September 3, 2014

Freezer Mealapalooza 2014

Being a full-time mom, wife and dedicated employee is a full-time joy and stress! I want to have dinner ready for my family, but don't have time to spend hours in the kitchen. There's sports practices, school commitments, work events, church events and many other activities that pull us away from the dinner table.

But, there is tremendous value in sitting around the table as a family, sharing a meal and talking about our day before we are off and running to the next event. How can I have my cake and eat it too? I need to spend less time preparing the meals and more time actually enjoying them with my family - hence freezer meals.

Freezer meals are basically meals you would normally make for your family, but made in large quantities and stored in the freezer so you can just pull them out and pop them in the oven.

How do I get the meals done? This time, my husband took my girls to visit family and I cooked for the day. Next time, I might pare down the list, but I am so thankful to have a plethora of yummy meals ready in my freezer.

I over-engineer the process. I make a spreadsheet of recipes with web addresses and note if they are no cook, some cook or full cook. I then make a spreadsheet of ingredients so I know what I need for each ingredient to achieve all of the recipes. I also make a checklist for the day of to motivate me to keep on plugging away. Want the spreadsheet? Just ask!

Many of you have asked about my freezer meal recipes for the latest batch, so here they are with changes I made, the quantities I made and what I put in my freezer.

Here is my checklist:

What's in the freezer?
  • Chicken crescent bundles - 4 pans and 4 per pan
  • Lasagna roll-ups - 4 pans with 6 per pan
  • Taco soup - 4 bags
  • Teriyaki chicken - 3 bags
  • Stir fry veggies - 4 bags
  • Chicken stuffing casserole - 2 pans
  • Stromboli - 2 loaves
  • Pepperoni rigatoni casserole - 2 pans
  • Cilantro lime pesto - 2 bags
  • Honey lime tilapia - 2 bags with 2 fillets in each
  • Million dollar spaghetti - 2 pans
  • Enchiladas - 4 pans with 4-5 in each
  • Spaghetti sauce - 7 containers
  • Mashed potato cups - 13 cups
This is what it looks like before it goes into the deep freeze.



Chicken Crescent Bundles (double)
This is a family favorite and a great meal to have in the freezer when family or friends need a meal. I follow the recipe on this one and always double it, which makes four pans with four in each pan.

Lasagna Roll-Ups (double)
I love lasagna, but never seem to be able to finish a whole pan. Problem solved...these individual lasagna noodles allow you make them all at once, but only cook as many as you need. You can make these with just spinach and cheese or whatever your favorite lasagna ingredients are.

Taco Soup (double)
I modified this one slightly for our family's tastes. I removed the onion and used black beans. I rinse the black beans. I also use less water so it is less of a soup.

Teriyaki Chicken
I cut the chicken breasts into chunks and divided them into three separate bags (2 breasts per bag) so they are ready for stir fry nights.

Stir Fry Veggies
When I make veggies, I just buy whatever I want to throw in, blanch them and divide them among the bags. This time I used a head of broccoli and cauliflower, red pepper, yellow pepper, orange pepper and yellow squash. Use whatever works for your family.

Chicken Stuffing Casserole (double)
This one is a family favorite! Just prep and freeze. Cook when you need it.

Stromboli (double)
I doubled this. You can put whatever you want in it. I decided to follow the recipe this time.

Pepperoni Ziti Casserole
I used rigatoni for this because I already had it in the cabinet. You can use whatever works for you.

Cilantro Lime Pesto (double)
For this recipe, I just made the pesto. I'll add the chicken later, but I wanted the pesto ready to go. I also removed the almonds since I can't eat them.

Honey Lime Tilapia
I haven't tried this one yet, but I'm looking forward to trying out this tasty meal.

Million Dollar Spaghetti (double)
I made a few modifications to this one. I added more spaghetti (a box or so per recipe) and I used ricotta instead of cottage cheese - it's just a family preference

For this one, I used ground turkey instead of chicken, removed the onion and used ricotta instead of cottage cheese.

Mashed Potato Cups
When I make these, I put them in large muffin tins covered in cooking spray, pop them in the freezer and then after they are frozen, I wrap them individually so I can pull out just what I need when I need it. I don't like making mashed potatoes, so when I make them, I make a lot and just freeze them.

Spaghetti Sauce
This is just my mom's spaghetti sauce recipe that takes a few hours to simmer. I tripled the recipe and threw it in the pot to cook, let it cool and then divided it into smaller containers so I have just the right amount for pasta night.

Pictures along the way...
Chicken Crescent Bundles
Lasagna Roll-Ups
Taco Soup

Stir Fry Veggies

Chicken Teriyaki

Honey Lime Tilapia

Chicken Stuffing Casserole
Million Dollar Spaghetti
Pepperoni Rigatoni Casserole
Cilantro Lime Pesto 


Freezer Mashed Potato Cups
Spaghetti Sauce

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