Gaining Wisdom In The Area Of Food Storage

Well, I had my wisdom tooth removed Monday afternoon. FINGERS CROSSED that it was the final item on the not-very-long-but-nonetheless-annoying list of Strange Ailments that have been hanging around lately. The wisdom tooth thing went surprisingly well, though, and as worried as I was about the whole being-put-to-sleep factor, I have to say that it was a delightful option. My mouth is still a little sore, and the stitches still have to, you know, dissolve (EWWWW), but other than that I’m trying to mind the doctor’s orders (no straws! no carbonated drinks!) and take my medicine and eat soft-ish foods. More than anything, I just feel relieved that it’s done and will have time to heal before I leave for Ecuador. That is a very good thing indeed.

And speaking of Ecuador.

(TRANSITIONS!)

(THEY ARE HELPFUL!)

Mama and Daddy are going to be here to stay with my fellas while I’m gone, mainly to help with getting the little man to and from school – and to be around in the afternoons when he and his friends on our street (OH MY WORD I love the kids on our street) wield light sabers and chase each other and scream loudly just because they can. I told Mama last night that my plan is to have some meals frozen for them so that she doesn’t have to worry about cooking and so that D doesn’t have to pick up something every night on his way home from work, and she seemed to be decidedly in favor of that idea.

But here’s what I realized when I hung up the phone.

I don’t typically, you know, freeze things.

It’s not that I’m opposed to it. It’s just that I don’t have a deep freeze, and I don’t really make a lot of stuff in big quantities, and, um, I don’t really know what freezes well.

The whole not-knowing-what-freezes-well dilemma is problematic, as you might imagine.

My plan is to go to the store in a couple of days and get some freezer bags (is that what you use?) and then make some stuff and then put the stuff in the freezer bags and then put the freezer bags in the freezer. Or maybe I need some sort of sassy plastic containers. You may be picking up on the fact that this is all a little new to me.

Anyway, early this morning I was trying to work out the Freezing The Food plans in my head, and it dawned on me that there are probably some of y’all who are experts in this area. I love to cook and am so happy to make the food ahead of time for my people, but I want to make sure that 1) I make stuff that will actually be good after it’s been frozen and 2) I freeze everything the right way.

Do any of y’all have suggestions? Keep in mind that my daddy and my husband do not necessarily think of soup as a meal, so I need to make sure that HEARTY is the order of the day. And I don’t necessarily need one-dish meals, either; Mama won’t mind heating up peas or rolls or anything like that. I’d just like to, as much as I can, take care of the biggest part of the meal for her.

I’m totally making my grocery list based on your comments, by the way. So if you feel like you’re being too thorough or giving me too much information, YOU’RE NOT.

Thanks in advance, bloggy people!

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Comments

  1. Steel Magnolias comes to mind here — wish we had Annelle’s cookbook with it’s “Freezes Beautifully” section.

    You probably know this recipe already but every time I make it, I freeze half of it.

    Chicken Spectacular

    3 cups cooked chicken, chopped (I use a rotisserie chicken)
    1 package Uncle Ben’s Long Grain wild rice, cooked as directed
    1 can cream of celery soup
    1 medium onion, chopped
    1 medium jar pimentos, chopped (I don’t do this)
    1 can water chestnuts, sliced
    1 can french style green beans, drained
    1 cup mayonnaise
    Salt and pepper to taste.

    Mix ingredients together and pour into flat 3 pyrex dish. bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly. May freeze and bake later.

    • Oh MY WORD – this is the BEST casserole ever isn’t it?

    • I can’t quite wrap my head around the green beans in there – has anyone tried another veggie in it? Like zucchini or broccoli?

      • Beth, don’t be scared of the green beans. Embrace the green beans. :) Yummy. They don’t add a lot of flavor, but good texture. Make sure you get the french-style.

  2. Heather Crawley says:

    Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Spaghetti freezes well. Make the recipe, cook it in a disposable foil pan, cool it, cover with foil, and freeze. If you are going to freeze it for a long period (month of longer), I would put it in a freezer bag as well. But, if it is just for a week or two, the foil cover will take care of it.

    Tyler Florence also has a recipe for Sloppy Joes (made with turkey) that are awesome and freezes well.

    Other things that freeze well – chili, taco soup, chicken enchiladas.

  3. You should check out the website http://onceamonthmom.com/. Although the site is geared toward cooking once a month, there are a lot of 1 meal recipes there as well. Also one tip I have is if you are doing a meal that will go in the oven, put it in a foil pan, that way you can just pop it in the oven, without having to transfer to another dish.

  4. Make Pioneer Woman’s chicken spaghetti and freeze it in a 9×13 disposable pan. Freezes and reheats BEAUTIFULLY! : )

    • I was going to suggest the chicken spaghetti, too. I wanted to add that when I make it, there is actually enough to fill a 9×13 pan, plus another 8×8 dish. We have the larger one for dinner the night I make it, and I freeze the smaller dish for later.

