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Favorite freezer meals?

by Karen on October 5, 2010

We’re down to 65 days until my estimated due date. That means I could be having this baby anywhere from 6 to 11 weeks from now. Since I hope it’s more like 7 or 8 weeks, I’m starting to think about how we can make our lives a little easier in those first couple weeks with a baby.

Several of you have suggested that we cook some meals that can be frozen and easily reheated when we’re too busy or tired to cook. I think this is a fantastic idea, especially since my husband is the main cook in our house. The baby will likely be coming while Tony is swamped with grading and final exams at the very end of the semester. Because he’s a college instructor, he won’t be able to take time off right away when the baby is born. He’ll have three weeks off for winter break, but that won’t begin until December 20.

If this baby comes a little early or right on time like I hope he will, Tony will have a very busy couple of weeks before his break. Between work and our new baby, cooking is likely to fall at the bottom of his list. So I’d like to make things easier on both of us by planning ahead.

Unfortunately, we have very little experience with freezer cooking. Rather than cooking complete meals, I’d prefer to prep meals ahead, freeze the components, and turn them into fresh meals later so it doesn’t feel like we’re eating leftovers. Here are some of the ideas we’ve come up with so far:

  • An enormous batch of homemade pasta sauce. We’ll buy various types of pasta, freeze the sauce in one-meal portions, and then reheat a batch of sauce and boil some pasta for a meal.
  • Lasagna frozen into individual portion sizes.
  • Quesadilla filling that can be reheated and made into fresh quesadillas.

This list is sorta short, so I need your help. What are your favorite freezer meal recipes? Can you point me toward any good freezer cooking resources? Send me your recipes and links, and I’ll be forever in your debt!

Photo by juliehicks

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{ 14 comments }

1 joanna October 5, 2010 at 10:29 am

So far, I’ve got chicken casserole, chili, and burritos in the freezer for when baby comes, and a half-side of beef arriving in the next month to stock us up on meat for the next year- I’ll be looking out for more ideas, too!
joanna´s last blog post ..New Best Friend

2 Mary October 5, 2010 at 10:38 am

My favorite ways to freeze meals that don’t feel like leftovers are things that you prep and freeze that will need to go into the oven. You just freeze before baking. Favorite things to freeze around here include lasagna, chicken enchiladas, deep dish pizzas, and my personal favorite – chicken pot pies. All of those are also meals that are just as easy to make huge batches of, so whenever I make any of them for dinner, I just prep two or three extras and freeze them. I have good recipes for all of the above if you are looking for new ones : )

3 Haley October 5, 2010 at 10:52 am

Do you all like soup? If so, then I would recommend stocking your freezer with one-meal portions of this vegetable soup recipe from Good Housekeeping (October 2007 issue). It’s a basic soup recipe that comes with 8 different modifications. So, on any given night you can use your vegetable soup base, plus a few other ingredients, and have Goulash, Greek Fish Stew, Minestrone, etc. It’s based on a GH diet plan, but I use it as a way to save time and keep things interesting. A few hours spent cooking in October gives me a base soup for much of the winter.

4 Haley October 5, 2010 at 10:54 am

How to find it: if you go to the GH website and search “All-You-Can-Eat Soup Diet Basic Recipe”, you’ll get results that include all the variations on the soup. Scroll down to find the basic recipe.

5 Megan October 5, 2010 at 11:25 am

I like to assemble spinach shells and freeze the stuffed shells in a bag. Then for dinner, I pull them out of the freezer, pour a jar of (homemade) pasta sauce on top, then bake in the oven at 350 for an hour or so. It’s based on this recipe: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1662821.
Megan´s last blog post ..An Update on my Plans

6 Kacie October 5, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Ok. I’m going to be doing this in huge quantities too and I will share what recipes I’m doing later on.

THIS time, I’m going to freeze meals in portion-sizes, rather than a huge pan of something, or a big ol’ gallon bag full of soup. That way, we can grab a meal’s (or two) worth and we can have more variety instead of eating a giant pan of ziti for a week.

