I’ve mentioned here and on Facebook that one of my projects to prepare for baby Atticus’s arrival has been to stock my freezer with meals, and I’ve gotten some requests for ideas and recipes for freezer meals, so I’m going to share here what I’ve done thus far 🙂
I’ve seen a number of websites and blogs talking about preparing a month’s worth of meals in 4 hours or something of that sort, and they just never seem doable to me. Maybe I’m slow working in the kitchen (and, pregnant, I definitely require far more bathroom breaks than the average person takes during that time period!), but I’m certain it would take me far longer than 4 hours to do all of that prep work. What I’ve found easier for my schedule is occasionally to set aside some time solely for preparing meals to freeze but much more often to plan to have a certain meal for dinner and multiply the recipe such that we can eat one as our family’s dinner that evening and freeze the others.
As I’ve worked on preparing these meals, our grocery budget for the past couple months has definitely taken a hit, but we’ll make that up with lower grocery bills (and, even more significant, fewer evenings of ordering take-out!) when we’re actually eating these meals after Atticus is born, so I think overall it will be a net gain. At this point, I have about 30 meals in our freezer, which I think should help out significantly with our adjustment to being a family of 5! I may still try to get a few more done, but I feel pretty good about having this amount prepared.
Here are the meals I’ve frozen thus far, along with links to recipes (except for those from published cookbooks):
Recipes from external websites:
- Chicken Enchiladas – Note: I used slightly less onion (Matt’s preference) but threw in a red pepper instead. Also, I found that 1 can of enchilada sauce per pan was sufficient for us.
- Tortellini Soup – Note: I’ve frozen this fully cooked, but then you really need to thaw entirely and be careful not to heat for too long to ensure that your tortellini doesn’t get too mushy. I think it might work better to prepare as directed except for the tortellini and just make that and throw it in when you’re thawing the soup to eat.
- Sweet and Sour Chicken – Note: We like our sweet and sour chicken with plenty of sauce, so unless you’re using very small chicken breasts, I’d recommend fewer chicken breasts relative to the sauce ingredients in this recipe. I also added some pineapple chunks.
- Chicken Tacos – Note: Instead of the pico de gallo, we use 1 jar of salsa (24 oz) and 1 can of chopped green chilies (5 oz).
Recipes from friends and family (or created on my own):
Recipes from Fix, Freeze, Feast:
- Pecan-Crusted Chicken Strips (page 38)
- Rama Chicken (page 48)
- Cashew Chicken (page 52)
Recipes from Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook:
- Cranberry Pork Roast (page 134) – Note: I’m not sure whether this would work well as a meal prepared completely in advance. However, it really takes only a few minutes to throw together the sauce that goes into the crock pot with the pork roast, so what I did was buy a large pork roast, trim the fat and cut it into portions of about 2.5 lbs. each, and freeze the pork roast portions separately. Then I’ve set aside in the pantry the ingredients that we don’t necessarily normally have on hand with a note that they are to be used to make this meal.
- Lemon Garlic Chicken (page 181)
Some of the meals listed above (chicken tacos, for instance) are not frozen as entire meals so require some planning ahead, but it’s still helpful to have the bulk of the work done ahead of time. I’ve actually found that the same holds true for other ingredients. For instance, I have several chicken breasts already cut up into bite-size pieces and frozen individually that way. I’m also going to chop up some pineapples and bell peppers this weekend to freeze. Later on, I can throw all of those ingredients into a stir fry with very little effort.
All in all, I’m hoping this will be a significant time, money, and sanity saver for us after baby Atticus arrives, and I hope it is helpful for some of you readers, as well!