Tuesday, January 30, 2007

FREEZER FRIENDLY / MAKE AHEAD MEALS

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Here are Freezer Friendly and Make Ahead recipes featured in my blog: (more will be added as I go through my blog & update with freezer and make ahead instructions...)



Freezer Meals: Preparations  (for details about where to purchase specific items I used to freeze meals.)



98 comments:

julie said...

Have been planning to make a freezer full of oven meals for my grandparents and came across your blog. Thanks! I have a quick question-I want to make these in foil pans so it will be easy for them to pop into the oven. How do you avoid freezer burn? Is there a trick I don't know about? Thank you-I can't wait to get started!

Joelen said...

Hi Julie! For some detailed info on containers to use for freezer meals, please check out this link. I also mention using foil pans, which might be helpful. http://joelens.blogspot.com/2010/05/freezer-meals-preparations.html

Say It With Destiny! said...

I'm excited to discover your blog! My question is when do you freeze things like your blueberry muffins? Does this happen after you make the batter and put it into an aluminum cupcake pan, or do you bake them first, and then put them in the freezer?

Joelen said...

Say it with Destiny - thanks for finding me! For muffins, I bake them completely and cool, wrap and then freeze. When I'm ready to eat them, I remove them from the freezer and let it come to room temp.

Heather said...

What fantastic list! I am so glad to have found a link to this post through Pinterest. I have never loved the idea of freezer meals because they all sounded gross but these sound delicious! Thank you!

Megs Stapleton said...

After an open request for easy make ahead freezer meals, my friend suggested your blog - And I am glad that she did! We are expecting our second child and have a toddler at home right now. It will be rather crazy.

Your recipes look great and I can't wait to get started. I am sure that my mother and husband will appreciate it as well!

The Matthews' Family said...

So thankful for this! I am having my second child in a few weeks and this is perfect!

amycornwell said...

Awesome, thank you so much! Can't wait to check them all out.

Mandy said...

Hi! I am going through your freezer recipes (found on pinterest) and wanted to say thanks so much for sharing them. I am really looking forward to trying them. :-)

Anna said...

Great list! Was looking for recipes outside of lasagna and casaroles. This will be great!

Anonymous said...

where do you purchase your foil pans and jars with lids etc?

Joelen said...

Anonymous - please check out this link (Freezer Meals: Preparations) that talks in detail about where to purchase specific items I used to freeze meals.) http://joelens.blogspot.com/2010/05/freezer-meals-preparations.html

Amy said...

This is fantastic! Thanks for sharing these!!

JLKey said...

Thank you so much for this post! I LOVE to cook, but with 1 year old triplets...cooking every night is not possible. This is a fantastic way for me to prepare meals in advance! THANK YOU!!

smooched said...

I AM so glad to come across to your blog- I found it through Pinterest. There are times where I don't feel like to cook, or just don't have time to cook a meal but I always try do it every day because I want my child eat good meals every night. This is like gonna save my life and so much time for those times when I cannot do it. THANK you so much- I'm definitely FOLLOWING you now :)

Caitlin said...

Every once in a while I come across your blog (just randomly) and every time I'm like: This girl is BRILLIANT!

Kathryn said...

Can you recommend a good kind of container for freezer meals? Should I use glass for reheating purposes? tinfoil covers? something else?
Thanks!

Joelen said...

Kathyrn, please see the very top link in this list. It is for Freezer Meals: Preparations and includes details on specific containers I used for freezing meals and where to purchase them.

deb said...

This is absolutely amazing! Found you through Pinterest and boy, I do believe I should be following your blog! :)

Freezer Meals said...

I always love to find new recipes for freezer meals! Thanks for the post.

April said...

I found your link through Pinerest. What a great list of freezer meals! The best I've seen so far. I'm excited to start trying some! Thanks!

Shasta said...

I found your link through Pinterest. I love the idea of freezing meals ahead of time! Thank you so much for your blog post. I'm following your blog now. :)

CharmCityMall said...

This looks like a great way to save time!! I'm a mom of 3 gluten free kids and I like how some of these dishes can be made with GF alternatives! Thanks

Colin, Brandi, Dylan, Joshua and Little Boy Blue said...

These recipes look great! Do you have any or could you list the vegetarian or more frugal ones? I love this idea but we are on a super tight budget

Sarah said...

This is a serious list! I've done a bunch of freezer cooking and your recipes all look great. I'm planning a new freezer session soon!

Bonnie (BornInaZoo) said...

Wow! Happy to have found you via Pinterest. I am single & my favorite meals are family sized. Love all of your tips!

Brandon said...

