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:
 
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

I am going to do this times 2 all for my family tomorrow! We have a baby on the way, so stocking up on freezer meals will be such a blessing. Can't wait for your next post with more recipes.

By Karen (not verified)

I may be over looking but Where are the recipes to the 10 meals. I would love to try this.

By lizfry (not verified)

Just underneath the last picture there is a short paragraph with a few links to download the recipes. You can get them in PDF form or Excel.

By jayme

Your meals sound fabulous! I'm ready to try this. Thanks so much for sharing.

By Elizabeth Woodfield (not verified)

Thanks for sharing. I've been giving this a lot of consideration. My husband recently got a job 2 hours from our home. We rented him an efficiency apartment and he leaves for work early Monday morning and comes home late Friday evening. He is not a cook, so I find weekends filled with fixing meals that he can reheat during the following week. These would be great that I could fix during the week, freeze and then Monday morning he could take a cooler full of meals to his apartment. Leaves the weekend for laundry! :)

By Sheila (not verified)

I assume that when you have separated the 1 person total and the Group total is for if you are cooking in a group...the word person through me off...does that 1 person mean one family? (group meaning if you have other people cooking with you?) Thanks!

By Shannon Hornbeck (not verified)

Yes!! One person means one family! Sorry to be unclear, but the 'person' mentioned is simply the person putting together the meals for the family. Disreguard the reference if you are making the meals alone.

By jayme

I am new to this frozen meal planning. I am a very good cook but I am getting tired of ideas and planning, so I figured I would try some of your recipes. I am thrown off by the recipe/person/group. The recipe as it reads, feeds a family of what? I am a family of 8 (2, 3,17,18, 23, 24, 41, 51) big eaters if it is good. So, do you think I should four times recipe and double group? Thanks for your help

By Heidi (not verified)

The recipe is written for a family of 4-5 people. If you have a very large family you will want to double the recipes. If you think your family really eats a lot more than most recipes provide service for than go ahead and triple it (expect the lasagna recipe, it is already very big). I hope this helps!

By jayme

So double recipe only? what about the grocery list do I double the group? I attempted to make the chicken enchiladas and I doubled the recipe but I did not have enough of the sauce to over. I had to make more sauce.

By Heidi (not verified)

If you are going to double the recipes for your large family you will want to double the group, basically you are one person making two groups worth of food. By entering a '2' in the spreadsheet your grocery list will double automatically. I'm sorry you didn't have enough sauce for your enchiladas, perhaps I should adjust the original recipe to make more.

By jayme

First of all,let me just say THANK YOU for all the work you've put in to this! You are absolutely fabulous! I'm actually in the process of making my freezer dinners right now (yay!). I just had a tiny question on the George Romney Meatballs...when it's time to mix in the Beef Consomme...(I bought the campbells condensed 10.5 can) do I need to add the extra can of water that the can calls for or just leave it undiluted? I 've never used it before, so I feel silly for even asking. Thanks so much again! (Found you through Pinterest.)

By Kristin (not verified)

Leave the soup undiluted, only add what the recipe calls for, not the soup can!

By jayme

This time of year we are so very busy with baseball, and church activities. I am a teacher, and my husband owns his own buisness, so when we get home at night and have to rush off to practice or a game we don't want to stand over the stove and we are not a fast food family. This is a great idea. And they are things that my kids will eat without complaining. Thank you again for the wonderful ideas. I am headed to the grocery store right now to pick up everything I need. Thanks again!

By Jennifer (not verified)

I love this idea. My mother and I share an apartment and I do all of the cooking. I was thinking that if I made your recipes this could potentially be double the meals for us. This would be almost a month's worth of dinners. Thank you for the idea, recipes, grocery list, and all the hard work you put into it.

By Sherri Brown (not verified)

what do the * mean next to some of the items on the grocery list?? thank you!

By kelly (not verified)

The * by some of the ingredients means that ingredient is not added to the recipe until you are preparing to serve the meal. For example, you don't add the tortellini to the Italian Sausage Soup until you are ready to prepare the soup for the table.

By jayme

What a great idea! I used a few of your recipes (my husband is now in love with the chicken and wild rice soup, btw) and a few of my own to create an awesome freezer dinner selection. I'm so excited. Everything is cooked and cooling- with 4 dinners already in the freezer- and it has only taken me 3 hours! This will be a god-send for when we have last minute guests or nights that I work. Thanks for the inspiration!

