Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Freezer Meals - Done!

Our last bill at the grocery store was ridiculous, so I gathered some ideas on ways to save on groceries. These freezer meals seemed to keep popping up. I read one ladies blog about it and decided to give it a try. I pulled some recipes, from many different blogs and website and made my grocery list. Not only did I save on my grocery bill, cut it back by about $100, I prepared more meals! The last trip to the grocery store, the expensive one, only made 9 meals, while this trip I was able to prepare 16 meals! I spent 3 hours in the kitchen on Sunday cutting up all the veggies and gathering all the meals together. The best part was that I did most of the preparing while the kids were napping and I only had to cook one meat. All, except one, of these meals you just throw all the raw ingredients together in a baggie and freeze until you are ready to cook! 

Here are the recipes for the meals currently in my freezer: 

1. BBQ Chicken (Crock Pot) (2 bagged meals)

Chop the following ingredients & divide them between the 2 gallon size ziploc bags
3 sweet potatoes, cubed1 zucchini, chopped1 onion, sliced2 green bell peppers, sliced1 red bell peper, sliced4-5 chicken breasts, diced
In each bag, place... 8oz tomato paste1T Worcestershire2T brown sugar1T mustard powder1 garlic clove1/4tsp salt
Reheating - This can go in the crock pot while still frozen. Add about 3/4C water or chicken broth. Cook on low for about 6 hours.

Update: This was the first meal that I made and it was delicious. All the flavors of the vegetables and sweet potatoes came together very nicely! I think it is very important to cook this meal on low for 6 hours! I was gone from the house longer than that (wouldn't it be nice to only have a 6 hour workday!) and my meal was a little overcooked. It was still tasty, just a little mushy. 

2. Spaghetti Chicken  (1 casserole)

4 chicken breasts 
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
4oz jar of pimentos, diced
8oz  Velveeta sliced
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
salt & pepper to taste

3C thin spaghetti, broken into small pieces 
Place chicken in an 8x8 foil casserole pan, sprinkle with seasonings, place peppers, onions and pimentos on top, pour cans of soup over chicken mixture, place sliced velveeta on top. Cover with foil and plastic lid, freeze.
Reheating - Thaw casserole. Remove foil & bake at 350 for 45m. Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles.

3. Citrus Ginger Chicken (1 bagged meal)

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1 tablespoon Honey Mustard
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon red pepper -- ground

 For freezing: Place all ingredients into a 1 Gallon freezer bag. Lay flat
in freezer.

Thaw meal, pour in baking dish and bake at 350 until juices run clear, about 30 minutes.

4. Chicken & Spinach - (2 bagged meals)
 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
 1 jar Classico Pasta (Three Cheese)
 Onions, bellpeppers, etc.
 Cajun seasoning to taste
 Sliced zucchini & squash 
 mushrooms sliced 
 Bag or container of fresh spinach 
 Pasta of your choice (bow-tie, spaghetti, etc.)
  Layer:Chicken breasts, onions, bell peppers, etc., seasoning, other veggies in two gallon sized ziploc baggies and top with  spinach.  Freeze.
Place in crockpot, still frozen and cook on low for about 6-8 hours. 

Update: This was the 2nd meal that I made and it was delicious!! I think this should be titled Chicken & Veggies, not just Chicken & Spinach. It has some of my favorite veggies all mixed together in a yummy cheese tomato sauce with pasta! What's not to like about that!? After my crockpot experience on Monday, I decided not to use the crockpot for this one, even though it suggests to. There were too many veggies in this bag that I didn't want them to get mushy, since I'd be gone from the house for 10 hours. So, I thawed out my meal by placing it in the fridge the night before and poured all the ingredients from the bag into a large heated saucepan when I got home. I kept stirring it and it took about 30 minutes for it to cook through. I cooked the pasta in a separate saucepan as directed on the package, I used Ronzoni Garden Delight Penne. Once the noodles were cooked, drained, and the chicken/veggie mixture was done I mixed them all together and sprinkled a little Italian cheese on top. The whole family approved of this recipe. I am excited that this made 2 meals, I'm looking forward to having this again! 

