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Freezing meals

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I need to learn how to do it.  I mean, I understand the concept, but except for raw meatballs, I really never froze any  "meals" and I would like to do it.  I need meals that we can pull out of the freezer, defrost and eat.  So, here are my questions, as obvious as they might seem.

What meals taste good after being frozen and de-frosted?

Can I freeze soups?  If so, what containers would I use?

What containers would I use in general?  I used plastic bags for raw meatballs, so I could just dump them into the pan and throw away the baggie

Do you have any good recipes that I could try?  We don't eat pork or any kind of shell fish.  And nothing with "white" sauces.

I don't have a crock pot or a slow-cooker, so it would have to be something that can be cooked on the stove / oven.

Please help me!!!  Thank you!!

 

 

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Chicken pot pie. I make several when I make one. I put them in a rectangular loaf pan (only 3 of us at home now so that size works for us) but lined with Al foil long enough so it folds over the top. I then put them in the freezer for an hour or two, then remove the packet of Al foil (with the pot pie inside, so I can reuse the loaf pans for other stuff) and put them in freezer baggies. No need to defrost, just stick in the oven when it is time to cook them, peel back top layer so it is not covering pot pie, cook maybe 10-15 minutes longer. https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/26317/chicken-pot-pie-ix/
 

I also make and freeze chicken tetrazzini. I use fettuccine vs. spaghetti though. I use the same method for freezing this as I do the chicken pot pie.  https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/17646/chicken-tetrazzini-iv/

I freeze soups. Usually I make a soup base, but don't add all the water/chicken broth and freeze them in plastic container (the Glad/Ziploc ones with the twist off lid - the ones that are fairly inexpensive so you can dispose of them). I usually put the container in the frig the day before I want the soup, but if not, just stick it in hot water for a few minutes to loosen it, dump it in a pot and then add the additional liquid. Chicken noodle soup (without the noodles), Lemon Chicken soup (without the rice), Chili (but it has all the liquid in it, but my chili is thick so not much liquid). 

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To get started, I’d double your current meals and freeze those.

As far as containers, it may depend on how you plan to heat the meal.  If you are going to cook in the oven, I’d get disposable foil containers.  If in the crockpot or pressure cooker, freezer bags.

Currently, I pretty much just freeze meat, not full meals.  For example, this weekend I got a London Broil that I sliced up and added a marinade (that I made) in the bags.  Today we had a meatloaf that I made and froze a couple of weeks ago.  I portion out chicken and cut in different ways and add marinades such as balsamic, fajita, and bbq.

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I had a long post once on freezer meals. I will try to find and link it.  (found it here!)

I prefer skillet meals or oven meals. Only a few dishes I love in a crockpot (like roast, stew, hungarian goulash, some soups).

My favorite thing I did was prep meals like those freezer meals in a bag with the components: meat, veges, sauce each frozen separate. So you cook from frozen and add each item as needed while cooking, I am currently going through my recipes and planning some more.

I will be making more kafta, hamburgers, steak bites, fajitas, ravioli bake, kung pao shrimp, meatloaves, garlic pepper steak, Hungarian goulash, General Tso Meatballs, Onion Hamburger Steaks(make gravy and mash potatoes day of), Philly Cheesesteak, enchiladas, marinaded peruvian shrimp, pesto salmon packets.

If I can get to the butcher and get some chicken, I will mix that up a little.

I use foil trays or ziploc. Depending on recipe sometimes vacuum seal. 

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We freeze a lot of our meals. Lentils, stews, soups, chilis, pastas in tomato sauces, rice with simmer sauces. I use glass containers so they can be defrosted and reheated in the microwave.  Pyrex or snapware food containers work well. Wide mouth mason jars work, but you have to be careful about not filling them too full. Some meals I freeze many servings together and some I break up into single servings which is helpful at lunch time. It is easiest to just make a larger dish and freeze part of it. On a busy night, I can pull out a frozen soup or lentil dish and add a salad and bread for a meal.

Edited by Izzybizzy
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32 minutes ago, Izzybizzy said:

We freeze a lot of our meals. Lentils, stews, soups, chilis, pastas in tomato sauces, rice with simmer sauces. I use glass containers so they can be defrosted and reheated in the microwave.  Pyrex or snapware food containers work well. Wide mouth mason jars work, but you have to be careful about not filling them too full. Some meals I freeze many servings together and some I break up into single servings which is helpful at lunch time. It is easiest to just make a larger dish and freeze part of it. On a busy night, I can pull out a frozen soup or lentil dish and add a salad and bread for a meal.

That's exactly what I was thinking - I just need to figure out my container options.  I was thinking Mason jars for soups and Pyrex or Al foil for other stuff....

