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Feb

19th

freezer meals

This is a peek inside our freezer. What you see there are a few little beauties called FREEZER MEALS. My friend Cherice doorbell ditched me the other day and left these at my door as the most thoughtful act of kindness ever.

freezer meals

I mentioned this on instagram, facebook, and twitter that day – and I was surprised to see questions like “What are freezer meals?” So you can imagine what happened next. “Cherice, you have to write a guest blog post telling my readers who don’t know about this!” And so she did. Below is what Cherice has to share, including one of her favorite recipes. Thank you Cherice.

I want to first mention that for several months (a few years ago) I was part of a group of about 6 or so friends who got together once a month and exchanged freezer meals. We each mass-produced a recipe x6, met for the exchange (and chit-chat and laughter) … and we went home with 6 different freezer meals. It was awesome. That’s just another way you could try this out if you’re interested.

…..

cherice

Cherice Rigby: Wife, Mom, Project Lifer, Freezer-meal-maker, and rocks the sewing machine

Think about the most stressful time of your day. Does it happen to be around dinner time? For me it is. That is why I love freezer meals. I put the meal in the oven or crock pot and walk away. Done. No frantically trying to get dinner ready or worrying if I have all the ingredients after I have already started cooking. Plus no cooking dishes to wash – yay!

Freezer meals are also known as freezer cooking, bulk cooking, batch cooking or once a month cooking. But whatever you call it the concept is simply the same. When you cook, cook multiple portions and freeze the extra servings.

There are different ways you can approach freezer cooking. Some people like to spend two days a month and prepare 20+ meals. The first day is spent shopping and prepping, then the second day is spent assembling. But for me that sounds too overwhelming and honestly I don’t have two full days to devote myself to the kitchen. So most of the time I like to take it one meal at a time, and one day at a time. My purpose for freezer meals is not to stock my freezer full for a month at a time. I simply like just to have a few on hand for those days that I know will be crazy busy and will leave no time to put a good home cooked meal on the table for my family.

Here are two ways I approach this:

1. When I buy meat, I stock up on it. For instance, the day or the day after I buy chicken (I only buy fresh) I make a couple chicken dishes my family likes, cook and shred some, and freeze the rest in individual freezer bags (that way I can grab however many chicken breasts I need).

2. When I make a meal, I triple the recipe. If I make lasagna, I cook one to have for that night’s dinner and the other two I freeze.

3 more tips:

1. Packaging. Use GLAD Press n’ Seal over casseroles, then foil, and then place it in a freezer bag. You wouldn’t want your food freezer burned!

2. Label! Label! Label! Label what is hidden under that tin foil along with cooking directions.

3. Plan ahead. Yes I believe freezer meals save time, but honestly they only save time if you plan in advance. You can’t pull a meal out of the freezer at 5:00pm and expect dinner to be ready by 6:00pm.  It’s just not going to work that way. The meal should be taken out of the freezer the night before and thawed in the fridge. Then cook as you normally would (although I have noticed that mine generally take a bit longer). So really they only save time when you plan.

…..

Sweet n’ Sour Chicken (my favorite freezer meal)

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 cube chicken boullion
1 large can (20oz.) pineapple chunks or rounds
1 green pepper

Cut each trimmed chicken breast into 3-4 pieces and coat with flour. Fry chicken in a medium size fry pan using about 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Set aside in a 9×13 casserole dish (*if you are going to freeze this, then use a foil 9×9 pan). Drain pineapple, SAVING the juice.

In a medium sauce pan combine the following:
Pineapple juice (if the can didn’t give you 1 1/2 cups, then use water to make up the difference)
Honey
Corn starch
Vinegar
Soy sauce
Ginger
Boullion

Boil for 2 minutes stirring frequently. Pour sauce over chicken. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees (*take out of the oven and skip the next step if your are freezing the meal*).

Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees and add pineapple and sliced green peppers. Bake uncovered for an additional 20 minutes. Serve over rice.

If freezing, take out of the oven and DONT add the pineapple and green peppers. Put the pineapple and green pepper slices in a quart size freezer bag.

After it is slightly cooled, cover with foil and put it in the fridge until it is completely cold. (I usually just leave mine in overnight). Now put GLAD Press n’ Seal on and then tin foil on top of that. Place it in a gallon size freezer bag along with the bag of pineapple and green peppers and a card that is labeled Sweet n’ Sour Chicken and has all baking instructions written on it.

That’s it! Now you have one less meal that you have to worry about preparing on that crazy day where you feel like you have million and one things to do.

Happy freezer cooking!

