7 freezer meals from my hot mess to yours

Please enjoy this unrelated selfie of us being very attractive busy.

The other day a friend texted me about some logistics for a project we were working on for Rexburg for Refugees. Half way through, she asked me a question I’m still shaking my head over.

“You’ll have to tell me your secret for how you do all that you do.”

I felt 20 percent flattered, 80 percent FRAUD.

My life has gotten exponentially busier the last few months. Like, crazy busy. I’m talking teaching at university, developing an online course, a BUSY toddler, directing a local non profit, a busy calling in my young women’s organization in my church congregation, singing in a community choir (what was I thinking) and growing a tiny human with my body. Oh, and running a household while putting a husband through school. (Consider this our holiday letter of what’s new in the Whitlock household.)

Needless to say, most days I feel like I’m holding my life together with my pregnancy-allowed doses of Diet Coke and venting during late night crying sessions to my husband between stress sobs.

That’s how I do what I do.

So I’m all about making my life a little easier whenever possible.

Cue the freezer meals.

Because let’s be real. You’re busy too. Super busy. Like, can barely keep it all together busy.

Well here are a few tried and true freezer meals to help your life. I take an afternoon about once every few weeks and stock my freezer with these (mostly crockpot) meals. I buy meat on sale at a store like Winco, I stock up on canned goods I know I’ll need throughout the month, and it keeps my costs down. Win. Win. All the wins.

And it’s so easy! The meals are easy to make (we’re talking meat browning at the most here, people), and easy to cook. Plop it in a crock pot or stick it in the oven and boom. Domestic goddess.

So here you go.

Spaghetti sauce

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • Two 24 oz jars of spaghetti sauce
  • Diced tomatoes, do not drain
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • ½ – 1 tsp Sugar

Directions:

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Move onions and garlic to the edges of the pan. Add the Italian sausage and cook through. Drain the pan. Add the spaghetti sauce and the diced tomatoes with the juices. Add the basil, oregano, salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Let cool and place in freezer bag.

For crock pot: Defrost overnight. Place sauce in crock pot on low for 6 hours or high for 4. (Or until thoroughly heated through).

You can also heat the sauce on the stovetop.

Ranch pork chops:

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 uncooked pork chops
  • 1 envelope dry Ranch dressing mix
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup

Prep:

  1. Place all ingredients in freezer bag.

Cook:

  1. Thaw overnight.
  2. Dump meal into crockpot.
  3. Cook low for 4-6 hours.

 

Sloppy Joes: (From Six Sisters)

  • 1 lb. ground turkey or ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 can tomato soup (10.57 oz)
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbs. mustard
  • 1 Tbs. brown sugar

Directions:

In a large skillet, add turkey, onion, celery, and green pepper until turkey is no longer pink. Drain the grease. Cool slightly and add freezer bag. Add tomato soup, ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar to ingredients in freezer bag and mix together. Store in freezer.

To cook: Defrost overnight. Place into freezer bag. Cook on low for 4 hours, keep warm until serving. Serve on hamburger buns.
Makes 6-8 servings.

Café Rio Pork: (From Crème de la Crumb)

(Give yourself more time to complete this recipe. The end result will be worth it. I make a bunch and freeze it to use for pork salad, pork tacos, pulled pork sandwiches, you name it.)

Step 1:

  • 2 pounds pork (rib meat or loin)
  • ¾ cup coke
  • ¼ cup brown sugar

Step 2:

  • 1 cup coke
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon onion salt
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder

Step 3:

  • ¾ cup coke
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 4 oz. can diced green chilies
  • 10 oz. mild red enchilada sauce

Directions:

Step 1: Place pork in a zip lock bag. Add coke and brown sugar and seal bag. Chill at least 1 hour or overnight.

Step 2: Add pork to slow cooker and discard marinade. Add coke, water, garlic salt, onion salt and chili powder. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours. Drain slow cooker and shred pork with two forks.