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Before I start teaching each semester, I make crockpot or oven meals for the family and then freeze the cooked meal in gallon freezer bags so it just has to be thawed and re-heated before dinner.  There are some meals where I chop/assemble the ingredients and put them all in the freezer uncooked, in order to dump them in the crockpot in the AM.  Soups/stews freeze well, as does lasagna, pot pie, beef tips in gravy, chicken dishes, baked ziti, pot roast, cabbage rolls, meatloaf, and stuffed peppers.  I would invest in a crockpot because they make life easier, but if that is not possible, all of the meals I listed can be made without a crockpot and frozen first.  I make the chicken dishes, baked ziti, pot roast, cabbage rolls, pot pie, meatloaf, and stuffed peppers in the over rather than a crockpot. Soups/stews get stored in glass Pyrex storage containers, and most other things in plastic zip-lock bag; I've been diong this for many years!

Edited by Reefgazer

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I use quart or gallonsize freezer bags for nearly everything, because they are so space efficient. I’ll do turkey tetrazzini, chicken currry, Kung pao chicken, Salisbury steak, cottage pie (filling and mashed potatoes in separate bags, assembled later), pot roast, white chicken chili, etc. I thaw in bag and dump in a dish when ready to heat (oven or stovetop, depending). 

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On 1/1/2019 at 9:51 PM, SereneHome said:

What meals taste good after being frozen and de-frosted?

I cook in large batches and make my own frozen breakfast/lunch/dinners.  About the only thing that I don't freeze would be a lot of potatoes, though if I think about it, there are frozen french fries at the grocery store, so it ought to be fine.  I will freeze a soup/stew with potato as an ingredient and it's fine.

Can I freeze soups?  If so, what containers would I use?

Absolutely, you can freeze soups.  I have lots of Tupperware containers that are good for fridge, freezer, microwave.  The latest version is called Vent N Serve.  They are expensive.  Then, there is the plastic in the microwave concern nowadays.  So, I'm trying to transition to OXO glass containers. I use freezer tape to note what's inside the containers.  I use Mason jars for dry goods in the pantry, but the metal ring in the freezer kind of icks me out because they get rusty.  I make different types of vege burgers and freeze them individually using aluminum foil. 

What containers would I use in general?  I used plastic bags for raw meatballs, so I could just dump them into the pan and throw away the baggie

I only use a baggie to store vege scraps for broth making.  I noted containers I use above. 

Do you have any good recipes that I could try?  We don't eat pork or any kind of shell fish.  And nothing with "white" sauces.

I have lots of recipes and I'm happy to share, though I mostly cook vegetarian.  Ds was a super picky eater and would not eat most of what I cooked, so I don't know if "normal" children would eat anything I make.  I have a terrific Sloppy Joes recipe from Cooking Light that serves 13 and freezes, thaws, and microwaves beautifully.  I tried to find it online, but it's so old that it has disappeared from the internet I think.  I think I used to be able to find it but it was published in their magazine in 1994.  Anyway, PM me with your email address if you would like recipes.  More non-vege recipes:  chicken tortilla soup,chicken and rice wraps, meatloaf.  Maybe I'll try to post these separately.

Hope that helps.

answers above

Edited by Sue in St Pete
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Sloppy Joes

 

Serves: 13 people

 

2 # lean ground round

1 1/2 c. chopped onion (1 large)

1/2 c. chopped green bell pepper (1 small)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2/3 c. water

1/2 c. catsup

2 T. mustard

4 t. chili powder

1 1/2 t. ground cumin

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

16 oz. tomato sauce (2 cans)

15 oz. black beans (1 can), drained

14 oz. diced tomatoes (1 can), drained

6 oz. tomato paste - (1 can)

13 hamburger buns (13)

 

Cook first 4 ingredients in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove mixture from pan; drain and pat dry with paper towels.

 

Wipe drippings from pan with a paper towel.

 

Return meat mixture to pan. Add water and next 10 ingredients; stir well. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

Yield: 13 servings (serving size: 1 bun and 2/3 cup meat mixture).

 

Source:  Cooking Light, May 1994, page 88

Edited by Sue in St Pete
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If you need a lot of guidance, "once a month meals"  is a subscription site that gives you a menu of meals according to the number of people in the family, makes your grocery list, then gives you prep,  freeze, and thaw instructions. I used them to get started so I only subscribed for a month or two, but it helped a lot. The database of recipes is huge and you can either take their menus (they do vegetarian, paleo, whole food, gluten free, etc) or pay extra and make your own. I found it very helpful to start me off and I got a lot of good recipes that the family really enjoys. 

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I recently checked out "Seriously Good Freezer Meals" by Karrie Truman. It had a number of recipes that we have liked. 

I'm always looking for recipes that freeze well, include substantial vegetable servings, and don't require any significant work as part of prep.

I make about 1 recipe a month, and we use one a week. 