 

COMMENTS

39 Responses

  1. brandi@beckyhiggins.com says:

    Cherice, you are just awesome! Loved your post :)

  2. ana roat says:

    Freezer meals are awesome! I use to do this when we lived in rural Montana and getting to the market was a 2 day event. I would make up 5-7 favorite dishes and then freeze them to use in between dinners that really couldn’t be frozen. I made beans with ham hocks, chili, hawaiian chicken, meatloaf, stew and soups. I also prepare fajita fixins, taco meat and hamburgers. It took all day to prepare but it was well worth it. Now we are back home in sunny California where it’s pretty easy to get to the market so I’ve pulled back a bit. However, my daughter has a little one in the house and another on the way so her cooking time is limited. With the birth of our second grandbaby due in September, I will be reducing my work week to 3 days so that I can help her make freezer meals and do some extra lovin on those babies! We also live within 3 minutes of some awesome fruit stands and farmers markets so we are fortunate to have really fresh fruit and veggies to use. This year I will have a nice garden to pick from so I’m pretty excited about that too.

  3. michelle kirby says:

    So what are the baking instructions once you take it out of freezer.

    • brandi@beckyhiggins.com says:

      They are the same as if you had made it fresh, because it will be thawed out, like she suggested to do.

      Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees (*take out of the oven and skip the next step if your are freezing the meal*).

      Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees and add pineapple and sliced green peppers. Bake uncovered for an additional 20 minutes. Serve over rice.

      If freezing, take out of the oven and DONT add the pineapple and green peppers. Put the pineapple and green pepper slices in a quart size freezer bag.

  4. Sue Thornton says:

    Here’s another helpful idea I use to save having to go to the store so often.

    1. Make up 3X5 cards, one each for all your stand-by meals that your family loves. Include the sides, etc. Nothing fancy, just the everyday stuff you all like.
    2. On the back list the ingredients that you might not have on hand in your kitchen. Things like pork chops, Rice-a-Roni or in this case, chicken breasts, pineapple, honey and green pepper.
    3. Every two weeks or so, pull out an assortment of cards for two weeks. You can plan on leftovers, so you don’t necessarily need 14 meal cards pulled.
    4. Fill out your shopping list from the ingredients on the back along with whatever else you need at the store.
    5. Then, use these cards in any order that you’re in the mood for to prepare your meals as you go along, day to day and you know you have all the ingredients you need. And you don’t have to wrack your brain to decide what to fix for dinner every night. This is really great for working moms.

    Cherice’s meal, plus rice is definitely going on a meal card for me. Thanks.

  5. Deneen says:

    Can’t wait to try this!

  6. Jennie Keen says:

    I actually host freezer meal workshops in my community! We get together once a month, I put together the menu, grocery list, and cooking instructions, and we all gather together and put together 20 meals in about 2 hours. We try to avoid any meals that require pre-cooking like the example in this post, so we’re really just putting raw meats, veggies, seasonings, sauces, etc. in freezer bags. We simplify as much as possible. It has been wonderful – especially during school and sports and other after school activities, since my husband and I both work full-time!

  7. EmmaJ says:

    Thanks for sharing! This sounds yummy.

  8. Monica says:

    So as I am reading and understanding, these are all meals that are cooked first, then cooled and then put in the freezer – – what a great idea, that I’m gonna do this over the weekend.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    Monica

    • Stacy says:

      Actually, Monica, these are put together and then frozen, but not cooked until you pull them out of the freezer and thaw them. You just have to pull them out of the freezer a day ahead to thaw, and then cook/bake them in the oven or crockpot. It’s a great way to save time.

    • Monica says:

      Oh wonderful, thank you. I was going to cook all day on Saturday, so actually just putting them together and then pulling them out to cook, is even better for me. Thank you Stacy!

      Monica

  9. Michelle says:

    Freezer meals keep me sane during soccer season! One of my most highly recommended cookbooks for freezer meals is “Fix, Freeze, Feast.” It has only fresh ingredients, no cans of weird stuff. And, the recipes are written for bulk cooking. My family loves Ginger Beef, Sweet Asian Chicken, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Sesame Soy Sirloin Steaks, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Cheese Biscuits and so much more. Seriously, check it out!

  10. pammie~k says:

    I have not made freezer meals in a long time – need to pull out my books and get going. Thanks for the nudge! (and I am starting with this recipe – looks yummy)

  11. Aniko says:

    I found this website that I use for dinner plans – I am not affiliated with her in any way, so I hope it’s okay to “plug” it: http://savingdinnershop.com/menus/freezer-menus/

  12. June says:

    Thanks for the recipe! I’ll have to try this one soon.

