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.
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
Two years ago when Jake was born, we stocked the freezer with dinners we could throw together. It worked amazing so we knew we’d do it again – but this time, I had a different approach.
With Jake, we were only feeding ourselves – so I could wait until my husband came home from work if the baby was fussy or I wasn’t feeling it. That just doesn’t fly when you have a toddler that wants to eat at 5 pm on the dot so this time I concentrated on meals that I could pull out of the freezer and pop right into the oven or slow cooker.
It’s worked really well. I’m still finding a chance to make dinner 2-3 nights a week but it’s been so nice to have the freezer stash for nights that are a disaster!
Here’s what we had in the freezer when Julie was born:
On Saturday, Eat at Home is hosting a Virtual Freezer Cooking Party on Facebook. So fun! This is a great excuse to try out some new recipes, fill up your freezer and get to chat with other people while you do it. We stocked the freezer before Jake was born and it was so, so helpful that I’ve kept it going. The last few weeks have been busy so we’ve depleting our stash fast. I’m so excited for this excuse to restock!
I haven’t narrowed down exactly what I’ll make for this party, yet, put I did pull together some of my favorite freezer-friendly recipes on the blog for inspiration. If you’re looking for some new or different freezer recipes, this should give you some ideas!
Dump-and-Freeze Crockpot Recipes
For all of these, you can add all the ingredients straight to a gallon freezer bag and pop in the freezer. They can go straight from the bag to the slow cooker!
Freezable Burritos and Enchiladas
Tex-Mex is my go-to freezer food cuisine. Enchiladas I’ll divide into smaller pans with 2-3 servings. Burritos I’ll wrap individually in foil and then group in a gallon freezer bag. Many of these start with cooked, shredded chicken – it’s easy to throw in the crockpot and cook the night before so you have less to do during your big freezer-cooking day.
Burger Patties and Sandwiches You Can Make and Freeze
I often freeze extra burger patties so we can enjoy the meal again later. I will prepare the patties, wrap them in freezer paper individually and then place them in sandwich or quart size bags. Buns go into another bag – as will any sliced cheese or other freezable toppings. I’ll group all of these bags into one gallon bag so that the whole sandwich stays together in the freezer.
Even before I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to stock the freezer to give us some help during the first weeks of having a baby. I had visions of all these new, exciting recipes covering all different kinds of meals. What I ended up doing didn’t match that at all.
What changed things? Well, I essentially got a test run. I mentioned back in November that I had stocked up in preparation for NaNoWriMo. I, more or less, did what I thought I’d do for a baby – lots of freezer-to-crockpot meals, casseroles, and the like. We found out in early November that I was pregnant and while my NaNoWriMo writing fell by the wayside, those meals I’d made ahead ended up being a huge help in getting us through the first trimester. The thing was, we weren’t super thrilled with a lot of the meals, we ended up getting sick of leftovers, and I wasn’t a huge fan of figuring out a new recipe while not feeling my best.
So, for this go-round, I tackled things differently. Instead of making meals just for the freezer, I cooked up regular meals and portioned out a section for freezing. I stuck with things we’d made – and liked – before or things that came highly recommended from friends. And, I only froze portions for one or two meals so we wouldn’t be drowning in leftovers.
Here is what we had in the freezer when Jacob was born:
Frozen, microwavable rice
Chicken that I pre-cut into bite-sized pieces for stir-fry (and some bottled stir-fry sauces in the pantry)
Pizza dough and shredded mozzarella (and pizza sauce in the pantry)
Our favorite ravioli
Pierogies and Kielbasa
Assorted sides: Fries, Garlic bread and veggies
Girl Scout Cookies (a necessity!)
Altogether, we had about two weeks of dinners in the freezer when he was born. We ended up not touching our stash until Mark went back to work because generous friends and family brought us food or we were able to tag-team cook dinner those first two weeks. Since he’s been back to work, I’ve been mixing in a freezer dinner or two to the weekly menu for nights I know will be busy. Even though we’ve mostly found our groove with this whole baby thing, being able to just pull something out and heat it up has been really, really great some nights and I think having a few meals ready to go in the freezer is something I want to continue going forward.
This worked out so much better than my first attempt that it’s definitely how I’ll work on freezer-stocking going forward!