Saturday, April 21, 2012

Top 5 Freezer Meals


meals
 

I am a mom, and that just naturally means that there is a lot going on.  We are all busy right?!  So, I have found it best to keep 5-10 frozen meals on hand at all times.  As the weather has been getting nicer here in Montana, it is hard to drag myself away from the swing set and in to the kitchen to make dinner.  It’s wonderful to be able to pull something out of the freezer at nap time or in the morning and let it thaw, then at 5pm I just step inside to put it in the oven and then I head right back out to enjoy the sun and my girls laughing on the swings. 

Another plus is the cost factor.  These meals are very inexpensive to prepare and that is what we are going for.  While we are saving money, its nice to know that we still have yummy easy meals to fall back on. 

With all of these recipes, I prepped the meat the first day, then the second day I assembled them.  I was able to do this in two days just using my girls’ 2 hour nap time. Each post/link also has more tips related to that meal.

I didn’t want to hand you a post with 5 recipes written out, so if you just click on the name of each recipe, it will take you to that specific recipe with tips and suggestions.  I will also post these all separately for you to search and find as needed.

Enjoy stocking your freezer with yummy foods.

1. Layered Enchilada Casserole
2. Quesadilla Casserole
3. Wild Rice and Chicken
4. Goulash
5. Potato Soup

*Bonus #6!  Chicken and Dumplings

*Ten more freezer meals added Winter of 2012.
   http://joyful-mommas-kitchen.blogspot.com/2012/10/10-more-freezer-meals-for-fall.html

71 comments:

  1. How often do you do freezer meal cooking?

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    1. Not as often as I should. :). Probably only 4 times a year. I do it right before a busy season. It keeps dinner on the table even when we are transitioning schedules

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  2. Wow! This is brilliant! Thanks for the inspiration!

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  3. Several years ago I started doubling (or tripling) some meals starting in August. I would put the extra meals in the freezer so when December came, I would be able to enjoy the holiday season without worrying about meals. I even do cookie dough (freeze the dough then bake the cookies during December). It helps during a very stressful time of year.

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    1. With the cookie dough, I make a little extra time when I'm first making the dough and freeze it into the individual scoops. Then I freeze them on a cookie sheet for about 45 minutes, dump them in a ziplock bag and whenever DD wants to make last minute cookies to have for dessert one night I can just pop off about 6 and bake them without defrosting the rest of the dough too! It works great for our small family to only make 1/2 - 1 dozen cookies at a time.

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    2. Love that idea! My son would get a kick out of that. :)

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  4. How long are these meals good in the freezer for??

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  5. Jeannette, I find that the meals are usually good 3-4 months.
    Cecelia! That is a great idea! Last Christmas season, we ended up ordering way too much take out due to a hectic and crazy schedule. I like the way you think :)

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  6. Chicken and Dumplings freeze great too! Just thaw in the fridge and then reheat.

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  7. You mention trying to save money for an adoption. We are trying to do the same only in our case they are step parent adoptions and we will need to continue pinching pennies as we will lose child support that we now have for income as well. Besides freezer cooking what are some other money cutting measures you have implemented?

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    1. You & Joyful Momma should checkout our site at www.cafeforacause.org. We help individuals and organizations raise funds with coffee. People love coffee and the fact of the matter is people are more willing to give to a beautiful cause such as both of yours when they can receive something in return. I know this may not have been an avenue you sought, but if it will get you to your goal any sooner, why not give it a look.
      Nikki (832) 736-2424

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    2. Ideas that my husband and I have found in our search in saving money for adoption have been things you may have already though of but here you go:

      Don't eat out
      Coffee at home
      Cut out the cable
      Yard Sales ($ raised going towards adoption)
      Find a savings account with a higher interest rate
      Pay off any credit cards and what would have gone towards that bill each month put in savings

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    3. I know the goal is adoption, but is there a possibility of starting with foster care? I ask because there are so many kids that need a good home, and of course the possibility is always there that you can have a child placed in your home that will become adoptable. Just a thought - I worked with foster children and wanted to take many home (I was 19 at the time, so it wasn't going to happen). Also, sometimes they can help offset the adoption costs.