    I’ve cooked this recipe for Turkey Coconut Curry Chili and saved the extras to be frozen in gallon bags. I doubled the recipe and it made for three yummy meals for our family of four.

    http://m.allrecipes.com/recipe/223171/recipecoconut-curry-chili

  13. Katie says:

    Thanks for this sweet and sour chicken recipe. I can’t wait to try it! Could you please specify how many servings it makes?

  14. Sara says:

    We do this a business called Dream Dinners. They have multiple locations and it is very cost-effective if you work it out. Unfortunately, we are moving away later in the year & may have to figure out how to do this without the help of a prep kitchen. Thanks for the tips!

  15. Jen T says:

    Love freezer meals! Thanks for the new recipe to try!

  16. Lisa says:

    I’d love to see more Freezer Meals. Sounds delicious!

  17. Renae says:

    I’m cracking up because I spent 30 min before coming to check out Becky’s blog (my M-F, morning break ritual) looking into freezer meals because of a post on the 100daysofrealfood blog. I even bought an e-cookbook and make a chopping date with my friend. Synergy…

  18. Laura says:

    Are you using 3 whole chicken breast or 3 chicken breast halves? I have two friends who had babies so this will be perfect to send over. Thanks

  19. Great idea! I love having stuff ready to go some nights! Yummy recipe!

  20. Jenny says:

    Thanks for the recipe. I’ve done this before too and love having a new recipe. A tip for if you do a bunch at a time and you don’t have enough pans or they don’t fit in a side by side freezer:
    Line your pan with foil and spray with something like Pam. Put your meal in it and freeze it until it’s firm. Cover with foil (make sure you spray the top sheet or it could stick). Then take out of pan and put in a ziploc bag. A 9×13 fits in a 2 gallon bag, but you should be able to reuse the bag again for another meal. You can then stack these in your fridge. To make meal, take out of freezer and peel off foil and put in pan for baking. I was able to fit a bunch of meals in my freezer this way with only having one 9×13 pan and not having to buy foil pans each time.

    Thanks everyone for all the tips!

  21. Jess says:

    How delicious! I love me some Sweet and Sour Chicken! Pinning for later! :)

  22. Wow, that sounds yummy! Where have I been hiding? I’m going to start doing freezer meals!

  23. Sara says:

    Love the idea of freezer meals and can’t wait to try this one!!! Thank you to her for sharing this recipe!

    PS I just have to say how happy I was today that I stopped by your blog. I used to check it daily, but haven’t popped by these days more than once every week or two in hopes there will be something non-PL. Though a Project lifer, and loving it, I really miss the things about your blog that drew me in a long time ago: recipes, home organization, home decor, decorating, and even your cute outfit posts! Please bring those back more often!

  24. Jody says:

    My friend and I do this every 3 months. We choose 20 meals and times each of them by 4. I make up the shopping list. She does the shopping and we divide the cost. We also divide the prep work then we meet at my house on a Saturday morning and put all the meals together. In less than 4 hours time we each have 40 freezer meals to use over the next 3 months. It is not only a time saver but it cuts down on our food budget as well. We also include family members old enough to help with the prep work so we get family time too. It is a lot of work for two days but SO worth it.

  25. Trisha Sue says:

    This looks like a good idea, especially for busy moms. I wanna try this some time.

  26. Tina P. says:

    Do u have a website/blog with freezer meal recipes listed? I really want/need
    To start doing this…after being a stay at home work from home mom
    I’m going back to work full time and this would be great to get started on to keep
    Me on track.
    Thanks
    Tina :)

  27. kat-in-texas says:

    Love this idea!!! You have such a sweet, cute friend, Becky!!! Cherish!!!

  28. Katie Roose says:

    I live in NW Phoenix and I hold Freezer Meal Workshops several times a month at my house and friends’ houses. We assemble 10 freezer meals that feed 4-6 adults in about 90 minutes…it’s so fast and easy! I sell Tastefully Simple, so the workshop includes several TS products, a meal plan, a grocery list, the freezer meal labels with cooking instructions, all of the details are worked out for you. Just hit the grocery store sales, show up to assemble your meals and pop everything in the freezer for busy nights. It’s awesome!

    If you would ever be interested in hosting one of these or attending one of mine, Becky, I would LOVE to help you fill your freezer! It’s such a time-saving solution for busy moms. It’s also nice to have meals prepared and on hand to take to families with new babies, emergency surgeries or just friends who are overwhelmed.

  29. christine b says:

    I really like referencing the recipes that you had on your blog before it was revisioned. Do you have plans to reference those recipes again?

    thanks!

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