10 Freezer Meals in 1 Day!

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Freezer Meals

Yesterday was the culmination of a four month plan to have a freezer meal stock up party. I have been an adherent meal freezer for about two years now and have read countless books, articles, and recommendations for one day mass cooking. I have, however, never had the guts, motivation, or willpower to actually pull off a mass cooking day. The planning began, approximately 120 days ago, with my sister-in-law when we decided to spend one day preparing 10 meals for our patiently waiting freezers. As with many projects the idea kept getting pushed back one more week, and one more week again. Finally, with no more weeks to go (my SIL is due to have a baby right after Christmas) it was decided that NOW was the time.
 
The first step in preparing for the big day was to find a variety of recipes. Next was to enter the recipes into a spreadsheet for easy calculation of a grocery list for multiple families. The shopping came next and finally the work began.
 
I wanted an assortment of chicken, beef, and pork recipes along with a collection of soups (3), casseroles (4), and prepared meats (3). The ten recipes I chose where:
Taco Soup
Italian Sausage Soup w/ Tortellini
Lasagna
Wild Rice Chicken
Wild Rice Chicken Soup
Stroganoff Meatballs
Tator Tot Casserole
Upside Down Fettuccini Pie
Hawaiian Pork
Chicken Enchiladas
 
Because different recipes call for ingredients in different forms of measurements (one may call for ¼ cup butter while another calls for 4 Tbsp of butter) I converted all the measurements into the same measuring type. This made it possible to add the quantities together for a more accurate grocery list.
 
Mass cooking is much more fun if you have a friend, or two, or three, to work with you. After all, if you are going to be in the kitchen all day you may as well have some good conversation to go with it. So, I put an option on the grocery list to enter the number of families you will be cooking for, the grocery list automatically recalculates the items you need. (Enter the number of FAMILIES you will be cooking for, each of the recipies should feed a family of 4-6. If you are cooking alone enter a 1, unless you have a very large family, in which case you will want to double each recipie so enter a 2).
I have a fairly well stocked food storage so it seemed logical to shop from there as well. I marked all the items on my grocery list purple if they could be found in the pantry. Even though I did use quite a bit of food storage I was still amazed to see that my grocery bill was only 150 dollars. We prepared 20 meals (10 for each of two families) which made the total price per meal ONLY $7.50 and that INCLUDES the cost of somewhat expensive foil casserole dishes. I almost wish I would have purchased EVERYTHING just to see what the overall price would be, maybe next time!
 
The cooking began at 11am. All 20 meals were in the freezer by 5pm. In 6 hours we prepared 10 meals a piece making our average time per meal about 36 minutes each. This time included all preparations and cleanup, as well as recurrent suspensions to feed and care for 6 small children.
 
After a surprisingly quick trip to the grocery store and a few trips to the basement storage room I was ready! I laid all the food out on the kitchen table so it was all handy and ready for the stock pot!
 
The stove was FULL almost all day!
 
As each meal was completed it was bagged and labeled, ready for the freezer.
 
 
One of the biggest challenges we ran into was cooling the food quickly enough to put it in bags, luckily it was only about 25 degrees outside so most of the food spent a bit of time on the front porch. The chicken and wild rice soup was one of the last meals completed and we were ready to be done. I was very uneasy about putting the soup into a freezer bag while it was still hot. I breathed a sigh of relief when it was finally safe in the freezer.
 
My attempts to photograph the final product were in vain. There was so much food I had a hard time taking pictures of it all.
 
Just my portion of the food seemed like enough to feed my family for three weeks. My kids are still young so they don’t eat a whole lot, but the pan of lasagna was gigantic so I am saving it for a week when I may need dinner and multiple lunches.  I am quite sure almost all of the meals we prepared will succeed in feeding my family more than once.
 
I would love to hear your tips and ideas for cooking in mass! I was pleased with the overall experience of filling my freezer in 6 hours and I’m certain you will be too!
For PDF versions of the recipes click here, for the grocery list click here.
For an Excel version of the recipes and grocery list click here.
 
To make things even easier I have created a label for each meal with instructions for serving. (Click here for pdf version and here for Word doc)
 

For more great freezer meals check out: "8 Slow Cooker Freezer Meals"

If you like freezer meals you will LOVE "Cheap Meals (the 1 week plan)"

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Comments

Freezer meals

By renee (not verified)

I love this idea! My pantry wasn't as deep and for 1 family I spent $137. I felt that was still okay for 10 meals. Ihave only cooked 5 but they all were great (sample taste) and easy to make. At my local grocery, I had to buy several products in larger amounts bc that was what they had which also caused me to spend more $. I did runinto a problem with the lasagna recipe, it calls for tomato paste and that was left off the ingredient and grocery list. I looked at Ree's recipe since you had said it was hers. Thanks for your hard work!