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    4. also check out helpusadopt.org I came across it in a magazine and it looks like a great organization to help with adoption expenses!

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    5. Yes, please do consider foster-adopt. In my state most local private adoption agencies select from foster lists anyway! There are so many kids -- newborns on up -- who through no fault of their own need a safe forever home. Many are already legally free to be adopted. And as there are no fees of any sort, your savings can go to a college fund. In any case, thank you for opening your heart to a child. <3

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    6. We went into foster care just to help the kids in tuff spots and now we have 8 children, 4 born to us and 4 adopted. it is the best thing our family could do! I'm not saying there aren't problems, but nothing different from the first four.

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  8. Ok it says I didn't post so sorry if it posts twice. @Amber do you have a recipe?

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  9. Love that these mostly don't contain processed and artificial foods! Thanks for sharing!

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  10. I will post a recipe for freeer chicken and dumplings tonight :) You gals will love it.
    and MamaNavyBrat- I pinch pennies anywhere I can. It is always tricky. I will try to think of some specific tips :)
    Mostly...I only buy the basics and we eat leftovers, and no fancy snack foods.

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  11. Just wondering if any of these have to be thawed before cooking?
    I would love to have a few home made meals that I can throw in the oven just like store bought lasagne for those days when there was no time to even pre-think thawing something.

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  12. Can you give more specific direction as to how you wrap these for freezing? What products you use and technique for wrapping specifically. I'm afraid I'll pull them out of the deep freeze and they'll taste bad. How can I prevent that? I'm having a baby and August and would love to get some of these in the freezer before the little one arrives!

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  13. I love these! Thanks so much!

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  14. @ Katie Elizabeth - I just started preparing freezer meals & rarely thaw them first. Like you said, I like freezer meals for when I forget to take anything out of the freezer to cook!
    @Kerry - I like to use the tin foil dishes. Especially the ones that have the cardboard tops that come with them. I will place a layer of tinfoil over the food, then add the cardboard lid & fold down the edges of the tray over the tin foil & lid. (I hope that makes sense!) I will write the contents & cooking instructions (for my hubby mostly!) on the lid, then place in a large freezer bag. So far, everything has turned out great.
    @Joyful Momma - thanks for the recipes! I will definitely be adding them to my list!!

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  15. AEM- you have great tips :) I write the instructions on the foil as well. If you are cooking from frozen, just up the cooking time by 50%. Easy peasy :)

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  16. I also use the foil pans I spray the pan and add the meal. Then i just tightly wrap foil over top. My meals only stay frozen 1-2 months. I eat them before too long :) But foil does a good job. If you have a problem with freezer burn, wrap them with foil and then seal in an extra large ziplock. That works really well. But keep in mind, these meals should be eaten within about 4 months.
    Kerry! Enjoy your sweet new baby! I wish I could mail you a hot home cooked meal :)

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  17. Thanks for the post and the great recipes!! I will be popping by your blog more often to get more of these from you. :)

    --Tiffany @ The Mister and Missus

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  18. Thanks for these recipes! I tried the wild rice and chicken one tonight and loved how easy it was to follow your instructions. I even wrote about it on my blog, giving a link to yours, of course. You are welcome to visit it though I won't publish this entry for another week: thedomesticatedprincess.blogspot.com. I bought the ingredients for the potato soup recipe and look forward to trying it too!

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  19. Great idea! The Chicken and Dumplings link looks like it points to the homepage instead of the recipe. I assume it's this one? http://joyful-mommas-kitchen.blogspot.com/2012/05/chicken-and-dumplings-freezer-meal.html

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  20. Christy- thanks for catching that. I am curently visiting family so I will fix that when I get home. You can also use the search field at the top of my blog to find it as well.

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  21. Finally!!!! EASY freezer meals that real people eat that don't have 1 million ingredients in it. I plan to make all of these in bulk and freeze using my food saver. I have been dying to try some good freezer meals with the food saver. Thanks for posting, so glad I found this. Pinterest is WONDERFUL!!!

