I like to prepare the meats for meals and freeze – not the entire meal. It’s easy to make the side dishes or noodles, so this makes it easy and stress free. The cook and freeze process usually takes about 3-4 hours of my time – or seems that way….If you decide to start, start small because sometimes preparing too much (with kids running around) can be too much. I’d start with the ground meat recipes first and next time add more – chicken and turkey.
My Cooking Plan
This recipe would prepare you for 5-9 meals (or up to 13 meals if you decide to cook chicken and turkey(or a crockpot meal) also): 2 spaghetti and meatball dinners, 2 ziti meals, taco night, meatloaf, and burgers for a family of 4-5. (If you have extra meat, you can also make meat for shepherds pie, chili and picadillo – see below sauce for picadillo and recipe for chili). There are more recipes below if you want to try to go big- If you do, get a frozen turkey breast and enough chicken breast for 3 meals. I like to freeze my foods with some kind of sauce or marinade to keep them from drying out.
I buy about $30 worth of ground beef or one large package at Costco for $25.00 ( you will need more if you want to prepare chili, picadillo and meat for shepherds pie)
Ground beef, bread crumbs, parmesan, egg, seasonings, salt, taco dry flavoring, Pam, 5 cans of Hunt’s tomato sauce (or any other kind you like) and any other ingredients you prefer in you meat. These extras are optional. MIX it up!
You will also need tin foil and freezer bags .
Tools: Pan for meatballs, pan for meatloaf, skillet to brown taco meat, spatula, colander to drain grease off of meat. Sharpie pen to label
Extra ingredients you will need later for meals
spaghetti noodles, ziti noodles, mozzarella cheese to melt on top of ziti, taco shells and all the fixings, rice, peas, mash potatoes, side dishes for meatloaf (baked potato and green beans), green, red, yellow, orange peppers, garlic, onions, sofrito sauce, Fettuccine, alfredo sauce, optional: olives, raisins, bay leaf, cubed potatoes for picadillo meat extras. If you are making chili- fat free wraps and sour cream, 4+cans of diced tomatoes, pinto beans, kidney beans- red, chili seasoning, oregano, garlic, onion (see link to ww recipe below)
Turn oven on to 350
Meatballs/Ziti :, begin shaping meatballs – I usually make 13 per family night. I suggest making enough for 4 meals- 2 spaghetti nights and the other two sets can be broken up to make a delicious ziti dish. After making 52 meatballs – hopefully on one tray – doesn’t matter if they touch, pour a little tomato sauce over meatballs so they don’t dry out.
Meatloaf: Shape meat for meatloaf in a small bread pan, sometimes I only make half because we don’t eat an entire meatloaf. you can make a full pan and split it in half for two meals – freeze separately. Cook time and temperature is same as meatballs above – cover pan with tin foil.
Burgers: Set aside enough meat for tacos and if any meat is left over, shape into burgers and put into oven with the meats above. I like to put a little tomato sauce on each one, it keeps it from drying out. Always cover with tin foil.
Instructions: Cover pan with tin foil and cook all for about 45 minutes. Sometimes Ill cook the last 5-10 minutes without the tin foil. Cut open a meatball to make sure it’s cooked thoroughly. Let fully cool and put in a freezer bag – pour sauce over meatballs, seal , date and freeze. You should have 5-6 freezer bags of food.
To cook meal after freezing: for the meatballs, I put them in a pan with sauce and warm up while I cook spaghetti noodles. For Ziti, I warm up as I cook ziti noodles and cut meatballs up into smaller pieces. I mix the meat and ziti, pour tomato sauce over dish, cover with mozarella chese and put in over at 350 until cheese is melted. Serve with garlic bread. For Meatloaf, you can take out day before and that in fridge or take out that night, pour sauce over meatloaf , cover with tin foil and warm in oven.
Tacos : Heat skillet – optional brown onions and peppers before hand for more taste- brown meat for tacos, when cooked, put in taco seasoning with water, let cool . Put in freezer bag and label.
All in all you should end with 5- 7 dinners prepped. I try, for my family of 5, to try to keep each meal under $10.
Shepherds Pie and Picadillo: If you have extra meat, you can make meat with gravy for shepherds pie (brown meat on skillet – mix with gravy and freeze)- serve over mashed potatoes and peas also spanish picadillo – brown meat and put mix ( put in blender – meat sauce, sofrito, peppers, onion, garlic) pour this mix over cooked meat and freeze ( some people like to add cubed cooked potatoes, raisins, olives and bay leaf to picadillo also – serve over rice with a side of black beans.
Chili – I always try to make this if I have enough meat. My kids love it and so does my husband. It’s the Weight Watchers Chili Recipe : meat, diced tomatoes, pinto beans ( we also add red kidney beans), oregano, salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic, onion, peppers. I try to make about 4 servings, freeze 3 bags and serve chili the night I cook. We either eat it heated in a bowl or put in a fat free wrap with sour cream. Delish!
Ready to add more ???
Make (Crockpot) Turkey: Get up early and start the crock pot while you prep for your freezer cooking. I like to put in a small turkey breast with stock, gravy, cut potatoes, carrots – check online for recipe you like. The turkey can be cut in two usually for two separate meals.
BBQ chicken, Parmesan chicken, chicken fettuccine : Throw a chicken breast in the oven with the meats as well. Cover 4 with bbq sauce, another with parmesan and spices and another 4 with peppers and orange juice. You can also cut them before cooking into cubes and use for dishes- salad, fettuccine, sandwiches, chicken salad, etc. You can make chicken Parmesan or chicken fettuccine. Delicious!
Extra Ideas: I get a large bag of Peppers and another one of Onions. Cut in small pieces – chop or slice and put in freezer bags. They can be quickly added to any meal and it’s a great help. If your children don’t like peppers, onions and garlic, I have found putting them in a blender with meat sauce is delicious. Your children wont notice it at all.
I hope this helps. It makes life and dinner planning easy and stress free.
More Ideas for freezing”
- shredded carrots
- chopped cooked chicken breast – don’t overbake
- brown beef with onions
- brown beef with tomatoes and seasoning
- baking mixes for muffins or breads – dry mix
- pancake mix, roll mix
- cookie dough – in logs or small rolls
- pbj sandwiches
- meat and cheese sandwiches but no mayo
- apples – peel and put a little lemon on it and freeze
- label everything!
- cream cheese and sour cream potatoes
- go to pinterest crock pot freezer cooking for ideas
- check out allrecipe.com and moneysavingmom.com
- use airtight containers or freezer bags from dollar store (use straw to take out air)
- plan you week’s menu