Sometime in March I decided to do another freezer cooking session, but definitely not as large as what I did last month! We just finished up the last of our month’s meals, which is amazing, and now I’ve got a few more to add to the freezer. Here’s what I ended up with:
- 16 bean and cheese burritos
- 16 breakfast burritos
- 40 meatballs
- 2 bags of Black Bean and Corn Salsa Chicken
- 2 bags of chili
- 1 pan of Baked Penne Pasta
- 2 bags of Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie
- 16 buttermilk biscuits (to go with the chicken pot pie)
That’s 6 concrete dinners, possibly 13 if the meatballs give us 2 meals and the bean and cheese burritos give us 5, plus enough breakfast burritos to last us a couple weeks. Not too bad!
I’d like to say I did all this in a weekend like last time, but unfortunately life happened and I stretched it out to 2 weeks. It may be possible to do all this in a day, if you have multiple slow cookers or choose to buy cans of refried beans instead of make them. First I’ll show you how I did it, and then I’ll give you some tips on how to make things easier, as well as include a link to all the recipes and grocery list!
On the first day, all I did was make the chili and baked penne pasta. With the chili, I just cooked the meat, and then took everything else and divided it into two gallon-sized freezer bags. It’s not necessary to cook the chili itself beforehand, just the meat, so that saves a lot of time. The baked pasta took a bit longer, because I had to cook the meat, then boil the pasta, then get everything else mixed together. It’s a long process, but totally worth it when I don’t have to do all this the night we have it for dinner! Like the chili, I didn’t bake the pasta, just put some foil on top and labeled it.
This day, I forced myself in the kitchen before Allison woke up and prepared my buttermilk biscuits. I’ll never make biscuits another way again; something about the buttermilk just makes these awesome! In fact, we had a lot of buttermilk left over so I made 2 more batches a few days later. They freeze great and defrost well in the microwave.
I then cooked 2 pounds of pinto beans in the slow cooker and mashed them up for the bean and cheese burritos I was going to make later. My grocery list below only requires 1 pound, but Aldi sells them in 2-pound bags, so I was able to make up a couple bags for the freezer. These also freeze very well.
The only thing I did this day was make the bean and cheese burritos. Since the beans were already made, it was really easy to just assemble them and place them on a cookie sheet to freeze. I had 2 bags worth of beans left over; my favorite thing to do with them is add cheese and use it as a dip for tortilla chips!
Day 4 was cooking and assembling breakfast burritos. I cooked up the sausage and scrambled eggs, then added cheese to each burrito. The final result looks just like the bean and cheese burritos above; both made 16.
Day 5 was the meatballs, salsa chicken, and chicken pot pie. I tried to do the meatballs the day before, but there was a huge windstorm that knocked out our power right in the middle of assembling these! I tried cooking them on the stovetop like the recipe suggested, but it just took way too long, so I baked them at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and they turned out perfectly.
The salsa chicken was really easy because it was just a “dump and freeze” recipe, so no cooking involved! There were supposed to be two bags of chicken pot pie, but we ate one for dinner that night. =)
Tips for Successful Freezer Cooking
- Label everything before you put it in the freezer! Especially for bags of chilis and soups; it’d be good to know what they are before you thaw and cook! I always put the name and the date I cooked it, and since we’re tracking nutrition I put the calorie info on each container, too.
- Lay all bags flat in the freezer. The easiest way to do this is lay the bags flat on a cookie sheet and set in the freezer. This creates so much free space in your freezer, and you can stack them upright with labels right on top, where it opens, for easy visibility.
- Flash freeze individual items before putting them in bags. For example, the burritos and biscuits. If you place them all in a bag before freezing, it’ll all freeze into one big clump. Not that I know from experience or anything… To do this, just lay everything on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or on a cooling rack, like with the burritos above.
Now what you’ve been waiting for: the recipes and grocery list! The link below takes you to a Google Doc with everything you need. Additional instructions and tips are included inside, too. Make sure you click the links for each recipe to support the original creator!