5. Crock Pot Pizza Soup - (2 bagged meals)
1 jar (14 oz) of pizza sauce
4 empty jars full of water
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
2 already-cooked Italian sausage (I used chicken Italian sausage)
1 cup sliced pepperoni, sliced in quarters 
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 1/2 T dried)
1 T dried oregano
1/2 to 1/3 cup of dried penne pasta
shredded mozzarella cheese (to add later)
The Directions.
Divide all ingredients between two gallon sized ziploc bags, freeze. Place in crockpot while still frozen and cook on low for about 6 hours. Top with cheese.

6. PEACHY CHICKEN (1 bagged meal)

1 1/2 Pounds Chicken Pieces -- (4 to 6)
1 heaping tablespoon orange marmalade
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
2 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 to 1 cup frozen sliced peaches

 For freezing: Place all ingredients into a 1 Gallon freezer bag. Lay flat
in freezer.
Thaw meal, pour in baking dish and bake at 350 until juices run clear, about 30 minutes.

7. Sticky Chicky "DUMP" Recipe (1 bagged meal)

2 Tablespoons Oil
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
3 Tablespoons Smooth Peanut Butter
3 Tablespoons Ketchup
1 1/2 Pounds Chicken Pieces
For freezing: Place all ingredients into a 1 Gallon freezer bag. Lay flat
in freezer. 
Thaw meal, pour in baking dish and bake at 350 until juices run clear, about 30 minutes.

8. Summer Vegetables with Sausage (2 bagged meals)

1 lb baby red potatoes, cut in half or quartered
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
fresh cracked pepper
14 oz Italian sausage, sliced 1-inch thick
1 large onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of the knife
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced 1-inch squares
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced 1-inch squares 
1 red bell pepper, diced 1-inch squares
2 tbsp fresh rosemary (or other fresh herb such as thyme)
2 cups zucchini, 1/2 inch thick and quartered
1 tablespoon oil

Divide ingredients except for the oil between two gallon sized ziploc bags, freeze. Thaw meal. Cook in large oiled skillet until sausage is cooked through and veggies are tender, and more oil as needed. 
Update: This meal was fabulous. I really love cooking with lots of vegetables, it really creates a flavorful dish. Leftovers were yummy too. My husband gave the meal two thumbs up, and we are both glad there is still another bag in the freezer to enjoy! 

9. Ginger Cilantro Tilapia (2 bagged meals)

6-8 tilapia fillets
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 minced garlic
1 inch fresh ginger, grated, about 1 tablespoon
1 jalapeƱo pepper, roughly chopped (optional
1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce 
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Scallions, chopped for garnish

Divide all ingredients between two gallon sized ziploc bags, freeze. Thaw meal and place in baking dish. Bake at 475 for 8-10 minutes until fish flakes easily with fork. Serve with orzo pasta and carrots. 
Update: This was a slightly spicy, tasty dish. I wasn't sure how preparing this meal and freezing it ahead of time would work. I was worried that the juices wouldn't thaw right, but they did. It had just a little kick, not too much. We didn't have any orzo, so I served it with some brown rice. My husband went back for seconds, so he was either really hungry or liked it.

10. Italian Baked Chicken (1 casserole) 

4-6 chicken breasts
1-2 cans green beans
diced red potatoes, about 1 lb. 
Italian dressing mix
1 stick melted butter

Place all ingredients in a foil casserole dish, pouring melted butter over top, freeze. Thaw meal and bake at 350 for about 1 hour. 
Update: DO NOT FREEZE this meal! Learn from me, when you freeze fresh potatoes, they will turn black! YUK! This is, however, a very easy and delicious meal to make. Just throw everything together in a casserole dish and bake! 

11. Turkey Meatloaf  (1 meatloaf)
1 lb ground turkey
1/2c quick oats
1/4c ketchup
1 2 eggs
1onion chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon marjoram

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Place into a foil lined loaf pan and wrap tightly in pan. Freeze for 1 hour then remove from loaf pan and place foil wrapped meatloaf back in freezer. Meatloaf will keep it's shape and you don't have to keep your pan in the freezer. Thaw meal and bake at 375 for 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

Update: Why did I not know you could freeze meatloaf!? My family loves meatloaf, especially this recipe using oats instead of breadcrumbs. I would probably add one more egg next time (I updated the recipe above to 2 eggs instead of 1). The meatloaf was a little crumbly, and I think adding the additional egg would help hold it together better. I served this with some steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes. It was great for lunch the next day too. 

I will update this post and let y'all know how they turned out as I cook them.