Cuz really, there’s two adults and a Johnny that we need to feed. A 9×13 is a bit much.

7 Lisa Morosky October 5, 2010 at 1:24 pm

I’m just checking out the comments here to see what everyone says. I want to utilize freezer cooking a bit better, so I’m loving these suggestions too. :)

8 ericka October 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Hmm…I didn’t do alot of freezer cooking before any of my kids were born because my hubby was very picky. I do however, make stews etc. that I like and freeze in smaller portions for lunches for me. I hink you can freeze alot of soups and stews (no pasta or potatoes or milk products). That will be great in the winter. Also maybe some of your family/friends can bring over meals that you can freeze once the baby is born. Think of the meals you like to eat and most of them can be frozen.

Good luck!

9 M October 5, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Tell friends and family, for the first month, anyone who wants to visit you and the baby has to bring you supper or lunch in lieu of baby presents! ..(or at least pick up a few groceries for you) Also make sure they include, cooking/heating instructions on anything you toss in the freezer. There’s a great website called lotsahelpinghands.com that lets you have your network of friends help, you can let folks know what you need. If you just moved, you may still be building a local network, but it is a great resource.

10 Erin October 5, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Laura @ Organizing Junkie just posted that she had updated her Freezer Meals page… it can be found at http://orgjunkie.com/2008/11/freezer-cooking-tutorials-and-recipes.html.
Great tutorials and recipes.

I love your site by the way! I have been reading for about a year now… it is wonderful!

11 Jenny October 5, 2010 at 3:38 pm

I would suggest buying large packs of ground beef, cooking it all, draining it, then freezing it in small portions ( I used the small sized sour cream containers). This makes it really easy to make several types of meals in just a few minutes. For example, sloppy joes, chili, spaghetti, stroganoff, shepherd’s pie (very quick if you have leftover mashed potatoes), tacos/burritos (you can add taco seasoning to some of the meat before you freeze it if you like).

Another food that I prepare ahead and freeze is pulled pork. I wait for pork roast to go on sale, cook it in the crockpot, then freeze it in small portions (also the sour cream tubs) then you can just pull it out, either let it thaw or microwave it, throw it on buns or toast, and you have a great dinner. I use a packet of clubhouse seasoning for mine, but I’m sure there are great recipes for making it from scratch as well, I just can’t get that great smoky flavor without it.

I find its easier to have prepared ingredients on hand, rather than whole meals. I’ve found that whole meals almost never come out of freezer as good as they went in.

12 Stephanie October 5, 2010 at 4:55 pm

I did some freezer cooking before my last baby born a year ago. We found that we liked the food that’s not cooked before it goes into the freezer. We also weren’t big fans of anything that had spaghetti sauce in it. They always turned out watery. I think though you can get sauce that’s thicker and it works better, but I haven’t tried. We really liked marinated chicken and a few other pasta recipes. One of my favorite recipes is:
http://www.freezehappy.com/2009/08/from-freezer-to-crock-pot.html
The blog that the recipe is on also has a lot of recipes and tips for freezing foods. I also have some cookbooks that are freezer cookbooks. I have Fix, Freeze, Feast and the Freezer Cooking Manual from 30 day gourmet. I would recommend looking at your local library and checking some books out and find some recipes that sound good to you. Good luck!

13 Karen October 5, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Wow! All of these suggestions are SO helpful. Thanks everyone! I’ll be digging through your recommendations to figure out what’s going to work best for us. :)

14 Jen October 22, 2010 at 3:08 pm

I work for a company that does freezer cooking with our clients. Popular items are meats/tofu that is marinated and then frozen uncooked; soups/stews that are assembled and frozen (uncooked); meatloafs (same); we also do sides that are often a little bit of seasoning, stock powder and butter with a frozen veggie. I would focus on having the main courses prepped and frozen, frozen veg in the freezer, and fast pastas and grains in the cupboard
Jen´s last blog post ..Making Confident Choices

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