Ask The Readers {Healthy Frugal Freezer Meal Ideas}

A few weeks ago I asked on my Facebook page (if you are not a fan you are missing out :) ) for Ask The Readers question ideas. You all had some great questions and today I am posting the first one.

Amanda is looking for some healthy/frugal meals to keep on hand in the freezer.

Freezer meals are perfect for busy days and we all have busy days, so this is a great subject Amanda. Thank you for bringing it up.

My favorite things to keep in the freezer are not really whole meals, but parts of meals. I prefer to keep seasoned taco meat, cooked chicken, barbecue pork, chili, and a few other cooked things in the freezer to use in meals.

I find keeping the main ingredient of a meal in the freezer like taco meat gives me more options. Instead of just tacos I can serve nachos, enchiladas, taco salad, etc. If I have cooked chicken on hand I can use it in enchiladas, casseroles, soups, tacos, etc.

I know many of you also do forms of freezer cooking so what ideas do you have for Amanda? I can’t wait to hear your suggestions.

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

Comments

  1. I would agree that meal components are one of the easiest ways to keep freezer meals on the “healthy” side. Marinated chicken, preseasoned meats, cooked beans, grated cheeses, and spice blends are all easy things to cook up in bulk and freeze to use later. You can “freshen” them up with lettuce salads and other fresh vegetables.

    Some of my favorites are here: http://lifeasmom.com/2010/10/freezer-cooking-recipes-you-can-count-on.html

  2. If I am in a hurry I like components or meats in marinades for the grill. I found that my casseroles weren’t a good choice for baseball season; I had to remember to take them out in the morning, then call home to get them to preheat the oven and put it in. If we all were getting home at the same time (3 kids on 3 teams meant we were running a lot of directions) then waiting an hour for a meal to heat up wasn’t worth it- we were too tired and cranky to eat by the time it was ready.

    In the winter I freeze soup or soup components as well.

  3. My favorite thing to have in the freezer is ground beef that has been browned up with chopped onion, celery, and red bell pepper. I package this up in 3/4 lb. amounts (trying to cut back slightly on red meat use) and freeze. This thaws quickly in the microwave to use in any recipe where you need browned, ground beef. Also I just discovered a brand new blog this morning
    http://www.cherionice.com/ that is going to be devoted to make ahead and freezer cooking. It think it will a blog worth keeping track of.

  4. Stuffed pasta shells (pasta shells with ricotta, mozzarella, spinach) and baked spaghetti are two of my favorites. I usually get 3 meals worth out of making them.

  5. Definitely meal components for me. I always have several different kinds of beans cooked and ready to use from the freezer. It is cheaper, just as easy and healthier than opening a can. It works for us!

  6. In the past year I have lost 36 pounds primarily do to menu planning and freezer cooking. Any meal can be made ahead of time and frozen to some extent. But as staples I always have marinated chicken, taco meat, sauce, turkey meatballs, and rice in freezer at all times. Every recipe I put on my blog I talk about how to make it ahead and freeze it. I look forward to reading everyone else’s ideas.

  7. My favorite freezer staples have already been mentioned – but I figured I’d comment anyway. I’ve always got cooked ground beef (seasoned with veggies and augmented with cooked lentils to stretch a dollar), cooked chicken, marinated chicken, and meatballs. I also like to make burritos for the freezer. They make for such a fast meal and can be quite healthy if made with beans. Of course, I also make casseroles and more. Like I tell everyone, the freezer is your friend!!

  8. Colleen G. says:

    I like to have extra brown rice and cooked chicken in the freezer. In a pinch I will combine them with broth and frozen mixed vegetables for a quick and easy soup. Get the broth good and hot and then add the the frozen ingredients and they will thaw in the soup. By using brown rice it tends not to get mushy.

  9. I wish I had room for a proper freezer, so I’m limited to the small one that comes with the fridge. I keep it well stocked with basics for making quick meals — chicken stock cubes, stuffing (great for rolling in a pork loin or chicken breasts for a speedy but elegant dish), some herbs, like fresh dill (freezes beautifully, just snip while frozen), but my all time favorite are herb butters. I keep three herb butters on hand: dill butter (lemon juice, lemon rind, fresh dill, loads of minced garlic); chipotle (pureed canned chipotles, cumin, coriander, lime juice, lime zest, fresh cilantro); and blue cheese (blue cheese or roquefort, fresh sage, tarragon, orange zest, orange juice, shallots). To make, I mix the butter and other ingredients until all the liquids are incorporated into the fat, take a plastic tray or cookie sheet, wipe with wet sponge, place wax paper or parchment on top (the moisture makes it cling to the tray), then smear the herb butter like a thin chocolate bark. Freeze, then break into pieces and store in freezer bag. Add to pasta (with or without cream), spread on bread and bake, add to vegetables. Very fast, very good.

