5 Quick, Easy and Delicious FREEZER Meals
The last couple of months it has been on my "to do" list to make some freezer meals for some families who I felt needed them. The holidays came, our family was sick and life got busy...and I procrastinated. Then, one of the families, had their babies 1 week earlier then planned and I had wished so much that I had not procrastinated! So, this week, I needed some quick and easy freezer meals that I could prepare for this family...since they already had their babies and they were going back and forth to the NICU.
If you ever have any friends or family who are experiencing the NICU, let me share what we feel is the best help you can give. Preparing freezer meals or sack lunches or giving gas / food gift cards. Both times we experienced the NICU, we wanted to be there every second we could with our babies. It was hard for us if we knew a family was bringing us a dinner at 5PM...we didn't want to leave the NICU to be home for the food that was coming. We WERE VERY grateful for all the meals and help we received, but sometimes, we needed to eat at 4PM, sometimes at 7PM and sometimes we didn't eat, or we needed to eat "on the go." Also, our babies were in the U of U NICU...if you've ever been on Foothill Drive, there is only 1 drive-thru, Wendy's. So, sack lunches were helpful, especially when we needed quick meals and I was so tired of the cafeteria food and Wendy's. Another thing we appreciated was the fact that people still helped us even though we have a lot of family in town. I think a lot of times it is easy for me to say, "oh, her mom is helping her or all her sisters live here in town" and I assume that a friend or neighbor doesn't need help from me. Freezer meals are perfect because they can be prepared at anytime and these recipes are easy and yummy.
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I prepared 5 different meals in less than 2 hours. Here is what you need for these meals:
1. Sloppy Joe Casserole - ground hamburger (or turkey), favorite sloppy joe recipe, 1 can of corn, 1 box of cornbread.
2. Russian Chicken - chicken, peach jam, Russian dressing, dry onion soup mix, curry powder, rice (vegetables are optional.)
3. Homemade Spaghetti - tomatoes (fresh or canned), Italian sausage, zucchini, onion, brown sugar, Italian seasoning, noodles.
4. Taquitos - 6" tortillas, chicken, sour cream, taco seasoning, green chilies, onion, cheese.
5. Homeade Chicken Noodle Soup - whole roasted chicken, onion, celery, carrots, noodles.
6. FREEZER Ziploc Bags and a Sharpie Black Marker.
*****ALL OF MY PICTURES BELOW ARE "doubled recipes" - for 2 different families. If you follow the recipes below, you will have 1/2 the amount.*****
SLOPPY JOE CASSEROLE
1. Brown ground meat & prepare your favorite sloppy joe recipe - we like to add a little BBQ sauce and brown sugar to our sloppy joe recipe.
2. Drain the can of corn and add the corn.
3. Cool and put this into a gallon freezer Ziploc bag with instructions and date AND include a box of cornbread mix.
4. Freeze for up to 3-6 months (depending on if you have a deep freezer). When you are ready to prepare this and eat it...thaw the meat, put the meat in a casserole dish, prepare the cornbread and pour the batter over the meat. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the bread it cooked through.
1. Brown chicken. I use 6-8 tenderloin pieces for 1 recipe.
2. Add 1 bottle of Russian Dressing.
3. Add 2 Tablespoons of Peach Jam.
4. Add Dry Onion Soup Mix.
5. Add 1 Tablespoon of Curry Powder (or less if you don't like Curry.)
6. Stir and Simmer.
7. Cool and put into a 1 gallon freezer Ziploc bag with instructions and date AND include a bag of rice.
8. Freeze for up to 3-6 months. When you are ready to prepare and eat. Thaw the meat mixture and prepare the rice. Also, you can prepare steamed vegetables (I prefer veggies, my family prefers rice.) Warm the meat and pour over the rice or veggies.
*I love the Russian Chicken over steamed vegetables. My family LOVES it over steamed rice.*
1. Brown the Italian Sausage, strain the fat juices, and pour into a pot.
2. Pour 4 cans of diced tomatoes or the equivalent of fresh diced tomatoes into a pot.
3. Add diced onions.
4. 1 Tablespoon of Italian Seasoning or add more to taste.
