Sunday, November 7, 2010

Freezer Meals: Week 1

For those of you that were looking for my recipes, some are in my food blog, others are just too simple to be in there. I'll share them week by week though. Some important notes:

  • I am learning on some of these as I go. I've made all the recipes before, but haven't frozen them all in the past. On the new recipes, I am basing my instructions off other freezer recipes. Most are pretty simple though- you can typically defrost any item overnight in the refrigerator and then bake/heat as you would normally.
  • I bought a bulk package of caterer's steamer trays and lids (30 sets) at Sam's Club for $14. If you have access to these, I would highly suggest them. Not only are they ridiculously inexpensive compared to buying at other stores, but the lids seal up nicely and they stack perfectly!
  • Using disposable/recyclable containers is great for many reasons. 1. No fuss clean up when you are done. No dishes to do here, just toss/recycle your container. 2. You can (and should) write the contents and instructions right on the package.
  • For each of these recipes, I was cooking double what the recipe indicated. That way, I'd have dinner for that night and the freezer meal, but only one clean up.

Pre-Week 1:
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Tomato Beef Chili

Spaghetti Sauce
-Don't tell my grandma. I totally cheat when it comes to spaghetti sauce. Spaghetti was actually something I hated growing up, much to my Italian family's dismay. Anyway, I've found a way to make it that is appetizing to me. But just make YOUR favorite sauce. They will all keep in the freezer. If you want something quick and dirty tasty, you can make my sauce.

1 Jar of Traditional Ragu
1 Small Onion, chopped
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 lb Ground Beef (You can easily cut this in half if you like a less meaty sauce)
1 tsp Italian Seasoning (the measurement here is really what you feel is good)
1 lb Spaghetti Noodles

Brown ground beef with garlic and onion. Add sauce and seasonings. Freeze in a freezer safe container. The night prior to reheating, defrost in the refrigerator. Reheat in saucepan. Cook Noodles. Simple :)

Tomato Beef Chili (Click for recipe)
Follow the entire recipe. Pour chili into a freezer safe container. Defrost overnight and reheat in a saucepan on the stove. *A slow cooker would also work nicely!

Week 1:
  • Meatballs
  • White Bean Chicken Chili
  • Creamy Chicken Spinach Pasta
  • Florentine Stuffed Shells
  • Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins (BOO! These got moved to next week...check back for them later)

Sweet & Sour Meatballs (Click for recipe)
After making meatballs, freeze (1lb makes 12 meatballs which is an ideal amount for the sauce recipe). Defrost overnight, and continue with making the sweet and sour sauce. The meatballs will heat throughout while simmering. There is also a savory meatball recipe here.
White Bean Chicken Chili (Click for recipe)
Follow the entire recipe. Pour chili into a freezer safe container. Defrost overnight and reheat in a saucepan on the stove. *A slow cooker would also work nicely!

Creamy Chicken Spinach Pasta (Click for recipe)
Think Bertolli, but better, because it's homemade and tastes far superior to anything you'd buy in a bag at the grocery store. Follow the entire recipe. Scoop the pasta into air tight bags (i.e. Ziploc or a Food Saver type bag is even better!) Defrost overnight and reheat in a skillet on medium low. Chicken broth can be added to make more sauce if it's a touch dry.

Florentine Stuffed Shells (Click for recipe)

Use an aluminum casserole tin and follow the recipe, but do not bake and do not add the final step of cheese. Cover and freeze after you have topped with the remaining spaghetti sauce. Defrost overnight, and continue the regular baking instructions. Note: I doubled this recipe and split the dishes into 3 pans (1 for dinner, 2 to save). It can still easily serve 2-4 adults depending on how hungry they are :)

*WARNING: Belly Sighting Ahead*

Here I am in action. Note the awesome casserole tins with lids and the instructions written right smack on the container. Genius I tell you!

That's it for Week 1 (&Pre-Week 1). Hopefully this will help some of you that were looking for the recipes. The others should be in my food blog as well, but you'll have to be patient for the freezing instructions until I get there.

So...are you joining me in some freezer meals this month? What's your purpose? Do you have a little one on the way? Are you anticipating a very busy holiday season and just want to have a leg up on the chaos? Maybe you just like the idea in general. Tell me your reasons!


  1. Thanks for this! Hopefully I will be able to make some meals this week, in anticipation of our little one due Nov 26. I must admit though, that I'm not really into cooking and I'm kinda sorta depending on my mom, MIL, and SIL to bring frozen meals for us this Thanksgiving since they said they would. I really should do some myself, too, though! :)

  2. 1. I wish I could make cute buttons. Because I would steal this one (if it didn't say My Happy House, lol) for all of my upcoming baby prep

    2. I need to get my rear into gear this weekend with freezer cooking. You have spurred me into action.

  3. Thanks for the recipes! I've tried freezer meals in the past and while some worked out, others didn't freeze so well. So its nice to know that these are tried and true options!

  4. I did a freeze-a-palooza in early summer and I'm just now getting to the end of the meals. Since there are only 2 of us, it's simple to make one freezer meal last several days. IT's amazing how long it's lasted.

    Thanks for the recipes!

  5. SO glad you are doing this! I will be following along to see what you are making. I am doing it too, being 28 weeks pregnant, with a 2 year old, and the holidays rapidly approaching. This week I have stuff for cheesy potato soup, chicken noodle soup, and chili. That is a big week for me, but it will come in handy!

  6. Yay! I am also planning on freezing meals for when Baby B arrives. I am planning on starting in Jan. and freezing meals for Feb & March. I am glad you are posting some of your instructions! Thanks!

  7. Quick question: I also love Laughing Cow Chicken. How are you prepping/freezing it? I normally pound out the chicken breasts, add the ham, spread on the cheese, roll and sprinkle with Shake n Bake pork...just curious as to at what point you are going to pop it in the freezer.


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