  5. You could use freezer bags or just whatever tupperware containers you already have, depending on if they’re big enough. If you do want to do some one-dish meals, buy some of those disposable aluminum pans from the grocery store. That way, clean up is throwing away the empty pan. Chili is always good (to me) frozen, but one of my favorites is King Ranch Chicken:

    1 to 1-1/2 lbs., Cooked chicken, shredded or diced
    1 can (10 oz), Rotel
    1 can, 99% fat free cream of mushroom soup
    1 can (15 oz), black beans
    1 can (15 oz), corn, drained
    1 pkg., Chicken taco seasoning
    8-10 corn tortillas, cut into 1 inch pieces
    8 oz., Grated regular or reduced-fat cheddar cheese
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 13 x 9 casserole with Pam, then line with tortillas. Combine chicken, Rotel, soup, beans, corn, and taco seasoning in a bowl and microwave until hot to cut cooking time in half. Pour into casserole dish, top with cheese, and bake 45-60 minutes until casserole is bubbly on top and heated through.

  6. Chili does freeze really well. (just cook as usual, cool, then pop into whatever container is available — if it’s only going to be in the freezer for a few days, it really doesn’t matter, it’s long term you have to be careful). This would be great thawed, heated and served as Frito Chili Pie.

    I always like to cook/brown meat in advance – like ground beef, chopped chicken breasts, ham, etc – and freeze it in ziplocs. Makes mealtimes a breeze. For me if the meat is already prepared it’s just a simple matter of knowing what to add it to. We have 9 in our crew so simple is the key. :)

    • Love this idea. There usually just 1 or 2 at my house for meals, but this would be such a time saver! And would keep me from ordering in. Love it!

  7. Taco Soup–from Alabama’s own Christy Jordan of Southern Plate: http://www.southernplate.com/2008/09/worlds-easiest-supper-taco-soup.html
    and Chicken Tortilla Casserole (Can also use ground beef.): http://www.southernplate.com/2008/09/worlds-easiest-supper-taco-soup.html

    I’m assuming your family enjoys Tex-Mex as much as you (and I) do. :) Happy Freezing!

  8. JulieinMI says:

    Make some meatballs, and/or meatloaf, chili, spaghetti sauce, taco meat

  9. Seussgirl says:

    Pasta dishes in foil pans freeze well. Also, raw meats in marinades freeze well in Ziploc bags (the one time I insist on a name brand, preferably the ones with the slider so you know it’s closed! And double-bagged so it doesn’t leak when thawing.) These work especially well for crockpot meals. But you can also use it for baked chicken recipes. A written meal plan might be best. Which bags to take out when and then what vegetables and/or sides to serve with it. I hope you get some great recipes!

  10. Homemade spaghetti sauce, taco meat for tacos and/or taco salads, pulled pork for BBQ sandwiches, twice baked potatoes, homemade mac & cheese, grilled burgers and chicken spaghetti all freeze very well.

  11. Beans for red beans and rice freezes well. Just have your mom cook the rice for them, heat some rolls or make cornbread.

  12. You can make enchiladas and freeze them…I think it works best if you leave off the sauce on top when freezing and put that on when you’re ready to stick them in the oven so they don’t get so soggy. Just prepare them as usual and place in baking dish, then cover and freeze. You could also bake meatloaf or something like that as usual, then freeze. You could make mashed potatoes and freeze. I’m getting hungry.

  13. Poppyseed Chicken, then your Mom can cook rice to serve it over. Easy! Just google search the recipe, chicken, soups, sour cream etc.

  14. From one who speaks with experience: if you eat ravioli at Olive Garden and the pasta sticks to the wisdom tooth socket, when you pull it off the suction will remove the blood clot and create a dry socket. I was lucky enough to have four dry sockets last year. Not all from the ravioli vacuum.

    I inherited a wonderful taco meat recipe from my husband: 2 lbs ground beef, 1 can refried beans, 1 C water, 1 pkg taco seasoning. Brown the meat; stir in beans, water and seasoning. Let simmer for about 15 minutes. This makes an incredible amount of taco filling. I spray muffin tins with Pam and scoop the meat into it. Then I freeze. Once frozen, I through these into a Ziploc bag and place back into the freezer. Dinner is as simple as warming a few of these in the microwave and prepping toppings. We use it for tacos, burritos and nachos.

    I also freeze mac & cheese in muffin tins and throw into a Ziploc bag. Reheating is super easy. Cook up some chicken tenders, and it’s a meal!

  15. We love this one and I freeze and then reheat any leftovers: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2011/01/slow-cooked-sweet-barbacoa-pork.html

    I also regularly freeze chili, stuffed pasta shells in sauce, stuffed green peppers, spaghetti sauce, burrito fillers, and soups.

    I try to avoid freezing anything with potatoes since they don’t seem to reheat well.

  16. Chili and cornbread jumped immediately to mind. A word of caution: potatoes do NOT freeze well. Any kind of rice / chicken casserole will generally do well in the freezer. Pasta freezes pretty well too. ENJOY your trip!

  17. Amy in Italy says:

    When I make lasagna I always, always bake 2 and freeze one. Same goes for meatloaf. They both re-heat very well.

    • These were two of my suggestions. I freeze both of them before they’ve been cooked.

      Also, if you have a favorite marinade for chicken breasts, you can throw the marinade and chicken together in a bag in the freezer, and as it thaws, it does the marinating.

      Chicken pot pie freezes well too.

