What’s for Dinner: Freezer Meals!

I wrote this a couple weeks before my due date, so if you see references to me still being pregnant, that’s why 🙂

One of the worst things about living out here (yes, there are a few downsides to living in Italy!) is that there isn’t fast food. Literally,
the only take-out food you can get in our town is pizza. Actually, strike that—there’s a kabob place down the road, too. There’s no Chinese delivery, or a Sonic-Drive In to grab a quick burger, tots, and coney, or a Chili’s curbside to-go. (Shoot, now I want all of those things.) So if we want a fast, no-fuss meal, we have to make it. And since everyone told me that once the baby arrived I won’t have time to sleep, let alone shower or make food for my family (they were right, by the way), I decided to do something about it ahead of time.

I started freezing meals. It’s taken a couple months to stock my freezer, but I have a pretty good stash at the moment. Sure, I could’ve done it all in one day (like I see all over the Pinster), but I didn’t. Walking around with a belly the size of a watermelon is no joke, so I spread it out and made them when I had the time and energy.

There was also no real planning involved. You’ll see a lot of New Mexican recipes below, because it’s what we enjoy. I just made the foods I know we like and eat often, tweaking it—if need be—so they would freeze well. I made a lot of the meals for dinner (sometimes doubling the recipe) and just froze the leftovers. I figured now was not the time to try new recipes; I’ll save experimenting with new meals when I’m back cooking in the kitchen.

If you have questions about the recipes or how/what I did to freeze things, let me know and I can include answers in a follow-up post. Here are meals currently sitting in our freezer along with links to the recipes:

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(made as written, ate some for dinner, then froze the leftovers.)
 
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(Made as written and froze uncooked. Thaw overnight; bake as directed. Froze in half batches, so we have dinner for two nights.)
 
 
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(Doubled recipe; made as directed, cooled, then froze in two-serving portions so I can just pop ’em into the microwave when I need a quick side dish.) 
 
 
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(Made the meat mix as directed and put mixture in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag. When I’m ready to make the meal I’ll defrost the night before and continue following the direction—needs cheese and tortilla shells to continue.)
 
(I use seasoned meat for several meals: tacos, nachos, quesadillas, enchiladas {below}, burritos, stuffed peppers, salads, etc. To make: I mince an onion and mushrooms {for extra veggies and flavor; totally optional!}, add meat to the pan and once it’s almost all brown I add my seasoning mix and cook until meat is done. Let meat cool, then freeze in single-serving {usually 4-ounce} portions for an easy meal later. I love having seasoned meat on hand, especially for lunches. Just pop them in the microwave and I can have lunch or dinner ready in minutes!)
 
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Red Chile Beef Enchiladas
Sorry, no real recipe for this!
(Basically, take corn tortillas and spritz them with water, place in a warm pan and flip until soft; place tortillas on paper towel until you’re ready to assemble. To assemble: spread 1 Tbs red chile sauce just to the right of the center of tortilla; sprinkle some cheese on top of sauce; place around 2 Tbs seasoned meat on top of cheese. Roll them up—not too tight or they’ll break—and place in serving dish. If freezing, that’s all there is to it. To cook: thaw overnight; add red chile sauce and cheese over enchiladas and bake at 350 until cheese has melted.)
 
Chile Beans
 No recipe again, sorry!
(In a crock pot I cook pinto beans {that were soaked over night}, 1/2 pound of cooked seasoned meat, and one container of red chile. We made it for dinner, then froze the leftovers. We eat it with Fritos, onions, and cheese.)
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Breakfast Burritos 
(My husband actually makes a version of these. He usually includes: eggs {one container of egg beaters}, one potato {diced and baked crispy with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic}, a meat {reduced-fat sausage or low-sodium bacon}, chopped mushrooms and onions, sun-dried tomatoes, and either chile or salsa. Delicious. Make, assemble {fold up both ends}, wrap in foil, and place in a freezer bag. When ready to eat, unwrap from foil, re-wrap in a paper towel and heat in microwave for a few minutes.)

 

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Chicken Parm Bake:
(Made as written, except for the last step of adding croutons and more cheese. Freeze uncooked; thaw overnight. Bake as directed, adding cheese and croutons for last 15 minutes or so.)

 
Alton Brown’s Ragu:
(No picture, sorry!)
(Looong process to make, but SO good. We made this for dinner with extra minced veggies and froze
the leftovers. The next time we make this we’ll double the batch so we can have more to freeze.)
 
Korean Short Ribs (crock pot):
(No picture, sorry!)
(Added everything minus the soy sauce {soy sauce doesn’t freeze} into a freezer bag uncooked. Thaw overnight, plop in crockpot, add soy sauce, cook as directed; serve with fried rice {below})
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Fried Rice:
(Made as directed, cooled, then frooze in individual portions so I can just pop ’em into the microwave.)

 

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 French Bread and Rolls:
(No recipe for the rolls yet, sorry!)
(Made as directed—recipe link has instructions for freezing the dough!)

There you have it! Those are the meals in our freezer right now. Like I mentioned above, if you have questions about the recipes or how/what I did to freeze things, let me know and I can include answers in a follow-up post.

 

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11 Comments

  1. I'm impressed that you made so much! I only had 3-4 meals in the freezer but somehow I managed. We don't have takeout here in Japan unless we drive to the base and get fast food. So unhealthy but some days I do it!

  2. Holy cow! I can't believe you did all that while you were pregnant! I think all I managed to do was freeze some muffins and waffles. =P Of course, I did buy some frozen dinners from the commissary that I knew my husband could do…and then my MIL came in and took over all the cooking for 2 weeks. =) Way to go!

  3. Wow – that is an awesome stockpile of dinners! Thanks for the suggestions and recipe links to – bff is preggers and I'm planning to take her quite a few meals when she has the babe 🙂

  4. I'm planning to stock my freezer as well, (I'm due in August) but in the past I haven't liked the meals out of the freezer as much as when they are fresh. BUT I imagine I'll over look that since we'll be sleep deprived and starving 🙂

  5. I love freezer meals They get me though the days I don't want to cook. I simply double the recipe on them meals that I know freeze well. There is always 5-6 different meals waiting for me to heat up. I plan to stock my deep freezer with meals over the next couple of months before this baby is due!

  6. Thanks so much for this post. I don't have space (or the time, hello due date) to make many but I'm going to pick one or two of these if this baby holds off a little while longer.

  7. I didn't make any freezer meals, we didn't have the time or space unfortunately. Thankfully, my mom was here for 2 weeks after D was born and then I was able to get in a good groove. That's so awesome that you were able to do so much and I really bet it helped out a ton.

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