By Andrea (not verified)

Thank you for letting me know that my recipe was missing the tomato paste!! I'm glad everything else worked well for you~

By jayme

How much tomato paste does the recipe call for? I'd like to try this whole thing out!!! :)

Thanks!!!

By Stephanie (not verified)

Use 1 6oz can of tomato paste

By jayme

LOVE IT! Totally want to do this now....can I be invited next time?

By Kristy DeGraaf (not verified)

I just LOVE this idea!! My husband and I hate rushing to throw something together for dinner so this would BE perfect!! Thank you for doing the math conversions, spreadsheets, menu, recipes and everything else to make this possible!!!

By Ronda (not verified)

I was thinking that Feb I needed to have some freezer meals because our schedules are getting busier and I needed some good easy meals! I have done this before-30 meals-in one day, but I always had a friends cook with meal. I need to find a few and get cooking!! I think your ten recipes, which I know is a win in may family will be on my list! 10 meals have got to be easier then the 30 I have done!!

Wow! Thanks for all the pdfs. This is a wonderful help for busy moms (are there any other kind?)!

By Jennifer (not verified)

Do you have the recipes to go along with these 10 meals you listed?

By Jessica (not verified)

The recipes are at the bottom of the post (just above the labels) you can print them in PDF format or Excel.

By jayme

I have done freezer cooking for about 10 years now. many key factors go into a successful event. cook around sales. careful planning ! prep your kitchen before you shop. so you come home to a perfect kitchen (cleaned out fridge, cleared off counter tops, and all your cooking supplies are out on the table) and most importanlty for me, is to do as much as I can the night before, chopping vegs, browning all the meat, and assembling all the sump chicken recipes. I always do at least 30 meals, for the 5 of us. takes me about 8-10 hours. but it always seems to last longer, like 6 weeks.

By stella (not verified)

Wow, 30 meals for 6 weeks? Great job! I'm seriously thinking of doing this. I wonder what the estimated cost would be? And cooking around the sales time is a really good idea, especially if you use coupons during the sales too. :-)

By Wendy (not verified)

I've been cooking for the freezer for at least 20 years. Here's some tips: For my small family (3) I always make casseroles that feed 8 and then after dinner, put 1/2 in the freezer. . Spend one awful day chopping onions. Of course you can use your food processor. Spread them on a wax-paper lined cookie sheet and freeze. Bag them up into one cup and half cup portion sizes and put sandwich baggies. Then put all the sandwich baggies into a large freezer baggie. Do the same for your celery and bell peppers (keep colors separate tho). Makes last minute prep work easy. Also you can do your freezer meals in steps this way, instead of one massive food prep and cook day.

WRITE THE DATE ON THE CONTAINER. You'll need to rotate your stock. Since even permanent markers will come off of the baggies, you might want to print out the additions and heating instructions of the recipes on cards and store them with your cookbooks. I also will put a card in a baggie and then tape it to the container. This is especially useful when you take something to a shut-in, new mom, funeral, etc.

Freeze homemade stocks in ice cube trays - most hold 1/4 cup in each opening. Freeze the stock and put the frozen portions in a freezer bag or container.

Pork loins can be sliced and then freeze the number of portions you want for one meal in one baggie. I also can prepare a pork loin and freeze leftovers. Try it several ways (garlic, rosemary, teriyaki, etc) without breading to freeze.

Bake a ham. Let it cool and then pull apart by muscle groups. Chop a fine dice for omelettes, large dice for salads and soups, and slices for sandwiches. You can divvy up the diced ham into one cup baggies and freeze. Slices - put as many as your family will eat in one meal in a baggie.

Boil some chicken with celery, onions, carrots, salt & peppercorns and maybe a bay leaf. Let chicken cool and then debone and package up in baggies. I usually put one cup per baggie (which is about 4 oz of chicken). Now you can make anything from enchiladas to chicken 'n' dumplings to chicken salad croissants. And you have wonderful homemade stock you can freeze.

Anything that goes on top of rice, noodles or pasta can be frozen (as long as you haven't added cream, sour cream or milk) The carb can be prepared quickly while the topping can be reheated in the microwave.

You can do prep work like this and cut your cooking time. Also, you can change your mind about what you want to serve your family according to season and abundance of fruit and produce.