  18. Leanne from Canada says:

    Lasagne/spaghetti as already mentioned….balsamic honey pork tenderloin(google the recipe….you can let it marinade as it freezes and then again as it thaws)…chili is great (serve it with baked potatoes/sour crea/grated cheese for a more hearty meal). I could come up with more but I must go and wake the teenagers for school!!

  19. Kimberly/OKC says:

    I am very concerned about you not having a deep freeze…how long will you be gone? I think you better lay in some restaurant gift cards and pizza coupons too. Also, deli meat freezes well for Saturday lunches but the trick to keeping things frozen right is freezer paper. Wrap things really well!!

  20. My first thought was also Annelle and her “freezes beautifully” cookbook. For me it would be Domino’s because not only do I not cook that well, no one would want to freeze anything that I DID cook for future generations!

  21. Kimberly/OKC says:

    Also have you checked out the frozen foods from Sam’s Wholesale…alot of it is D- to the Licious!!

    • JulieinMI says:

      Sam’s Enchillada’s are the bomb!

    • Yes, Sam’s is a great place for just such a situation. They have several frozen and/or refrigerated entrees to choose from, and I really enjoy the variety of oven-ready meat options such as marinated chicken, fish, etc. Then all you’ve got to do is buy up some grain, rice, potato, and veggie sides that your mom can whip up, and you’re in business!
      Also, I agree that freezing chili for chili pies, burritos, etc. is a super choice as is refrigerated ravioli with store-bought french bread. Don’t forget to buy the pasta sauce.

  22. This recipe freezes well and is yummy too.

    Baked Pesto Ravioli with Chicken
    2 pounds cheese filled frozen ravioli (also can use tortellini)
    1 pound cooked chicken cut into bite size pieces
    2/3 cup chicken broth
    2 cups zucchini cut into rounds
    1/2 red bell pepper chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
    1/2 chopped scallions
    1/2 cup store bought basil pesto sauce
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    1 cup Parmesan cheese

    Combine the chicken, chicken broth, zucchini, bell pepper, scallions, pesto, salt, pepper, and cheese in a large bowl. Mix to combine. Add in the frozen ravioli. Mix.
    This recipe makes 2 large portions so you can divide however you want. I usually put some in a greased 8X8 pan for dinner tonight (for 3 people) and then split the rest up in ziploc bags and freeze them for later.

    Bake covered at 350 degrees for about an 1 hour. If frozen, thaw completely in refrigerator the day before

  23. Check out onceamonthmom.com. All freezer recipes!

  24. Happy geek says:

    I am too lazy thread all your comments, so please forgive me if I duplicate.
    Plus I am in shock that someone can survive without a deep freeze. You totally should have your own survival show.
    Says she with ten meals in her deep freeze just in case.
    You could throw a pork tenderloin or two into the marinade in a freezer bag and chuck it in the freezer. Momma just has to pull it out, thaw it and throw it in the oven as per usual. (you can do this with any kind of meat.)
    IF you need to save space, when I am making a casserole to freeze I line the dish with tin foil, leaving it hanging over the edge. Put the casserole in over the foil. Freeze the whole thing. One it’s solid, pull the frozen food out of the pan, (lift with the foil) and then place in a freezer bag. To re-heat, stick the foil and casserole back in the same pan and stick in the oven. Bonus, no dishes will be dirtied in the making of that supper. Plus, it stacks better in your freezer
    If you have a favorite crockpot recipe, you can assemble it all in a freezer bag and freeze it, then momma just has to let it thaw for a half hour or so and then put the whole frozen mess into the crockpot and cook for 8 hours or so on low.
    Someof the thins in my freezer right now:
    Frozen cooked meatballs ( just reheat)
    Lasagna
    Tuna casserole
    Crockpot BBQ chicken and veggies
    Chicken Divan
    Chili
    Taco salad meat
    Meaty spaghetti sauce
    Happy freezing!
    .

  25. Three cheers for disposable aluminum pans! Cook it, freeze it, reheat it, THROW IT. I apologize, Green People. It’s not my usual practice. It’s for special occasions like feeding your family while you’re in another country (or delivering food to new baby mamas). Fits in the freezer better than glass pans, too.

    I’ve done up a pan of enchiladas and frozen them before cooking (I mean, the meat is all cooked, you’re just heating everything til it melts anyway). They turned out great. Those I actually did freeze in my glass pan, but it certainly could have been aluminum. I just threw them in the fridge to thaw the night before. Threw cheese on top, and put them in the oven. But I have a blessing/curse of a giant deep freeze in my garage that came with the house.

    Say – do you have a friend with deep freeze to spare? Maybe they could store a few pans for you til halfway through your trip? I mean, I’ve got mine about 25% full, and I’ll bet I’m not the only one. Ask around! I’d totally let you put a load of pans in mine, except I don’t think your fam wants to come to Wisconsin to pick them up.

  26. My cousin’s wife is really good about freezing ahead meals…she has a blog that she has listed meals that she has had good luck freezing….

    http://megsfavrecipes.blogspot.com/2009/10/stocking-freezer.html

    Hope this helps! :)

  27. I’ve been so uninspired in the cooking department so yay for recipes!

  28. Lasagna, already cooked, even already sliced, freezes well. In a real/disposable casserole dish. Also, chicken pot pie, not already cooked, freezes well. Good luck!

