My best friend Amy and I wanted to bring some freezer meals to a good friend who is pregnant with IDENTICAL TWINS right now. We decided to make a bunch of meals for her, but also for ourselves while we were at it since we'd already be in the kitchen cooking and prepping anyway. We decided on these 7 meals for now, and we made 3 of each meal (That's 21 meals!!!)
I will have the meals, recipes, my shopping list, and prep strategy here. You can follow it and make yourself 21 meals to pop in your freezer, or have a friend help you and split them, or prepare them for someone who may need them. Or just make a few for yourself or someone else. The possibilities are endless.
Italian Stuffed Shells
Tater Tot Casserole
Chicken Spaghetti Bake
Chicken & Broccoli Casserole
Crockpot Hawaiian BBQ Chicken
Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken
*MEXICAN TACO SHELLS*
.75lb ground beef
1 package of taco seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese
12-15 jumbo pasta shells
1 cup salsa
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup monterey jack cheese
Brown ground beef and onion; add taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions. Add cream cheese, cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Blend well. Set aside and cool completely.
While ground beef is cooking, cook the pasta shells according to directions; drain (undercook shells slightly if planning on freezing them). Set shells out individually on cutting board/baking sheet so that they don’t stick together.
After 30 minutes, add shredded cheese and bake for 10-15 more minutes. Top with any condiments you’d like (green onions, black olives, etc.) Serve with sour cream and/or more salsa.
For freezing: Add cheese on top before covering.
Write on tin: Thaw. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes. Top with more cheese. Also garnish with green onions, olives, sour cream, tortilla chips etc.
*ITALIAN STUFFED SHELLS*
.75 lbs Ground Beef
1 Jar Spaghetti Sauce
12-15 Jumbo Shells
16 oz Cottage Cheese
2 cups Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 cups Parmesan Cheese
Brown ground beef and onion. While ground beef is cooking, cook the pasta shells according to directions; drain (undercook shells slightly if planning on freezing them). Set shells out individually on cutting board/baking sheet so that they don’t stick together.
Put meat mix in a bowl and add cottage cheese and a little bit of spaghetti sauce
Pour a little sauce on bottom of the pan. Stuff shells with meat and cottage cheese mix. Sprinkle mozzarella and parmesan over shells. Cover in sauce.
Write on tin (for freezing): Thaw. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes.
*TATER TOT CASSEROLE*
.75 lbs ground beef
Salt and Pepper
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can of Green Beans (Or corn.) - I use both!
1 package Tater Tots
I cup grated cheddar Cheese
Saute onion and garlic in a large skillet until softened. Add beef and seasonings. Drain. Set Aside.
Spread soup and beans/corn in bottom of a 9x13 baking dish, season with salt and pepper. Slowly add meat, then tot with frozen tater tots. Season with salt and pepper again.
Top with cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes if not freezing.
Write on tin: Thaw. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes. Add more cheese on top if desired.
*CHICKEN SPAGHETTI BAKE*
3 cups cooked, cubed chicken meat
8 ounces spaghetti, broken into pieces
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream
of mushroom soup
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
|Put uncooked spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain.|
|In a large bowl combine the chicken, cooked spaghetti, Rotel, bell pepper, onion, soup, chicken broth and 1 cup of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix all together. Spread mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cup of cheese on top and bake for another 15 minutes.|
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes (if not freezing)
For Freezing: And cheese on top before covering and freezing.
Write on tin: Thaw. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes. Add more cheese if needed.
*CHICKEN AND BROCOLI CASSEROLE*
Cooked Chicken (diced)
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 bag Frozen Broccoli
1/2 cup Milk
2 TBSP Butter
2 Cups Cheese
1 cup breadcrumbs
Mix Chicken, Rice, Cream of Chicken, Milk, and Butter together in pan. Layer broccoli on top of rice mixture. Top with cheese and breadcrumbs.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes (if not freezing)
Write on tin (For Freezing): Thaw. Bake for 60 minutes and 350 degrees.
(Amy has a smaller family, so we made her meals into 2 smaller containers, so she actually ended up with 14 different meals for her family! You could do this too)
4 chicken breasts
2 cups BBQ sauce
1 can cubed pineapple
1/2 green pepper (optional)
1 onion diced
4 cloves garlic diced
1 tsp black pepper
Add all ingredients to a Ziploc bag or freezer container.
Write on bag: thaw slightly, cook 4-6 hours on low in slow cooker. Serve over rice.
*CROCKPOT ITALIAN CHICKEN*
4 chicken breasts
3 T olive oil
1 large green pepper, diced
1 large red pepper, diced
1 large squash and/or zucchini diced
1 bunch of celery, diced
5 garlic cloves diced
16 oz of tomatoes diced (canned)
Add all ingredients to a Ziploc bag or freezer container. Write on bag: thaw slightly, cook on low 6-8 hours. Serve over spaghetti noodles or rice.
