Freezer Friendly Foods & Recipes

Contributing Writer: Jamie Sanders

Getting Started With Freezer Cooking

One of the easiest ways to make dinner preparation a breeze is to have frequently used ingredients pre-cooked and pre-chopped.  I try to keep my freezer stocked with recipe basics so when it’s time to start dinner, most of the ingredients are ready to go.  This will shave 20 to 25 minutes of prep time off of my dinner making routine.

Some of the easiest ingredients to start with are:

1.  Beans. 

Beans are and easy staple to prepare in a double batch.  Once they have cooled, divide them into 1 or 2 cup servings and stick them right into the freezer.  Any type of bean works, it just depends on what you use most.  I like to keep white and black beans on hand.

2.  Chicken.

I usually buy a large value pack of bone-in split chicken breasts or a whole chicken, (whichever is on sale) and toss it in the crock pot to cook.  Once the chicken is done cooking, I remove the meat from the bones, divide it into 1 to 2 cup servings and put into regular sandwich bags.  Then I stick the sandwich bags into a Gallon size freezer bag.  (I have also done this with pork shoulder roasts when they are on sale, I will season the pork roast with mexican spices when cooking them this way.)

3.  Chicken stock.  

After I have cooked my chicken, I always toss the leftover bones into a stock pot, season with salt and pepper, cover with water and simmer for a few hours to make chicken stock.  I let the stock cool in the fridge overnight and then skim the fat from the top.  Once I have portioned the stock into freezer bags, I freeze flat for easy storage.

4.  Ground beef.  I like to brown a couple of pounds at a time. (Sometimes using two pans at once.)  Ground beef is so versatile, I recommend storing it in the freezer unseasoned, that way it can  be used in any type of dish.

5.  Onions and bell peppers.  I chop several at a time and freeze.  Chopped onions tend to freeze in clumps.   Two tips to help with this are to freeze the onions flat and break them up a little as they are freezing or freeze them into old ice cube trays and transfer to a freezer bag later.

The best part of this freezer cooking method is that you don’t have to do all the cooking at once, just work it into your regular meal preparation.

Here is your challenge:  the next time you are grocery shopping, instead of buying cans of beans and the expensive boneless skinless chicken breasts, grab a couple of bags of dried beans and a big value pack of bone in split chicken breasts. (Check your local grocery store sales flyer, these are frequently on sale.)

To get you started with meal ideas, here are a few of my favorite quick dinner recipes that include beans and chicken.

Pasta with White Beans, Chicken and Spinach
Creamy Cajun Pasta with Chicken or Spinach 
(When the family size packs of Eckrich Sausage goes on sale, I always buy one and divide into meal size portions and freeze for later.)
Penne with Chicken, Spinach and Tomatoes

Happy freezer cooking!  Leave me a comment if you have any additional questions.

What are some of your freezer meal favorites?

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20 Responses to “Freezer Friendly Foods & Recipes”

  1. February 29, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    I’m always searching for quick dinner ideas, thanks for sharing this info! I’m pinning it right now! I’d love for you to come link your post up at my *Get Creative* party
    Hope to see you there!

  2. March 1, 2012 at 6:01 am #

    Good deal. Always need recipes and ideas. Thanks

  3. March 1, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    This makes so much sense I don’t know why I haven’t done it before. The recipes look super yummy too, I’ll have to make them some time!

    Visiting from Whimsically Homemade!

  4. March 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    Didn’t realize you can buy value packs of chicken more cheaply with bone-in, will definitely have to switch to that. Going to start making my own stock, too, using the method you shared – been buying it and that’s a waste of $$. You did a good job of putting together these helpful ideas and presenting them in an interesting way. Mary

  5. March 1, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    Very very good tips!!! I really appreciate that you took the time to share this with us 🙂

    Please come and share this over at The DIY Dreamer!! PLEASE!

  6. March 2, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    I’ve always wanted to try this — thanks for the tips! Does pre-cooking the chicken and beef hurt the texture at all?

    • March 2, 2012 at 11:55 am #

      Freezing does not affect the texture of the meat at all. You do need to be careful when cooking chicken breasts in the crock pot. They can dry out. I like to use my digital thermometer so I don’t over cook the breasts.

  7. Amy
    March 2, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Thanks so much for the tips! I was looking for a way to save money on groceries without cutting coupons (I just don’t have the patience for it). I am going to try this. I buy family pack of chicken breast and ground beef when they are on sale, divide and freeze them, but it’s a great idea to spend a little time cooking the split breasts and freezing. I love the recipes too!

  8. March 2, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    I’m a freezer meal fool! Love them and LOVE how much easier my life is when I’ve got meals to go in my freezer. I have never done beans for some reason but I’m going to now! Thanks for the inspiration and for sharing on Mom On Timeout 🙂 Hope you have an awesome weekend!

  9. March 3, 2012 at 12:13 am #

    AWESOME post, thank you for sharing.

  10. March 4, 2012 at 10:59 pm #

    You have definitely sparked my interest here. Maybe I need to give it a whirl. I generally freeze my left over chopped onions and ginger and buy red bell peppers when they are on sale and freeze them on a jelly roll pan. Realizing how I can expand it to make dinner prep easier and be better at money saving.

  11. March 6, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    Thanks for these tips and ideas. I am definitely a freezer cooker 🙂

  12. March 6, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    This is so helpful, thanks so much for sharing at Mix it up Monday!

    • January 10, 2013 at 7:00 am #

      love the chocolate butetrhorns for breakfast. They’re not too sweet. I should have made fewer meatballs and more cooked ground beef for tacos/soup but they’ll get eaten. @Frugal in Florida- The soup had a really good flavor and I can’t wait to use it in casseroles. I imagine it will be great in a chicken pot pie.

  13. Love your suggestions. I just don’t use my crockpot enough and love the idea of accomplishing 2 things at once… the cooked chicken (now boneless) breast as step 1 to making stock! So simple and practical, but I hadn’t thought of it!

  14. March 6, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    Great suggestions, I do a lot of food prepping for freezing. I like spending time now to save time later. I make my own stocks and freeze. Thanks for sharing all your creative inspiration at Sunday’s Best.

  15. March 7, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    What a great idea…this is being featured at {Junk in their Trunk} today! Thanks for linking up!

  16. Toni
    March 8, 2012 at 7:29 am #

    We like to premake my enchilada casserole, yaki mando (we do this as egg roll size), meatloaf, Welsh pasties. When we make these items fresh, we always make 4 more for the freezer.

  17. March 8, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    Jamie, Thanks for sharing these recipes! I copied three of them! Blessings from Bama!

  18. March 9, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    Love these tips! I do a few of them already…but may have to add a few more to my list! I am so happy you linked up at Mop It Up Mondays last week! Thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a fabulous weekend!


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