Managing Your Time In the Kitchen: Freezer Meals

Over the years I have done various types of freezer meals. A few years ago when I was struggling with a lot of health issues I froze thirty to sixty meals at a time. I would cook when I was feeling good, so that we had food to eat when I wasn’t.

Over time my health improved and I have changed my approach to freezer cooking. I no longer need to have a month or two of meals in the freezer, but I do like the convenience of having at least a few meals made ahead.

Instead of freezing whole meals I now focus more on parts of meals. I almost always have taco meat, cooked chicken, sloppy joes, and homemade refried beans in the freezer. During the winter I like to freeze chili, meatloaf, and meatballs.

I can easily put a meal together with any of those things. I can use taco meat as tacos, as taco salad, or even in enchiladas. Cooked chicken can be used in soups, casseroles, or even as chicken salad. Meatballs can be used in pasta sauce, they can also be served with gravy over rice, or in meatball sub sandwiches. Just by freezing part of the meal I save time on a busy night.

Having these few simple things in the freezer is actually where I failed last week. I had used up all of my freezer food and  had not taken the time to make some things ahead to freeze. If I had put a few things in the freezer a few weeks ago, meal time last week would have been much easier.

Not only does freezer cooking save me time on busy nights, it saves time in general. If I am cooking one pound of taco meat, I can easily cook two or three pounds with out spending much more time. Cooking multiple meals of the same kind at once to freeze is a great way to save time in the kitchen.

Do you have meals in your freezer for days that you do not have time to cook? Do you like freezing a whole meal or dish, or do you focus more on freezing just part of the meal?

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

Comments

  1. I have started freezing ground beef already browned. I’llhave to try doing the taco seasoning then. I was doing it after it thawed.

  2. i love freezer cooking. i always have homemade baked goods in the freezer, like cookies, scones/muffins, etc. this helps us not eat a whole batch of something at once & also allows for quick desserts/gifts to others. i have tried complete freezer meals before but don’t have a huge freezer so i’ve found it just easier to have components ready (like meats, beans, veggies, etc) that i can throw together at dinnertime.

  3. I use to do this more when I lived in the “country”. I really need to start again. We always kept a few casseroles in the freezer so we could take food to a family experiencing a loss or sickness in the family.

    When my husband was eating desserts and I wasn’t, I would bake cupcakes and freeze them. I would thaw a couple for him and frost them with the frosting in the can ( Is there a good frosting that will freeze? or should I have frosted them before I froze them?). He loved having his “cake” when he wanted some.

  4. I do more whole meal freezing than parts but I do a combo of both. Like you said, if I’m already browning a pound of meat I’ll usually do two or three. And if I’m making a casserole, or lasagna or something like that I’ll double it and make one for the freezer too. When I’m pregnant I’ll usually try to freeze a whole meal once or twice a week so that I don’t have to cook as much when the baby’s here. And I like having options to take my friends who have new babies or lose a family member. I’ve only been freezer cooking for a year or so and love it!

  5. I have never thought about freezing part of a meal!! Thanks so much!

  6. I love freezer cooking! When I worked full time outside of the home and had kids I did full-blown Once A Month Cooking. I work from home now and have a little bit more time. I do a combination of full meals and partials. I always have cooked hamburger, meatballs, chicken and such in my freezer so I can make meal prep faster. Any time I make a casserole I make two and put one in the freezer for later.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    My husband works roughly 96 hours a week during the summer (16 hour days, 6 days a week) and this means I HAVE to have food on hand. After such long shifts, I can’t feed him leftover dinner every night when he gets home after 9. The man deserves a home cooked meal. But 8’oclock cooking isn’t fun. So, I keep prepped meat on hand that can easily be transformed into meals and I make mini lasagnas and casseroles in tin bread pans to throw in the oven when he calls and tells me he’s an hour out. It’s a serious time saver for me because I can prep all the meals when I have free time and not worry about having to cook while getting kids settled in for the night! I am amazed when people DON’T freezer cook :o)

  8. As a family of 4 (but 2 are small children) we don’t go through many “full meals” in one sitting. I freeze half of a lot of dinners! Especially casseroles that fill a 9×13″ pan. the benefits from this, we don’t over eat because there is food there, leftovers don’t go to waste AND cut down on cooking another night! Yay!

  9. I also make extra and freeze in order to save time (especially because I’m almost always cooking for one). What do you do with leftover refried beans? I wouldn’t think they would freeze well…

    • @Ilene, I freeze homemade refried beans all the time and think they work great. There is not much change in texture at all.

    • AllieZirkle says:

      @Ilene, I freeze whole cooked beans that haven’t been mashed. I add in water and freeze flat in 2 C portions. Since you’re a single, you could freeze flat in snack bags! I pull out the bags for dinner, slid into a colander, and rinse under water to quickly defrost.

      :) Allie

  10. Melissa V says:

    I just started freezing some meals we did stroganoff, taco meat, meatballs and shepards pie filling. I figured it would be a good idea to stock up since the baby is due soon and everyone keeps saying you’ll want real food but won’t have time/energy to make it.

  11. You know I’m the same way as you. I started out cooking full meals & freezing & now i only do the separate parts or ingredients. Although I’m still not very good at prep’ing food then freezing as far as making taco meat or burgers ect… I think it due to us still finding out what works for us. For now I just do my basics & whatever i cook extra. Like stewed tomatoes or, soups or casseroles & just save them for a rainy day. I learned how to cook for 6-10 (big family) people, and its hard down sizing to 2( just me,the hubby & sometimes a guest or 2) lol, so i just freeze my extra. That’s my basic strategy for now at least lol.

  12. AllieZirkle says:

    Waffles are a big staple in our home. I cook up a 3x batch and flash freezer and warm up in the toaster like an eggo waffle. Also, we prep meats like chicken (raw- sliced, raw- cubed, raw- for bbq, cooked-grilled, cooked- shredded, cooked- cubed), meatballs, hamburger (raw- burgers, cooked- ground meat), etc. Yum!

    :) Allie

  13. While recovering from surgery this summer, I decided to freeze some meals for when I return to work this fall. I did cooked/diced chicken, taco meat (yum), chicken tettrazini, tater-tot casserole, and chili. I plan to make double and freeze the extra from now on!

  14. I am a big fan of freezing food…I love to just save up until I have 7 and take a week off! Since it’s just my husband and I, I’ll freeze the second half of casseroles, soup, spaghetti, and chicken pot pie filling. I also will cook mini loaves of zucchini and banana bread and freeze several of them to give him a treat every once and awhile without having to cook them.

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