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  22. I looked at the meals, and it looks like they could easily be adapted for the crockpot! I have to double most recipe's just to feed my entire family 1 meal, and I would go broke buying all of the pans needed for these. Instead, I dump everything into a ziplock bag. I could thaw and dump into a pan, but my crock pot lets me be even lazier, and I'm all for the lazy. Most could be dumped in a crock pot and set on low in the morning and be ready for dinner. I usually take a meal out the night before, and even if its still a little frozen, cooking on low for 8 hours will take care of that. :)

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    1. That's what I do, Clarissa! I have a 3 pot slow cooker and I LOVE it. I take the big freezer bag full of all the ingredients for the main course and toss it in one, chop scrubbed potatoes for the second and fresh or frozen veg goes in the third. At dinner time I serve it up with iced tea, hot rolls and a salad. Takes practically no effort and we have a family dinner every night at 6!

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    2. WHERE did you get a 3 pot slow cooker!? I need one of these! Lol.

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  23. I love freezer cooking. I keep a freezer blog...need to write more often but I do freezer cook at least once a month.
    Http://freezertotable.blogpost.com

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  24. CORRECTION: I tried to type out the freezer blog instead of cut and paste, shame on me! HEre is the real link. I do NOT do this for profit, it's a hobby and a fun past time for me! Hope you find something interesting. Feedback inspires me to get on there and do more! http://fromfreezertotable.blogspot.com/

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  25. the chicken & dumplings recipe link takes you to a recipe for campfire cookies. while the cookies look delicious, i was really hoping to try the dinner recipe!

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    1. http://joyful-mommas-kitchen.blogspot.com/2012/05/chicken-and-dumplings-freezer-meal.html

      It was down the page a bit :)

      Thank you for the recipes, Joyful Momma!! These look fantastic!

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  26. Ladies, for money-saving tip: Instead of buying those foil pans to use, line your casserole dish with heavy duty foil and freeze while in the dish. Then remove the frozen foil wrapped casserole from the dish and you can keep using your dish until you are ready to cook the frozen one. Just lay it back in there and bake it. Works great!

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    1. Great thought! I was just thinking about what I could do instead of buying the pans. :)

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  27. Thank you so much for sharing these...I am due with our first little one in less than 3 weeks, and I've been combing pinterest and google for good freezer meal ideas! I'm trying to think ahead to 2-3 weeks after he arrives when meals and visitors are few and far between. I think these 5 just might be our ticket to our freezer meals. Trying to stock up now while I have the time! :o)

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  28. I don't have kids or a hubby but I am out a lot and travel a lot and these would be great for those I do not feel like cooking and eating out gets old really quick!! Love it.

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  29. Thanks for that great idea Pam!! That is a wonderful idea that I am going to try. I do like the foil pans for when I know that I am taking the meal to another family. Then there is nothing to return to me later :)

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  30. I too like to use the foil meals when I'm taking the meal to someone else.....or if I have come across very cheap baking dishes at a yard sale I send the dish and don't worry about getting it back. If someone is starting a new family a casserole dish is often a welcome addition too! Another idea...I have a food saver and freeze things in my foil lined dish and then take it out and use the food saver to shrink wrap it for better preservation. Happy Cooking all:)

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  31. These are all great ideas! Thank you to everyone for the specific instructions, tips, etc. I have always wanted to freeze meals, but really had no idea which ones freeze well. I am definitely going to try all of these!

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  32. This post seems to be a real hit. Stay tuned, I am working on another post with 5 more freezer meals for you all. Its so nice to have these dinners on hand.

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  33. Thank you so much for this post! I will be doing a recipe and meal planning section on my own blog soon and LOVE these ideas! You are so smart! This will really help my wonderful man (who isn't such a wonderful cook) when I have to be out of town. Thank you again!

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  34. Thanks for this post- these look yummy! :)

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  35. I always used to do the same with lasagna or stuffed shells! Although when the family knew there was a spare pan in the freezer, they would pester me to fix it for dinner.

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  36. How many servings is each recipe? I have a family of 6 and I'm wondering if I would need to double the recipe. Thanks, they look delish!

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  37. I found this on pinterest and am so happpy because I am always looking for good freezer meals. Just love your blog and am now your newest follower. If you have a chance come by and check out my blog www.questfordelish.blogspot.com

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  38. Can you repost your bonus chicken and dumpling meal?I could not find it when clicking on the link. I love these meals. Thank you so much for sharing. Our family of seven will appreciate these recipes.

