze it flat. Pair with baked or mashed potato and green beans and you’re done. For turkey, freeze the drumsticks whole then when you’re ready to eat them, drop them in a crockpot with a little chicken broth until the meat is falling off the bones and make hot turkey sandwiches. Not to mention, if you’re due around Thanksgiving, the LAST thing you’ll be wanting to do is make Turkey for the gang – my twins were born on Dec 2 so I know of which I speak. Pull out the turkey slices and let the feast commence! :)

    Sloppy Joes are huge at my house right now. I make 2 lbs of it at a time, again with ground beef but ground turkey or chicken would probably work well. Freezes nicely. Here’s the recipe I use: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/super-sloppy-joes-recipe/index.html.

    Perennial favorite, mac and cheese. Make a double batch of white sauce using evaporated milk (+1 can of water) because when you freeze it for some reason the noodles suck up all the moisture. Add your shredded cheese till it’s melted, I don’t know how much, I just keep adding until it tastes right (maybe 3 cups?). When you mix in the noodles it may seem like there’s too much sauce – just keep spooning it on. Put it into disposable aluminum pans but don’t bake it yet. When you’re ready to eat it, pour a litle drizzle of milk over it, then bake it covered for about an hour, uncover for 10 min to crisp up top. It will come out perfectly saucy, not dry, with those lovely crispy edges. When I make this we eat one portion and I freeze the second portion and it fits in an 8 x 5 aluminum pan (like you can get at the dollar store or here in bulk: http://www.agiant-online.com/products/7×5-22-oz-oblong-pans-125).

  14. I use cream of mushroom in my spaghetti sauce too! And here I thought my mom made that up! ;) One thing I do is when I’m browning turkey I’ll do an extra batch or two. And make some italian style and some mexican style. That way I can grab some for quick tacos or enchiladas. Or use in lasagna or spaghetti. That pretty much sums up the extent of my frozen meals. But your ideas look great and I cant wait to try some of them!

  15. I freeze batches of chili or lentil soup a lot! Also good in the freezer is pulled pork, just defrost, heat up, and throw in buns or on rice or in tortillas with some veggies!

  16. Been thinking about putting some meals in the freezer before school starts. Only problem is that I’ve had no motivation to cook this summer. You would think being home all day would make it easier to get around to cook. I’ll be giving your recipes a try. Hope you get some great ideas!

  17. That is so funny! I do the SAME EXACT freezer stock up, minus the pesto pasta, for when I’m gone and the husband is here all alone! Im sitting here trying to wrack my brain to give a suggestion and I can’t! How funny. Oh, I did just think of one other thing- Fajita chicken, sliced up. It’s good for a quick quesadilla, salad or taco, etc.
    Also, just saw this post on Skinny Taste that is applicable. Do you know about Skinny Taste? I’m not a dieter by any stretch of the imagination, but I do try to cook pretty healthy and this website has really easy yummy meals. Anyways, here is a recent post relating to freezer meals. http://www.skinnytaste.com/2012/04/how-to-make-your-favorite-meals-freezer.html#more

  18. I’ve always wanted to do this, but I’ve only done it in limited amounts. Like an extra lasagna or enchiladas when I make them. But, when I do it, I love having the meals all ready! I’ve seen some posts on other blogs about cooking & chopping on day so you will have many freezer meals……that sounds like a wonderful idea…..so I need to get my act together & just do it!
    Here are the links for my inspiration:
    http://onceamonthmom.com/
    http://kojo-designs.com/2012/04/getting-organized-a-whole-months-worth-of-meals-via-crockpot-freezer-cooking/
    I really like the idea of freezer to crockpot cooking…….because there is minimal cooking to begin with. Ok, now I’m really thinking that I need to take my own advice and get BUSY!
    thanks for the inspiration!
    PS: it makes me feel so much better that you have Blue Bell in your freezer. Man, I do LOVE me some ice cream (esp. Blue Bell….any flavor will do :) ……I actually don’t buy it very often cuz I just can’t say no!

  19. First time commenter :) Your family is too cute! I make a giant batch of homemade chicken noodle soup and freeze about 3/4 of it in containers big enough to thaw and feed my little family of two for a couple of days. It ends up keeping really well. One of my quick go-to meals for feeding an army is pulled pork in the crockpot. I put a couple of pork loins directly from the freezer into my crockpot with diced onions and either BBQ sauce or just some salt and pepper and let it cook all day. Then I serve it either on buns or over rice. Yum!

I love comments so much I'd actually consider making them my sixth kid if I could. Seriously. Love. And I read every single one and will do my darndest to respond, especially if you have a question. So, yeah. Comment away! I'm listening!