I freeze soups also. I put a gallon freezer bag in a large plastic container. When the soup is a frozen block i pull it out of the plastic container.  Freezing flat is awkward because I don't seem to have anything suitable for thawing in. We freeze split pea, spicy bean, and potato soups.

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I am not super organized about freezer meals. I know people who spend a whole day cooking and then freeze stuff but generally I do not have that kind of time and I prefer to shop around sales for meat, etc. so the way I do it is rather piecemeal.  Often what I do is make extra of what I am making for dinner to freeze. Soups for example--I will make a double or triple batch and freeze the extra.  If I make meatballs (I do cook them before freezing)--I make a huge batch and freeze them. The same for things like bbq pork or salsa verde pork. I even bulk make taco meat sometimes and freeze it.  The same with sloppy joes.  I do have some freezer cookbooks, but again, their philosophy is more of spending a whole day cooking and put a bunch in the freezer and mine is more hodge podge. 

I use plastic bowls or freezer bags mostly. If you use bags, try to get as much air out as you can so it doesn't get the ice crystals in it.  

I wish I had enough glassware to spare it for the freezer, but I really don't.  One day maybe! 

question for the other posters--when you make pot pie for the freezer, do you bake it first? If not, I guess you don't do a bottom crust??

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If a one day marathon is too overwhelming you can make freezer-friendly meals all week and just double or triple them each day. By the week’s end you’ll have 2-3 weeks worth of additional dinners stashed away. 

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I freeze in ziplocks, a ton of pyrex containers, and have started to re-use large cottage cheese containers from Costco to freeze broth and soups.  I can quickly run them under hot water and then press the bottom to pop out the contents into a microwaveable bowl.  When freezing in ziplocks, squeeze all the air out, and freeze on a flat baking tray with them laying on their side.  After they are frozen you can stand them on edge and there is no wasted freezer space.  It's also easier if you need to cut the bag off to defrost the item.  

No recipe, taco soup freezes well.  Homemade Mac and Cheese I freeze 1/2.  If I make spaghetti sauce I freeze extra, same with taco meat.  I make a basic pulled pork and have started putting more than one pork roast into the insta-pot.  Saves on clean up.

I make this Chicken Wild Rice Soup and freeze 1/2.  I skip the parsley and the butter, flour milk step.  I just use extra broth.  My son can be picky and this is a good pull out of the freezer thing for him.

https://www.budgetbytes.com/creamy-chicken-rice-soup/

Thai Curry Coconut Sweet Potato Carrot Soup.

https://www.budgetbytes.com/thai-coconut-curry-carrot-soup/

 

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Ground beef and tomato dishes freeze really well - chili, taco soup, pasta sauce, sloppy joes, taco meat, etc.  These are easy to make double batches, or I make them at a time when we won't eat the whole large batch (before going out of town, or before company comes and I need to fix different food) so that we can eat one night's dinner and freeze the rest.  I use pyrex to freeze single servings and either big pyrex bowls or the square freezer containers that I use to freeze our garden produce if I have big batches...or even empty quart or 1/2 gallon containers from yogurt or sour cream.  I also freeze cooked shredded chicken in 1 and 2 cup portions to make quick soups.  Shredded pork BBQ also freezes well.  I've even found that leftover carryout pizza slices freeze well if you heat them in an oven.  

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That's what I'm doing this week.  Things I'm making double batches of:

French Lentil soup
Meatballs (I cook them first, then freeze them.)
Vegetarian chili
Mexican Vegetable Soup
Chipotle Black Beans
Barbacoa
Shipwreck (gr. beef, corn, rice)
Moroccan chicken pie (philo dough crust wrapped up like a burrito for easy reheating)
grilled chicken breasts (cooked; some whole, some chopped for tacos and chicken salad, some sliced for fajitas and salads)
Vietnamese Pork (marinated chops)
Chorizo black bean soup
brown rice (cooked)
Egyptian Koshari (lentils, pasta, rice, and chick peas with sauce)
power grains mix (quinoas, buckwheat, millet; cooked)
pork wontons
stock with a lot of ginger for the won ton soup base
pasta fazool soup (beans, pasta, gr, sausage)
buttermilk stored in 1C servings in ziploc bags to they can freeze flat

I use tupperware square single serving containers and rectangular ones with regular file folder labels for most of it. I do use some  I made a big mistake buying bowl shaped ones when I started out- they're less space efficient.  I wish I could afford the glass ones, but on the scale I do my bulk cooking, it's too expensive.

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1 hour ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

This changed how I do my freezing- and he’s right. It defrosts so much faster, so my “I forgot to take something out” defense doesn’t work nearly as well, LOL. 

https://www.seriouseats.com/2016/09/the-best-fastest-way-to-freeze-defrost-food.html

This is exactly how I do it! Yay, I do it right!. 

Edited by SamanthaCarter
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