Batch Cooking and Freezer Meal Tips and Recipes for Time-Crunched Parents

Freezer Meals (1)Stuck on what to make for dinner? Forget to plan something for dinner? Batch cooking and freezer meals are a great way to use as a backup or to plan ahead. Ingredients are simple, and meals are cooked in a slow cooker for a delicious stress-free dinner. Batch cooking and freezer meals reduce grocery bills, preparation and cooking time, therefore making more time for families to spend together. It’s an easy way for families to eat healthier and not eat out as often. We’ve gathered recipes to prepare that will make a total of 10 freezer meals for 4-6 people. We’ve also added tips and tricks as well.

 

What to Cook
Chicken recipes are typically the easiest and most cost effective to prepare. Look for sales on “family packs” of chicken at your local supermarket. Typically a good sale is priced as low as $1.99 a pound for a minimum of a three pound package. Most stores prepare packages with 6-8 breasts each. Beef chop meat recipes are also cost effective when bought in bulk. A lean 80/20 beef is the best to use. Turkey chop meat may be substituted for a healthier option.

Freezer Meals (2)When to Prepare
When preparing freezer meals, since preparing and freezing in bulk, a minimum of an hour per 4-6 meals should be allotted. This includes time to organize ingredients, trim and prepare the chicken and prepare the other ingredients needed.

Where to Buy
All ingredients can be found at any supermarket. For a healthier alternative, produce can be bought at Organic Farms as well as Indoor Winter Farmers Markets or during the summer and early fall at Farmers Markets and Farm Stands.  Take a day to spend with family and visit Long Island Farms with Family Activities to not only have fun but do some shopping for dinners at the same time.

How to Prepare
Freezer meals can be stored in BPA freezer-safe plastic containers or freezer safe zip top bags can be used for a Freezer Meals (4)more space saving alternative. Gather all ingredients that will be needed and lay them out on the counter or table. Write cooking directions on a piece of paper and tape to container lid, or with permanent marker directly onto the bag.

Tips and Tricks
To release the meal from the container or bag, run under hot water to loosen it. If using bags to freeze flat and minimize space needed in the freezer, it will be too large to initially fit in the slow cooker. Once released into the slow cooker let it initially cook for a few minutes with the cover on as best as it will fit. The heat will thaw it enough that it will be easier to break into two to fit.

Recipes
All ingredients should be equally divided between two containers or bags EXCEPT if otherwise noted.  Some meals may need a starch and vegetable to be prepared the day of.

Taco Casserole
2 pounds of ground beef (cooked)
2 medium onions (chopped)
2 small green peppers (chopped)
2 – 16 oz cans of kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
28 oz can diced tomatoes
16 oz tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 packets taco seasoning
2 1/2 cups of uncooked instant rice
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese

Write on container or bag: Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Add rice an hour before serving, top with cheese a few minutes before serving to allow to melt. DO NOT add rice or cheese to container or bag. Instead, put them in a smaller zip top bag and freeze together as to have all ingredients available when needed.

Freezer Meals (3)Garlic Lime Chicken
8-10 chicken breasts trimmed of any remaining fat
1/2 cup lime juice
2 cups water
6-8 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or 4-6 tablespoons pre-chopped, jarred garlic)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons butter or margarine

Write on container or bag: Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours.

Italian Ranch Chicken
8-10 chicken breasts trimmed of any remaining fat
4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped (of 2-4 tablespoons pre-chopped, jarred garlic)
2 packets ranch dressing mix
1 cup water
2 cups of Italian dressing (do not add to container or bag)

Write on container or bag: Add Italian dressing to slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours. DO NOT add Italian dressing to container or bag. Add 1 cup to slow cooker when ready to cook.

Shepherd’s Pie
2-3 pounds of ground beef (cooked and drained)
2 medium onions (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
28 oz can diced tomatoes
3 bags frozen peas & carrot mix
4 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper

Potatoes to prepare the day of as mashed potatoes to top meal

Write on container or bag: Cook on low 6-8 hours. Day of meal prepare mashed potatoes and put on top of mixture in slow cooker and cook for 30-45 minutes.

Garlic Honey Chicken
8-10 chicken breasts trimmed of any remaining fat
6-8 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or 4-6 tablespoons pre-chopped, jarred garlic)
2/3 cup soy sauce
1 1/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup honey

Write on container or bag: Cook on high 3-4 hours or low 5-6 hours.

Written by Pamela Boccia
Recipes adapted by Pamela Boccia

 

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