You know how sometimes you jot down ideas on your “to-do list” or on a list of things to try one day, yet never get around to it? That was me when it came to making freezer meals.
I love the idea for so many reasons, including that you get your shopping done and make a mess all at once and then you’re DONE. Plus you’re left with however many meals you decide to make prepped and ready to go. I don’t know about you, but with evening weeknight activities and gasp… Christmas rolling around, it’ll be nice to know I can easily pull something out of the freezer and not have to worry about having to make that dreaded mad dash to the store to pick up something last-minute for dinner.
So as my first attempt at tackling the idea of whipping up freezer meals, I started with five recipes. I wanted to make sure the meals not only tasted great but to see if the entire process was worth it.
Is Cooking In Bulk Worth It?
I discovered that yes, it can be a little time-consuming upfront when it comes to shopping for the ingredients, but surprisingly, prepping the ingredients and getting everything ready to go in the freezer was completed in under an hour! Also worth noting, every recipe was really good! I loved the classic herb-roasted chicken and vegetables, but just as much loved the flavor of the 5-ingredient black bean enchilada casserole.
So if you were like me and skeptical to jump on the freezer meal bandwagon, or you just don’t know where to start, give these five recipes a try. To make things even easier, I’ve provided a printable shopping list with everything you need, plus labels to attach to your meals so you don’t forget how to prepare them once you pull them out of the freezer.
1. Herb Roasted Chicken and Vegetables
- 2 pounds of bone-in chicken
- 1 pound of small red and white potatoes
- 1/2 cup of peeled and sliced carrots
- 1 onion, cut into chunks
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon of parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
In a large bowl, combine the chopped onion, halved potatoes and chopped carrots. Drizzle with olive oil and add Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
Add the vegetable mixture to a baking pan (or two) and place chicken on top. Sprinkle the dish with parsley and a little more salt and pepper. Cover it, then freeze.
Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before cooking. Then, bake the uncovered dish at 375° for 45 minutes to one hour.
If you’d prefer the chicken to be crispy, you can uncover the dish and cook a few minutes longer, or you can place the dish under the broiler for five or so minutes.
*Side note: Because I felt like cooking 2 pounds of chicken all at once was a lot, I decided to divide the recipe using two smaller pans. This way, I was able to make two separate meals out of it. Totally your call!
2. 5-Ingredient Black Bean Enchilada Casserole
- 2 15-ounce cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 pound of crumbled ground beef, cooked and drained
- 1 1/2 cups of enchilada sauce
- 1 cup of shredded Mexican-blend cheese
- One package of flour tortillas
- Optional garnish: green onions, sliced avocado or sour cream
In a large bowl, combine beans with half of the enchilada sauce (about 3/4 cup) and half of the cheese (1/2 cup).
In a large baking dish, add a layer of flour tortillas. You can tear them to fit, but want the tortillas to cover the entire bottom of the pan.
Add 1/2 of the bean mixture over the layer of tortillas, followed by 1/2 of the ground beef crumbles. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce and repeat layers once more.
Top dish with the remaining shredded cheese and cover it with foil.
Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before cooking. Then, bake the covered dish at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover, then bake an additional 10 minutes.
You can garnish the dish with green onions, sliced avocado or sour cream, or all three. Yum!
3. Teriyaki Chicken with Rice and Vegetables
- 1 cup of prepared teriyaki sauce (1/2 cup for recipe, 1/4 cup before baking and 1/4 cup for serving)
- 1 1/2 cup of uncooked instant brown rice
- 1/2 can of pineapple chunks
- 1 16 oz. bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables
- 1 1/4 cups of low sodium chicken broth
- 6 thin-sliced chicken breasts
- salt and pepper
- optional garnish: sliced green onions
In a large bowl, stir together rice, undrained pineapple, frozen vegetables, chicken broth and 1/2 cup of the teriyaki sauce.
Pour ingredients into a 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan, then add the chicken on top and season with salt and pepper. Pour remaining 1/4 cup of teriyaki sauce over the chicken and cover the pan tightly with foil.
Freeze until ready to bake.
Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before cooking. Then, bake the covered dish at 400° for one hour.
Garnish with additional teriyaki sauce. You could also add sliced green onions before serving.
4. Turkey Meatball and Tortellini Soup
- 45 oz of chicken broth (about 3 cans)
- 1 15oz of sweet onion diced tomatoes, not drained
- 1 16 oz package of frozen cheese tortellini
- 10 oz of frozen chopped spinach
- 12 oz of frozen turkey meatballs
- 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning
- Optional garnish: shredded parmesan cheese
Add all the ingredients, except for the chicken broth, into a large freezer bag and freeze.
When ready to cook, place chicken broth in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add ingredients from the bag and cook until pasta is tender and the meatballs are heated through about 15 minutes.
Garnish with shredded mozzarella or parmesan cheese.
5. Sausage with Peppers and Onions
- 10 ounces of mild Italian Sausage, cooked and sliced into 1-inch pieces
- 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 orange or yellow pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 medium-sized onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 (14.5-ounces) can of diced tomato
- 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Add cooked and chopped sausage, vegetables, and garlic into a large freezer bag.
Separately, combine the tomatoes and pepper flakes and add them to a smaller bag.
Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before cooking. Then, stir-fry the sausage and vegetables, add in the tomato-based sauce and allow to cook for 10 minutes or until hot.
You can serve this recipe on hoagie rolls, or enjoy it with a side of rice. So many options!
Also, don’t forget to print your shopping list and labels. Enjoy!