I have to tell you, I really think that blog posts like these are so helpful to the average family that struggles to feed their family healthy, affordable meals. I remember being young and going to the grocery store, where my mother would tell me to pick out a bunch of TV dinners for the week. We lived out of the microwave, and when there was nothing left in the freezer, a decision to go out for dinner was easily made. I believe this might be what got me so interested in food made from scratch. I apologize for writing a lot, but I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate this post, it really made me remember why I fell in love with cooking in the first place.

-Brandon
www.theyummybits.com
@theyummybits

Joelen Tan said...

Thank you Brandon! I know for us, saving where we can & making healthier food choices are important, so freezing/make ahead meals kills 2 birds. I'm so glad that this post was helpful!... & love that we share the same passion in the kitchen :)

Carly Homer said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing! My husband and I just purchased a deep freezer since we are having a baby soon. I wanted to make sure all the meals for after baby's arrival were taken care of. I have searched and searched but this is the best post I have found. You have made my freezer meal dream a reality! Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any suggestions for make and freeze ahead Christmas morning options? It's always such a rush: coffee and snacks while opening presents, a big brunch and getting the turkey in the oven in time to eat Christmas dinner early enough for the kids.

Joelen Tan said...

Hi Anonymous! Thanks for your question - it's a great one, especially this time of year. Some make ahead & freeze breakfast items include muffins, coffeecakes, pancakes, waffles, etc. Pretty much any pastry will freeze and defrost nicely. Your question has inspired me to dig up some dishes to feature as a collection... so thank you and stay tuned for specific suggestions & links to recipes in a future post!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Joelen. I can hardlt wait for your collection. I was hoping for some savory dishes but I suppose I could just make the 'usual', quiches and such. I hate the mess of cooking bacon but my family loves it so I always cook up two or three pounds at the beginning of December for Christmas morning, pop it in a freezer bag and crisp it up in a high oven for a few minutes before serving. Works great!

Anonymous said...

This is going to be awesome for when Baby comes, we are going to have no time for cooking then! Thank you so much!

Monica

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this! I am excited to try these. We are starting a freezer meals ministry at church and I need lots of ideas.

Momof5 said...

Love that you have skyline on here...grew up in cincy, def need to cook and freeze for those 3 way making nights!! Dont forget the oyster crackers :)

Bethany Lee said...

Anonymous, you asked about make ahead freezer meals for Christmas morning. My husbands family does sausage balls for breakfast on Christmas and they're great in the freezer! 1lb pkg ground breakfast sausage (we use spicy jimmy dean), 2 cups bisquik, 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Mix and form into one inch balls. Freeze in baggie. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Yinka S said...

Thank you thank you thank you. I found this link on Pinterest and I'm so HAPPY! Family won't know what hit them.

andrea said...

Love this site! I couldn't find the answer to this anywhere, so sorry if I missed it. Do you do your freezer cooking in one big marathon day. How long did it to stock your freezer like in the picture. (assuming it is your fridge)

Joelen Tan said...

Hi Andrea! Great question - For the picture of our upright freezer above, it took me 2 full days to prepare a majority of the dishes shown since it was mainly assembling the ingredients together and not so much cooking anything. For freezer meals now, I tend to make a large batch of a recipe and prepping half of it for the freezer. It kills 2 birds with one stone that way. So if you plan on making any recipe, I'd suggest doubling it or if it makes a good amount to begin with, plan to freeze half of it so you don't have to go out of your way to prepare it in the future. Hope this helps!

Stephanie said...

I love love love your blog...I am recently widowed and I am a baker, meal planner and cooking-in-the-kitchen/gift-giving queen of my family. I make huge meals and package them and freeze them for my father who lives alone & I worry about his eating habits!!!! Thx for all the recipes & tips...

melontherocks said...

How did it take me so long to find your blog! It is wonderful!

I don't know if I missed this but I was wondering how you would go about freezing potatoes? I'm thinking about trying to transfer a chicken and dumplings crock pot recipe into a freezer meal and the hard part is what to do with the potatoes. I'm thinking just boil them in water for a minute or two (cleaned, peeled and cubed) and then letting them cool and flash freezing them before putting them in freezer bag but I've never actually tried it.

Again, wonderful blog!

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic! I'm so glad I found the link to this on Pinterest :)
Quick question: Every time I've tried freezing meals in the past, I end up with excess liquid in the dish. Any suggestions?

Jennifer said...

Hi, found your "Freezer Meals" on pinterest. I'm a mother of 2 and work 12hour shifts. I will be trying some of your recipes:)

Joelen Tan said...