    I also pack silicone rose shaped molds with sweet cream butter and freeze; they make lovely little butter pats. Anything bread-based, like cupcakes, muffins, scones, pancakes, all freeze and thaw very well. Sauteed mushrooms, tomato sauces, rice dishes, most cooked vegetables (preferably long-cooking ones like greens and cabbage, where the fresh taste won’t be lost), beans. I avoid freezing cooked potatoes (texture changes).

    But usually there’s just too much ice cream in the freezer for much else!

  10. Julie Huey says:

    I freeze boiled/sliced potatoes for use later. I either make a simple potato au gratin for dinner or pan-fried potatoes for breakfast with them. I also cut up cooked broccoli/cauliflower into small pieces and freeze them. Frozen pureed cauliflower blends well and tastes great in mash potatoes as well. I don’t usually freeze marinated/cooked meats because I haven’t figured out how to avoid putting a lot more sodium in them to make them equally tasty.

  11. Hi, lots of great suggestions. I totally agree with the meal components. Watch for sales and stock up on things you can prepare ahead of time and freeze. I buy peppers when they are on sale, dice and freeze in ziploc bags. You can also do this with onions and the small cooked/smoked hams. This comes in handy for casseroles, quiche, omelettes or to toss into scalloped potatoes, pasta dishes or on homemade pizza (or even added to a frozen pizza). When whole chickens go on sale, I buy 2 or 4 (and roast them 2 at at a time). Remove the meat from the bones and freeze in dinner-sized portions. This is really tasty for enchiladas, pasta dishes, casseroles or hot chicken sandwiches. Try roasting with lemons, limes or oranges (with onion, garlic and herbs) in the cavity for lots of flavour and juicy meat. Chicken pieces are great for making soups (which also freeze well). I make chicken stock, and then we have chicken soup and I also make a delicious creamy chicken corn chowder. When pot roast (or similar low-cost beef cuts – we use bottom blade roasts) go on sale, I buy two or 3 and cook them all at once in my crockpot. There are lots of recipes for this online, but I just use onion soup mix and some water. We have it for dinner once, then freeze the rest in meal sized portions. You can do the same with pulled pork in the crockpot (freeze with or without added BBQ sauce). You can freeze meat with marinade, so that when it thaws it marinates the whole time. Try freezing pre-cut pork or chicken or beef in bite-size pieces for stirfries (with or without marinade). If you have a vegetable garden, you can freeze a lot of veggies too – they just might have to be blanched first (there are instructions online about that too). Even if you don’t have a garden, buying fruit, vegetables and meat on sale and stocking up really makes a difference. Good Luck!

  12. I LOVE having meals in the freezer with little ones running around it can be difficult to cook a good dinner every night! I have a list of some of my favorite frugal freezer meals here: http://ecomomicalme.com/freezer-friendly-recipes/. I was able to make 7 freezer meals for $8.00! Now I think that is pretty frugal!!!

  13. I do meal components as well as meals. Ive always got some cooked ground beef, turkey and chicken. I do soups, chili, minus the beans, sloppy joes as well as casseroles like lasagna.

  14. I batch cook and freeze nearly everything for our family of six. My favorite easy go to dish to make for others is my no boil manicotti. I’m taking a huge haul of freezer food on our vacation this year. I also blog about our camping trips with freezer food on my Tasty Travel series. My best advice is to double or triple your family favorite casseroles for no fuss meals. Also make convenience chicken and freeze healthy cooked carbs, like brown rice and ww pasta. Start baby steps and keep adding to the freezer cooking list.

  15. I am used to cooking for myself, then myself and a child, and then back to myself again. Now both my disabled brothers moved in with me (both have unique tastes of foods) and then my daughter and grandkids moved back in. I get home from work tired and grumpy and have to find something to cook to feed them in a hurry. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas especially all the frugal ones. Trying to make one paycheck pay all the bills and feed us all is a challenge most days. Ha! My daughter funally got a job so hopefully things will pick up soon. I just wanted to thank you for all the recipes.

Share Your Thoughts

*