Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Freezer Meal Recipes and Planning


The month of November is going to be my "test & see" how well freezer meals work for us month! Since I already had quite a few things in my pantry from my previous shopping trips in earlier months, I decided to go through and empty my shelves before going on my 1x a month shopping trip. :)

**Unless otherwise noted everything was put into 9x13 foil pans**

I made Chili Cornbread Casserole:
FREEZING TIP: Label, date and put instructions with your meals (as shown above).

Chili Cornbread Bake - freezer meal
2.25 cups cooked ground beef
1.25 cups chopped onion
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
14.5 ounces Hunt’s diced tomatoes (I also added a small can of corn to the bean mixture)
30 ounces chili beans, undrained
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
16 ounces cornbread mix

Brown onion and garlic; add in cooked ground beef. Add tomatoes, beans, and spices. Bring to boil and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Divide among two deep dish 8×8 baking dishes. Prepare cornbread batter according to package directions. Spread batter evenly over chili mixture. Cover with foil and bake covered at 400F for 30 minutes. *DO NOT cook if you intend to freeze it! See below.* Uncover, and bake an additional 10-20 minutes or until cornbread is golden brown. Serve with sour cream and shredded cheese, if desired.

Freezing Directions:
Prepare as above. After topping chili with cornbread batter, flash freeze until cornbread mixture is set, then cover with foil, label, and freeze. To serve: DO NOT thaw. Bake covered at 400F for 1 hour. Uncover, and bake an additional 25-30 minutes or until cornbread is golden brown. Serve with sour cream and shredded cheese, if desired.

The chili recipe was really easy because the previous weekend we had a bonfire at our house and I made potato soup, chili and venison roast and therefore just added a few more beans and some more beef to the chili so that I could wisely put the leftovers to good use and make a freezer meal.

Pictured above: Cornbread Chili Casserole, Pizza Casserole and Beef Stroganoff (which I made for dinner that evening with the extra noodles and ground beef left over from the casseroles).

Pizza Casserole

I also used the extra ground beef to make a large pizza casserole. I boiled 3/4 box of elbow noodles, added 1 jar of sauce, some ground beef (fully cooked), chopped pepperoni, 1 small bag of mozzarella cheese and freshly snipped chives into a 9x13 pan and placed it in the freezer for another ready-made easy dinner!

I must admit that because I was feeling in such a highly "cooking/baking" mood that I went ahead and did a quick grocery store trip to buy some items that would help in making my freezer recipes. I spent $65.22 at Krogers on Friday buying some more foil dishes, bread, milk, eggs and chicken (along with a few other items of course). I have come to realize that when a pregnant woman is in the mood to cook and has the energy to do a big task - than it must be done! The chicken was on sale, so I bought three packs of chicken breasts. I used two and put the third one in the freezer for later. I have $85.78 dollars left to spend for my November monthly shopping, which I believe is going to work out quite well considering I'm not going to need very much.

I made two pans of chicken enchiladas to freeze and also made a chicken, broccoli and rice casserole to freeze.

I found a package of Habanero cheese at Kroger and thought it would be perfect for enchiladas!

Chicken Enchiladas Freezer Recipe

1 1/4 lb ground chicken

1 onion, chopped

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup sour cream

2 cups grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

2 cans/jars mild enchilada sauce (use medium or hot for spicier enchiladas)

6-8" tortillas (you will need approx 10-12 depending on size)

In skillet with small amount of cooking oil over medium heat, cook ground chicken and onion until chicken is cooked through. Drain grease (if any). Transfer to bowl and add sour cream, corn and 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce.
Using a 9x13 baking dish lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, coat bottom with 1/3 cup of mild enchilada sauce. In each tortilla, spoon 2 tbsp of chicken mixture and 1 tbsp of cheese and roll tortilla up, then placing in baking dish seam-side down so they don't unroll. Once done, pour leftover enchilada sauce over top, making sure it is spread well. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Allow to cool (if not already) then wrap and freeze.

On baking day: Remove chicken enchiladas and defrost. Cover with tin foil, then bake for 20-30 minutes (or until fully cooked) in a preheated 350F oven. Remove foil and return to oven until cheese on top is melted.