Hi Anonymous - hmmm... I'm not sure about the excess water, but it might help to drain off any liquid once it's thawed completely before cooking. Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

I purchased the Gladware oven bake containers as suggested, but my meals seem to be getting freezer burn. What do i do? What am i doing wrong?

Joelen Tan said...

Hi Anonymous - What type of freezer are you using? You are more likely to get freezer burn faster in your refrigerator freezer than a separate freezer. The reason? With frequent opening and shutting of your freezer, it is constantly working to make sure that items stay properly frozen. Also, always leave enough head space (which is the space between the top of the food and the lid). You need to leave 1/2 inch to 1 inch so that the liquids have space to expand when you are freezing them. Some worry that this will leave room for freezer burn. You could also put some plastic wrap and a layer of foil over the food and then place the lid on top. Also make sure that the food is not hot or warm when you're about to freeze it. The steam it will emit will eventually turn to water, then freeze when frozen... leading to freezer burn. Allow any partially cooked dishes to cool completely in the fridge before covering and freezing. Lastly, how long has it been in your freezer? Keep in mind that the longer it is in the freezer the more likely it is to lose flavor and quality over time... And get freezer burn. Hope this helps!

Rewa said...

LOVE this! Glad I stumbled onto YOU! Have you found any recipes that don't work so well frozen? Would hate to pick a few from the list only to find that they are "horrid" once thawed...hope you understand my thinking...

Joelen Tan said...

Hi Rewa! Rest assured, I've only shared recipes on my site that I personally loved and my family/friends enjoyed as well. I don't think it would be beneficial to share recipes that weren't worth sharing here!

Brooke said...

Thanks so much for this great list! Often a lot of freezer recipes I find are so BORING! Not a boring item on this list! Can't wait to try some!

Anonymous said...

Been freezing garden produce for 20 years. Def. use a deep freezer. You should date your packages and rotate for freshness. The best way I have found to keep freezer burn away is to use the plastic bags and use a machine to suck ALL the air and bubbles out! Flatten them out and freeze them flat. When frozen stand the bag upright and you can fit a ton of food in a small space. Crazy, but we have had some things last up to 3 years!

Anonymous said...

I wish you were up for hire! I could use someone to come over and show me how to cook and store! Thanks for the info :)

Lydia said...

I've been curious about freezer meals for a while now. My hubby travels on business a lot and I'm always struggling to prepare dinner (stress-free) for myself and two toddlers. This will be such a help. I made the Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf (got 2 out of it), Cheeseburger Meatloaf (got 3 out of that), and the Baked Chicken Kiev. I'm planning on doing some more, but even just that gives me enough for a couple of weeks, including leftovers for lunch :). I'm so excited to see how stress free my hubby's next business trip is for me!!! Thank you so much for this post and all the work you put into it. It's my favourite post out of all the searching I've done for freezer meals. Thanks again!!!

The Bridges said...

I'm in a freezer meal co-op and pinned your page on Pinterest. The Southwest Eggrolls look great. I'm wondering what you do to thaw and re-heat them. Do you fry before freezing?
Thank you!

The Bridges said...

NEVERMIND! I wasn't reading -- just skimming. Oops!

greaterthanthesumofmyparts said...

I have gone to places like www.letsdish.com over the years but have been really wanting to do this sort of thing for myself. Having been laid off for the last 8 months, keeping to a budget is a necessity. Therefore, I am wondering if you have any idea where I could find the types of containers they use in order to freeze food. It is basically tin containers with cardboard covers that pinch on. I never had a problem with freezer burn. Unfortunately, I jsut cant afford the Glad freeze to bake containers. I need far too many. I am having a mastectomy in two weeks and with a one year old and 5 year old, I need to prep all I can for the weeks afterwards.

Suggestions please?
Melissa
edamama@gmail.com

Joelen Tan said...

Melissa - thank you for your comment/question! I know our local Dollar Tree stores have those very containers you described - disposable foil with cardboard tops, same as what some restaurants use. The best part is they usually run $1 for a pack of three! I hope you have a Dollar Tree in your area... I'd definitely go there and stock up. Also, sending get well & speedy recovery vibes to you for your upcoming mastectomy!

Anonymous said...

Put them into ziploc bags after and suck the air out!

garrettgirl said...

You can put a layer of wax paper directly on top of the food before putting lid on and it creats a barrier so that it won't get frosted.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I stumbled upon you via Pinterest (of course)! I admit I did not take the time to read thru all of your comments, so you may have answered this somewhere along the way, BUT... I was wondering if you have a "grocery list" of everything that you prepare to stock your freezer with these meals?

Nicole Bostic said...

