Thursday, April 12, 2012

Freezer Meals

It's so nice to have food ready to go when I don't feel up to making a meal.  I've found that if I triple a meal I'm already preparing and freeze the extras, after awhile I have a tidy number of meals stored in the chest freezer.

Usually I stick to freezing dinner entrees, but this morning I had a little more energy than usual, so I decided to cook a bit before Baby Ella arrives (she's due on the 12th.)  I made a batch of Pioneer Woman's Breakfast Burritos and wrapped them individually in foil for a quick and easy breakfast.

I just followed the recipe as stated, except I didn't bother to heat the tortillas.  I figure they'll get heated in the toaster oven anyway when I warm them up.

First, I laid out several sheets of foil which I sprayed with a non-stick spray so the tortillas wouldn't stick to them after being cooked.

Then, I made an assembly line of tortillas and mix.

I only snacked a bit.  Just a little.  Once or twice.

It was for the baby.

Once I had them all wrapped up I put them in a large resealable plastic bag and labeled it with what was inside and how to reheat them (in case Handyman wanted some too).

After that was done, I put up my feet for a bit, and then made a huge batch of cream of potato soup from a recipe my good friend Elise gave me a few years ago.  It's basically butter, lots of potatoes, milk, and evaporated milk, and when I put it in my stew pot I can get quite a few meals out of it without much additional extra work (which is just having a few more potatoes to peel and a few more cans to open).

When I make soup, I pour it into a pitcher to make it easier to get into the resealable plastic bags.  If you're going to freeze soup, I'd recommend waiting for the soup to cool before putting in the bags and also getting true freezer bags so they're less likely to open up or get freezer burn.

6 quart bags full of homemade Cream of Potato Soup ready to be put in the freezer!

While I was letting the soup cool I worked on a huge batch of Pioneer Woman's Lasagna.  (This week I just pulled a bunch of recipes from her cookbook).

I made three batches, but we're going to eat one for dinner tonight so I'll only freeze the other two.  For some reason I had a quart bag full of meat sauce left over after assembling the three trays, so I can get an extra meal of spaghetti out of it as well!  Bonus!

Whenever I freeze an entree in trays I write the cooking directions on the foil.  This way, anyone can pull it out of the freezer and use it, which is nice for us but also if I want to gift a frozen meal to someone it's self-explanatory for them as well.  (Frozen meals are SO nice for people who might be sick or needing a meal, because then they have the flexibility to use it when they might need it most).

Finally, I make sure to record what I made on my freezer chart that I keep on the fridge.  Since the meals are stored in the basement, where I never go if I can help it, having a list handy helps me use the meals I've worked so hard to prepare.  (It also lets me know when I need to do another cooking binge).

You can easily make your own chart, but this is one I copy from a 30-day cookbook I have.  I put a slash mark for each meal I store, and then when I use it I put another opposite slash mark (making an X) so I can keep track of the number left in the freezer.  There's also a handy place in the right column to write down added ingredients that I might need for that particular entree.

Do you do any freezer cooking?  If so, I'd love to hear what recipes are your favorites or any tips you might have to share!