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How to Make Freezer Meals the Easy Way

Freezer cooking for large families.

How to Make Freezer Meals the Easy Way

It’s 4 pm. The kitchen is a mess, the baby is crying, the toddler has a dirty diaper when suddenly you hear the dreaded words, “Mom, what’s for dinner?”.

Prevent the What’s For Dinner Meltdowns by planning and prepping your meals ahead. 

How to make freezer meals the easy way. These tips and tricks will help you be efficient in the kitchen.

Why Make Freezer Meals?

I’m not gonna lie. I hate cooking. Unfortunately, a large family and a small budget mean I do a whole lot of cooking. We can’t afford many convenience foods and I really like to avoid them for health reasons anyway.

When unexpected events arise (and believe me, plenty arise in a family our size) I need to have quick meals on hand. Over the years I have come up with an easy method to make freezer meals. Here is how I managed to get 21 meals in my freezer in the last three weeks.

How to Budget for Cooking Freezer Meals

With Chuck’s current job he gets paid every two weeks. We spend $1,200 per month to feed our family of 12 (you can read more about that here). We put $600 from every paycheck into an envelope for groceries. Three weeks ago I knew I had to get some freezer meals prepared. I was hoping for some extra money, but that just didn’t work with our budget. This meant I had our usual $600 and needed to feed us for two weeks and get freezer meals prepared. I searched my Pinterest boards and my recipes for inspiration and assembled my grocery list.

After my shopping trip, I was able to assemble and freeze:  Ham and Broccoli Bake (x3), Lasagna (x3), Sweet Asian Chicken (x2), Crockpot Peanut Chicken (x2), Spicy Red Beans (x2) and Chicken Gumbo (x2). Because I didn’t have any extra money in the budget week two of the pay cycle we ate freezer meals (one of each) that week.

This amazing spicy black bean dish is made quickly in the Instant Pot!

This week when Chuck got paid again, I bought the supplies and assembled: Black Bean and Corn Salsa Chicken (x2), Fiesta Chicken Soup (x2), Chalupa (x2), Chicken Curry (x2).

The Biggest Secret to Making Freezer Meals

So what’s my easy secret to assembling all of these freezer meals? I do it as soon as I get home from the store, while we are putting our groceries away. Three weeks ago I returned home from the grocery store and immediately began prepping freezer meals.

Start Cooking Immediately

I immediately cooked all four pounds of pasta for the Ham Broccoli Bake. While the pasta was cooking I cubed the ham and chopped the broccoli. As soon as the pasta was cooked, I assembled three meals worth of Ham Broccoli Bake.

Large Family Freezer Cooking from the mom to 14 children!

2. Assemble Casserole Type Meals Right Away

Next, I assembled three pans of lasagna. You do not need to pre-cook the noodles, simply add a layer of sauce to the bottom of the lasagna pan. Layer: sauce, pasta, cheese mixture, and meat. Easy!

3. Start the Beans Cooking

I used a second burner on the stove to cook beans*. You do not need to soak beans overnight! Simply add an extra hour of boiling. I put Tucker to work chopping the three pounds of sausage that was going into the Spicy Red Beans and Chicken Gumbo.

*Update, I now cook my beans in the Instant Pot. It’s quick, easy, and doesn’t need to be watched.

This chicken gumbo recipe is perfect for large families.

4. Use Your Crock Pot

I placed two whole chickens in the crockpot for the Chicken Gumbo. I had the kids chop celery, carrots, and pepper for the gumbo.

The next day I sent Judah and Tilly to the grocery store to buy fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts. As soon as they arrived home I assembled the Crockpot Peanut Chicken and Sweet Asian Chicken into freezer bags.

I also assembled the Chicken Gumbo. In about 4 hours (including clean-up) I had 21 meals in my freezer!

chicken enchilada recipe freezer cooking

This week, I did the same thing. As I was putting the groceries away, I assembled Fiesta Chicken Soup, Black Bean and Corn Salsa Chicken and Chalupa. Today I made Chicken Curry (enough for 3 meals). We ate one for dinner and the other three go in the freezer.

As of today, I still have 16 meals in my freezer and enough food to get us through the next two weeks, all while staying within our budget!



    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Great, I hope you find some recipes you love! The Fiesta Chicken Soup and Black Bean and Corn Salsa Chicken are new to us. The rest are old favorites.

  1. 2busyannie

    Oh, Bless you for this post! We have a baby coming in a few weeks and I am out of ideas for getting meals made ahead. I do not want to leave my room for two weeks after the birth so putting dinners into the freezer is essential to my mental health. Last time I had a baby I threw my own baby shower and invited ladies over for a day of cooking. That worked wonderfully well and we made a month’s worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. But this time it’s just my three biggest girls and I and I despaired over how to get it all done on our own. I will be trying out many of these recipes this week.

  2. CSmith

    I don’t do a lot of freezer cooking because I have limited freezer space, my biggest time saver is to cook all of my chicken and beef and freeze it in zip top bags. That means that I can prepare most meals in about 30 min. I recently made a casserole that ALL of my kids loved (a rarity, there’s always one…), it might do well as a freezer meal.

    Buffalo Chicken/Potato Casserole-
    3 lbs baby gold potatoes or cubed potatoes
    1 c. extra mild buffalo wing sauce ( I use Texas Pete’s)
    12 oz cooked bacon, crumbled
    4 lbs boneless chicken, cubed
    3 c shredded Mexican style cheese
    1 c fried onions
    1/2 c green onions, diced
    1 c ranch dressing
    Mix potatoes with 1/2 c. wing sauce, put into greased casserole dish and bake at 350 for 20 min. Mix chicken with remaining sauce, add to potatoes and cook another 20 min. Mix cheese, fried onions, bacon, and ranch, add to top of casserole and bake another 15 to 20 min. Top with green onions.
    The potatoes take longer to cook than the chicken so to freeze this I cook the potatoes for about 10 min in the microwave and then assemble the casserole and freeze it.

  3. Melpub

    WOW! I’m not up to speed–reading all this makes me hungry. I do make and freeze muffins. Also I freeze pesto sauce, and then make tortellini and put the pesto sauce in the microwave . . . that’s my one real freezer meal so far, but you really inspire me.

  4. Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

    Oh wow! I just love all these tips!

    I’ve been meaning to start freezer cooking but I never quite know where to start. These are some fabulous tips and make the process a lot less daunting.

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve pinned this!

    Wishing you a lovely week.

  5. Kristina

    Wow! I commend you on all of this. I never thought of freezer meals. What a great way to get the most for your buck! Thanks for sharing at the #SHINEbloghop

  6. Jean

    We eat very well and for much less. My children are also very big eaters. They can each eat five chicken breasts. I stopped buying boneless skinless chicken breasts a long time ago. You can cut your own for a lot less. I also cook from scratch. The key to reducing your grocery bills is to buy what is on sale every week. By the time the month is over, all the meats would have been on sale. Put one month aside to change the way you shop. If whole chickens are on sale, buy six of them. Cut them up. You’ll get a lot of chicken cutlets out of them. Cut the dark meat for casseroles or chicken salad sandwiches. Use the skins and bones for soups. Make chicken stock too. Freeze the chicken stock for recipes calling for chicken broth. When potatoes are on sale, buy a lot and freeze stuffed potatoes or twice baked potatoes. Stuffed peppers when peppers are on sale. Those also freeze well. Make a lot of homemade gravy when you make pot roast and freeze the gravy for use with another meal. I could do 12 people on $800 a month. I don’t cut coupons. You could put one of the kids in charge of coupons and save even more. If you put one month aside, you will have all your meats and other foods for four weeks of meals, and you bought it all on sale. Then you start all over again the next month.

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