When I found out I was having twins I immediately knew two things: 1. It was gonna be hard and 2. My laziness was going to rear its ugly head. Here’s the thing; I’m not that lazy, I’m definitely just more of a procrastinator. But when the time comes, I get things done. Anyway, I immediately thought, “I’ve got to have meals ready to go because I assume cooking is now a thing of the past.” Right after bed rest ensued (procrastination!) I started prepping! I scoured my recipes from home and Pinterest for freezer-friendly meals. I found 6-7 that I love and made a grocery list, at a minimum doubling each recipe. I also got foil loaf pans and smaller square pans (it was just me and John, I’m not feeding a crowd). All the groceries got delivered (because bed rest) and I spent about a week cooking and resting. I did have my mom come for the week and help and y’all, she brought pound cake for the freezer! That’s a thing and it was a life saver! So, on the blog for the next couple of months I’m going to share my favorite freezer recipes, tips for freezer meals, and how to make them work for your family. This week I’m sharing four of my favorite recipes that I’ve made for years and how I made them freezer friendly for life with newborn multiples. All of these are frozen in ziplock bags because they stack nicely if you lay them flat to freeze! These meals will give you easily 20-30 suppers, depending on how much you need for each bag. All you’ll have to do the night you use it is to heat the contents of a thawed bag and cook rice or noodles. Done. (You can even have the hubs or the mother-in-law do it!)
1. My Mom’s Meatballs
2. Meal in a Pot
3. Taco Soup
4. Red Beans and Rice
So, my mom’s meatballs are probably my most favorite meal ever and if I ever had to have a “last meal,” this would be it. I’m giving you the meatball recipe but do yourselves a favor and double it. On the second batch, leave out the egg and breadcrumbs and just combine the rest of the meatball ingredients and add the sauce ingredients to make a meat sauce.
2 pounds ground beef
1pound Italian sausage
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Bread crumbs made from 6 slices of bread
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Tony’s cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
Mix everything well. Form into meatballs. Size is totally up to you. To cook, either fry in olive oil, turning carefully until browned all over or bake in the oven at 350 until brown.
1-2 onions, chopped
½ pound mushrooms (optional)
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 6oz cans of tomato paste (24oz total)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ - ½ tsp pepper
2 tsp Italian seasoning
8-10 cups hot water (or more for desired consistency)
Sauté onion and mushrooms until lightly browned (in the oil used to fry the meatballs if you did that), add garlic. Add tomato paste, mixing well and stirring until heated. Add seasonings. Slowly add water and combine well. Add meatballs to sauce and simmer for 2-3 hours, occasionally stirring.
Serve over cooked pasta.
If you don’t want to make the sauce, just buy several jars of your favorite, pour over cooked meatballs, and simmer away. Just add a little extra garlic and seasoning and no one will know!
To freeze: I divide into ziplock bags; however many meatballs I think my family will eat, plus sauce. I can usually get 4-5 bags of meatballs and sauce. When ready to eat, thaw the bag, thenjust heat the meatballs in a pot on the stovetop.
Meal in a pot:
Don’t knock this until you try it!
Cut 1 pound of bacon into bite sized pieces and fry in a pan over medium heat
Remove bacon and brown 2 pounds of ground meat with 2-3 chopped onions in bacon drippings; drain.
Add 2 cans pork and beans, 2 cans ranch style beans, 2 cans Lima beans
Add 1 ½ cups ketchup, 1 ½ cup brown sugar, 4 Tbsp white vinegar, 4 Tbsp liquid smoke.
Refrigerate overnight. The next morning, pour into a crockpotand cook on low all day. Serve over rice.
To freeze: add to ziplock bags and lay flat. Do this before cooking all day in the crockpot. Thaw when you want to eat, then cook in the crockpot. Makes several family servings.
2pounds hamburger meat, browned and drained
2 onions, chopped
1 can yellow hominy, drained
2 cans ranch style beans
2 cans whole kernel corn, drained
1 can mexican style stewed tomatoes
2 cans Rotel tomatoes
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 ranch seasoning packet
1 taco seasoning packet
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients and heat on the stovetop.
To freeze: portion into ziplock bags and lay flat to freeze.
Red beans and rice:
1 pound dried red beans
1-2 pounds andouille sausage
1 chopped onion
1 chopped green bell pepper
1-2 chopped celery stalks
Garlic to taste
Salt, pepper, Tony’s cajun seasoning to taste
Soak beans overnight. The next day, sauté veggies in butter or oil, add beans, sausage, seasoning, enough water to cover. Simmer until beans are done, adding more water if needed. Serve over rice.
To freeze: Divide into ziplock bags and lay flat to freeze. When ready to use, thaw a bag, heat the contents of the bag in a pan on the stovetop, and serve over rice!
For all of these, make sure it’s all cooked down before putting into bags. Stack the bags in the freezer. The beauty of ziplocks is how many meals you can fit into the freezer because of how flat they lay! Make sure you label each back with the name of themeal, what to serve it with, and the date. Freezer meals generally need to be eaten in about 3 months, but I’ve gone much longer!
Jenny Juneau has been a member of FWMOM since 2016. She’s a family nurse practitioner currently living and working in Louisiana. She is married and has 3.5 year old twin boys Elijah and Landis.