Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Don't laugh at me, but how do you do freezer meals?

So, I have the buying meat in bulk, separating it, and freezing it for several different meals.
That is a big accomplishment for me, and I feel so domesticated when I do it.
Don't laugh, that is the rule!

I am ready to venture into the world of preparing freezer meals, and of course enjoying them at a later time.
I love the idea of setting it out to defrost in the morning...
and then getting my bake on in the evening.

What are your suggestions?
What meals do you like to freeze?
What containers do you use?
I just need some guidance!


Stacey said...

I am not laughing!! Great questions! I haven't done a ton of freezer meals but here's what I have done.

When I have a recipe that freezes well (such as cranberry chicken..yum...need to make it and post it!) I will put all of the ingredients plus the RAW still frozen chicken into a gallon size freezer bag. Then I freeze the bags flat(they stck nicely this way). (...on a cutting board or something that I will take out of the freezer once the meal is frozen.) I write the name of the meal and cooking directions on the freezer bag with a sharpie. Then I take it out and put it in teh frige the night before I am going to cook it so it has 24 hours to defrost and marinate the chicken. Then I dump into a casserole and bake it.

I use the bags because Idon;t want to take up a lot of space with containers in the freezer, they are cheap and you can write on them.

Another idea is to make a double batch of a soup or chili or something your family loves and freeze half of it in a bag. You can just defrost and reheat it (or dump into the crock pot in the morning.)

You could easily make a double batch of your salisbury steaks (probably freeze separated by waxed paper before cooking in one bag), a double batch of mashed potatoes (squished into another bag flat) and a smaller bag with gravy. Then put it all into another gallon bag with the directions. (Just thinking out loud!!)

I hope this helps a little!

The Bell Family said...

I've never been much of a maker and freezer, but I have prepped chopped chicken breasts and then placed them in baggies to use for things like soups, casseroles, etc. That is handy! Taco meat also freezes well like that. I will often make a double batch of spaghetti sauce and freeze that for later use. So I guess I am more of an ingredient freezer rather than and entire meal freezer, if that makes any sense. :)

Sarah said...

I buy meat in bulk also. It saves money and trips to the grocery store. When I make stuffed shells, it usually makes enough for 3 different meals. I freeze them in what I will cook them in so there is no transfer, just thaw and bake. I also will brown hamburger and freeze it for later. If you bake a chicken, put the broth in a container and freeze for the next time you make chicken and noodles. I have read where some people will take one weekend and make and freeze the majority of their meals for certain time period. It seems to be a great idea, but I rarely have the time to do more than a couple meals at a time. You can also make a batch of cookie dough, roll in a log, wrap and freeze. The next time you or the boys want cookies, it is slice and bake time.

Stacy said...

I knew I could count on your girls for some great suggestions! I am just trying to be more efficient and organized, especially since I am trying to cook healthier and more often.

Thank you all so much!

michelle hendrix-swords said...

meatloaf ~ you can buy the aluminum pans (mini ones work great and reheat faster), cook it off (except for the last half hour) and let it cool before wrapping it in foil and putting it in a freezer bag to store. you can add the ketchup on top just like you normally would when you thaw it out and reheat it.

burritos ~ again you would wrap in foil, then place in a freezer bag. you can microwave them if you are short on time (just take the foil off first or don't use foil initially when you freeze them).

soup ~ there are a lot of soups that you can make ahead and freeze in containers. you can either let a soup thaw in the fridge before reheating or just use the crockpot to reheat frozen soup.

hope these ideas help.

Michelle @ Favorite Freezer Foods said...

Hi Stacy,

You can freeze just about anything that isn't too high in water content (think lettuce, raw tomato, cucumber). Pastas will soften, dairy might separate and most vegetables need to be blanched first.

I like to double or triple meals and freeze them. Meatballs are on of my favorites, breakfast and dinner (Mexican) burritos, french toast is great and 'dump' chicken, beef or pork- like Stacey was describing. Soups, desserts and many veggie sides do well too. Oh and we can't forget homemade frozen pizza.

I use a scoop for my mashed potatoes and freeze them on a cookie sheet then store them in a freezer bag that way I can pull out as many or as few as I want.

Precooked ground beef and chicken, as suggested, are huge time savers.

Generally I use freezer bags, they are cheap, efficient, fit just about everything and are easy to use. Occasionally I use plastic food wrap as an inner layer and tin foil as an outer layer, but plastic wrap isn't freezer quality and tin foil can tear too easily plus it reacts to acid things like tomato sauce.

If you do meatloaf either freeze it raw or fully cooked (same with any meat). Because freezing doesn't kill bacteria, it just stops it from multiplying until the food thaws. Thus you need to fully cook your meats to be safe.

Anything else you want to know about freezer cooking?


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