So below I have listed out my favorite freezer meals and a number of freezer cooking tips that I have learned along the way. I hope you enjoy this list and find the information helpful in not only saving you time in the kitchen but in organizing your overall meal prep process.
Spaghetti and/or Spaghetti Sauce
The part of spaghetti that takes the longest time is making the meat sauce, so you could always make a large batch of it the next time you make spaghetti using what you need that night and then freezing the sauce and/or spaghetti mixed with the sauce. You could even make baked spaghetti which is where you would layer sauce, cheese and noodles OR layer the mixed sauce and noodles with cheese and freeze. Test it out and see which you like best.
Lasagna and/or Lasagna Sauce
As with the spaghetti, sometimes by the time I get to the end of the process I run out of cheese or another ingredient, so instead of freaking out about it, I just take the sauce and freeze it in a ziplock bag. I flash freeze it flat and then once it is frozen we stand it in the freezer. This is great over different types of pasta noodles.
Of course, as mentioned earlier, you can build your lasagna’s in small aluminum or freezer/oven safe containers and freeze them instead of cooking them. This is equivalent to those freezer meals you see in the grocery store.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
This soup is one of the first soups I ever made for my husband. It can be made with all canned goods and frozen vegetables and boneless skinless chicken. I just put it all in the crockpot and let it cook. Once complete I split it into freezer safe containers the same as I do the other soups and call it a day. Make sure to check out Exploring the Pinterest Kitchen: Chicken Tortilla Soup (Pollo Con Tortilla Sopa) to get the recipe that I use and how I adapted it.
The most important and time-consuming part of this soup is making sure to brown the meat. Also prepping the veggies a day or so before is helpful too.
Sicilian Chicken Soup
This soup I actually prep at the same time as the beef soup because they use all the same veggies. Again, the beauty of this one is to prep the veggies a day or so before.
Macaroni and Cheese
This one I recently tested because we had a ton of macaroni left over after Thanksgiving. Let me say this is absolutely fantastic! I love macaroni and cheese and so does my daughter so to know that I can prep a large supply and freeze it is totally fantastic.
I would recommend freezing these in small portion sizes and not in a gallon size bag (unless that is your portion). This will ensure you only pull out what you need since you will need to warm it up all at once.
Also, I wouldn’t pack it too tight or your macaroni will be squished. The one tip I can give you here is to put your bag in a bowl or glass and flip your ziplock bag top down over the sides so as you fill it you don’t get the food on the outside of the bag. [enter bag holder here] I have recently discovered bag holders, so we will see how they work once I receive mine.
Freezing Bread (Both store-bought and homemade)
I absolutely love freezing bread because it keeps us from wasting it. We like different types of bread and there is no way to eat them all. So, we regularly put hamburger buns, sourdough, muffins homemade biscuits and rolls in the freezer. The only bread we don’t freeze as often anymore is white bread, and that’s because we eat it too fast.
My mom likes to wrap her buns in saran wrap and then put them all in the same ziplock bag. My husband and I just put the bag in the freezer. The beauty of my mom’s method is that they don’t freezer burn as fast and they don’t stick together. You decide based on the frequency of your use and your preference.
We chopped and froze items from our garden to preserve them, but you can do this with store bought vegetables too. Buy them when they are in season and/or on sale and then chop and place in a Ziplock bag. I would, however, recommend you measure each veggie prior to adding it to the bag. For example, if you are chopping up an entire thing of celery, chop one stock and measure it. Write that measurement on the bag so if a person is wondering how many cups one stock is they can easily figure it out.
If your recipes usually call for a specific amount I’d recommend freezing them that way to eliminate the guesswork. With veggies, you can choose to flash freeze them first before adding them to the freezer bag that will make the individual servings less necessary. If you don’t take this step first they will freeze together in the bag.
Now, who doesn’t like cake! Cut the leftover cake that you have into slices and wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Then you can either wrap them in aluminum foil or you can just add them to a Ziploc bag. When you are ready to eat it, take it out the freezer and let it get to room temperature.
Additional Freezer Cooking Tips
- Additionally, freezer cooking is a great way to use up ingredients that are nearing an expiration date or that you have too many of;
- Use the sale ads to help you determine what freezer meal you are going to make. If you are making dinner tonight, consider cooking double portions and freezing part of it;
- This is great to do with more than one person if you have the ability or you can do it alone, but I’d recommend not trying to do it all at the same time;
- Labeling is key to freezer cooking because you want to make sure you know what is in each package and also when it was put there. That way you don’t eat the newer stuff first;
- Cook things with common ingredients during your cooking sessions;
- Do some of the cooking ahead of time. One great thing that we oopsed upon is pre-cooking ground beef. This was great this past Christmas because I was cooking lasagna for our Christmas Eve dinner but was still wrapping gifts. My husband took on the task of cooking the ground beef and we put it in a ziplock bag and in the frig. This is great in general, but the next day I was able to just add the additional sauce ingredients and build the lasagnas;
- Flash freeze sauces flat. This allows them to stack better in the freezer.
- Buy/or DIY shredded cheese in bulk and freeze them separate use sizes.
- Buy meats in the family package and split it.
- Leftover pizza? Freeze it too.
These things will not only save you time but it will also save you money too.
I hope you found this information helpful. Do you know of any additional tricks that you have learned along the way? Please, by all means, share them! We are always building our freezer cooking skills and knowledge.