Quick Suppers from your Freezer! ~Updated~

Quick Suppers from your Freezer! ~Updated~

We all have those days when supper seems to “sneak” up on us. You wake up, start your day, get as much work done as possible, and then look up to find it’s 5:00!

On those days it is more tempting than ever to hit up the local drive through for a bag of greasy convenience. Even in addition to the grease, the cost is stunning! For the four of us to eat fast food for supper or lunch (which we do when we are on trips from time to time) usually runs over $20! I can feed my family 3-4 good suppers for that amount. 

I spoke about this as one of my 3 Backup Plans I use to make sure I can have supper on the table every night no matter how crazy life gets in my Southern Plate Radio Show this week. To hear about this and my other two backup plans, listen to the Southern Plate Radio Show online by clicking here.  I also talk about how to cook these freezer meals without thawing first and several different ways to freeze them and save lots of space in the freezer, too!

I keep my freezer stocked with pre-made supper options as a way of saving time, money, and last minute 911 drive through trips.

It’s easy to stock your freezer and there are two main ways to do this.

1. Set aside a mass cooking day and do it all at once. A big grocery trip would yield the ingredients to make 2-4 of each meal you choose to stock. Spend a good day in the kitchen and you’ll be pretty tired at the end of it but you’ll have convenience meals whenever you need them for months to come.

2. Build it slowly – my preferred way. Each week I make sure to make one or two of my favorite freezer friendly meals for supper and just double or triple it. I serve one fresh and freeze the others. This is a no fuss way that doesn’t really take much extra work but builds up my supply of freezer convenience meals really well. Suppers you can make now to eat later.

These are just a few of the things in my freezer right now to help inspire your thinking! 

Quick Suppers from your Freezer! ~Updated~

Ma’s Rice and Chicken Bake -This is also part of my Bags To Dishes backup plan, click here to read more about those.

Quick Suppers from your Freezer! ~Updated~

Chicken Fried Brown Rice - This is one of my son’s favorite meals and saves so much money over buying takeout. I just make double (or triple) and freeze the other portions for future suppers. To cook, heat in the microwave or reheat in a large skillet on the stovetop by heating 2 tablespoons oil and adding rice, stirring and sautéing over medium heat until heated through again.

Quick Suppers from your Freezer! ~Updated~

Country Casserole - This is my entire family’s go to casserole. You can double the veggies, leave out the meat, swap ham or ground beef for chicken, switch up the pasta, etc. I even have a simple recipe for making your own cream soup in about five minutes using ingredients you probably have on hand in my new cookbook, Come Home To Supper. Pictured holding the casserole is a Pyrex Butterfly Gold Lasagna Pan. Click here to read my Confession of A Pyrex Hoarder post. I try to always have a few of these in the freezer. I mix up the casseroles in a big dishpan and then store them in gallon size zipper seal bags with the air pressed out. I freeze them flat to save on space. To cook, thaw in the microwave or in the refrigerator overnight. Pour into casserole dish and bake as directed.

I have two of these in my freezer right now that I made using leftover turkey from Thanksgiving.

Quick Suppers from your Freezer! ~Updated~

Chicken Patties – I make these using leftover chicken. Sometimes I’ll make sticky chicken and cook an extra breast or two, or if we just don’t end up eating as much as I’d thought we would. I just take off the skin and shred the leftover chicken then whip up however many of these patties I have enough for and put them in the freezer. They make the most delicious chicken sandwiches! I cook these directly from frozen, no thawing needed. I actually made sticky chicken last week and ended up with a little too much since my son (who is a big eater) had supper at a friend’s house. I was able to make four chicken patties with the extra chicken he wasn’t here to eat and we’ll all have a fresh supper later instead!

Quick Suppers from your Freezer! ~Updated~

Slow Cooker Chicken and Wild Rice – This is a slow cooker recipe that you can double and freeze the extra for another meal! To reheat frozen versions, just heat in the microwave or thaw overnight in the fridge, pour into a casserole dish, cover, and bake until heated through at 350, 20-30 minutes.

