Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Freezer Friendly Meals

I had a few requests for some ideas on meals to make ahead and freeze.  I often try to to include recipes that are freezer friendly on my weekly recipe lists and so it occurred to me that I should pull a list together and put it on the blog.  And as I come across others that I like, I'll just add them to this list.  If you are someone who is preparing for a new baby, a busy month or you just prefer to cook just a couple times in a month you could bookmark this page and come back to it when you are looking for inspiration.  I find that even though I love to make a scratch meal and serve it up fresh each night, the reality of my family's schedule is that I can't do that and remain sane.  Maybe 2 or 3 nights in a week there is time, but if I were to take the time to cook each night, I would be taking away time from something else that needs attention.  Like a baby.  Or children who need help with homework.  Or showering.  :-)

So here's my list that I will consider a work in progress.  Leave me comments if you have any recipes you would love to recommend.  And here is a handy template for labels for your meals.  You can print them on plain paper and just cut and tape them to containers or print on Avery labels 5164FREEZER LABELS

Freezer Friendly Meals

Light Turkey Meatballs- You can either cook these and then freeze these on a sheet pan, then transfer to a freezer bag or container.  Or leave them uncooked and freeze them so you can cook them when you want.  If you freeze them unbaked, my suggestion is to cook them by simmering in marinara sauce, it’s really flavorful that way. 

Freezer Friendly Chicken Enchiladas- Easy enchiladas that doesn’t use a canned sauce, it’s fairly easy to make the sauce from scratch.  Includes instructions for freezing unbaked and then how to bake them after freezing.  

Baked Polenta Pie- Assemble this in advance in a disposable foil pan, put in the freezer and save it for a busy night, just bake and eat.  Feel free to change up the sausages/meats to use whatever you prefer.

Beef, Cheese and Noodle Bake- Substitute with ground turkey and use whole grain elbow macaroni to lower the fat and increase the healthy carbs.  I suggest that you not let the sauce cook down as the recipe instructs, but keep it saucy since the noodles will absorb moisture.  You could freeze unbaked or completely baked.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos- A bunch of cilantro is so inexpensive and this dish is easy.  She also provides instructions for making it as a freezer meal.

Classic Baked Ziti- Simple and easy.  This recipe includes making the tomato sauce portion, which if you like to use a jarred marinara sauce and want to skip that part of the cooking, feel free to do that.  Just assemble this as listed in the recipe, then freeze with a note on the baking instructions.  You could also bake it ahead of time and freeze after it cools so that all you have to do is thaw and re-heat servings.

Turkey Meatball and Tortellini Soup- With big meatballs and tortellini, this soup can be a meal.  I consider it a pantry/freezer meal, the ingredients are always available in my house and if something isn’t, I just improvise.  Great meal to make ahead or makes a lot for multiple meals.

Easy Ranch Chicken- This one is suggested to prep ahead and freeze uncooked. 

Taco Pasta- Cook as directed, once it’s cool, portion into freezer bags or containers and then freeze.  Re-heat in microwave or on stove top.  
Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf- Sort of the flavors of chicken parmesan but a meatloaf instead.  Includes directions and options for freezing.  

Chili Taco Casserole- Prepare this and then transfer to either a foil or freezer/oven safe pan with a note on the baking directions.  Then defrost and bake as directed.  Alternatively you could follow all the directions and after cooled, freeze and then defrost and re-heat as needed.

Sloppy Joes- This is a good recipe that doesn't use a seasoning packet, but the meat and veggies are cooked down with barbecue sauce and other spices.   Make a big batch and portion it out to freeze.

Crock Pot Carolina Pulled Pork- This is a Carolina style (meaning vinegar based) barbecue pulled pork you make in the crock pot.  You can make this and freeze it for later, or make a really big roast and freeze leftovers.

White Chicken Enchiladas- Really easy to make, doesn’t use a canned cream of chicken soup and you can freeze either baked to reheat or put in the freezer unbaked and then defrost and bake when you want to eat it. One change I made when I make this- I use 1/2 can green enchilada sauce instead of diced green chilies.  Then I freeze the rest of the sauce to save for the next time I make it.

Chicken Parmesan with Easy Marinara Sauce- This is my own recipe for Chicken Parmesan and a very quick homemade marinara sauce.  It's far from totally authentic, the origin of making it this way was to have a low carb version, so it's not breaded, it's just coated  in seasonings and grated Parmesan cheese.  For a freezer meal, I fully cook it, then when it's cooled it can be transferred to a freezer container for storage.  Then you just defrost and re-heat in the microwave.  You could also cook the chicken completely without sauce, freeze and then when you want to have it, cover the chicken with sauce and cheese and then bake.

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna- You can use my marinara sauce recipe above as it will make extra sauce to use in this recipe.  This is a great, healthy recipe you can portion into serving sizes or make one big one.

1 comment:

  1. My family loved the white chicken enchiladas! I will have to make again and store in the freezer.