What do Warren G, $90 worth of chicken and two used to be really cool moms have in common? Well, if you ask me and my precious friend, Anne, we will tell you that it’s the need to feed our families in a quick, affordable and healthy way. I posted our adventure on Instagram and had a few friends ask for more details.
So…without further adieu…
40 Freezer Meals in about 4 hours for $5 each! (and 100 chocolate chip cookies…2 of which are in my oven right this very minute…)
We knew we wanted to stock our freezers for the winter so we met for breakfast to brainstorm. We gathered some of our old faithful freezer recipes and then added a few new ones to the repertoire to spice it up. Our goal was to have each family walk away with 20 meals and to keep the cost under $200 making each meal $5!
First, I’ll list the recipes we chose and then tell you the order of affairs, so that if you and another slightly OCD friend want to spend a fun Saturday with Pandora blaring 90’s rap, you may choose to do so!
1. Stromboli (4 meals-can easily be made vegetarian!)
- 1 package provolone
- 1 bag spinach
- 2 packs pepperoni
- 8 cups mozzarella
- 4 balls of pre-made pizza dough (We made 4 strombolis)
- Make dough into rectangle. Layer cheese, pepperoni and spinach. Fold and brush olive oil on top.
Then add this topping for top of crust Wrap in plastic wrap and aluminum. Then freeze.
Day of Cooking: Defrost fully. Place in warm oven to encourage the dough to rise. Crank the heat up to 375 (best if cooked on a pizza stone) and bake till bottom of the dough is cooked.
2. Chili (4 meals)
We both realized we make our chili different every single time we make it…but basically:
- Brown 4 -5 lbs of ground meat (we did 1/2 ground beef, 1/2 ground turkey)
- 1-2 finely diced onions (based on your preference)
- Throw the meat and onions in 2 crock pots
- Add several cans of tomatoes
- Your favorite beans
- Chili powder
- 1 can of Rotel
- 2 tablespoons of Dales seasoning.
- We added frozen corn for a sweet addition!
Let it cook in the crock pot while you prep the remaining meals, then scoop it out into freezer bags. Let cool. Add to freezer!
Day of Cooking: Thaw, throw it in a soup pot and let it warm! Serve with yummy corn bread muffins.
3. Stuffed Shells (6 meals 13-15 shells/meal)
- 3 packs of jumbo shells
- 3 large containers of ricotta (15oz)
- 10 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 6 jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce
- 2 cans parmesan cheese
- Italian seasonings
- 4 eggs
Cook shells in boiling water. Mix above ingredients together. Stuff cheese mixture into shells. Pour a thin layer of your favorite spaghetti sauce to bottom of Dollar Tree tin. Layer shells – then top with more sauce (I added meat to top layer of sauce) Then cover with Parmesan cheese.
This made 6 tins with 14 stuffed shells in each!
Day of Cooking: Defrost and cook at 350 for 30 minutes–or cook frozen for ~an hour
4. BBQ Pork Roast (6 meals)
This recipe will have you singing “I like big pork butts and I cannot lie.” My husband, who is from Memphis of all places, now refuses to eat BBQ any other way! We are in love. Follow THIS recipe.
You can either prep the butt, throw it in a freezer bag and cook all day on the day of or prep and cook on cooking day, pull the pork with a fork and freeze the meat. Tastes amazing either way. In fact it tastes so awesome I’m eating it on a baked potato right now. :) It’s good on a salad, bun or plain!
Day of Cooking: Defrost and warm on stove top.
5. Sweet & Sour Chicken (The quantity listed is for one family’s serving so multiply it for however many you’d like. We made 4!)
- 8 ounce Catalina Dressing
- 1 envelopes of MSG-free Onion Soup Mix
- 1 cans of whole cranberries
- 4 chicken pieces (We used kitchen shears to cut up chicken breasts into 2-3 pieces. Go with how much you know your family will eat!)
Dump in freezer bag and mix.
On serving day, thaw completely. Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes. Serve over rice. OR grill OR throw in crock pot!
6. Chicken Tacos (The quantity listed is for one family’s serving so multiply it for however many you’d like. We made 4!)
- 1.5 large chicken breasts
- 1-2 TBS of this MSG-free taco seasoning
- 1 can corn
- 1 can black beans
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 TBS of green chili
- Mix in freezer bag. Repeat for each bag.
Day of Cooking: Throw it in the crock pot, cook based on your crock pot and your time restraints that day. I either do 4 hours on high or 8-10 on low. Serve on taco shells, as a burrito with some rice, over baked potatoes, on a salad, etc!
7. Orange Teriyaki Chicken (The quantity listed is for one family’s serving so multiply it for however many you’d like. We made 4!)
- 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 3 T. chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 T olive or grapeseed oil
- 1/2 t ground pepper
- 1/2 t ground ginger
- 1/2 t. red pepper sauce
- 1-6 oz can orange juice concentrate (I found a brand at Publix that was JUST oranges, not nasty fillers!)
- 3-4 chicken breasts
Day of Cooking: Thaw completely and grill 4-6 inches from the heat source for 35-40 minutes. (I also tried baking it in the juice…so good!)
8. Chicken Parmesan
6 chicken breasts cut into cutlets and pounded to 1/8-inch thickness
Dip chicken in egg.
Dip in Italian bread crumbs.
Fry in pan over medium heat in grapeseed or coconut oil until chicken cooked through and nicely browned.
Using round tins from the Dollar Tree, layer sauce, chicken, more sauce and then cheese. yum!
We used 4-5 servings of chicken per meal.
Day of Cooking: Thaw completely and cook until warm throughout.
9. Pecan-Stuffed Chicken Breasts (4 meals–this made twice as much stuffing…would need to be cut down or use more chicken!)
- 4 T butter
- 1 large celery stalk, chopped
- 1 small onion, minced
- 3/4 t pepper, divided
- 2 cups crumbled toast (4 slices of whole wheat bread)
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 2 t parsley flakes
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 chicken breasts
- 2 T fresh lemon juice
- Melted butter
- Salt to taste
Melt butter and cook celery, onion, salt, pepper and stir until tender. Stir in toast, pecans, parley and water. Remove from heat. Flatten chicken breasts to 1/8-inch thickness. Place each chicken breast on center o f12-inch square of heavy-duty foil. Brush both sides of breasts wiht lemon juice and some melted butter. Sprinkle breasts with salt and pepper. Spoon stuffing mixture onto center of each chicken breast, folding chicken breast around stuffing. Bring foil up around and close tightly. Freeze foild bundles in a freezer bag.
On serving day, thaw completely, place bundles in pan and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Open bundles carefully and brush with drippings in bottom of foil. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes longer or until chicken is fork tender. This recipe is thanks to a great freezer meal cookbook called, “Don’t Panic, Dinner’s in the Freezer”
10. The World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 2 sticks butter
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 sugar
- 3/4 brown sugar
- 1 package instant vanilla pudding (just the powder, not prepared)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Mix above ingredients together
- Add 2 1/4 c flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 12 oz bag of chocolate chips
Mix ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips.
Chill dough in fridge. Then roll into little balls.
Freeze on cookie sheets. after they freeze put in freezer bag.
Bake from frozen. 350 for 11-13 minutes.
Mode of Operation:
You will need lots of freezer bags…Ziplocs are BPA-free which is important when you are transferring hot stuff into plastic. As mentioned above, the Dollar Tree has great round tins for storing the Manicotti and Chicken Parm. Also, pick up some of the 12×12 aluminum wrappers while you’re there. They were awesome for the Pecan-Stuffed Chicken!
We decided Sam’s had the best price on chicken (1.79/pound which we waaaaayyy overbought. And by we I totally mean ME! As in, I asked Joel to bring the chicken and there was so much he had to get out a suitcase to carry it all…So anticipate each breast making 2-3 pieces) and Boston butts. While Aldi had the best prices on all our remaining ingredients. We painfully picked up a few things from Publix and got to work.
We worked separately on the first 4 recipes, if we had combined our efforts it would have saved time, but schedules just didn’t allow. The BBQ Pork recipe is super simple, but does sit in the oven for 6 hours…your house smells amazing in the process, and you literally pop it in and walk away, so it’s worth it!
With those out of the way, at 8 pm, we started with recipes 5-8 because you just have to dump into a bag! I trimmed chicken breasts with kitchen shears and divided them into 2-3 parts while Anne dumped stuff into bags. We had a nice little assembly line going!
Then we cranked up the music for our last 2 recipes that required a bit more hands-on effort.
When freezing your chili, soups, etc. it helps to stack them on a jellyroll pan and let them freeze flat so as to save room in your freezer!
We wrapped up the evening at 10 pm with a tasty nightcap of cookies, milk and Ole Miss football. And…we may or may not have started planning our next round of delectable freezer meal recipes!!!!! Can’t wait to try our hands at this again.
We did this a few months later and had an equally as successful experience! This time we added the following recipes:
If you’re interested in more tips and tricks, here are my most popular freezer meal cooking posts:
Type A Freezer Meal Cooking
Freezer Meal Cooking Round 3
More Freezer Meals Round 2
Top 5 Freezer Meal Fails To Avoid (Includes a list of my Top 20 Freezer Meal Recipes tried by multiple families and voted as the best!!!)