Wish I had found this blog before I left for basic so I could have prepared meals for my husband. Unfortunately I won't be home anytime soon to do this for him but I will definitely use these recipes in the future

Anonymous said...

Do you have any freezer friendly crock pot meals you can share. I work full time so it would be great to defrost a meal the night before, throw it in the crock pot in the morning and have it ready when I get home from work.

Handywoman said...

This is really great of you to share. I've been asked to give directions for cooking for a month and freezing by so many friends and I did start it but it was such a daunting task...Because I would have to compile recipes as well. Everything you need is here on your page! When I was younger with a young child, working full time and being of much more meager means I had to do this or we simply would not eat. This not only saves time but tons of money and is so much healthier for you than eating out or those horrible store bought meals. So if you want to stop eating out, save money, time and feel better then I suggest you do this every month. You will love yourself for it. When I did this it would take me one full day uninterrupted to cook for an entire month. All you have to be is organized.

Tabitha said...

I'm kinda surprised with lasagna and garlic bread on your list that spaghetti isn't but that's one I would like to try

Donna M. said...

Is there a way I can get your postings by email? What a great source for cooking ahead !

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog from homesteadingtoday.com. Is this the only freezer list? Looks delicious!

Smoothies By Erika* said...

This is an amazing list. So glad I found your blog on Pinterest!

Brooke said...

I've now tried about six of these recipes...so far so good! The pasta milano is awesome..my favorite of the ones I've tried. The jerk chicken, breakfast burritos and shrimp scampi were also very good! Can't wait to try the rest of them. I did put together about 15 of these recipes in one day...it just about killed me but now it's so worth it.

Anonymous said...

That is very sweet of you!

Anonymous said...

So excited to see this post. As a teacher and a coach, during volleyball season I run low on time to cook. This will come in handy because my husband can handle putting something in the oven if everything else is ready! Can't wait to try out all these recipes!

Shannon said...

I can't tell you how excited I am to stock my freezer with great meals! I do have a question though...do ALL recipes lend themselves to being freezer meals? For instance, you've listed many other recipes on your blog...would they work as freezer recipes, too, or do the ones listed above just work the best?
Thanks!!!

Louise said...

I am so glad to have come across your site!!! I am considering getting some ladies together for a cooking / exchange party (get 4-6 ladies each purchase ingredents and have fun preparing together, take home and freeze. Wanted to find some recipes and yours sound wonderful. Just reading the ingredents I know they will be yummy. Thank you so much for sharing all your tips.

Moi said...

Can you do a vegetarian set of freezer meals next? So hard to find good freezer recipes that aren't choc full of dead! :-)

Jennie said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I've been wanting to do this for years but every recipe I came across was for casseroles or crockpots. I'm away from home 12 hours so crock pots aren't always the answer and who wants to eat a casserole every night?!?! With the school year approaching, I'm definitely giving these a try!

Gina said...

This blog post is helping me so much! I work 50+ hours a week, go to school full time and night and have 4 kids....I need things that aren't drive through our hamburger helper that won't take a year to cook when I get in at night. Thank you!

Jenny said...

Thanks so much for this post and your preparation post. I just did my first freezer meals yesterday and your blog helped out a lot. I featured you in my blog post.
darkchocolateandmerlot.com

Christa Aaron said...

Linked back to you for a few recipes on my blog. Everything has been delicious so far!

http://allgrownup2011.blogspot.com/2012/09/first-attempt-at-freezer-cooking.html

Anonymous said...

Joelen, you are a wonderful surprise. Thank you so much for doing all the pioneering work for the rest of us. I can't wait to get started. I'm going to make these for my father who's 89, and on special diet. Now I know he'll be eating properly and most of all healthy. THANK YOU, THANK YOU and best of health to you and your family. Xopa

Manang said...

This is impressive. How long did it take for you to make all these?

Penny said...

Joelen,

Great Blog on freezer meals. I noticed many are commenting that they are doing this for elderly relatives as well. We started doing this by cooking a larger meal and before serving the family I make two freezer meals first for my Mother. Then any leftovers also go into freezer meals. It's an easy way to "add" some extra variety to the freezer, for you and elderly family!

Jan C. said...

I just found this blog post via a Pinterest link, and your list of freezer meals looks fantastic. I was wondering, though, about the Chicken Tikka Masala. I'd always been taught that meals with cream, yogurt, and sour cream do not freeze well because they separate when thawed. Does this one truly hold up as a freezer meal, or is there something special one needs to do to prepare it for the freezer?

Jamie said...