5. 2 teaspoons of Garlic Powder.
6. 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup of Brown Sugar.
7. Add salt and pepper if you feel it needs it.
8. Add cut zucchini...and any other veggies. (I usually blend all types of veggies in the VitaMix and my family doesn't even know the veggies are there...a great way to get kids to eat more veggies!)
9. I do not really have a "recipe" for this. I just make it up every single time, but we LOVE it and it is so easy. The "SECRET" to yummy spaghetti sauce (according to a college friend's Mom who was from Italy) is the sausage (don't use hamburger) and simmering it ALL day. If you don't have time to simmer all day, it will still be yummy...but, the longer the thicker and better.
10. After simmering. Cool and add to a 1 gallon Ziploc bag. Write instructions on the bag and include a date and a bag of spaghetti noodles.
11. When you are ready to prepare and eat. Thaw the sauce in a pot or microwave. Prepare the spaghetti noodles and ENJOY!
1. Brown the Chicken - I use 6-8 frozen chicken tenderloins.
2. In another skillet, grill some onions until softened (if you like onions.)
3. Pour chicken and onions into a bowl.
4. Add 1 "normal" size (not large or tiny) tub of sour cream (we like the non-fat and it still tastes yummy.)
5. Add 1 can of diced green chilies.
6. Add 1 envelope of lower sodium taco seasoning.
7. Add 1 cup of grated cheese...any type is great...Cheddar, Monterrey Jack, etc.
8. Stir everything together.
9. Put 2 small scoops of mixture on a 6" tortilla.
10. Roll and layer in a 1 gallon freezer bag.
11. Include instructions and date.
12. When you are ready to prepare and eat. Cook the frozen Taquitos on a cookie sheet or casserole dish in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until warmed through.
13. Optional toppings: melted cheese, salsa, Ranch dressing, lettuce and make it a "taco salad" style.
14. These are great warmed in the microwave too.
HOMEMADE CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
1. Remove the chicken from a whole roasted chicken.
2. Put the carcass in a big pot and fill with water.
3. Add several washed whole carrots, celery (with the leaves) and onion.
4. Add salt, pepper and Italian Seasoning.
5. Boil / Simmer as long as you can. I usually like to do this all day. If you only have 2 hours, that is fine too. The longer the better.
6. Put a new pot under a strainer and pour all the veggies and carcass out of the other pot.
7. Save the broth...if you have time, let it cool so you can skim the fat off the top.
8. Boil the broth with new diced carrots, celery, onions.
9. Add the diced roasted chicken.
10. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
11. Once all the veggies are tender (not too tender) then let it cool.
12. Pour it into a 1 gallon Ziploc bag and add instructions and date and include a bag of noodles.
13. When you are ready to prepare and eat. Boil the broth with 1 cup of noodles: 12-15 minutes. Serve and enjoy once the noodles are softened.
*As you can see, all of these meals don't have "exact" recipes. You can prepare all of them to your taste.
FREEZER MEAL TIPS:
* Noodles in a soup get a little mushy if you freeze them and thaw them...so leave them out until you are ready to prepare and eat the meal.
* I love using the Freezer Ziploc bags. They are easy and save space in the deep freezer.
* Most of the meals that I freeze, I like to THAW them first, then warm them on the stove or oven. The microwave is a fast and easy way and it works, but I think everything tastes better and has a better texture if it is thawed first and then heated on the stove or oven.
* As you seal the Ziploc bag, make sure you push all the extra air and any "steam" out of a little hole in the top and then seal it off. Lay them flat in the freezer until they are frozen. Then you can stand them up or stack them.
* Using a Deep Freezer will give you a longer life of freezer meals. Also, I feel the meals "taste" better and are less likely to get "freezer burns." We have tried all the above meals after 6 months of being in a Deep Freezer and they are all DELICIOUS!
*Also, most of these meals can be prepared in the CROCKPOT / SLOW COOKER. I have made the Sloppy Joe meat, the Russian Chicken meat, the Spaghetti Sauce, and the Chicken Noodle Soup all in a Slow Cooker and it works and is still delicious!
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