Thursday, May 2, 2013

Freezer Meals

I've been wanting to prepare some "freezer meals" and when I came across a good sale on ground beef and chicken breast, I went for it!  You will find that my favorite style of meals are "QUICK 'N' EASY".  I hate spending a lot of time in the kitchen, I love simple recipes with minimal, common ingredients, and I have kids who are picky eaters.

I like to freeze meals in gallon freezer ziploc bags because they lay flat and take up less space.  Also, it's easy to write baking instructions on the bags before filling them.

  Here's what I made:

Two batches of Pizza Pasta Casserole
Recipe from
2 lbs ground beef 
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon italian seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce
16 ounces rotini pasta, cooked and drained
5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (20 oz) (I used 4 cups)
8 ounces sliced pepperoni

1 Brown ground beef, onion, garlic and seasoning in oil.
2 Drain.
3 Stir in pasta, spaghetti sauce and 3 cups cheese.
4 Place mixture in 2 greased 9x13x2 inch baking pans or 4 square pans. (I filled two of the gallon size freezer bags)
5 Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.
6 Top with pepperoni.
7 Cover and freeze up to 3 months.
8 To cook now: Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until heated through.
9 To bake frozen casserole: Thaw in refrigerator overnight and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, till hot.

** NOTE:  When I make this, I always mix the pepperoni and cheese in with everything else.

One meatloaf

I make my meatloaf with a packet of McCormick meatloaf seasoning and follow the recipe on the back:
2 lbs. ground beef
2 eggs
1 cup oats (or bread crumbs)
1 packet seasoning mix
1 (8 oz) tomato sauce (1/2 gets mixed in instead of milk, 1/2 gets poured on top)

** NOTE:   Just use whatever your favorite meatloaf recipe is, but don't forget to write baking instructions on the bag.

Three batches of Cheesesteak Sloppy Joe
Recipe from
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1lb ground beef
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 medium green bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
¼ cup steak sauce
1 cup beef broth
salt and ground black pepper (to taste)
4 hamburger buns
1 tablespoon butter  (next 4 ingredients optional, see my NOTE below)
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1 cup provolone cheese (shredded)
Step 1: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and cook while breaking the ground beef up into chunks with a spatula or spoon until browned. Add the green bell pepper and onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the onions start to become tender. Drain an excess liquid. Stir in steak sauce and beef broth, season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture is thickened and bubbly.
Step 2: While the meat is cooking, split the hamburger buns and butter each of the cut sides. Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Place split hamburger buns cut side down into the skillet and cook until lightly browned on the bottom. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Step 3: melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in milk and cook until the mixture is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until it is melted and incorporated into the sauce.
Step 4: To assemble sloppy joes- pile the meat mixture onto the top of the bottom half of each bun, top with the provolone cheese sauce, and place the top half of the hamburger bun onto the sandwich.
(Makes 4 Servings)

** NOTE:  I put about 1 1/2 lb into each bag because 1 lb is not enough for our family.  It's precooked and ready to thaw and heat up. Also, I do not make the cheese sauce in this recipe.  I simply put a slice of provolone cheese on the warm buns after toasting them. Obviously, the cheese is not included in my freezer bags.

Three bags of browned hamburger, ready for quick addition to any recipe.
I had actually planned on baking meatballs with this meat, but I made this stuff on a weekday evening after work and didn't have time OR energy to keep going.

One batch of Crockpot Sweet BBQ Chicken
Recipe from Just a Pinch
4-6   chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
(12 oz) bottle BBQ sauce
1/4 c   vinegar
1 tsp   red pepper flakes
1/4 c   brown sugar
1 tsp   garlic powder     
1  Mix BBQ sauce with vinegar, red pepper flakes, brown sugar and garlic powder.
2  Place chicken in crockpot (still frozen is ok). Pour sauce mixture over chicken.
3  Cook on LOW 4-6 hours. 
** NOTE:  place raw (never been frozen) chicken breasts in gallon freezer bag,  mix remaining ingredients in bowl then pour in bag over chicken, close bag and squeeze bag to mix.  Thaw in fridge, then cook in crockpot as directed.
Once batch of Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas
Recipe from Real Mom Kitchen
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 large bell pepper, seeded and sliced (I use half a green and half a red)
  • 12 flour tortillas
  • Toppings such as cheese, sour cream, and guacamole – if desired
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken strips in a greased 13×9 baking dish.
  2. In a small bowl combine the oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, dried oregano, and salt
  3. Drizzle the spice mixture over the chicken and stir to coat.
  4. Next add the tomatoes, peppers, and onions to the dish and stir to combine.
  5. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Serve on tortillas with desired toppings.
** NOTE:  Freeze before baking.  Place chicken in bag, mix remaining ingredients (except tortillas and toppings) in bowl then add to bag, squeeze bag to mix.  Just thaw in fridge and continue with baking instructions.  My picky eaters won't like this, but I sure will!  :)

Three bags of hotdogs
Ok, so this isn't anything impressive, but I did get a 24-count package of bun-length hot dogs and separated it out in to three 8-count bags (since buns come in 8 packs).  Just something quick to throw on the grill when we're in a hurry.

Nothing fancy or time consuming here.  But it will all come in handy during the busy weeks/months ahead!  If you are on pinterest and do a search for "freezer meals", you will find LOTS of recipes and ideas.  Or even search the internet for "once a month cooking" or "OAMC".  Some bloggers are even nice enough to create a shopping list for you.  I guess I'm not that nice!  (Actually I am, but it's 10:30 pm and time for bed.  So sorry, LOL!)

I hope I've inspired you in some way.
  Let me know what meals you like to make ahead.  I'm sure I'll be looking for more ideas!

Until next time...

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