So many of you have asked for a comprehensive freezer cooking plan–a step-by-step guide to a freezer cooking session, that I decided to create one based on the freezer cooking I did in the beginning of April.
If you want to just dabble in freezer cooking and start slowly, this probably isn’t the plan for you as it was a pretty long freezer cooking session. However, if you want to stock your freezer for the month with healthy, clean eating foods, this is the plan for you. I did try to include convenient short cuts to make it easier on you.
Here is the list of all the meals. (All meals are dairy free and can easily be made gluten free by replacing regular pasta with gluten free pasta.) The meals are intended to serve a family of 4.
NOTE: The Best Tomato Sauce Ever by Jamie Oliver is fairly labor intensive. If you want to not make that and instead plan to just use jarred pasta sauce, freezer cooking on Saturday will go quite a bit faster. I have put all ingredients for the Best Tomato Sauce Ever in italics and listed them separately so you can easily omit them if you don’t plan to make the sauce. Instead, you’ll need to buy the equivalent of 6 cups of pasta sauce to make the Goulash.
To Buy This Week for Freezer Cooking
Chicken (12 cups–either buy 2 rotisserie chickens or 2 raw chickens and cook in the slow cooker before you plan to make the meal on Friday.)
Ground beef (9 lbs.)
Ground turkey (2 lbs.)
Hot Italian turkey sausage (2 lbs.) (I just used 1 lb. ground turkey & 1 lb. ground beef instead to save on costs, so feel free to make this substitution)
Spinach (2 cups fresh)
Green onions (2/3 cup)
Corn (5 cans or 7.5 cups frozen)
Frozen corn (2 – 10 oz. bags)
Frozen peas & carrots (4 cups)
Frozen peas (2 cups)
Red onions (2)
Green pepper (2)
1 c. almond butter
Black beans (7 cans)
Kidney Beans (2 cans)
Cannellini Beans (2 cans)
Pinto beans (4 cans)
Chunky salsa (2 – 16 oz. cans)
Diced Tomatoes (11 – 14.5 oz. cans)
Diced Tomatoes with Jalepenos (2 – 14.5 oz. cans)
Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilis (2 – 10 oz. cans)
Italian Style Stewed Tomatoes (2 cans)
Tomato paste (2 – 6 oz. cans)
Macaroni pasta (2 boxes or bags)
Green chili (5 cans – 3 for Macaroni Chili and 2 for Taco Soup–we omitted it though)
Palm sugar (2/3 cup) you can also sub out regular sugar for this
Old Fashioned Oats (9 cups) (Make these gluten free if you need gluten free food)
Rice (4 cups)
Chicken broth (19 cups)
Bread crumbs (gluten free if you need) (2 cups)
Milk (Rice, Almond, Soy) (2.75 cups) Can use regular milk if you’re not dairy intolerant
Ingredients for The Best Tomato Sauce Ever by Jamie Oliver
8 small onions
8 red bell peppers
4 small butternut squash
16 – 14.5 oz. cans diced tomato
Pantry Staples–Buy If You Don’t Already Have These
Dairy Free Butter (2/3 cup)
Olive Oil (1/2 cup)
Soy sauce (3/4 cup) (make gluten free if you need a gluten free meal)
OVERVIEW: Today you will cook the Macaroni Chili for dinner & also prepare the Almond Butter Bars (The bars will need to chill in the refrigerator before you eat them.)
Triple the Macaroni Chili recipe. (I omitted the can of Tomato Soup & Green Chili.)
While the meat is browning with the onions, prepare the Almond Butter bars (double this recipe) and put in the refrigerator.
IMPORTANT–tonight only cook 1/2 box of macaroni pasta for the meal you’re serving. DO NOT cook up the pasta for the 2 meals of Macaroni Chili you are putting in the freezer. Instead, freeze without the pasta and add the pasta on the night you thaw and serve the meal.
OVERVIEW: Today you will prepare the Baked Oatmeal and cook up 4 servings of the Chicken Fried Rice.
