Tried and True Freezer Meals For Foodies

We’ve all got that board on Pinterest with a million freezer meal ideas. You’ve probably tried a handful or perhaps you’ve even gone ahead with one that has a full blown plan, shopping list, and instructions and made all of them only to find that the majority aren’t very good or don’t cook right. Ditto here, I’ve tried dozens and dozens and finally came up with my own list a while back of recipes that are actually delicious, easy to compile, and freeze and cook well. Some are borrowed and modified, some I made up myself.

I started making freezer meals before my first kiddo was born to make sure we were set on food during the newborn days. Did the same for each baby and would also make them for friends and family members who were having babies. That said, we’re foodie type people, I like flavor, variety, and spices. We cook nearly every night, something elaborate from scratch because we enjoy it! At the same time, I like good old fashioned food, I have kids that have to like what we’re eating too, and we’re busy so simplicity is important. It’s nice to have a freezer full of meals that are up to our food standards to pull from on the nights that are crazy. The recipes I’ve compiled for my personal go-to freezer meal stash have a little bit of all of this.  Some are crock pot, some are casserole, some are sheet pan, all easy to assemble freeze and cook.

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I’m all about free reign in the kitchen, I’m not big on “recipes” for cooking, I think of them more as a guideline and then color outside the lines when I want to. If you’re super OCD and need precise ingredients and perfect measurements this list of recipes is not for you. I would take what I liked, remove what I didn’t, add in anything I thought might be good and voila my own recipe, I always cook like this, freezer meal or not. I don’t stress if I’m missing an ingredient or few, I’ll substitute something else. Does your family hate mushrooms? Take them out. On a low carb diet? Skip on breading your meat or use a breading alternative, serve certain things over cauliflower rice or veggie zoodles, you get the idea.

A note on cook times, we all know our crockpots, and they vary greatly in the way they cook. I recommend writing your cooking instructions based on your crockpot rather than just copying the directions of each recipe. My crockpot will cook a meal to boiling on “warm” so I often use this setting (rather than low) if I am throwing things in early for a 6 hour cook or so. If I need it done quicker, High for 3 hours is more than enough. Adjust for your own.

Italian-Chicken-Cacciatore-Recipe-5Chicken Cacciatore 
This is an authentic Italian recipe, healthy, and low cal. You can cook it many ways, stove top, instant pot, crock pot, etc. I use either chicken breast or boneless thighs. It may be tasty to do boned chicken or drums, they are likely cheaper to buy but then I have to pick bones out for my kids or listen to them complain so we go with simple. I use our regular organic stewed/diced tomatoes (from Costco) and throw in a can of tomato sauce to thicken it up a little more. Any type of mushroom will do, I also add green pepper. I don’t do any pre-browning or sautéing, I just dump it all in a bag and freeze. Can serve this one over noodles, polenta, or whatever you want.

 

 

chicken-piccata-platter-2-1-of-11Chicken Piccata
I’ve done this one 2 different ways. The first is with the chicken breaded and then baked exactly as the directions show. The second was to skip the breading and the baking, and make it a true crockpot meal. So I throw all the ingredients in a ziplock and then dump it in the crockpot on high for 3-4 hours. We usually serve it over noodles. They’re both good, not sure I prefer one to the other, the second version is much quicker to assemble and cook.

 

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Taco Stuffed Shells
This is one of the very first freezer meals I made and it has stuck around because it’s delicious. My best advice is to make sure you slightly undercook the shells so they aren’t super floppy, makes them harder to stuff.  I also store mine a little differently now, I don’t like the aluminum baking dishes because they’re flimsy so I assemble them in a Pyrex rectangular baking dish, pop the dish in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes when I’m done so they set up a little bit, and then transfer them to a zip lock. To serve I pop them out of the bag and back into a rectangular baking dish. If you use the disposable aluminum dishes you don’t have to do any of that, just personal preference.

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Sausage Tortellini Soup
This is one of my favorites! It’s technically a soup and I’m not the biggest fan of soups for dinner, they just aren’t filling enough (is it just me?).  Since this one has tortellini and sausage in it it’s hearty and very filling and amazing left over too. I’ve used sweet sausage, mild, and spicy sausage, they’re all good. I’ve used mushrooms, really you could add any type of veggie too. I only use a half block of cream cheese.