Step 3: Blend coke, brown sugar, chili powder, green chilis and enchilada sauce together in blender. Pour sauce into slow cooker. Cook about 30 minutes longer.

Freezer bags: Place pork into freezer bags. I divide the meat up for different meals, such as tacos, wraps, salads, sandwiches, etc. Place in freezer.

To use: Defrost in fridge overnight. Heat over the stove, or in a crockpot on low for a few hours.

Lemon Garlic Chicken:

  • 4-6 chicken breasts (or 8 to 10 chicken tenders)
  • 1-2 tsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. parsley flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (or juice of one whole lemon)

Prep:

  1. Place all ingredients into a freezer bag.
  2. After sealing bag, turn bag over several times until chicken is well coated. Freeze flat.

Cook:

  1. Thaw in refrigerator overnight.
  2. Pour into baking dish. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. OR
  3. Place chicken in crockpot (can be frozen) and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. (High for 4-6 hours.)

Taco soup: (From High Heels and Grills)

Ingredients:

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 can sweet corn, drained
  • 1 (12.5 oz) can white chicken breast, drained
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can green enchilada sauce
  • 1 4 oz. can green chilies
  • 14 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 packet taco seasoning

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients into freezer bag.
  2. Freeze flat.

Cooking:

  1. Thaw overnight in refrigerator.
  2. Heat in pot until warm. OR
  3. Heat in crockpot on high 3-4 hours.
  4. Serve with tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream.

Baked Ziti (From the Pioneer Woman)

  • 2 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • One 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
  • One 24.5 ounce jar marinara sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 lb. pasta (cooked until not quite al dente)
  • One 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
  • 1 ½ lb. mozzarella cheese, grated
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, sausage, and ground beef
  2. Cook until meat is totally browned. Drain off and discard most of the fat from the pot, leaving a bit behind for flavor and moisture.
  3. Add tomatoes, marinara, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, ½ tsp. of the salt and ½ tsp. of the pepper.
  4. Stir to combine, then simmer the sauce for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Place the pasta in a large bowl and ladle in 3 cups of the sauce mixture
  6. Toss to coat the noodles. Set aside to cool.
  7. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, 2 cups of the grated mozzarella, the parmesan, egg, parsley and the remaining ½ tsp. of the salt and pepper.
  8. Stir the mixture together until combined. Toss the cheese mixture in with the sauce-and-pasta mixture. Do not over mix. You want to have some big chunks of the cheese mixture.
  9. Add half the pasta to a large casserole dish or disposable foil pan.
  10. Spoon half the remaining sauce over the top.
  11. Then top with half the remaining mozzarella. Repeat with another round of pasta, sauce and mozzarella.
  12. Let casserole cool and cover and label for freezer.
  13. Freeze for up to 6 months.
  14. To bake, place the frozen casserole straight into a 350 degree oven, still covered, for 1 hour 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes more, until hot and bubbly.
  15. OR Thaw the casserole in the refrigerator for 24 to 36 hours, until completely thawed. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbling and lightly browned. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Shopping list:

  • Olive oil
  • 3 large onion, diced
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 2 lb. Italian sausage
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground turkey (or ground beef)
  • 2 lbs. pork roast (rib meat or loin)
  • 4-6 pork chops
  • 4-6 chicken breasts
  • One 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
  • 2 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • Three 24.5 ounce jar marinara sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbs. mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp. black pepper, plus more to taste
  • ½ tsp. garlic salt
  • ¼ tsp. onion salt
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • 1 lb. pasta (cooked until not quite al dente)
  • One 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
  • 1 ½ lb. mozzarella cheese, grated
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons minced parsley
  • Basil, to taste
  • Oregano, to taste
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup and 1 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 2 ½ cup Coke
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 4 oz. can dice green chilies
  • 10 oz. mild red enchilada sauce
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 dry Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 14 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can chicken breast
  • 1 can green enchilada sauce

 

 

 

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