By Short Cuts (not verified)

Another option if you don't have a full day to devote to cooking is once a week I make a meal that freezes easily and make a big batch, for example...if I make BBQ chicken, I will crock pot 10lbs or however much I can fit in my crock, or I may even fill two with two different recipes. That leaves me with a fair amount of meals to freeze and something like that can be used in multiple ways...sandwiches, tacos, taco salad, soup, etc. so it stock piles in the freezer over time and still allows us fresh things that are not casseroley. I use those plastic containers that lunch meat comes in these days and that is a perfect serving size for my family. I also freeze them in sizes that my family can usually eat on one sitting for things like lasagna, since I don't think it tastes as good the next day. I bought several of the smaller size Pyrex so I don't have to waste money on foil dishes and will put those type of recipes in an 8x8 pan instead. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

By Angie (not verified)

Everytime I bake a casserole or lasagna, I double it and freeze one. I am a teacher and only have time for large freezer cooking sessions on breaks. Otherwise, on a Sat. or Sun., I make something, double it, and freeze. I have also figured out how to freeze many of our favorite crock pot recipes, so anytime I make those, I double them and freeze. For example, we have an awesome chicken pot pie crock pot recipe, that we love. Through trail and error, I have discovered that the potatoes don't freeze well. Whenever I make it, I double it (put everything minus the potatoes in a freezer bag) and freeze. Then all I have to do is let it thaw, chop and throw in some potatoes, and turn on! We also like a southwest bean chili recipe. Easy to double and freeze one, then just thaw and dump in crock pot. Every little bit you can get into the freezer helps.

By Christy (not verified)

Hi there! I just read your comment on a blog about freezer meals and I am hoping your willing to share your chicken pot pie crock pot recipe with me. Thanks so much!

By Stacy (not verified)

Would you please share the recipes you mentioned in this post? Thanks!!

By d2 (not verified)

The recipes are in the post with links in either PDF format or EXCEL format.

 

By jayme

I love all these ideas. I am stay at home mom with 2 children and I love to cook!! I might try one of these all day cooking events and stock up my freezer. I just got a foodsaver machine, so I think that would be great for all these ideas!! happy cooking!

By Meredith Hook (not verified)

Keep an eye out for dishes at garage sales that you can freeze, microwave and put in the oven also. Of course it takes up less room to use plastic bags, but if space isn't an issue then go for it. I love freezer cooking. I usually do smaller batches alone. You put a lot of work into providing all you did for us. Thank You so much!

By Amanda (not verified)

I have done this for quite awhile myself. I boil my ground beef in 5 lbs and then I rinse and drain the water and fat off. Also, I ususally make only 5 meals when I find myself running low on ONE dish. This is much quicker and cheaper to find the hour or so do make up 5 meals instead of all day to make 10+. Occasionally, I will use up as much as I can in the freezer just to get a fresh start and then I do an all day cooking spree.

By Pepita (not verified)

Thank you sooo much for taking the time to post this. I wanted to make some freezer meals but didn't know where to start!!

By Carrie (not verified)

Thank you so much for posting this! I cant wait to try it! About how many people do these recipies serve?

By Sarah Harrison (not verified)

Most of these recipes serve 4-6 people. I have 5 people in my family but 3 of them are little people who don't eat too much. Most of these recipes will feed my family twice. As another commenter suggested; I like to divide the dishes up into smaller pans so we don't have leftovers to worry about. Happy Freezing!!!

By jayme

I find that for our family of 3, dividing the meal into two 8x8 pans instead of the large pan makes our freezer meals go even farther. I don't have leftovers but that's okay. I find we enjoy the meals more if we aren't eating on them for days. You could do that with your lasagna as well.

Learned of your freezer meal plan from a friend, and am VERY excited to use it! Thanks for sharing the fruit of all your work!

By Debby Gentry (not verified)

So, I just love this. But I have one question do you have an easy way if you want to change the recipes?? My friends and I are going to try this in a couple of weeks and we love thre recipes that you have but I was just wondering if it is easy to change up the recipes for different items.

By Anne (not verified)

Changing the recipes in the spreadsheet can be a bit time consumming. First you have to type them all in and convert the ingredients to the same measurements (ie. butter measurements should be in cups OR tablespoons, not both). After all the ingredients have matching measurement types you can add the ingredients to make your grocery list then multiply the items on the grocery list by the number of people you have participating. I am working to make another 10 recipes, if you have a freezer recipe that you LOVE feel free to email it to me and I'd be happy to use it and do the work for you!

Happy Freezing!

By jayme

Thank you so much. I didn't realize you had responded to me. I will have to look and see what I have. Thanks for getting back to me.

By Anne (not verified)

I agree that it saves a lot if you can plan around sales. My friends and I like to make up a bunch of meals when our food storage needs to be rotated and things need to be used up or just before the large case lot sales start so we can make room for fresh stock up. When one of us finds a great deal on something (chicken for $1.50/lb etc) we'll each make a few dishes and trade them. Keeps our families from eating too much of similar dishes and getting burnt out. Oh...we found our aluminum pans at our local Dollar Tree. LOTS cheaper than buying the expensive ones from the grocery stores.

By Whitney (not verified)

Love this! Is there a program you used to make your spreadsheets?