I used to hate the mess of cooking bacon until my MIL told me I could make it in the oven. Place parchment paper on a rimmed cookie sheet, lay the bacon out close together, trying not to overlap, and bake @ 450 for 15-20 min. It is great. Once it is done and the bacon is out of the pan, I let the grease cool/harden then throw out the parchment paper. :) hope this helps :)

Joshua and Matthew's Mommy said...

You can buy the plastic Ovenware by Glad...they go in the oven, have airtight plastic lids, and are reusable.

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Samantha D. said...

I just recently started following your blog and love it! I'm pregnant with my third child and plan on using your freezer meal methods. I have a question though for making crock pot recipes ahead of time- if the recipe calls for cream-of-whatever soup and/or other liquids, would you add it to the bag before you freeze, or would you add a note on the bag to add it before cooking?

Annie Anderson said...

My girlfriends and I have done two community kitchens so far and LOVE how it simplifies our lives. I am looking forward to tryingyour recipes! Thanks for sharing them!!

Unknown said...

I wish I had found this when I was pregnant! I'll definitely remember it for next time :)

Katherine4Jesus said...

I am so excited about this list I cannot wait to try recipes starting with Chicken Kiev one :) Thank you for sharing on pinterest

Amber said...

Hi! I am due with our first baby toward the end of the year, and this just made my day! I have one question. How long can you leave meals in the freezer before needing to use them up? Do you usually write a "use by ___ date" on the meals? I'm just wondering how long after baby comes the meals will last if I make them within the same week of delivering. Thanks for sharing!!!

Joelen Tan said...

@Amber - congratulations! It's such an exciting time and here's to a smooth & happy pregnancy :) As for use by dates, I found that when packaged well for the freezer, they would be good for up to 3 months. That's the longest I had meals in my freezer for before I emptied it out and they still were great. Writing a 'Use By' Date is always a good idea & I usually include it. The only exception are dishes I know I'll be preparing sooner. Best of luck to you & thank you for visiting our site! :)

Anonymous said...

To Joelen: Thanx for all the info; my husband & I have just purchased a motor coach (as opposed to the huge motor buses) & we're taking off as much as other things can permit; i.,e: deadlines etc. Therefore the listing of freezer items is great as I plan to stock the freezer in our 5th wheel w/meals partially cooked & use the smaller portions in the motor coach as we're traveling the country!! Where do we drop in to say thank you! Oh, 1 of the best prefrozen meals I've found is a 1/4 portion of meatloaf; freeze it in separate containers & have it ready to go in the oven; we love spaghetti sauce & I love to make it the loooong way; as my counter space is limited-holds a small coffee pot period! I have to cook w/electric skillet, slowcooker on boards but, it works! sue kubecka

Anonymous said...

So awesome of you to help all of us out there with so little time. I am going home to clean out the freezer and get some shopping done this week. I had my parents move in with me 2 years ago because of their health issues (a single mom of 5 with 2 still living at home) They are older, but its my parents I am worried about. Being very old and their health isn't well at all, but now I have some healthy ideas and it isnt the same things I usually make. I can make smaller portions then heat them up when I get home. You are truly a god send...bless you!!!

ASam said...

Can you share your chicken pot pie filling that you used in the loaf pans with a pie crust on top for the freezer meal?

Anonymous said...

One of the best blogs on freezer-batch-weekend cooking I've come across. Many thanks.

Reaching4MyDreams said...

I found you through Pinterest, and I love your blog. I am a nursing student and my schedule is about to get way beyond crazy, so I think many of your fabulous recipes will find their way into my freezer!

AprilChristina said...

Hi! Question. I am sorry if you already answered it above, but...
I often buy the bags of boneless, skinless chicken breasts because they are usually on sale. Can you use this for freezer meals? What I mean is, is it safe to thaw/cook the chicken and then freeze it again? Or can you only use fresh chicken? I'm sure fresh would taste better, but I'm on a tight budget, so I really just want to know if it's safe. Also, I have a recipe where I bread chicken then bake. If I want to make this a freezer meal, would I put it in the freezer unbaked (raw but "prepared" to bake) or would I bake it first and then freeze it?

Ruby said...

I have made/cooked meatloaf and frozen it, wrapped in plastic wrap, in individual servings and put in Ziploc bags and dated when frozen. Have used them with good results 3 to 4 months later. That way I can use one or more servings as needed.

Nikki Warren said...

Love this list! Would you be willing to share a complete grocery list for the next batch of freezer ready make ahead dinners you do? Call me lazy or call my life hectic ;) but I'd love to print a grocery list from you, purchase & then cook. Thank you for sharing! Your blog is amazing!

healthylivying said...

I recently tried meal preps. Would love to know what you think about what I did here healthylivying.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/meal-prep-first-timer/

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