Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Prepping for Baby: Freezer Cooking

#2 will be here before we know it. Having the time to make a home cooked dinner for my family will soon become a temporary thing of the past. I decided last week (maybe it was my nesting instinct kicking in) to make some freezer meals ahead of time so we all don't have to suffer too badly after her arrival.

I have not done much freezer cooking before, so I researched different strategies and recipes for freezer cooking before venturing into this unknown territory. I decided for my swollen feet's sake to create one meal type a day, and most likely just to double the recipe of what we already were eating that day anyway.

Day 1: Chicken Parmesan
I found this recipe on Skinny Taste and it is definitely a household favorite. For freezing, I followed all the directions until adding the sauce. I let the chicken cool completely, then put them on a different baking sheet than I used to cook them on to flash freeze in the freezer. (Flash freezing is basically just freezing items individually.) This way, they wouldn't get stuck to the pan. After about an hour, they were completely frozen and I put them in a freezer bag. Though we haven't cooked any of the frozen ones up yet, I would say to let the pieces thaw completely before cooking. Then either put in the microwave until the chicken is cooked and add sauce and mozzarella cheese or if you are making a bunch, put them in the oven and continue the instructions on the recipe site. (I will try to remember to update with what worked for us when we eat these). This will be one meal for us, with some leftovers for lunches.

Day 2: Spaghetti
I found this recipe on A Time to Freeze. I realize spaghetti is one of those recipes that a seasoned cook would probably know how to make, but I didn't know the best way to freeze it. When I was making this recipe, I decided it was a lot of food for our little family, so I split it up between two freezer bags to create two meals.

Day 3: Egg & Sausage Cups
I found this recipe on Once A Month Meals. They call them Mini Sausage Breakfast Quiche, but they are just Egg & Sausage Cups in our household. I have made these in the past for Little Cutie and she gobbles them up! The first time I made them, I used Jennie-O Lean Turkey Breakfast Sausage Roll. This time around, I used Jennie-O Ground Turkey Roll. I think I preferred the ones with the breakfast sausage, but this batch was equally as delicious. I did notice that I always have some extra ground turkey left over after making them. For freezing, just flash freeze and store in freezer bags. These will be for breakfasts or lunches.

Day 4: Lasagna
My husband does not like ricotta cheese, but he loves lasagna, so I was happy to stumble upon this recipe on a while back. On this particular evening, I had already planned for us to have lasagna for dinner, so I just doubled the recipe..sort of. I cooked all 18 noodles together, but my skillet could only handle one batch of the sauce mixture at a time, so I mixed those up separately. For freezing, I lined a glass baking dish with some foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Then I layered the noodles and sauce mixture like the recipe says, and topped with mozzarella cheese. I did not put it in the oven. Next, I sprayed another piece of foil with cooking spray and put it over the top of the lasagna. I put the pan in the freezer and left it in there overnight. The next day, I pulled the lasagna out of the casserole dish, foil and all, (so I can use the dish for other meals in the mean time) and wrapped the lasagna with a few more layers of foil. For cooking day, remove all of the foil and place back in the same casserole dish used when creating it. I would recommend thawing it overnight, but you could certainly put it right in the oven frozen. It just might take longer to cook. This will be one meal for our family, with a few days of leftovers for lunches.

Day 5: Browned Ground Beef
I personally hate browning ground beef, and there are so many recipes where you have to before you can actually make the meal. I decided it would be helpful to have some already browned ground beef on hand for recipes like sloppy joes or tacos. I simply browned it in the skillet like normal and drained the grease. Then I put it into freezer bags and let it cool completely before putting in the freezer. I did mine in one pound batches because most recipes we use call for one pound. I felt like I had wasted space in my freezer bags, but I didn't have any smaller bags on hand. I chose to store mine into rolls because it made more sense space-wise, but you could certainly freeze them flat. This will provide for two meals for our family.

Day 6: Pancakes
These were so easy to make. We were already having pancakes for Sunday breakfast so I just kept on making them after everyone was done eating until I didn't feel like making any more. I used Krusteaz Light and Fluffy Buttermilk Pancake Mix and just followed the instructions on the bag. For freezing, I laid all the pancakes out individually on some wire cooling racks and waited until they were completely cooled. Then I just took the racks and put them right in the freezer to flash freeze them. After about an hour or so when the pancakes were frozen, I put them into two gallon sized freezer bags. This will provide for one, maybe two, breakfasts.

We calculated that we got at least six dinners out of all this for our family, plus some breakfasts and definitely leftovers for lunches. I hope to make some more freezer meals as long as my wombmate decides to stay in there. I will share them if I do! Anybody have any favorite freezer-friendly recipes to recommend?

1 comment:

  1. I cook my ground beef by boiling it - so much easier! It tastes just the same to me and my family.