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  39. Anita, I just fixed that link, so it should work for you. Thanks for letting me know.
    Beth, I serve 6-8 with this easily. But doubling the recipe is so nice for leftovers or to stick a batch in the freezer.
    Enjoy

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  40. How many servings do you think this Chicken Enchilada is? I'd like to make it for a crowd.

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  41. Michele- if you are thinking the Enchilada casserol, I would say 4. Each of these freezer meals serves 4 adults. The White Chicken Enchilladas probably serves 5-6 adults :)

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  42. I'm an RVer and whenever we are planning a trip I try to make some meals that I can prepare ahead of time and cook while we are traveling. These 5 Frozen Meals seem perfect! Thanks!

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  43. Just made and froze the enchilada casserole, potato soup, and chicken and wild rice! School will start soon, and being a teacher, I wanted to make sure we still had something good to eat for the first month of school! Loved that these recipes were so easy! Found you on Pinterest! :)

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  44. I have frozen potato soup, but when I thaw it out it isn't "soupy" it is very thick! Any suggestions?

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  45. I was just getting everything ready for the wild rice and chicken dish. However, I only have precooked (cubed) chicken in the freezer. Would I be able to use that instead of going back out to the store to get raw chicken?

    Thanks! Melissa

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  46. Yes melissa, that should work just fine. :). Enjoy!!

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  47. Hello all, this may seem silly, but do you use your regular freezer (above or below refrigerator)? or do you have a deep freeze? i would like to see how the fam likes this before going the deep freeze route. but we open the fridge freezer so often seems like stuff gets freezer burnt.

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  48. can any meal be a freezer meal? Or can you only freeze certain things? Im asking because some meals we really like and eat often, and it would be easier to just pull it out and bake it...but wasnt sure if everything can be frozen?

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  49. How do you all find the room to store everything? I really want to start freezer 'cooking' but we have the french-door fridge with bottom drawer freezer. It doesn't leave a lot of extra room once we've stocked up on breakfast stuff, meats, & frozen veggies.

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  50. Hi there! Freezer cooking is wonderful - I have a truck driver hubby and this really saves on our food bills. I wrote a cookbook for preparing foods for travelers, and this goes hand in hand. Thanks for sharing.
    Lisa - Grillin' The Road (dot com!)

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  51. Hi there, simply was aware of your blog via Google, and found that it's really informative. I'm gonna be careful for Brussels. I'll appreciate in case you kitchen worktops continue this in future. Numerous other folks might be benefited out of your writing.

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  52. Found your blog via Pinterest this is wonderful!... I make it a habit to do most of my cooking on the weekend. I typically will pull out 3 meats and cook them in fairly simple ways and use them for multiple meals. One of my fav is the chicken in the crockpot for the stock, I end up with stock and meat for 2 meals. I will also cook at least double portions of my main meals and I freeze them. I always have stuff frozen so if I feel lazy I can just pull something out. I also have bought those divided dishes with lids that I will use for leftovers and my guys can just pull one out and microwave it. I save all of the cooking liquids from vegetables for stock in glass bottles in the freezer and use them for soup. I also save all the pan drippings from any pan cooked meats and deglaze the pans and put the juices in bottles in the freezer for instant use for sauces, gravy, soups etc.... I also will take any fresh herbs and finely chop and put them in ice cube trays cover with olive oil, freeze and pop into zip locks. Hmmmm how else do I save? I save my citrus rinds and put them in freezer bags in the freezer so that if I need citrus I always have it, same with fresh or smoked bacon rinds, parmesan cheese rinds, these can be added to soups for flavor.....

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  53. Thank you so much for these recipes, and actually your entire blog. I'll be starting nursing school in the Fall, I have 2 children in elementary school and a husband that works full time. So many things here on your blog will be perfect for our new lifestyle, in saving time AND saving money. (I won't be able to work as much as I used to.) I think I need to invest in a stand-alone freezer. :-D

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  54. This is a great post... there are so many great meals that you can pull out of your freezer on a daily basis. I made some from my True T-43F freezer just last week. Great stuff! Keep it up!

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  56. This comment has been removed by the author.

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