I was going to start this post writing about the onset of the colder weather and how it made me realize I need to stock my freezer. That’s how I was going to start. I hopped (so to speak) out of bed eager to start cooking. But when I actually began making the freezer meals my body reminded me I’m a professional cripple so making them in a single day wasn’t going to happen. I’ll end up with 31 meals. That makes me happy. But feeling like I cheated in Vegas and was soundly beaten from head to toe…not so much. I had to spread cooking over 3 days so this 12 freezer meal recipes – Day 1.
I see a lot of websites that boast of creating 10, 20, 30 or more freezer meals in a day. I’m sure it’s a snap for people who are healthy, have no kids around, want to spend 12 hours in the kitchen, and have as many arms as an octopus. And since I don’t want to eat freezer meals exclusively I don’t need several months of meals in the freezer. I think those meals should be reserved for days when you’re sick or in pain, when the kids need to be taken to 6 different after-school activities, or you simply want a little break from preparing dinner from scratch.
Day 1 complete. 8 meals in the bag! That’s a pun. I’m sorry.
Maybe someday I’ll feel up to making 30 freezer meals in one day but between compulsively checking recipes, repeatedly counting meatballs (Are you sure there are 36?), stopping to take Remy and Henry out 15 times, and chasing them from the kitchen I’m happy with getting my 31 meals completed in under 31 days. And, in addition to the 31 dinners I’m making 16 breakfast burritos so I’m feeling kind of like a super hero. Wonder Beach (ball) Body Woman or something like that.
Remy stood in the rain, pretending he couldn’t hear me because I was busy and ignoring him and he’s big on payback.
If you do want to do a marathon session of freezer meal cooking a great way to accomplish it is to have 3 or 4 people join you. The group shares the cost of ingredients, the cooking/prep/clean up chores, and the meals.
Some of these meals will be completed in the slow cooker and some will be reheated in the oven. A couple of them require some additional cooking but it’s mostly making noodles or last minute gravy. I’m definitely not going to make freezer meals that force me to do a lot of cooking on days when I really don’t feel up to it.
I started with the simple recipes. I made Pork Chops to Live For, Slow Cooker Cranberry Orange Chicken, Honey Mustard Chicken, and Beef Enchiladas.
My husband absolutely loves these pork chops! And, since it’s just the two of us I don’t use my slow cooker for these. I just pour the thawed contents into a casserole dish and throw them in the oven at 250°F for several hours. When done, whether in the oven or the slow cooker you’re going to have to use a spoon to get the pork chops out. They’re fall-apart tender.
Pork Chops to Live For (2 meals for 2 people)
- 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning and salad dressing mix
- 10 1/2 ounces Cream of Chicken Soup
- 1 1/4 cups Water
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 4 Pork Chops, boneless
- In a large bowl combine dry ranch seasoning mix, cream of chicken soup, and water. Divide evenly between quart sized freezer storage bags.
- Divide pork chops and onions between gallon freezer storage bags.
- Place one quart sized bag of soup mixture inside one gallon sized bag of pork chops, label with cooking directions, and freeze.
- Lay pork chops and onions in bottom of slow cooker and pour soup mixture over top.
- Cook on low 4 – 6 hours
I love this recipe because it’s sweet and tart at the same time. When I taste the sauce before assembling the meal it’s so good it makes me giggle.
Slow Cooker Cranberry Orange Chicken (2 meals for 2 people)
- 4 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
- 1 onion, chopped small
- 1 stalk celery, chopped small
- 1 can (14 ounce) whole fruit cranberry sauce
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons chili sauce
- Combine cranberry sauce, orange juice, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, brown sugar, and chili sauce in a large bowl. Mix to combine well.
- Add in onions and celery and stir to combine.
- Pour ingredients into a quart size freezer bag.
- Place chicken in a gallon freezer bag, label with cooking directions, and put quart bag of sauce in the gallon bag.
- Place chicken in bottom of slow cooker.
- Pour sauce ingredients over chicken.
- Add 1 – 2 cups of water to cover chicken.
- Cook on low 6 -8 hours or high 2 – 4 hours.
- Before serving you can mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 3 tablespoons cold water and add to the slow cooker to thicken the sauce if desired.
One thing I love about this recipe is that you can adjust the amounts of herbs to suit your family’s taste. I’m not wild about thyme, although I do like it a bit, so I use 1/2 teaspoon but you can easily bump it to a full teaspoon if you like. The same with the other herbs. If the Dijon mustard is too tangy for you reduce the amount to 1/2 tablespoon.
Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs (2 meals for 2 people)
- 4 chicken thighs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- In a large bowl combine buttermilk, honey, Dijon mustard, thyme, rosemary, sage, salt, and pepper.
- Stir to combine.
- Pour into quart size freezer bags.
- Place chicken thighs in gallon size bags, label with cooking directions, and put a quart size bag of sauce in each bag (I usually do 1thighs for each of us per meal so this makes 2 meals for us).
- Thaw chicken in refrigerator overnight.
- Place chicken in slow cooker and pour sauce over it.
- Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours (until internal temperature of chicken is 165°F) I recommend cooking on low to keep this from drying out.
I cheat when making enchiladas when I’m in a lot of pain. I use canned red enchilada sauce and store bought tortillas. I can live with that.
Beef Enchiladas (2 meals for 2 people)
Makes about 9 burrito size enchiladas
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (4.5 oz.) can chopped green chilies, not drained
- 2 –ounce cans red enchilada sauce (mild, medium, or hot per your preference)
- 12 burrito size flour tortillas
- Cooking spray
- 2 -3 cups finely shredded Fiesta or Mexican cheese blend
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Brown ground beef in a skillet.
- Drain and return to skillet.
- Add minced garlic to the beef and cook, stirring constantly for about 1 minute.
- Add chopped green chilies to the beef and garlic.
- Stir chilies into beef mixture until well combined.
- Allow beef mixture to cool a bit.
- Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Lay tortillas on a large work surface/
- Spoon a couple of tablespoons of beef mixture on the top 1/3 of one tortilla.
- Fold the top edge of the tortilla over the beef mixture, tucking the tortilla under the beef.
- Fold the two sides of the tortilla toward the center then roll the tortilla to make a little egg roll looking shape. *egg roll looking shape is a technical term.
- Place each finished enchilada in the casserole dish.
- Pour the enchilada sauce over the enchiladas covering as much of the tortillas as possible (if left bare they tend to get dry and hard).
- Top the enchiladas with shredded cheese and bake for about 30 minutes (until the cheese is melted and gooey).
- Allow enchiladas to cool completely (I usually put the casserole dish right into the refrigerator for a few hours).
- Separate into whatever portions you desire and put portions in freezer bags labeled with cooking directions.
- Thaw enchiladas in refrigerator for 8 hours.
- Place in an oven safe dish and cover with foil.
- Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.
- OR: microwave enchiladas for 2 minutes.