Having a well-stocked freezer is invaluable – because you really never know what life will throw your way. Whether you’re forced to stay home because of a COVID quarantine or you just can’t make it to the store because of car trouble, having meals in the freezer ready-to-go can be immensely helpful.
Today, I’m going to show you what I keep in my freezer for emergencies – and how I use it.
Can we talk for a second about how parenthood is a marathon? I swear it’s always something. I really thought we were on the upswing this week: everyone’s been healthy, we’re doing better with school anxiety… and then Jake fell out of bed Tuesday night. Hard enough that it warranted a trip to the ER. For real.
It’s seasons like this that I’m so grateful for prep-ahead recipes – like these kid-approved PB&J Stuffed Pancakes.
I love a good freezer recipe – and I love that this one isn’t your typical casserole or soup. Now, don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of casseroles and soups in my freezer – but this is a great choice for nights when you just want something different.
I generally make these in batches of 4-5 dinners. You can swap out the protein, too – pork, beef, and shrimp all work well here! It’s also a great one to get the kids to help with. Jake can help with the measuring and dumping; Julie helps shake all the ingredients up!
In a gallon zipper bag, toss together the rice, peas and carrots, onions, chicken, and seasoning. Shake well to combine. Seal, label, and freeze.
Thaw in refrigerator overnight.
Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet. Dump rice mixture into the skillet. Cook and stir over medium heat, breaking up any chunks of rice, until hot – about five minutes. Push rice mixture to the side of the skillet. Add 1 Tbsp. oil to the empty side of the skillet and add eggs. Cook and stir until eggs are thickened but still moist. Combine eggs with the rice mixture. Turn off the heat. Stir in soy sauce and pepper. Serve.
Fried Rice Seasoning
¼ cup garlic powder
4 tsp. ginger powder
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
This meal was so easy! Are you sensing a theme around here? If it’s not quick and easy, I pretty much can’t handle it these days. Going forward, let’s just assume everything I post is quick and easy unless I say otherwise.
On top of being easy, this is freezer friendly. I prepped and popped it in the freezer – and then thawed the day before cooking. If you’re someone who likes to prep ahead, this is a fantastic option.
This was another freezer meal I prepped before Jake was born. I’ve made it a few times before but never got a bloggable picture before this. If it’s surprising to you that the best picture of this dish came while I was carrying around a baby, it’s surprising to me too.
This is a real people-pleaser meal – a fusion of tacos and pasta, how can you not love it? If you’re looking for a meal to bring to a friend, this is a great one.
For the freezer, I covered and froze after the taco sauce. I bagged the cheese separately and froze that so I’d have one less thing to do on a busy night. Also, the picture shows a half batch – I prefer to freeze in portions that are easier for two people so we’re not drowning in leftovers!
1 lb. ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese
20-24 large pasta shells
1 cup salsa
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 ½ cups tortilla chips, crushed
Green onions, black olives and sour cream, for serving, optional
In a frying pan, brown the ground beef and prepare as taco meat according to directions on the seasoning packet. When finished, stir in cream cheese until melted and combined. Remove from heat and set aside.
While the meat cooks, cook shells according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Pour the salsa into the bottom of a baking dish. Fill each shell with the taco meat mixture and lay on top of salsa. Cover shells with taco sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Uncover and top with cheeses and tortilla chips. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Top with green onions, black olives and sour cream, if desired, and serve.
Do you know what today is? It’s 10k day for those of us participating in NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated) is a project to write 50k words of a novel in 30 days. It’s a little crazy and a lot fun. This is my 7th year participating in NaNo and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my past attempts, it’s that you need to plan ahead.
As part of my NaNo prep this year, I stocked our freezer with dinners. I’ve never really done much freezer cooking, but spending less time in the kitchen and more time writing sounded like an excellent idea. This is one of the meals we’ve got in the freezer for this month. The recipe makes two pans – so we ate one when I made in and froze the other. This is a pretty basic, no-frills baked ziti, but it’s a really good one. We’re really looking forward to enjoying the second pan.
I’ve got a whole lot of freezer meals on the menu this month. I’m planning to share the hits and include freezing instructions on some already-blogged recipes. Keep your fingers crossed this goes as well as planned!
Cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions.
In a large skillet, cook the onion and ground beef over medium heat until the meat is browned and onions are translucent. Drain off any excess fat. Add in the spaghetti sauce and simmer for fifteen minutes.
If cooking it now, preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
Spray two 8×8-inch pans with non-stick cooking spray. Layer in each pan: 1/4 of the ziti, 1/4 of the sauce, 4 slices of Provolone cheese, 1/2 of sour cream, 1/4 of ziti, 1/4 mozzarella cheese and 1/4 of sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and remaining mozzarella cheese.
Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, until cheeses are melted. Or, cover and freeze.
To cook from frozen: bake at 350F degrees, covered, until heated through and bubbly.