By Brooke (not verified)

Thank you for sharing! With your recipes (and a few from another site) I made 22 freezer meals over the past 2 days for my family of 6. In addition to putting cooking instructions on the bags I included serving size and weight watcher points. Of course I had to input into a recipe builder to get the information for that, but it is SO worth it for me. This will definitely help me stay on track!

By Jamie (not verified)

I found I can save time and money this way, a way to save even more is to buy all your soups, seasonings, etc. in bulk, little cans of soup add up, you can buy a large can at GFS or Sams and save a lot more, and any left over I freeze.

By Heather (not verified)

Why can't you freeze dairy products?

quote - "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"

I have a few freezer recipes that call for "cream of . . ." soup, should I be worried?

By Robin (not verified)

You CAN freeze dairy products! Freezing diary products is a great way to preserve and extend their life. I have frozen milk, cheese, cream, and sour cream. The stroganoff meatballs from this post has the sour cream frozen. There is sometimes a problem with texture and consistency when freezing dairy products so in many cases it increases the quality of the meal by adding the dairy products just before serving. But I do freeze diary products and cream soups all the time!

By jayme

I just wanted to let you know that you can boil hamburger meat. I put 10 pounds in a stock pot with water crumble a little with hands then boil until no longer pink. 2 1/2 cups equals about a pound of hamburger.

By Dawnb (not verified)

Yes, boiling ground meat is a GREAT alternative! I never thought to boil my ground beef for this set of recipes but I have boiled it for canning! Thanks for the tip!

By jayme

Just wondering where I find the recipes for the the dishes listed? My friends and I get together 2-3 times during a school year to do freezer meals and would love to give these recipes a try.

By JESS (not verified)

The receipes can be viewed in PDF format or Excel. The links are near the bottom of the post right above the image of the labels.

 

 

By jayme

My computer won't let me open the files. :-( Is it possible for them to be sent in an e-mail please? I would love to try this idea. Also, any advice on conversion to cook for one?

By Dani (not verified)

I am sorry you were having problems opening the documents. I have emailed them to you!

The great thing about freezer meals is that they typically last up to 3 months (usually even longer) so if you are cooking for one simply divide the meals into smaller portions before freezing. With these recipes you could easily get 30 meals or more with plenty of left overs. I recommend eating them throughout a 3 month period so you don't get too tired of them.

Good Luck!

By jayme

I am giddy with excitement about this whole thing! I pride myself in being prepared but boy you put me to shame!!! :) I have a family of 7 (kids between 10-15 1/2) so I make a ton of food to begin with. I'm even more excited because I bought all the items on your list and it came to only $178. I couldn't believe it! I am starting a new thing of cooking delicious meals for my busy friends who want to feed their kids healthy and I will charge a realistic fee for each dinner. This could be a win win for all. I am anxiously awaiting your next menu. Oh, you are an angel for your breakdown files. They made shopping so easy. I just compiled them into store dept (dairy, meat, etc) and off I went!!!

By Deborah Knoll (not verified)

I am happy to see that you found the freezer meals useful. My next set of menu's is for the slow cooker. Check it out!

http://dreamingofpoultry.com/content/8-slow-cooker-freezer-meals-0

By jayme

You can also start off by cooking a double batch of supper how ever many nights a week and slowly stock up your freezer that way if you don't have the time to invest in cooking for several hours. That's how I am having to do it. I double up on supper 5-6 nights a week and store as I go. Great blog BTW.;-)

By April Hill (not verified)

You can also double up on your dinner each night for 5-6 nights a week if you don't have the time to invest in cooking for several hours. I do this for three weeks and take one week off. Works out better for me with two girls under 4 that are running me ragged every day:-)

By April Hill (not verified)

Yes!! Thank you for addressing this point. I have been making freezer meals for a few years now and have always doubled my regular nightly meals to freeze one. This is a great way to get started and doesn't take an entire day but has the same result!Both methods of freezer meals are a great way to stock up!