**I made my enchiladas by boiling and shredded 3 chicken breasts, adding several cups of cheese and 2 jars of enchilada sauce. I rolled the mixture into tortillas and placed them in the foil pans. ** As you all know by now, I'm not one to follow directions when it comes to cooking, because I love to mix a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Pictured above: Two pans of chicken enchiladas, freezer bag of shredded chicken and chicken, broccoli & rice casserole ready for the freezer.

Chicken, Broccoli & Rice Casserole

16 ounces frozen broccoli florets (or about 3 cups fresh broccoli florets)

3 cups cooked cubed chicken


2 cans cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 cup chicken broth

paprika, optional

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups rice (uncooked measurement), cooked according to package instructions (should make 4 1/5 cups of cooked rice)

1. In covered saucepan, cook broccoli in water just until tender, about 5 minutes.
2. In greased 9 x 13 baking dish, spread broccoli across bottom and sprinkle chicken evenly on top. Generously sprinkle black pepper over chicken.
3. In mixing bowl, combine cream soups, mayonnaise, curry powder, and chicken broth, whisking until smooth. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle paprika on top if desired.
4. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Spread cheese on top and bake 5-10 minutes longer, until melted and slightly browned.
5. While casserole is baking, cook rice. Serve the chicken and broccoli mixture over hot rice.

**To create this into a freezer meal I tweaked the above recipe to fit my needs. I had a half bag of frozen broccoli in my freezer that I boiled (didn't bother measuring it because I knew I was going to add it all to my casserole and a few extra pieces of broccoli was not going to make a difference). I bought 1 large can of cream of chicken soup instead of the two small ones. I made 6 cups of cooked rice, I think. I boiled 6 chicken breasts and used about 2 breasts for this recipe. Most of it I used for the enchiladas, but I did manage to put several cups of cooked, shredded chicken breasts in a freezer bag to use for other recipes. I stirred the cooked rice, chicken, 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, cream of chicken soup, a bit of milk (used that instead of chicken broth), 1/2 c. of mayo and spices into a large 9x13 pan. I let everything finish cooling, wrapped it and placed the pan in the freezer, so all I need to do is warm it up. **

So what can a girl do in the kitchen while waiting for the chicken to boil? Well, how about trying a batch of freezer french toast? :)

This recipe is a KEEPER! I LOVE it!!! Yes, I love french toast in general, but this is a very good tasting and easy recipe. It's great for large families too!

Freezer French Toast Recipe
Make your own freezer french toast rather than buying similar commercial frozen ones from the grocery store!

Makes 16 slices for quick breakfasts.

5 eggs

1 1/4 cups milk

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 tsp salt

16 slices white bread (I used wheat)

*I also added a few shakes of cinnamon to the eggs*

Heat oven to 500F. Combine eggs, milk, sugar, and salt, mixing well. Dip slices, then place on baking sheets sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake about 5 minutes, until bottom is golden brown. Flip and cook for 2 more minutes. Cool then freeze in single layer. Once frozen (about two hours) they can be packaged individually or placed in a single freezer bag.

To cook: Remove from freezer, and heat in toaster or toaster oven, then serve.

*We tried these for breakfast yesterday, because I was dying to find out how they tasted and they were yummy and soft! Great breakfast recipe! On a side note: As I was making the french toasts, I was thinking of how much of a time saver this would be for moms of large families - you can get however many pans of french toast cooked at the same time - meaning that everything would be hot and ready to serve at the same time! Instead of freezing the batch, use the recipe to make a fast breakfast in the oven instead of standing at the stove flipping toast after toast after toast. *

My notes on preparing freezer meals:
It took me about 6 hours to prepare the meals, package them and place them in freezer and wash all the dishes! I don't think that is too terrible, especially if you look at it from this point of view: 30 days per month x 30 minutes = 900 divided by 60 minutes = 15 hours (usually more) a wife on average will spend per month cooking meals. If I didn't do the math right someone please correct me - it is 8:30am and I'm still working on my morning cup of coffee, so my brain isn't at full function yet! :) Subtract 6 hours from 15 hours and you're left with 9 extra hours in your month to do whatever other little things you need to attend to or little projects you would like to get done that month - sewing, scrapbooking, yard work,house cleaning and organization, more exercise, etc. - pop the meal in the oven to heat and you can go enjoy 30 minutes - 1 hour doing something productive outside of the kitchen! :)

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