  29. Wild Granma says:

    I freeze all the time! You can use freezer bags but I think it is easier to put them in plastic containers. What may be easier for your mom is to freeze the dinners in containers that can go into the oven…cassarole dishes for example, or aluminum throw away pans. she will have less to wash up too, cuz we all know you should NOT heat food in plastic containers in the microwave. (don’t make me come down there and explain it to ya! you’ll roll your eyes and go “geezes!”) anyway, most everything freezes well EXCEPT potatoes, they seem to be mushy when thawed, fried stuff (chicken fried steak, fried chicken) doesn’t “re-crisp” after thawing even when reheated in the oven, salad type stuff.

    It seems to help sometimes when reheating to add a bit of water, or milk (depending on the meal). Chili and spaghetti type meals seem to thicken.

    Things I’ve frozen: PW’s Chicken Spaghetti, Mac’N Cheese (milk helps with the reheat on these), chili, brisket, pulled pork, PW’s Penne Alla Betsy, Lasagna, you can grill up a bunch of meat, chicken, hamburgers, pork chops(these can go in baggies) and then your mom can do baked potatoes and veggies, meatloaf, tuna casserole, steak soup (i can send you the recipe for this if you would like…yuummm!), chicken pot pie. almost anything i cook, i freeze up single servings and take to my sister to help stretch her disability income. She’s never had a problem and everything has been good (or so she says)

    I hope this helps! Enjoy your trip
    la

  30. One of my favorite freezer recipes is my mama’s Cheesy Broccoli & Rice with Ham Casserole. Don’t let the broccoli part scare you it’s so covered in cheese, cream soup, and rice that it’s barely noticeable except for the pretty green splash of color. :) So, so good.
    Here’s the recipe:
    10 oz frozen chopped broccoli
    2 c. instant white rice
    8 oz Cheez Whiz (good luck trying to find an 8 oz jar anymore so get the 16 oz jar and don’t be afraid to add a little extra into the casserole, a little extra Cheez Whiz does a body good)
    2 cans cream of chicken soup
    1 t. Worcestershire sauce
    1/2 c. chopped onion or if your people are like my people, onion powder or minced onion to taste
    4 T. butter
    1/2 c. milk
    4 c. diced ham
    Directions: It’s pretty complicated so prepare yourself. Ready? Mix everything together in a huge bowl, you don’t even have to cook the rice first! Spread into a 9×13 pan. Unfrozen, bake at 350 for 1 hr, if frozen 400 for 1 1/2 hour. Enjoy!

  31. Scarlett Hackett says:

    Lasagna and Chicken Pot Pie are always yummy and freeze great! My mom normally freezes spaghetti sauce or taco meat. Good Luck!

  32. Food. My heart… it is happy. :-)
    (Side note: I recently took a “skills and abilities” test and I scored ridiculously high in “feeding.” If that isn’t awesome, I don’t know what is.)
    Most food freezes pretty well. The only thing you have to watch out for is to see if it’s the type of food that would get soggy and gross after thawing (aka don’t freeze pasta salad…). I have a tiny freezer, but I manage to freeze a lot of food. I’m going to include some links to my blog because they are all things I’ve cooked and frozen before, so I’m not trying to spam you, I promise!

    Rolls freeze great in plastic freezer bags, though I would recommend thawing them in a toaster oven or the oven and NOT the microwave (they get chewy and hard in the microwave). These freeze really well: bonjourhan.com/2011/02/05/potato-bread-with-herbs/

    My husband also does not subscribe to the theory of soup as a full meal, so what I do sometimes is cook a plain roast in the crock pot with some Dr. Pepper (I’m Texan… but TRY IT IT’S SO GOOD), and then he can have soup and tear off a piece of the roast to go with it. You can freeze individual servings of roast in plastic bags. My mom has an awesome lentil soup recipe, and even people who “hate lentils” love it. It’s not on my blog yet, but shoot me an email if you want the recipe. Actually, I have several soup recipes that aren’t on my blog yet (oops…).

    Mexican casserole is a crowd-pleaser and freezes GREAT (again… not on my blog yet, but shoot me an email if you want it). Enchiladas freeze well too: http://bonjourhan.com/2010/12/09/super-easy-enchiladas-under-8/

    This salmon cheddar bake freezes well too, and with something shaped this weird, I would just leave it in the pan, cover it with saran wrap and tinfoil, and just put it in the freezer like that. http://bonjourhan.com/2010/12/09/salmon-cheddar-bake/

    Another side note: When you reheat pasta or rice, add a couple tablespoons of water so it doesn’t dry out! I hope that helps!

  33. practically all meals on kellyskornerrecipes! you can prep them, then freeze in actual or disposable 9 x 13s so all your mama has to do is pop them in the oven to bake! chicken & soup-based casseroles are the ultimate freezer meals.

    PW’s lasagna (or just make the sauce, freeze in plastic bags or tupperware & serve as spaghetti)

    put chicken (or beef!), salsa, onions & peppers & some taco seasoning in the crock pot all day. shred, transfer to bags or tupperware & freeze. your mom can do tacos/burritos/taco salads/nachos and only have to prep the lettuce, tomato, cheese, & shells.

    meatballs freeze like a dream- PW has a great recipe, & there are tons of variations on the usual- ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, seasonings… great on top of spaghetti, with marinara & mozzarella in sandwiches, or alone with mashed potatoes & a veggie.

    freeze formed but not cooked hamburger patties, breaded not-yet-fried chicken, a prepared but not cooked breakfast casserole, mix the dry ingredients for pancakes and refrigerate so all your mom has to do is add egg & milk. just tape notes to the top of lids or onto a ziploc to provide cooking instructions and you’re good to go!

  34. Thanks for asking! I’m getting lots of good ideas, too.

    I’m not sure I have any new suggestions. Lasagna, homemade spaghetti sauce and taco meat are usually my stand-bys. I’m sure your family will be thankful for whatever you leave for them. And the restaurant gift cards aren’t a bad idea either. :)

    Can’t wait to hear all about your trip!

  35. I’ll add one…I make quiche (usually ham, broccoli and cheese) times 5 and freeze in 5 separate gallon ziploc bags. I write the baking directions on the bag…The recipe I use makes two pie crusts full of quiche and everybody in my fam will eat it…even if it is “quiche.”

  36. I cannot recommend the Rubbermaid Glass containers strongly enough, they are great!
    http://www.rubbermaid.com/category/pages/ProductDetail.aspx?Prod_ID=RP091945

    First, they’re not plastic so you don’t have to worry about BPA and other toxins. Second, you can just throw them right in the microwave or oven to reheat things. Third, they stack really well so you can use your space efficiently. I love them!

    I freeze pretty much everything (no kids, so lots of leftovers). You can freeze pancake batter for breakfast, stews, soups, and chili all typically freeze really well, and most casseroles freeze easily. I love a good cabbage soup as a way to get lots of veggies in a frozen meal. Then maybe a chicken and broccoli casserole as a main, and a nice chili with lots of beans, veggies, and meat as a lunch and/or dinner!

  37. Oh yeah, I also second the quiche recommendations! And chicken pot pie (I love Paula Deen’s recipe, but usually add more veggies).

  38. The Pioneer Woman’s lasagna freezes well either whole or in individual servings. For individual servings after baking cool it in the fridge, cut it into individual pieces, freeze it on cookie sheets wrapped with cling wrap overnight, then put in freezer bags for storage. You can pull out the number of servings you need and microwave them just like the frozen ones you get at the store, but SO much better.

  39. I make these chicken nuggets to freeze all the time. I freeze them on a baking sheet before I bake them and then once they are frozen, I put them in a freezer bag. (This keeps them from getting stuck together and then I can just pull out what I need.) No need to thaw them, just check to make sure they are cooked all the way through.

    Baked chicken nuggets
    Ingredients
    3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
    1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon dried thyme
    1 tablespoon dried basil
    1/2 cup butter, melted

    Directions
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
    Cut chicken breasts into 1 1/2-inch sized pieces. In a medium bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, cheese, salt, thyme and basil. Mix well. Put melted butter in a bowl or dish for dipping.
    Dip chicken pieces into the melted butter first, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Place the well-coated chicken pieces on a lightly greased cookie sheet in a single layer, and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

    This Cranberry Chicken also freezes well. I make it in a disposable aluminum pan and freeze it before baking it. Pull it out to thaw the night before and bake it.

    Cranberry Chicken
    4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    12 oz bottle of creamy French salad dressing
    1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
    1 package onion soup mix
    Place chicken breasts in a 9×11 pan and cover with other 3 ingredients. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour. Serve over rice.

    The disposable aluminum pans are great and you can even wash them and reuse them.

  40. Terrie Cash says:

    Boo Mama,

    Thanks for asking for all this information. I feel as if I have found a pot of gold here. I am getting ready to leave for India on a trip with a small team. My family is made up of my husband, 20 year old son, and 17 year old daughter. The one thing I worry about is what will they eat while I am gone. They know how to use an oven and microwave, but are clueless on how to go from raw food to cook food. Thank you for asking the difficult questions and like you, I have never made food to freeze later.

  41. Most pasta-based casseroles and dishes freeze pretty well. Lasagna is especially good – all you need to do is cover it with foil and saran wrap and you’re good to go. Chicken spaghetti and King Ranch Chicken do well.

  42. Kaitlin L says:

    Before she had Hollis, Kelly posted on freezer meals, as well. I went through a lot of the comments and found some great ideas and recipes. By the time our little one arrived 5 weeks later, we had 25 meals, pancakes, breads and muffins frozen – I was so sad when we used that last meal! Our favorites were lasagna/baked ziti, quiche, chicken spaghetti, chili, taco meat, and shepherd’s pie (none of which were particularly healthy). I also recommend foil pans (they’re cheaper at dollar stores than the grocery store) covered in foil. I even washed a few out, if they weren’t very messy, and used them again! http://www.kellyskornerblog.com/2011/01/warm-days-frozen-meals-and-fun-event.html

  43. In my experience potatoes are the only thing that really don’t freeze well. Happy cooking!

  44. My friend and I have a recipe blog that we share, and I recently made some smashed meatball sandwiches that were SO GOOD. My children gobbled them up without complaint, and my husband requested that they be made again. We have a whole section of the blog with stuff that freezes well, but here’s the meatball sandwich recipe:

    http://threemorebites.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/smashed-meatball-sandwiches/

  45. Sallie Belle Howell says:

    I have a set of 9 x 13 glass pans that get used frequently for freezing. I put a pork tenderloin with it’s seasonings (I do this myself…less salt added) in a freezer bag. I thaw then add to my 9 x 13 and cook for about an hour. Slice and serve with veggies. Or in Sister Shubert rolls as sammies :)

    A crock pot roast is good. This can freeze with seasonings added in a ziplock then thaw to drop in crock pot.

    These meats can be seasoned on day you buy and add to freezer.

    There are tons of recipes in my cookbook, if you need a few more.

  46. Just a tip…when using baggies to freeze, lay them flat (we lay a towel on the shelf of our freezer so they dont freeze around the rungs!) so that they are easily stackable or you can stand them up later like books. When you just stand the bag in the freezer, it’s took bulky on the bottom and hard to store a lot. I dont freeze much, but when I was sick once, my mom made a bunch of meals and left them for me. They are also easy to throw in a sink full of water (room temp) to thaw in a hurry!

    Swedish meatballs freezes well and then all she has to make are mashed potatoes!

  47. http://www.savingdinner.com has freezer meal e-books for making your own “dinner assembly” type meals (i.e. Dream Dinners, Switchin Kitchens, etc). They won’t be all casseroles and will be pretty healthy. They even have a bundle sale and freezer contest going on right now (and I don’t get points for saying this!!!). Blessings!

  48. I made several freezer meals for my parents when my Dad was sick. They seemed to love them. Here’s a few recipe links:
    http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2011/01/pineapple-salsa-chicken-slow-cooker.html

    Sweet and Sour Meatballs: http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2009/02/sweet-and-sour-meatballs.html
    This was a really good website for freezing tips:
    http://annies-eats.net/2011/03/28/stocking-the-freezer-make-ahead-meals/

  49. A good make a head dish for my family is spaghetti. What I do is make a HUGE pot of sauce (enough for a few meals), a big pot of noodles (sometimes a few different types of noodles), and then I use either the disposable aluminum pans or a glass casserole dish. Make sure to let everything cool completely before assembling. Combine some sauce and some noodles, fill the dish. Put a generous layer of shredded cheese on top. Cover with wax paper (so the cheese doesn’t stick to the foil) and then cover with foil. Freeze. When it’s time to cook your mom can remove from freezer the night before to thaw some in the fridge. Bake in oven on 350 for an hour or hour and a half (just so it heats through and melts the cheese). Serve with garlic bread and a salad for a complete meal.

  50. Whoa, my dear BooMama, I had no idea that when I came for a quick visit to read your fun post for the day that I would be so overwhelmed with such great info.
    Seeing that I have never frozen one of my meals before, I have a close relationship with the Sam’s Club freezer section. Our family fave right now is the MichaelAngelo’s Lasagna. Happy Cooking!

  51. Laura Beth says:

    Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole with Almonds
    5 T. flour
    1 T. salt
    1/4 c. melted butter
    2 c. chopped up chicken (a rotisserie works really well)
    2-1/2 c. milk
    1-1/3 c. minute rice
    1-1/2 c. chicken broth
    1/2 cup grated white American cheese
    sliced toasted almonds
    —-
    Melt butter and stir in flour and half of salt. Stir in milk & cook until thick. Pour rice into 2-qt. baking dish. Combine broth & remaining salt and pour over rice. Sprinkle half of cheese over rice, add chicken. Pour milk sauce over this. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and top with almonds.
    Bake at 375* for 25-30 minutes uncovered until the top is slightly browned and mixture bubbles at the sides. If frozen, bake at 375* for 50-60 minutes.
    —-
    This recipe also works really well with leftover Thanksgiving turkey instead of chicken. :)

  52. I primarily use heavy-duty zip-top plastic bags to store food because once frozen, said frozen items will stack neatly in my freezer.:) It can be hard to get soup into a freezer bag if you don’t have four hands. My solution is to place a plastic bag in a large glass measuring cup and then scoop the soup into it; the measuring cup keeps the bag from collapsing in on itself. Following are some of my favorite freezer-friendly dishes (hearty soups figure heavily into the list because they freeze so well).
    • Chicken Pot Pie: http://letseattonight.blogspot.com/2009/02/chicken-pot-pie-version-2.html
    • Chicken Chili: http://letseattonight.blogspot.com/2010/11/chicken-chili.html
    • Weeknight Burgundy Beef Stew: http://letseattonight.blogspot.com/2010/12/weeknight-burgundy-beef-stew.html
    • Sausage-and-Spinach Manicotti: http://letseattonight.blogspot.com/2011/01/sausage-and-spinach-manicotti.html
    • Black Bean Soup: http://letseattonight.blogspot.com/2009/12/black-bean-soup.html
    • Beef Stroganoff: http://letseattonight.blogspot.com/2011/07/menu-18-beef-stroganoff.html

  53. I agree that most potato dishes don’t freeze well, but I’ve had very good look with PW’s twice baked potatoes. Make them up, do a quick freeze and then wrap individually and put in a freezer bag.

  54. I found these freezer bags on line by accident, I purchased
    a box and they are the best bags ever. The pre-printed info on the
    bag is genius. You have to try them.

    http://dontfahget.com/FreezerBags.html

  55. The only thing I haven’t seen mentioned so far that we enjoy and freeze often is pot roast. PW has a great basic recipe… Chuck roast, onions, carrots, mushrooms, red wine. Just have to make a batch of mashed potatoes to serve with it.

  56. Tammy Elrod says:

    Lasagna freezes great! I just layer it up in any pan that can go from the freezer to the oven. It is probably better then when it is made and put straight in the oven. Something about the flavors “marrying” Paula Deen would say.

    Speaking of Paula, Chicken pot pie is also a great make ahead meal. I made the chicken pot part and then add the “pie” right before baking. Again any pan that can go from the freezer to the oven will work.

    Those are my go to make ahead meals. Enjoy!

  57. I do a lot of freezing and it looks like everyone else has GREAT tips. The only thing I can think of to add that I didn’t see is to slightly undercooked your pasta unless of course, you like really mushy stuff. Even for Mac n cheese. It seems to soak up all the liquid in the recipes. Have fun!

  58. I don’t have a deep freeze either. Are we the only ones? Should I make space for one in my Homewood living room?!!??! But I do have a ton of food in my freezer that is probably going to go bad before we can eat it. We opened up our takethemameal site back up since Tripp is not doing well and even though it’s M/W/F people are bringing enough to feed Ecuador! All that to say, I’m not really cooking but Edgewood catering has some great meals. Our favorite is the baked ziti. It is topped with a crescent roll like dough and is pure heaven! They have frozen and ready to bake. Menu is on line and they are just off the main drag in downtown Homewood.

  59. I “pinned” this because it looked so good-
    http://joelens.blogspot.com/2007/01/freezer-friendlymake-ahead.html

    I also pick up meals from around Bham when I’m heading out of town- (Edgewood Catering in Homewood has a freezer full of delish meals, Ashley Mac’s in Cahaba Heights too)

    Good luck or should I say “buena suerte!”

  60. Put 3lbs (give or take) boneless chicken breasts in slow cooker. Combine 1 can of chicken broth and 4T taco seasoning and pour over the chicken and cook on low 6-8 hours day. When done, shred with forks and portion out what you need for burritos, nachos, chicken taco salad, etc. Freeze in the juice or it gets too dry. This chicken is FABULOUS and should live in your freezer always: ready for your Mexican needs! Enjoy!

  61. annies-eats.com She has a link of great meals (hearty) that freeze well. I think it is listed under meals to take to new parents.

  62. I just pulled these out of my freezer for supper tonight! Super easy and a crowd pleaser!!

    Fajita Burritos

    meat:
    4 garlic cloves, finely minced
    ¼ cup lime juice
    1 tsp. ground cumin
    2 Tbl. Oil
    1 tsp. salt
    2 lb. steak**, sliced thin (can also use chicken breasts)

    filling:
    1 ½ cups rice
    3 cups water
    2 tsp. cumin
    1 tsp. chili powder
    Small onion (about 1 cup), diced
    Medium green pepper (about 1 cup), diced
    1 can corn, drained
    1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes/green chilies, drained
    1 ½ cups pepper jack cheese, shredded (I use Cheddar/Jack or all cheddar)
    1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded
    1 Tbl. Vegetable oil
    12 burrito size tortillas (if you use regular sized, it’s more like 15ish)

    Marinade the meat in the first five ingredients overnight in the refrigerator.

    **(I do not marinate and cook the meat; I buy prepared fajita meat, cook it and cut into bite sized pieces)

    Preheat oven to 425. Cook rice with the water, cumin, and chili powder for 20 minutes. Once rice is started, dice the onion and green pepper and sauté them in the vegetable oil until tender. At the same time, drain marinade off the meat and cook that.

    In a large bowl, mix cooked rice, cooked vegetables, cooked meat, corn (drained), tomatoes/chilies (drained), and both cheeses. Mix well.

    Fill each tortilla with this mixture and roll into burrito. Put burritos on baking sheet and bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes.

    To freeze: cool completely and roll them individually in foil. Put in airtight bag in freezer. Reheat in 425 oven 45 min to make them crispy.

    Serve with sour cream and salsa, if desired.

  63. Before I had my baby, I froze lots of homemade pancakes and strawberry and banana muffins. I’ve seen lots of entrees on here, but those little snacks/breakfasts are a lifesaver. Also, homemade biscuits freeze really well (or you can just use a can) I prefer homemade though. If you freeze the pancakes in regular sandwich bags in single servings (2-3 pancakes) you can put them all in 1 big freezer bag and pull them out and heat them up for a minute or so.

    I also froze pulled pork, taco meat, meatloaf, meatballs, marinara, baked chicken, red beans and rice, and taco chicken meat. The taco chicken meat is a slowcooker recipe that has changed our life, can be used for tacos/burritos, made into soup, eaten on salads or baked potatoes, etc. Put 3-4 chicken breasts in a crockpot with a small jar of salsa and a pack of taco seasoning, cook on low for 5-6 hours, shred and enjoy!

    • the Pillsbury Grands frozen biscuits are just the best convenience. much better than canned biscuits. actually very very close to homemade.

  64. I can’t add anything to what’s already been posted. Great tips and recipes. I would suggest that you get a Honey Baked Ham right before you leave and make a couple of your favorite salads/side dishes to go with it and let your people eat that the first couple of days you are gone.