Cook the beans in advance if using dry beans as well as the chicken in the slow cooker if you’re cooking it up yourself. (Save time and buy canned beans and two rotisserie chickens at the grocery store.)
Cook up 12 cups of rice. (Add 4 cups of dry rice to a rice cooker or in a pot to make the 12 cups.)
Make the rice earlier in the day so you can refrigerate it and let it cool before using it in the meal.
Prepare the baked oatmeal, and let set in the refrigerator overnight.
Make the Fried Rice for dinner, x4. You eat one meal and freeze the three additional portions.
OVERVIEW: Today you’ll make all of the rest of the meals on the list. Be prepared to spend most of the day in the kitchen!
Bake the Baked Oatmeal at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Serve some for breakfast and freeze the rest.
Brown 3 pounds of beef with 2 onions for the Taco Soup. (The recipe calls for 4 pounds of ground beef, but I reduced that to 3 pounds, and it tasted fine!) Drain when cooked through.
Cut two butternut squash in half, remove the seeds, and roast it in the oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes for the Best Tomato Sauce Ever by Jamie Oliver.
Meanwhile, start browning 5 more pounds of beef for the rest of the meals.
Put half the meat for Taco Soup in the slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients. (The recipe is too big to double all at once, so cook one portion first for 4 hours on high and then the other portion afterward.) Put the rest of the meat in the refrigerator until you’re ready for batch 2. (If you want to take a shortcut here, simply assemble everything and put in freezer bags. Then, on the day you’re ready to cook it, just pop it in the slow cooker.)
Drain the 5 pounds of browned meat & put in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
Start working on the Chicken & Rice Soup, but leave out the rice. (You can add cooked rice when you’re reheating so it doesn’t get mushy in the freezer.)
Cook the Chicken & Rice soup, and meanwhile, peel and shred the carrots & zucchini for the Best Tomato Sauce Ever by Jamie Oliver.
Roast the second batch of butternut squash. Meanwhile, scoop out the squash from the first round of roasting.
Cut 4 onions & 4 red peppers for the first two batches of Jamie Oliver Pasta sauce.
Start the first two batches of Jamie Oliver sauce in two large pans. (Add the roasted squash a bit later, since it’s already been cooked.)
While that is cooking, clean up the kitchen so far and put whatever meals are done in the freezer. To easily store, label gallon size Ziploc bags and put in the soups, push out the extra air, and lay flat on a cookie sheet in the freezer so you can stack the meals.
If 4 hours has passed, remove the Taco Soup to another bowl and start the second batch of Taco Soup.
Cut the spinach and green onion and put in a large bowl along with the rest of the ingredients for the Turkey Meatballs. Mix together, roll into meatballs, and place in the oven to cook.
Meanwhile, if the Jamie Oliver sauce is done, put it in a different container to cool and start the next two batches.
Take the meatballs out of the oven and let cool.
Meanwhile, begin cooking the Slow Cooker Italian Chili. (Since my slow cooker was full with the Taco Soup, I cooked this in a large pan on the stove top for about 30 minutes.) NOTE–Don’t add the pasta now because it’ll get mushy in the freezer. Instead, add it on the day you serve.
Then, process the first batch of cooled Best Ever Jamie Oliver Tomato Sauce in the food processor. Turn off the second batch if it’s done and set aside to cool.
Take 6 cups of Best Ever Tomato Sauce and mix with 3 pounds of the beef you previously browned and set aside. Add salt and pepper, and you now have 3 meals of Goulash. (Add noodles on the day you reheat and serve.)
If the second batch of Taco Soup is done, remove it to a different container to cool. Clean out the slow cooker and start the Mexican Chicken and Bean Soup. If you have a 5.5 quart slow cooker, this recipe doubled will fill the slow cooker right to the top. Cook on high for 4 hours.
Put away the meals that have cooled, and clean up the kitchen. You’re almost done!
For faster freezer cooling, place the cooled meals in the refrigerator first for a few hours before moving them to the freezer.