DOLLAR TREE: THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!!!!
Go to the Dollar Store to buy your disposable aluminum tins to cook all the casserole in!!! They are usually 2 large tins for $1 at the dollar store, where you can pay $3-4 per tin at the local grocery store. I think aluminum tins are one of best values you can find at the dollar store and I ALWAYS go out of my way to go there to pick them up when I need them.
COSTCO: (All of this can also be purchased anywhere too. It just saves on cost to buy these items in bulk).
1. Bag of frozen tenders or breasts (I used about 5-6 chicken tenders per casserole and 7 per crock pot meal, or about 4 breasts per casserole or 5 per crock pot meal would work too. But we did have A LOT of chicken).
2. 7+ lbs of ground beef. (I use about .75 lb ground beef per casserole, my mom uses a full pound per casserole. For the 3 meals casseroles that have beef, just times the amount you prefer X 9 if you're tripling the meals like we did or x 3 if you're just making one set of meals)
4 boxes Jumbo Pasta Shells
3 boxes of Spaghetti noodles
2 bottles Taco Sauce
2 jars Salsa
Small bag of Mozzarella Cheese
Can of Parmesean Cheese
Largest bottle of Spaghetti Sauce
Large Cottage Cheese
3 packages of Cream Cheese
5 lb bag of Tater Tots
3 cans of Green Beans
3 cans of Corn
3 cans diced Italian Tomatoes
3 cans of Rotel tomatoes
6 cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup (or equivalent in large cans)
3 cans of Cream of Chicken Soup (or equivalent in large cans)
Large box of Chicken broth
1 large can of cubed Pineapple
2 bottles BQ Sauce
3 bags of frozen Broccoli (or 1 large bag)
1 can of Bread Crumbs
1 cube of butter
1 jar pre-minced garlic
Salt and Pepper
Cooking Spray- Spray all aluminum tins with cooking spray before assembling casseroles.
Gallon Ziploc Freezer bags
First, I cut up a bunch of onions with my chopper (to put in with my ground beef recipes and set some aside for the Chicken Spaghetti Bake and Hawaiian BBQ Chicken recipe). Then I browned about 2.5 lbs of ground beef with some onion for the tater tot casseroles. While doing that I also defrosted my chicken for the Chicken Spaghetti Bake and the Chicken and Broccoli Casserole and pre-heated my oven for the chicken. ( The chicken for the crock pot meal goes right into bag frozen)
Then I boiled some water for the shells, while I seasoned the chicken and put it in the oven to bake. I seasoned it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. But you season with whatever you like.
While the chicken baked and the shells cooked (which I undercook slightly), I browned the remaining hamburger meat (about 4.5-5lbs) with some onion for the Taco Shells and Italian Stuffed Shells recipes. I also started chopping my peppers (for the Chicken Spaghetti Bake and crockpot meals) and the squash and celery too.
After the fresh veggies were all cut, I pulled the chicken out of the oven and let it cool (so I could chop it later). Then I took the browned hamburger that was for the Shell recipes (I'd already set aside the Tater Tot casserole beef that I'd cooked before) and I split it. I took about 40-45% of the cooked meat and put it in a bowl to prep the Italian Stuffed Shell filling (there are more cheeses in the Italian Stuffed Shells, so we don't need as much meat as for the Taco Shells. The remaining meat I left in the pan and added the taco seasoning (x3) and cream cheese (x3).
After I made my taco/cream cheese filling and set aside meat for the Italian Shells, I started some rice (about 2 1/2 cups for the 3 casseroles) in my rice cooker (For The Chicken and Broccoli Casserole). I did add a chicken bouillon cube into the rice cooker too to season it a little bit. At this point my kids woke up and needed to go to dance class. This whole process took a little over two hours, but almost everything was ready and prepped to start assembling all 21 freezer meals! Somewhere in here would have also been a good time to cook the spaghetti noodles (again, slightly under) and cube the cooked chicken.
Anyway, I came home form my daughter's dance class and finished up here. I cooked the spaghetti noodles and diced all the chicken, then we began the assembly. (Remember to spray pans with cooking spray before assembling casseroles.)
Amy assembled one casserole, 3 pans at a time, while I assembled a different casserole, 3 pans at a time. We did this with all 5 casseroles, labeling them and stacking them in the freezer. Then Amy threw together the crockpot meals in freezer bags, while I cleaned up. All in all it took the two of us about 2 hours to get all the meals together.
So, about 1 hour of shopping, under $200, and 4 1/2 hours of putting the food together (I did take a break in the middle of that too.....) we had 21 freezer meals all ready to go. Amy took her 7 meals home, I have 7 meals in my freezer now, and we took 7 meals to our amazing friend first thing the next morning.