    So looking forward to your Compassion trip!

  65. wow i’m learning a lot

  66. I didn’t read all the comments and you already have quite a few, so I’m sorry if this is a repeat, but my favorite freezer tip is to make a pan of lasagna then wrap the individual pieces in Glad press n seal wrap. It works great when you want a quick hot lunch instead of a sandwich and it would probably work well for your family too.

  67. So unless you’re going to be gone 75 days I might be too late, but here’s a little post I wrote about freezer meals I made before I had a baby in February. I made meatballs, enchiladas, lasagna & some chicken if I remember correctly.

    http://www.abrighteryellow.com/2011/01/freezer-meals.html

  68. http://www.target.com/p/Sterilite-12-pc-Ultra-Seal-Storage-Set/-/A-11861721
    Target sells a box of great food storage containers. I live by myself so I always have meals in the freezer when I cook. I usually will cook a big batch of “something” on the weekend and then put the leftovers in the various sizes of these containers in the freezer. The reason that I really like these containers has to do with the lid color matching the bottom container. It saves me from trying to figure out what lid goes with what container.

  69. Glad you asked this question…lately our menu at home has been a little lackluster! Here is my guys favorite. I think your mom would be a hero if she served these.

    French Dip Sandwiches

    1 arm roast
    1 can beer
    1 can beef broth (or French Onion Soup)
    1 pkg. Lipton Onion Soup mix

    Crock pot on low all day and then shred and serve on toasted french rolls and top with provolone. Melt under the broiler and use extra au jus for dipping.

  70. I LOVE freezer cooking! We recently moved and have no space for a deep freeze. Sooooo sad! You can totally use your regular fridge/freezer. I’m emailing you a “tutorial” that I wrote up with the basics. :) (And buy good quality freezer bags, not storage, not generic, not little plastic containers.)

  71. Christina says:

    I have started a freezer cooking club and I can tell you that most things freeze alright. The easiest and safest are casseroles. I like to use recipes from Once a Month Mom. She gives you handy shopping lists too!
    Happy Freezing

  72. I SO was not a stock the freezer with meals person, but I have recently changed my ways and have at this very moment 5- 10 meals frosting away. I have shared a lot of the recipes here… http://www.livinglaughingandloving.com/search/label/5Dinners1Hour It’s shockingly not as hard as it seems! I freeze with ziploc bags mostly, and I love just thawing the bag under hot water for a bit and then popping in the crockpot!! Another great easy way is to buy some foil baking pans. Just cover with a layer of wax paper and a layer of foil. At meal time you just uncover, pop in the oven and bake!

  73. I have a spicy beef roast recipe for the crockpot that freezes well. I go ahead and cook the whole thing in the crockpot, then freeze the meat and liquid together. You can reheat in the oven or in the crockpot, and it’s yummy with mashed potatoes or on French bread.

  74. What wonderful ideas!!

  75. I live to cook from my garden and I find that on any given day I may be cooking for 5 or 6….it could be a dozen and believe it or not it could be 40-60 or even a group of 200 ladies. My thinking process has to include flexibility and cheer along with dard good all natural organic food. Not saying I ONLY use organic…that is not happening at this time and my clientelle will be the deciding factors on what is bein used as well as how much gluten free, dairy fee, sugar free items that will end up on the menu board. I also am learing to cook for 1 and 2. Not nearly as fulfilling but grateful i will be for the challenge. my issue is I have several rooms filled with my kitchen tools and small appliances as well as my baking business materials which I cant move to the kitchen until cabinets are in. WE are taking them out right now as we are preparing for the flooring. It is great room style. Lots of space, big ole farm table and I need yet a 12 foot curved island with seating on the back side and lots of prep area on my side as I will be teaching classes at this very spot. SOOOOO lots of work to do in the next 3 weeks with a bum arm but if anyone has any great ideas how to operate while in transitiuon i will be forever grateful. I have two full rooms ( An office and a craft room) that house so many of my appliances and supplies for the interem. I do need to get at my ice cream machine and my espresso machine as well as my kitchen assistance , my vita mix, my viking 7 quart stand mixer, mykitchen aide pro stand mixer, bread machines, dehydrators juicers just to name a few but they are mine and I want my kitchen designed to work productively out of the space I have that houses all of my tricks and tools of the trade. I need help organizing!! It may be several months before I have cabinets so I need to get started with sorting and weeding out the junk. also sorting the kitchen goods from the grand kids toys and clothes, my scrapbooking stuff, sewing stuff etc. and all of this while in physical therapy for my rotator cuff surgery. OOOWWWIEEEEE! HELP my wizards of the culinary! IT is wonderful that it is finally happening but OMG! I need some hands or at least some really good ideas!! thank you SOSOSO much!

  76. So glad you asked these pressing questions!! I think about this all the time. I have nothing to contribute (because I’m sorely lacking in freezer knowledge), but I will say this regarding that Chicken Spectacular casserole. I make the same thing, minus the water chesnuts b/c these kind of confuse me, and I like to saute one small to medium onion in some bacon grease or pork loin drippings to really put it over the top. Sure, it may make your heart explode, but at least it’s a happy heart!