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I love freezer meals. On busy (or unmotivated) days it’s so nice to have prepared food in the freezer ready for an easy dinner. My typical plan is to take one day and assemble multiple recipes in bulk, freezing several pans of each recipe to then throw in the oven and cook when needed.
This weekend I took a different approach to my freezer meal cooking. This time I decided to cook all of my recipes ahead and freeze them in individual portions for convenient single-serving meals. I wanted the convenience of simply thawing them the night before and heating in the microwave for dinner. This also makes it easy if my husband or myself are home alone and only need one serving to eat rather than an entire pan.
After one day of cooking on Saturday our freezer is stocked with 68 individual adult meals and 29 toddler portions!
To prep for the big day of cooking I stocked up on food storage containers like these, and ran all of my toddler portion containers through the dishwasher. I already had a stock of these small deli containers for toddler portions that I had used to make and freeze homemade baby food in. Any container/size will work, I just made sure they were freezer, dishwasher, and microwave safe. I got my larger containers at the local bulk food wholesaler Costco (and then had to run out and get more containers mid-cooking from the local grocery store!) So you can find them pretty readily.
I also prepped both my chicken and beef ahead of time and just refrigerated them so they were ready to use in my recipes. I bought three hot rotisserie chickens from a local bulk food wholesaler Costco (since the price works out about as good as buying uncooked chicken). I pulled the chicken from the bone so that it was shredded and browned my six pounds of ground beef. (I ended up having a pound to two extra of browned beef and a little bit of chicken). This wouldn’t have to be done ahead, but it helped me feel more prepared and saved me some significant time when I started to cook and assemble the meals.
With all of this done and my husband recruited as my very patient and willing partner, the cooking day began! Below are the recipes that we used with notes.
I pretty much followed the recipe here to make chicken burritos with refried beans, rice, and cheese – multiplying it by 4!
I made an entire box of minute rice before mixing up the burrito filling, so it was ready for my Tex Mex recipe below as well. I threw about 4 cups of it into the burrito filling.
My husband rolled most of these, and we fit about 3 burritos in each container for freezing.
Since I am gluten intolerant, we rolled some of them in gluten free tortillas for me to have.
I did not make any toddler portions of this meal since I anticipated it to be a fairly messy one for finger-feeding, which is what my daughter primarily does at this point.
I followed the recipe here for my twice-baked potatoes with several modifications to the potato filling mixture.
Since my goal was to freeze entire meals with each recipe, I mixed some broccoli and pre-cooked shredded chicken into the mashed mixture before filling each potato to add some protein and veggies.
I actually just used a bag of frozen broccoli florets and thawed in overnight in the fridge before mixing into the mixture.
I had HUGE russet potatoes from the local bulk food wholesaler, so I was able to fit two or sometimes three potatoes in each dish.
I made a total of about 20 potatoes.
For this one I made just a few toddler containers with the potato already cut into small pieces, but I didn’t do many also anticipating that this would be a hard finger food for my daughter to manage.
This is a super delicious and super easy recipe that my mom made when we were kids.
I found a huge bag of english muffins at the bulk food wholesaler so these were a last minute addition to my cooking plans for the day.
My husband helped me to cut apart each muffin, and we laid out on four baking trays and topped each one with pasta sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese. We also put pepperoni on most of them before topping with oregano.
The muffins were then baked at 350 until the cheese melted well – about 15 minutes or so.
Because of a small oven in our previous apartment, I have a few very small baking pans and a few regular size. This ended up working great to be able to maximize the space in our current oven and I got all of the pizzas in at once by pairing small tray with a large on each rack.
Once these were cooled, I placed six in each freezer container with a folded zip-lock bag in between the layers to prevent them from sticking. (I was out of wax paper!)
For the toddler portion, I placed one pizza each into several of the 8 oz round containers – it was almost a perfect fit!
I used the recipe here for my egg casserole, and pretty much followed it as written.
I did not, however, use any green onions.
I did add crumbled bacon to the top of the casserole since I know my husband loves bacon.
Again, because I am gluten intolerant I also used gluten free bread cubes. When it is baked into dishes my husband rarely notices the differences, and that way we are both able to eat it without making an entirely separate gluten-free dish.
Since we were quite hungry by the end of our cooking day, my husband tested this one out for dinner. He couldn’t resist the smell of it when it came out of the oven right around that time – and he highly approved of the finished product!
I made two 9×13 pans of this one and divided it into several adult and toddler portions.
I merged together info from a few different recipes for this one, using the recipe I’ve made in the past as my base.
I also cheated slightly and didn’t bake this one ahead like most of the recipes I found call for.
Most of them say to bake just until cheese is melted. So since all ingredients are already cooked, I decided to simply mix this one up, spoon it into the containers, and freeze to be reheated and cheese melted in the microwave later.
I used the portions below (which are already for 2 9×13 pans):
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 8 cups cooked rice
- 2 cans rotel tomatoes (and I added a cup of salsa)
- 2 packs taco seasoning
- 2 cans corn, drained
- 2 cans black beans (undrained)
I also added a few cups of shredded cheddar cheese before mixing it all together in a very large bowl.
We then spooned it into the containers to freeze!
We like this recipe best when eaten with tortilla chips and sour cream after re-heated.
This is another super easy recipe that my mom made when I was younger and is now one of our go-to and favorite family recipes. You literally just mix the following ingredients together and bake in a 9×13 pan for 30 min at 350.
- 1 jar of pasta sauce
- 1 box of rotini (cooked)
- 1 lb. of ground beef
- 1 bag of shredded cheese (I’ve used all different kinds and liked each one of them)
- Top with oregano
For our freezer meals, I made 4 9×13 pans of this because I know my daughter loves it and it is easy for her to eat.
Since I am gluten intolerant, I simply make gluten free rotini to include (I love Ronzoni brand) – and my husband never knows the difference!
For cost savings, I also bought a huge jar of pasta sauce at the bulk food wholesaler and used about 3 1/2 cups in each pan to equal out to one jar.
Here was the end result for the day:
We had 68 adult meals and 29 toddler meals cooked and ready to thaw, microwave, and eat! Our freezer was full, momma was tired, but the family will be well-fed even on the busiest or laziest days.
I think one day of work was worth it!
For recipes and meal strategy read: