that one time that I made ten million freezer meals.
Or okay, maybe like twenty. Let’s just say that it FELT like ten million at the time, and with the way our freezer is bursting at the seams, it most likely thinks the same.
A bunch of you asked for more details on my freezer meals, so ask and you shall receive! I figured I better get to this since I’m about to pop – and figured even more so that it would be a good idea to break it into two parts: [part one] what I did now – and in a few weeks/months – [part two] if it was all worth it.
Let’s get on to my wordy rambles:
I was super hesitant about doing this. To be honest, I don’t really… care for… freezer meals. I can get down with freezing some leftover soup every now and then but I rarely freeze anything else. I live with a human garbage disposal who eats a ton, many of the recipes I make serve around four people – so if he doesn’t eat it all in one night, it only takes another day or two to finish it off.
I am snobby and really love the taste of FRESH food. I couldn’t quite pinpoint why I didn’t want freezer meals, other than I… just don’t like reheating food from the freezer. There is nothing more that I love than preparing a fresh meal and sharing it.
But. Then you all convinced me on facebook + twitter that I’d be so relieved and thrilled if I made a few meals for when the baby comes. And I started thinking about it and realized that it will be the holiday season – a good length of time where we consume lots of junk and cookies and booze, where we eat out a bunch and don’t always have time for GOOD home-cooked meals, and my mom is really the only other one who cooks full meals regularly and while I know that friends and family will surely bring us some sustenance if needed… it might be take out?
I kept thinking of how much we LOVE getting back in the groove come January, not because it’s cliché and a “oh it’s a new year, time to eat healthy” type of thing, but more so because the holiday parties are over and things can start to feel routine and normal again. Not that my life will ever be normal again, I GET IT. A new normal, if you will.
And then. I got OBSESSED with the idea of freezer meals. Like down right obsessed.
Like could-not-sleep-until-I-got-this-done type of obsessed.
But here’s what I had to do to make it work for me: I determined that I couldn’t think about the meals too much. I literally needed to make them and throw them in the freezer and forget about them in hopes that when the time comes, I will want to eat them all up.
Since this is a little page of transparency, I’ll tell you that a large part of me made these meals for Eddie. He pretty much eats dinner for lunch and dinner for dinner – biiiiig ass meals. I know that even if I’m not interested in eating these exact meals when the time comes (I’m a very fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person when it comes to dinner), he will gladly eat them up and take them for lunches. They are some of his favorite things.
Many meals I made contain dairy, but I did think about that fact that if I’m nursing, there could be a slight chance that I need to cut dairy out if needed (so many of my friends have had to do this) – so some of the soups are where it’s at for me. We will see!
This is how I did it all: I made a gigantic grocery list of EVERYTHING I needed for the freezer meals. We are talking a HUGE list. I planned on doing it two or three days in a row – I’d get up and get my prioritized work done ASAP and spend a chunk of the day cooking. I only went to the grocery store once and probably looked like I was the poster child for extreme couponing or something based on the pile of food in my (overflowing) cart. It was horrifying.
I blasted music playlists, you tube videos and podcasts while I cooked.
It seems overwhelming, but to be annoyingly frank, it was fairly easy and therapeutic for me. I had all of the ingredients I needed, I didn’t follow many “recipes” because most are my own that I already know, and the lack of having to style and photograph food was the best thing ever. I didn’t need natural light! I could cook when it was dark out! Back when I was testing recipes for Seriously Delish, I would often work on 12 or 13 recipes per day, so I knew that for me, this was doable and could be completed in a matter of days.
In other words, I wasn’t going to rest until this was DONE. Once my list was made, it was set in stone. There was no turning back – I was doing this.
So this is what came out of my kitchen! As a note, we have a fridge in our kitchen and one in our garage – both freezers are now TOTALLY full. I’ll admit that in my insanely hormonal nesting moments, I considered buying one of those huge deep freezer things. But that… would just be ridiculous. Says the person who doesn’t like to eat things out of the freezer.
Well, things other than ice cream and mini chocolate peanut butter cups.
Spicy beer braised chicken enchiladas: I got one pan of 10 enchis.
Lightened up beef enchiladas: again, one pan made 10 enchiladas. I made the enchilada sauce here in a double batch for both.
Pioneer Woman’s chicken spaghetti: this might be Eddie’s dream meal. I split it into four portions.
Smoky white bean chicken chili: split into two portions.
Regular chili: not this exact recipe, but a version of it. split into three portions.
Mother Lovett’s bean soup: perhaps the most comforting food ever to me. split into three portions.
Butternut squash lasagna: the recipe out of Seriously Delish, made in an 8×8 pan.
Roasted vegetable lasagna: split into two portions. I made this up on a whim and it was SO good (I had extra that we ate that week) – come spring I may share the recipe if I decide to make it again.
4 batches of whole wheat pizza dough: this can work double duty if I want to make a pizza recipe for the blog and use whole wheat dough. I made the dough, let it rise, then packaged and froze.
Chicken pot pie: I prepared the filling and bought a package of puff pastry to defrost when the time comes.
Saucy pulled pork: I added some root beer like a bunch of those old school recipes call for because OMG NOSTALGIA. I froze this into two portions.
Make ahead freezer meatballs: this is another recipe in Seriously Delish made with a combo of ground beef and ground turkey. We love them and I plan on using them for pasta and subs! They are frozen in resealable bags.
Taco meat: again, I made a mix of ground turkey and ground beef, split into three portions. I add in bell peppers to the recipe. This almost seemed unnecessary since I can make it super quickly, but I’m thinking at the time it will be appreciated? let’s hope.
Banana bread: um, I made four loaves. I’M A CRAZY PERSON! I was craving it. I used this recipe for three of them because I ran out of butter and that one called for oil.
Pumpkin banilla bread with chocolate chips: just one loaf; another recipe out of Seriously Delish that combines pumpkin, banana and vanilla in, you guessed it! Bread.
Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls: I also had a killer craving for these and the recipe made eight (!!!) pans. In the past I’ve given these away to family on Christmas so that’s the plan, plus keeping a pan or two for us. I love her recipe because it’s so largely scaled. Ha.
Chocolate chip cookie dough: I followed Julie’s instructions to make the dough, freeze it on a baking sheet and then pop it in resealable bags once frozen. This is like, for REAL cookies for us. Not for holiday cookie trays.
I used fancy colored tape and wrote not only the food description on the tape, but the cook temperature, cook time and extra directions (i.e. pot pie) if needed. My freezer meals are covered in hot pink and teal tape. It’s true. DECORATE!
So. How much of a lunatic am I? A gigantic one, I fear. Especially because many nights I will probably want salads and cereal and huge bowls of fresh fruit for dinner. I know that these will not only carry us over into the new year, but also can work for some last minute entertaining near the holidays (like the pulled pork or meatballs for sandwiches, the taco meat for oven nacho appetizers, the cinnamon rolls for holiday brunch, etc). Since everyone is ramming the whole “YOU WILL NEVER HAVE TIME AGAIN” mentality down my throat, I prepared us with piles of food in the freezer. My wacky version of nesting. Stay tuned for part two in a few weeks where I tell you if this was really worth it, or just an excellent coping mechanism when it comes to fearing the final stages of pregnancy.
Now have I scrubbed the kitchen floor with a toothbrush? Nada. If that happens, miracles do exist.
90 Comments on “that one time that I made ten million freezer meals.”
You are going to be SO SO SO glad you did this. SO glad.
Gigantic lunatic or not, I’m pretty sure I want to come to your house and eat all your freezer meals. :)
By the way, did I mention how you’re going to be SO glad you did this?!
Definitely bookmarking this. It would be heaven to just open the freezer, heat something up and be done!
The plus is that you know exactly what’s in it, in contrary to most freezer meals you get at the supermarket.
Hooray for your freezer. You have created your own restaurant! And thanks for, in a recent post, not saying that Jersey Shore was like real life. I’ve had to defend my dear New Jersey too many times over the years since this silly show came out! Have fun these next couple of weeks. Even more fun is on the way!
I don’t think this is crazy at all! When my partner’s brother and sister-in-law had their first child, we went there for a week and basically stuffed up their freezer with things they could reheat. We all saw that their daily feeding-sleeping-baby cuddling schedule did not leave much room for cooking, and it was important to us to see them well-nourished. Hence, freezer meals! I especially love how methodical you were about it all – you’re obviously going to be a very well-organized mother :)
I feel the same about freezer meals, but they all sound scrumptious! Good luck! Also, those slippers, socks or colorful beauties, where did you get them?! Want!
I wonder if I will do freezer meals, when my time comes … all of the meals sound so delicious!!
You will be ssssooooo glad you did this!!!! I have a 2 month old and now all our cooking is done by my hubby!! I wish I had done this but ran out of time before my little guy came. It does get better and I’ve even found some time recently for a little baking ( my love). Good luck!!!!
I wouldn’t expect anything less than this. Every day I come to your site with the hope of a baby pic! Can’t wait for your little one to arrive!
I never think freezer meals are a bad idea but don’t discount the possibility that you’ll be back to a new version of your old self in a few weeks, either. We had friends bring us food for the first 2 weeks (which was hugely appreciated and where freezer meals are good) and then I was back to making dinner. Yes, babies are time consuming and it’s possible you’ll have a high maintenance baby but when I look back on my pregnancy, all the YOUR LIFE IS OVER naysayers really ruined it for me a little bit. Just live into whatever happens – you’ll sort it out as it comes.
You are not a crazy person at all! I wish I had made more freezer meals before my babies came, because it is nice to have just one less thing to do! Especially on the nights where the day has gone by in a flash (trust me, it happens way too often) and it is no much nicer to squish on your baby versus sit in the kitchen. They are only tiny once!!! Good luck!
I think it was really awesome of you to prepare and freeze all of those meals. If not for you, then for your machine eating husband. That is so thoughtful of you and I am sure he appreciates it like crazy.
I think you will be relieved and happy you went through the effort.
Jessica, thanks for sharing this! I don’t have any children or any one on the way, but I keep thinking about making freezer meals for when my life is hectic or I don’t feel inspired to cook a fresh meal every night. I am single and live alone so those meals always seem too big for me and would take forever to thaw for me to only eat maybe 2 portions. But I see you split yours up so I’ll have to try that.
I’m really interested to see your thoughts on how you think these all taste AFTER the freezer part. (esp the enchiladas) I usually don’t do freezer meals either, but I’m thinking this would be so nice to have when you need to have something quick!
Congrats and good luck with the babyyyyyyy!!!
I’m single and not pregnant and I make/freeze about half that amount of food every few weekends just to make my (not hard at all) life a little easier. You’re definitely not crazy!!
I’m glad you shared this! So, I’m having a hard time with this concept of freezer meals, too. (I’m preggo too, if you didn’t know!). People keep telling me I won’t have time, but then one friend told me she had TONS of time after baby because it slept all day. She said her best dinners were when she had a newborn. Now she has a 3-year old and wishes she made freezer meals. So, I’m a skeptic. I mean, we cook for a living? We will find time, right?
anyway, I think you did the right thing. And I’m trying to get on board, too. I just have this lingering feeling that food loses nutritional value in the freezer. I’ve googled it (without success) so many times.
Anyway, BEST OF LUCK :)
I am totally like you in the fact that I NEVER eat meals out of the freezer. My MIL and SIL both have 2 deep freezers and use them all the time. When I was pregnant, I made the splurge and bought a small chest freezer (I only have one fridge) to keep in the garage. I made approximately 4 freezer meals, but stocked it with meat from the butcher. I knew that I could throw a chicken in the oven to roast and eat it with a salad. But I will say, the best thing I put in my freezer was chocolate chip cookie dough and whole wheat blueberry pancakes (I had a summer baby so blueberries were in season). It was SO nice to just pull out two pancakes, throw them in the toaster, and eat in the seven minutes I had. And the cookie dough is obvious….
I just got around to putting more meals in the freezer, nearly 18 months later. Because even now I’m so exhausted that I just want to have a healthy home cooked meal but can’t THINK of what to cook, let alone make it.
Good luck! It took me almost six months to eat my 4 freezer meals, so don’t feel like it wasn’t a good idea if you don’t go through them in a month. Those 4 meals were still so helpful.
You are insane and I love you. HUSTLER! :) Also, I just got a few new ideas for winter recipes… Thanks! XO
I am excited to see if you think it was all worth it. Your list is amaze-balls!
This is SO awesome! I love freezer meals for the days when I have to work unexpected overtime.
Yay! My due date is THIS FRIDAY OMG. When I did freezer cooking, I did a few recipes a day. I also only have one tiny top freezer to fill and one shelf in my parents’ freezer. Our church usually does a meal train that involves dinners, so I tried to focus on breakfasts, snacks, and a few quick crockpot-ready meals. I came away with:
3 bathes pizza dough
3 jars strawberry jam
11 cups pumpkin puree
2 banana bread loaves
1 pumpkin bread loaf
3 crockpot orange ginger chicken
3 crockpot lemon pepper chicken
20 servings steel cut oats
2 quiches (split into 8 servings)
8 servings protein pancakes
1 batch no bake energy bites
5.5 “cans” cooked pinto beans (from dried)
3.75 “cans” cooked black beans (from dried)
10 burger patties
2 batches chocolate chip cookie dough
Now I totally want to add cinnamon rolls and spaghetti pie.
can you make me some for my freezer? Please!
P.S. If you are nursing ,you’ll be fighting your husband for all of the food.
you are so going to use this all up. And if you don’t then E will while you eat fruit. It will seriosuly amaze you how fast the day goes by when you have a newborn at home and how making dinner is the last thing you really want to do at the end of the day.
That being said, great job on this and you are going to love being a mom. It’s the best.
I always intended to do this, but three kids later and I never did. I will say the best gift someone gave us after my first was born was a ham and sides from Honeybaked Ham. I don’t usually like sandwiches, but I craved them hardcore after she was born, and so we ate that entire ham one sandwich at a time.
IM SO EXCITEDDDDDD FOR YOU!!!!
I’m convinced you have super human powers.
Holy $#%#@% thats a lot good for you. im with you im not a huge freezer person at all. what we really need is a roundup post AFTER you have eaten these to tell us what froze well and what didnt. i assume you didnt really bake any of it yet ? i can get on board with that. i just dont like already fully cooked items that are frozen. to me it distorts the taste and the texture (sucks up all the juice). you accomplished more in this than i feel like i do in a week !
This is a great list. I’m not huge on freezer meals either, nor am I pregnant, but every fall when school starts back up I panic and make a handful of freezer meals so when the omg-my-new-class-is-nuts-and-I-can’t-think-about-anything-else kicks in, I have easy dinners. But after those first couple weeks I relax and cooking becomes its usual therapeutic self.
Holy cow! This is incredible. When I saw that you made PW’s cinnamon rolls my jaw dropped! Whenever I make those it is a huge undertaking and takes me the better part of the day. I can’t believe how much food you made! You are amazing, and I am so excited for you to welcome your little one into the world! Looks like you and your hubs will be well fed :)
I’m really interested to see how this turns out for you. I don’t eat a lot of leftovers because I get bored, and I’ve never gotten into the habit of freezing them. I’ll freeze, say, extra uncooked chicken breasts, but rarely meals. But I know myself, and I already don’t like cooking anything that takes too long or is over-complicated, and I’m sure that when we have babies in a couple of years I’ll be even less inclined to spend a lot of time at the stove.
Freezer cooking, like a BOSS.
So you prepare all of the meals but don’t bake them until you take them out of the freezer? I told a friend that I would make her a freezer meal for when she is due next month, but I’m not sure if I’m supposed to bake it.
Honestly, I’m not preggers but would love a freezer full of prepared meals haha just because i’m hungry/tired after work. ;)
This is so amazing!! I don’t typically like freezer food (or even refrigerator leftovers, for that matter), so I feel you there. I have a ton of things I froze in my freezer that I will never touch. But it’s great to be prepared, even if you don’t end up wanting any of it.
This is a fantastic list! I only made a few things, and though I was thankful for them, I would’ve needed WAY more if friends from church didn’t bring meals for two weeks (which I knew would happen) and my mom helped as well. Even though sometimes newborns sleep like crazy (at least for a few days), as someone said above, you might not feel like cooking for other reasons. Sometimes you’re just too sore, frankly. And it’s ok (Good!!!) to let your body rest and heal for several weeks without any pressure even to do something that you love, like cooking. That wasn’t meant to be scary – I’m kind of obsessed with birth but I still take healing very seriously. SO I wish you an amazing recovery AND a baby who loves sleep!
I’m so impressed by this. And I’m SO excited for you!
I eat a lot of freezer meals. As a single girl cooking for one it just works out that way. I know what you mean about the taste though… fresh is just SO much better. i’ll freeze extra servings of soups or stews that I make, but then when I go and reheat one it just tastes so “blah” sometimes.
OMG this is amazing!
Also, isn’t it kinda weird to think about eating a meal, holding your baby, and thinking “this food is from BEFORE YOU WERE BORN”? I mean, I don’t have babies, so I don’t actually know. But time is so funny/weird.
I didn’t pre-make 1 meal while I was pregnant because like you, raw, fresh, etc. was and is my thing. And…I survived. But boy, your freezer would have come in hannnndy! Wow. Because some of my meals consisted of peanut butter on crackers and having some hot soup or something hearty instead would have been amazing. You are so smart to have done this!
I still don’t know how you did 12-13 recipes A DAY for your book and shot and styled them all. And cooking when you don’t have to shoot/style/can cook at dark…oh that’s the best :)
Yes, you’ll be glad you did this as I did the same thing prior to having my twins a few weeks ago. Here’s the thing, though…you WILL have time to cook. It’s all about time management. With that said, there will be lots of days that you would rather have your baby on your chest asleep rather than in a swing while you are cooking. I threw some ingredients into my crockpot this morning and haven’t put down my babies since then. :-)
I made Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Spaghetti, too! I’m due in a week (but it’s looking like he is content on hanging out in there for another two…). I kept hearing how much I’d love myself for freezer meals, so I sucked it up and did it. And honestly, it’s been tempting not to dig into them NOW since I’ve had zero energy this last week or so! Lots of take out in this house! Good luck with the last few weeks of your pregnancy!
WOW! I wish I can do this but I would probably be dead tired by the second dish.
I do this like a lunatic at 9 months pregnant with every baby. We finally finished all of them when my last baby was about 16 months old. Chicken Piccata works well, spaghetti sauce… and if you get sick of them you can take them to other people and make their lives easier! Nesting with no paint scraping needed.
Hi Jessica! I’ve been reading your blog for three years, just bought two copies of your book (one for a friend as I used to tease her that she was you because she sounds just like you) but have never commented on any of your posts before this one. You will be so glad you did this. 16 years ago, we had a freezer food shower for a friend having her second baby.. She had all the gear but was concerned she was going to live off of hot pockets as she was sure she wouldn’t have time or energy to cook. She ate for weeks and was so grateful. I love freezer meals so thanks for all the great recipes!
Have been reading your blog for several years now and love it. I am probably not your normal demographic, as I am retired, but I even enjoy your fashion and make-up posts as well! Just wondering if there is way to look up specific recipes that you have written about or mentioned (with links) in previous posts. I have a terrible time finding ones I have seen and I hate to print them all out when they are there…somewhere! Any suggestions? You will love being a Mom!
Question about the cinnamon rolls. Did you freeze them before baking? If so, did you let them rise at all before doing so? I am thinking of doing this as gifts for my clients to keep in their freezer until they want to pop them in the oven.
Thanks so much in advance!!
Wow! I don’t know what is more amazing…that you were able to complete all of the meals that look so good? (And I AM a fan of freezing…not everything, but some things freeze really well and are worth it…) Or, the fact that you were making 12-13 recipes a day while writing your cookbook? That just seems impossible! I’d love to be a fly on the wall in your kitchen to see how you get it all done! I think you’ll be happy with all this prep…it will be nice not to worry about cooking while you’re trying to figure out everything you’ll be doing with your new baby! I hope you’ll let us all know how you feel about them once they make it back out of the freezer….
I had my baby 7/25 and was so glad I stocked my deep freezer with meals (including some of the ones above)! Especially in the beginning it’s so much nicer to take something out of the freezer and have a hot delicious meal with zero effort.
You’ll be very glad to have these things done. I’m not much of a sleeper but even I was exhausted after I had my first kid and was glad for all of the prep I did and for the meals that people brought over. Oh, and I did scrub the grout on the bathroom floor with a toothbrush. I don’t think it’s happened again!
Just remember, it will all be fine and you’ll learn a lot as you go along. Babies are awesome. Talk to me again in 16 years and you might need to be reminded of why you did this to yourself! Teenagers are challenging.
Love this! And you will love it too when the time comes! I work full time and have a 3 year old and 1 year old. I started freezer meals this fall and it makes my afternoons/and evenings so, so much easier and less hectic! I can’t wait to try some of your recipes to add to my rotation! :) Good luck with everything!
You’re so not crazy for doing this. I was back in my kitchen 3 weeks after our little one was born in September. But my freezer meals were great for lunches during the day when I was home by myself and for hubby’s dinner because by night on some days I did not want to step foot in anyone’s kitchen. It made things so easy. And if you’re nursing you’re going to want to eat like a growing teenage boy. You’re going to pat yourself on the back for doing this. Great idea for labeling them also!
I so the same. Frozen meals really do come in handy; especially if shopping all day, all you have to do is grab something out of the freezer and pop it in the oven, or plan a bit ahead of time and take it out and place in the refrigerator. You will be so thankful that you frozen prepared meals ahead of time.
Quick tip on your ice cream. After first time using; lay a piece of wax paper directly on top of the ice cream, lightly pressing down so there is no ‘air space’ By doing this you won’t get ice crystals on top of your ice cream.
Tip on freezing chocolate:
Ideal way to store chocolate is in a cool, dry and dark place.
For best results, store at a temperature of 55°F to 68°F with a humidity level of less than 50%
Don’t store chocolate near anything with a strong smell. Chocolate absorbs odors very easily.
Store your product 4″ off of the floor and 4″ away from the walls to allow proper circulation of air around the chocolate products.
Look for the “Use By” date on the bottom of your Chocoley chocolate. Observe this date for ultimate freshness, but the chocolate will still be fine for a short time after that date.
NEVER refrigerate or freeze chocolate for long term storage. If you must freeze it, we suggest you leave the plastic overwrap intact. Don’t thaw the candy at room temperature; instead, move it from freezer to refrigerator. Drastic temperature changes can result in condensation, which may result in a white or grayish filmy appearance.
If you should, only refrigerate chocolate that is used for candy or dipping items long enough to allow it to “set up” and then promptly remove).
Always avoid temperature shocks of more than 50°F. Wonder Why? If you put warm chocolate (such as dipped items or molded chocolate) in the freezer, you can get thermal shock and the chocolate will crack. If you bring chocolate out of the freezer or refrigerator and the room is too warm, you may get a white sheen on your chocolate. The white sheen won’t change the taste of the chocolate, but it won’t look as good!
I used to freeze my chocolate chips, etc. and after awhile in the freezer I found that they get somewhat a bitter, yucky taste to them. I now store all my chocolate at room temperature in cool, dry place.