By Cindy McCloud
For busy families there is nothing more convenient than having a freezer filled with meals. And there is no better feeling than knowing you have a whole host of meals to choose from right in your own freezer.
There are shops you can go to and pay a pretty high price to get a few meals for your freezer. But it’s much less expensive to do it yourself or with a few friends.
While once a month cooking may be too much for most people, setting aside a Saturday to prepare 6 to 10 meals is not so overwhelming. Also, whenever you plan to make a casserole, soup or lasagna, double the recipe and freeze the extra meal. It doesn’t take much more time and effort to make two instead of one.
Cooking ahead does take a little planning. You have to decide what to prepare, make a list of items needed, and shop for food. But once that’s completed, the fun begins. And the feeling of accomplishment knowing you have meals ready is so satisfying.
Another benefit is that besides having meals for you and your family, you also have meals you can share with others in need, such as in the event of an illness, a new baby, etc.
Some of my favorites freezer meals include: Chicken Enchiladas, BBQ Pot Roast, and “Dump Meals”. Dump meals are meals where you choose a meat: chicken breasts, pork chops, or round steaks. You place the meat in a freezer Ziploc and add seasonings and liquids. Smoosh together and freeze. I can put 5 or 6 of those together in 30 minutes.
Be sure you label your meal with the content and the date. Allow 24 to 48 hours to defrost in the refrigerator. I also make an inventory sheet that tells me what’s in the freezer and what additional items I will need to complete each meal.
Here are a couple of easy recipes to start with:
Speedy Beef Taco Soup
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes with chiles
- 1 can corn, drained
- 1 can pinto beans
- 1 can water
- 1 envelope taco seasoning mix
- 1 envelope Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
Brown the meat and onion and drain. Cool. Place in a labeled freezer Ziploc bag with remaining ingredients. Seal and smoosh to mix. This can be divided into two bags.
To prepare: Heat on stove and enjoy!
Dump Swiss Steak
- 1 lb. round steak
- 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- ½ (1-¼ ounce) package beef and onion soup mix (dry)
- ½ (1-¼ ounce) package brown gravy mix (dry)
Cut steaks into portion sized pieces. Combine all ingredients in a labeled freezer Ziploc bag. Seal and smoosh to mix. You can double the steak and tomatoes and use the full packets of soup and gravy mixes.
To prepare: Thaw in refrigerator. Transfer to baking dish and bake covered at 350 degrees for 1-½ hours. Serve with mashed potatoes.