For most of my life, I never worried about having freezer meals ready to go. I enjoyed cooking and had time most evenings to do so. Then I found out I was pregnant and the panic set in. How would I have time to cook while keeping a baby alive! Money was tight and I knew we couldn’t afford to order food most nights. I immediately started researching healthy freezer meals. I even convinced Tom to buy a small deep freezer so that I could fill it up with meals. By the time our son was born, I had an entire month’s worth of healthy freezer meals ready to thaw and reheat. Here are a few of my favorites.
How to Freeze Soup and Stew
Before freezing allow the soup or stew to cool in the refrigerator. If you are freezing in plastic bags, pour the soup or stew in, remove the air, seal the bag, and lay it flat in the freezer. When defrosting your soup or stew, place the bag in a container in the refrigerator just in case the bag starts to leak.
How to Bake a Frozen Casserole
When I freeze my casseroles I like to write the cooking time and temperature on them so I can easily bake them without having to refer back to the recipe. Casseroles can be baked straight from the freezer. Typically a frozen casserole will require an additional thirty minutes more than the recipe specifies. A casserole is heated through when the center is heated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
How Long Will Frozen Meals Keep?
Typically a freezer meal will remain fresh for 2-3 months. Remember to label all of your freezer meals with the contents and date they were cooked.
Breakfast Freezer Meals
Alton Brown’s Cinnamon Rolls: Normally I save these for special occasions because they can be a lot of work. But I couldn’t think of a more special occasion than giving birth. I freeze these in-between steps three and four.
Homemade Toaster Waffles and Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes: Mmm waffles and pancakes! I don’t think anything more needs to be said. Try these freezer-friendly recipes from Eazy Peazy Mealz and Once Upon a Chef.
Freezer-Friendly Breakfast Burritos: Breakfast burritos are one of our staple breakfasts. I was so happy to know that they would freeze and reheat well to add some normalcy to our life with a new baby. Try this delicious recipe from Life Made Simple.
Quick Breads: I love making up a variety of quick breads for breakfast. They freeze really well and defrost so quickly because bake them in these mini loaf pans. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Banana Bread: I am very picky about how ripe my bananas can be. If the banana is 100% yellow it is too ripe. This is one of my favorite ways to use up overly ripe bananas. Try this recipe from Sugar Spun Run.
- Pumpkin Bread and Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread: I love sneaking vegetables in unexpected places. These two quick breads from Once Upon a Chef are perfect.
- Blueberry Bread – Tastes of Lizzie T
Strawberry Baked Oatmeal: I love oatmeal especially on cold winter mornings. Lately, I have been making a lot of baked oatmeal because the bars are easier for our son to eat than trying to eat oatmeal with a spoon. Try this delicious recipe from Lively Table.
Dinner Freezer Meals
Chili: One of these days I will write up a recipe for my chili. But so much of it is just tossing together whatever sounds good and tasting along the way. I am pretty sure all chilis freeze well so choose your favorite.
Sticky Chicken with Vegetable Fried Rice: Stir-fries are a great way to increase your servings of vegetables and use up any vegetables lingering in your refrigerator. Try this recipe from Recipetin Eats.
Pioneer Woman’s Sloppy Joes: This is my go-to recipe for sloppy joes. A few years ago when we decided to start cutting out processed foods canned Manwich was the first to go. This was the first sloppy joe recipe I tried and it was absolutely delicious.
Homemade Spaghetti Sauce: Spaghetti sauce is one of the ways I like to use up excess vegetables. For my spaghetti sauce, I saute whatever vegetables are in the refrigerator plus an onion in olive oil until they are tender. I then add a couple of cans of diced tomatoes, some garlic, oregano, parsley, basil, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. I let everything simmer until heated through.
Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup: I follow all of the steps except adding the noodles. Pasta doesn’t always freeze well and can become soft and gooey. I wait to add the noodles until I reheat the soup. Here is a wonderful recipe from The Forked Spoon.
Crock-Pot Beef Barley Stew: I love packaging up and freezing the ingredients for slow cooker meals. Nothing could be simpler on a busy morning than dumping ingredients in a slow cooker and turning it on. Try this stew from Crock-Pot Ladies.
Classic Chicken Pot Pie: I prepare the filling and freeze it. When I am ready to bake the chicken pot pie I place the filling in my dutch oven and then make up a quick batch of drop biscuits for the top. Here is a great recipe from Spend with Pennies.