Every once in a while, I get a wild hair. Sometimes it’s positive; sometimes it’s just crazy. An example of “crazy,” is the tradition that each time my husband goes on a business trip, I feel the need to paint a wall in the house.
Lately I’ve had a wild hair that benefits my entire family. This week I began stocking our freezer with meals. Having a stocked freezer keeps us from eating out or living on frozen pizza on those busy days.
Here are a few tips for preparing and storing freezer meals.
- Don’t prepare meals just for the freezer. Make a double-batch; freeze half and serve the other half for dinner that night. If you’re going to put in the work, you may as well enjoy some right away.
- Cool food completely before storing it.
- Store what you can in gallon-sized freezer zipper bags. This is the easiest way to conserve space without tying up your pans. I also suggest double-bagging.
- If you can’t store meals in in a freezer bag, store them in disposable, foil pans. This keeps your everyday pans out of the freezer.
- After storing the meal in a freezer bag, put in on a cookie sheet before putting it in the freezer. This ensures it freezes flat. Once the meal is frozen, remove it from the pan and stack it with your other meals.
- To defrost meals, put them back on a cookie sheet in the fridge. I’ve had way too many bags leak.
- Label all meals with name of meal, date prepared and any baking instructions.
Try out these freezer meals! All these are doubled and feed a family of 4-6 twice. Like I said, I freeze half and use half to feed my family that night.
Potato and Ham Casserole
- 2 cans cream-of-chicken soup (I use fat-free, but use whatever you like)
- 6 oz sour cream
- 3 green onions
- 20 (ish) ounces frozen, diced hash brown potatoes
- 1 turkey ham, cubed
- 12-16 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large bowl, stir together soup and sour cream. Add green onions and mix.
- Stir in potatoes, ham, half the cheese, salt and pepper
- Spread into two 9×13 pans and top with remaining cheese.
- Cover one pan with plastic and foil and label with meal name, date and cooking instructions.
- To serve, thaw and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 lbs stew beef
- 1 T Essense of Emiril seasoning (or whatever all-purpose seasoning you like)
- 1/2 C flour
- 28 ounces beef broth
- 1/2 C orange juice
- 4-5 baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 8 ounces baby carrots
- 28 ounces diced tomatoes
- 4 -5 dashes worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and brown slightly. Add meat and continue to brown.
- Stir in flour and seasoning.
- Stir in beef broth and orange juice and mix well.
- Add potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.
- Let simmer over medium-low heat for two hours.
- Let half cool and freeze in a gallon-size freezer bag.
- To serve, thaw and heat in a sauce pot or a slow cooker (low for 4 hours)
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
- 2 20-ounce cans pineapple tidbits
- 1/4 C brown sugar
- 1/4 C cornstartch
- 1/2 C apple cider vinegar
- 3 T soy sauce
- 1/4 C orange juice
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth
- 1 green, 1 yellow, 1 orange, 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 red onion, diced
- 32 ounces meatballs
- Drain pineapple. Add the juice to a large sauce pan and set the pineapple tidbits aside for later.
- Add apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, chicken broth and orange juice to pineapple juice.
- With a whisk, combine brown sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk into liquid.
- Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick and bubbly. Let half cool.
- In a freezer bag; add half the meatballs, peppers, pineapple an onions. Top with half the cooled syrup and store in freezer.
- To serve, thaw and cook in a slow cooker on low for four hours
- To eat immediately, combine remaining meatballs, peppers, pineapple and onions in a slow cooker. Top with syrup and mix. Cook on low for four hours.