By Heidi (not verified)

Sorry, I didn't use a program, I just wrote the spreadsheets myself.

By jayme

Do you have a spreadsheet format that can be used? What a wonderful way to decipher what is needed. LOVE it!

By Sheryl (not verified)

Thank you so much for going to all of this effort so we can just print it off! I have been making freezer meals for 3 years. It is the only way that I can survive as a working mom!! I cannot wait to try these this month!!

By Erika (not verified)

What do the asterics mean by some of the ingredients?

By Paula (not verified)

Asterics are placed by ingredients that are NOT stored in the freezer but are added to the recipe at the time of cooking OR serving.

By jayme

I don't cook anything that doesn't come out of the freezer and and immediately microwaved. I'm only feeding 1 right now so don't see the point of making something glamourous when I come home at 9pm from work. I'm so bored on weekends so I like this idea of cooking lots of meals one day for the rest of the week. THANKS!

By Amy (not verified)

Love the spreadsheets! I have been a part of a "meal swap" group for almost 2 years (we call ourselves the "Dinner Divas") and we meet once a month to swap meals. Depending on how many can make that month, we prepare one recipe x number of times at home and then meet and trade meals. All of us are moms of young kids and so our meals are kid friendly. But we have gotten good at hiding veggies and other healthy food. A lot of the times all we have to say to our kids is "Betsy made this, isn't it yummy?" and they gobble it up! Great way to add variety to meal planning! Your spreadsheet will be so helpful in making my grocery list for our future swaps! Is there a way to save the recipes for future use - for example, if you wanted to use meals 1 thru 5 this month and 6 thru 10 next month dand then a few months later you wanted to reuse meals 1, 4, and 8, and not have to renter or convert the recipes again? Thanks for all your set up work on this!

By Aimee (not verified)

This is a tough one... let me work on it!

By jayme

Such a good job!! For all of you who really like this concept everyone should check out dreamdinners.com
This is a franchise business with locations all over the us and they are specifically focused on meal prep and helping out busy families! It is very similar to what she did with prepping all the food but you go into a dream dinners location and prep your meals there to take home and freeze and then cook at home when needed. So you go home with 6-12 full prepped meals ready to cook at home! It is such a great way to help dinner time be easier and healthier at home! It has greatly benefited my family and is an amazing concept! Hope this helps some of you like it has for me and my family!

By Alex (not verified)

I love Dream Dinners - have several meals in the freezer from there. However, it is quite pricey. I think I want to try the freezer crockpot meals. This would also be a great business to open!

By d2 (not verified)

Thank you for sharing! I have been doing something similar for over a year. I started out doing a week of meals on Sunday and now I make a months worth (15 to 20) meals in a day. I appreciate the spreadsheet. I stumbled upon an easy replacement for the aluminum pans. They are reusable glad ovenware pans. A bit more sturdy for stacking. I have to buy mine from amazon because I haven't found a grocery store near by that carries them. Also, I was getting bored with the same old recipes and a girlfriend of mine bought me a subscription to Taste of Home Simple and delicious magazine. We have loved all of the recipes from there! Thanks for sharing I never have time to blog about my experience. I just post my menu on my Facebook page. I will use your excel sheet for next month!

By Nicole Duncan (not verified)

I live alone and spend so much money on food... this would be fun to do with other single friends. We could all save money

By Sheila (not verified)

Hi there,
i was wondering do you have more recipes for meals other then what u have here ( that i see) .. I would love to know if u have more ideas..

By christina (not verified)

I am working on some more freezer meals but it may be a few more weeks before I get them posted. Subscribe to our newsletter to be sure you don't miss the next freezer meal post!

By jayme

Love this idea, thanks so much. Would like to find if anyone has created this for families of two (myself and husband), and with low cal healthier recipes that would fit with weight watchers.

By Lee Copeland (not verified)

I am going to use this as my first attempt! It seems so doable! Thank you for sharing!

By Niki (not verified)

I can't wait to make all of these! I had a question about the Wild Rice Chicken recipe. It says to spread over chicken, but to mix in shredded chicken. Am I misunderstanding the recipe or do you mix in chicken and then also spread over chicken? And if you do both, how much chicken is it spread over?

By Torre (not verified)

When preparing the meal for the FREEZER you mix the chicken with the other 4 ingredients. Before SERVING you spread the mayo and soup over the top of the chicken mixture you removed from the freezer. I apologize for the confusion, the directions should have read:

Cook rice according to package directions. Combine rice with chicken, water chestnuts, celery, and onion; place in a 1gal freezer bag. To serve; thaw chicken/rice mixture and place in a 2 1/2 quart baking dish. Stir together mayonnaise and soup spread over the top of chicken/rice mixture. Bake, covered at 325 for 1 hour.

I hope this answers your question!

By jayme

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