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Mississippi Pot Roast
There are many versions of this around, some use onion soup mix, some use ranch seasoning mix, some use au jus. My version follows this roughly but I do a handful of things differently. I do NOT use butter and I add in about 6 cloves of garlic finely chopped. I try to make my own spice blend because it’s healthier and not full of junk like MSG. If you have fresh herbs around, add them when you go to cook this one! I buy some sort of beef roast, whatever is on sale, sometimes it’s a chuck roast, sometimes a round roast, etc. As long as you cook it low and slow it’ll be fall apart tender. I found through trial and error that banana peppers are not the same as pepperoncinis, at least taste wise from the jar so it is KEY to get pepperoncinis (they’re a little spicy, vs. the bland banana peppers). I de-seed the them and coarsely chop them. It is a MUST to add the juice, I pour it right in from the jar. Throw in a beer, darker the better. We eat this plain, served over potatoes, served over egg noodles, or on a hoagie. All amazing.

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Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
This is another one of the original meals I found that rocks. This one is good as a meal itself or to use as a side dish. This recipe makes a TON which is fine, but be prepared to have large mixing bowls. I do NOT pre-cook the broccoli, whether fresh or frozen, I don’t even steam it because it will get mushy otherwise. I add garlic salt and a little bit of milk to mine if it looks too dry. We’ve done it with white rice, brown, and blends. I really like making it with a rice and quinoa blend. You could also experiment with different cheese, swiss or parmesan, or a blend, or even add different veggies in. Add some breadcrumbs to the top when cooking if you want a little crunch.

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Beef Stroganoff
A super simple recipe if you want it to be. If you like to use less processed ingredients you can make your own soup base, lots of recipes on the inter webs for that. I throw in lots of fresh garlic and fresh mushrooms. For spices I use garlic salt, onion powder, thyme, red ground pepper (if you like a little spiciness). Eat it plain, over mashed potatoes (or a baked potato), or over egg noodles.
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Mediterranean Chicken
This one I just made up myself by looking at a few recipe pictures. It’s a great option for those wanting no carbs but you can serve it over a rice pilaf or noodles, I like using quinoa noodles. You could add any type of olive, this helps add a nice salt flavor. I used red peppers but you could add others too or throw in a can of chickpeas. If you want to get more complicated you could always brown the chicken ahead of time but this isn’t necessary.
2-3 lbs Boneless chicken thighs (could use breasts or bone in)
1 can artichoke hearts with juice
1 small can of sliced black olives
1 red pepper coarsely chopped
1 lemon (use juice only)
1 small yellow onion coarsely chopped
1 cup of chicken broth
2 TB italian seasoning
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. white pepper

Toss it all in the bag and freeze. To cook- thaw and throw in the crockpot low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours.

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Turkey Tetrazzini Casserole
This one is not healthy in the slightest bit but it is delicious! It’s a great option for all of the left over turkey you have at thanksgiving, or if you’re like us and cook a turkey a couple times a year. I throw in some veggies in ours broccoli, peas, carrots, spinach, whatever we have around. I like to use fresh mushrooms and I’ve made our own cream of mushroom base rather than canned. I also prefer egg noodles, if you use egg noodles I’d recommend not precooking them and adding just a l/2 cup of water. Could use cheddar cheese, swiss, or parmesan. Do what works for you. This recipe makes 2 casseroles so you can prep them both and throw one in the oven for dinner and freeze the other or just prep and freeze both.
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Fiesta Chicken
A great recipe that is beyond easy to prep, literally open some cans dump them in and freeze. Now you can get more involved which I do but you don’t have to. I make my own seasoning rather than using a packet of ranch (can they please remove the MSG from these!). I’ve made this with chicken thighs, I don’t recommend it. I plan to try this with beef steak sometime too. I also only use a half a block of cream cheese which is plenty! You could throw in some bell peppers for a more fajita type meal. Serve it over rice, or toss some quinoa in, could even use it to stuff a sweet potato. Fresh cilantro on top is a must for us!

I will add more as I find and try them! Do you have any go-to’s that are awesome that should be added to the list?

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