By jayme

My mom and I are making these all right now. My sister is having a baby this week so we're going to be able to share a lot! My question is about the Taco Soup recipe. Are we supposed to drain the black beans, kidney beans and corn or just put them in with the juice? It seems like there would be no liquid if we drained them, but I wasn't sure. Thanks so much for all your work!! I found you through Pinterest, too.

By Sue (not verified)

I did not drain my beans and corn. However it wouldn't be the end of the world if you did the soup would just end up a bit thicker.

By jayme

I'm working on the Taco soup right now.....but was wondering do you add any water????

By Diana Heiner (not verified)

I did not add water but if you like your soup thin you definately can! Taco Soup isn't an exact science, you have the freedom to make it the consistency you like it!

By jayme

Onceamonthmom.com is another great reference for freezer meals. They put up a new selection of freezer meals every month. They also do the spreadsheet and grocery list and also a list of instructions.

By Tianna (not verified)

Thank you for sharing your recipes! I used a couple for my own cook-a-thon. Thanks for the inspiration. You can see how mine turned out here
http://craftsbycj.blogspot.com/2012/05/cook-thon.html

Thanks;
CJ

By CJ (not verified)

Hi! I just found this via pinterest--you did an amazing job putting all of this information together! Thank you for sharing :) I am in a freezer meal exchange group for the first time, and we found a pretty cheap solution for aluminum pans: they are aluminum heating/serving pans (the kind used at buffets/catered events). They are half sized pans (approx 8.5x11, but they are deep so can fit the contents of a 9x13), and you can get 30 for $7 at Sam's club. Thanks again for all of your great work--I am excited to start freezer cooking!

By Stacy (not verified)

Great to know, THANKS

By jayme

Hi, I found a link to your blog on Pinterest! I have never done freezer cooking (I was clueless on where to begin) and have just recently put together a full months menu of dinners. I was soo tired of looking in my fridge/freezer and pantry and coming up 1 or 2 ingredients short of what I needed to make a meal. I made a months menu and then created my grocery list off of this. I bought around $100 worth of groceries for an entire months dinners (on my menu plan I do have set aside one day a week for eating out). Now that I am getting more organized with my grocery shopping and meal planning, I want to attempt freezer cooking. I think this will help be extra helpful since I like to do major grocery shopping once a month. Hopefully I can convince a friend to join me! Thanks for sharing your experience with freezer cooking!

By LeeAnne (not verified)

Hi ~ I followed a facebook link to your site. It's terrific that you've shared this, including the lists! I was just thinking today how great it would be to have someone set this up for me and here you have! Thanks soooo much!

I do have one question. I added the tomato paste to the grocery spreadsheet and copied the cell formula, but it continues to return zero as a result in the group total column. Any thoughts?

By Julie G (not verified)

I'm not sure what the problem is with the spreadsheet. It seems to work okay for me. Here is a new link for you to try. I hope this works better for you

By jayme

I made all 10 meals in 2 days (I got a late start on day 1)... your site was so helpful...down to the shopping list! The Hawaiian pork never made it to the freezer...my family decided we MUST have it for dinner that night...it smelled so good cooking in the slow cooker... and tonight I used the leftover pork and baked it inside crescent rolls... another hit! Thanks again for this site! :)

Foil pans can be bought for cheap at Costco. I get 30 9x13 for around $6.00. Mind you they don't come w/ lids so I wrap with plastic wrap, and then cover w/ foil.... When I take the meal out of the freezer, I pull off the foil, remove and discard the plastic wrap, and recover w/ the foil...

By Casi (not verified)

I LOVE the idea of working for 6 hours and then having meals for weeks ahead. I'm sure this effort was especially helpful on busy days. I'm inspired :)

I stock up when there are good sales using coupons to save more money. I've been batch cooking (doubling/tripling recipes and cooking/freezer chicken and hamburger as components for meals for several months) but am ready to tackle multiple recipes at once. Thank you sharing for some recipes I know my family will enjoy and more importantly for the tools to make it happen.

By Tammy (not verified)

I was needing some motivation for cooking - and you've inspired me! Thanks!!

Thank you for all this hard work. I can't wait for the Fall to start preparing. I haven't prepared a lot of freezer meals, so I have a few questions. 1) Is there an "eat by: " time for how long food should be frozen? 2) Would you change your storage containers if you were to keep it frozen longer?
Thanks again.

By Bobbie (not verified)

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