A question I am often asked is “What is the difference in a slow cooker and a crock pot?” All crock pots are slow cookers, but the term “crock pot” is trademarked by Rival, so any “crock pot” is actually a slow cooker made by that brand. I always say “slow cooker” because all of my slow cookers are made by Hamilton Beach.

Quick Suppers from your Freezer! ~Updated~

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Rice - Same as the Wild Rice for freezing and prep.

Quick Suppers from your Freezer! ~Updated~

Dirty Rice - This homemade version of a classic meal freezes like an absolute dream. I love these rice meals because they are filling and economical. To reheat, heat in microwave or thaw slightly and reheat in a large skillet in 1-2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat.

Quick Suppers from your Freezer! ~Updated~

Chicken Stew – So many soups and stews freeze well that I generally always double them when cooking. Allow soup to cool completely and place in ziploc type containers or gallon sized freezer bags (I prefer the bags). Freeze flat and reheat by bringing to a simmer in a large pot on the stovetop. Make one really big batch and you can freeze in individual containers for lunches all winter long.

Assembling the twice baked potatoes, before freezing

Assembling the twice baked potatoes, before freezing

Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes – These are a great side dish if you need to extend your meal but they also make a wonderful light meal on their own. I often have these for lunch. I cook these directly from frozen, no thawing needed. I am down to one bag (about eight) of these in my freezer right now so I’ll be making more in a few weeks.

Quick Suppers from your Freezer! ~Updated~

Green Beans – We don’t always think about freezing sides but on a busy day, it is so easy to put a dish of chicken breasts and barbecue sauce in the oven and then reheat these delicious green beans to go with them for a nice meal. I made these on Christmas day and went ahead and made a big batch so I’d have some to freeze. I have 6 quart size bags in my freezer now. Think about your favorite vegetable sides and whether or not they would freeze well. If they do, double or triple the recipe next time you make it! I just heat these from frozen in my microwave or a pot on the stovetop.

Quick Suppers from your Freezer! ~Updated~

Pre Cooked Ground Beef – One of my FAVORITE and most used timesaves in the kitchen is keeping a good supply of pre-cooked ground beef in my freezer. I cook it ahead of time, drain it well, and store in quart size zipper seal bags. I put anywhere from 1 cup to 1+1/2 cups in each bag. If I find I need more (or have company), I grab two bags. Having this on hand allows me to make Deep Dish Pizza, Taco Soup, Not Your Average Joe Sloppy Joe, Good Old Spaghetti, or even Tacos in the time it takes for me to assemble the dishes. For these recipes and more, check out my post on 35 Ground Beef Recipes to Help Stretch Your Food Dollar. You can also do this with chicken by just shredding it and even pulled pork or shredded beef roast.

I have about 20 pounds of pre cooked ground beef in my freezer right now.

To see my easy peasy, hands free way to shred meat, click here. 

Quick Suppers from your Freezer! ~Updated~

Pre-Cooked Homemade Meatballs and sauces - If I find a good buy on Ground Beef (which is getting really difficult to do these days!) I like to make up a big batch of meatballs for my freezer. This recipe makes about 100. Then, I use one of the sauce recipes I have listed (they are at the bottom of the meatball post, click here) to make a delicious meal out of them. Salisbury, Stroganoff, Meatball Soup, or even Meatball subs. Of course, they are also delicious in spaghetti!

The beauty of this is that you don’t have to make your own meatballs, you can just buy frozen meatballs and keep them on hand to use with one of these quick sauces as well. It is often easier to find a deal on the frozen meatballs than it is to find a deal on the beef to make them yourself. I’m out of homemade meatballs right now but I do have two bags of store bought frozen ones that I found on sale!

Quick Suppers from your Freezer! ~Updated~

Peanut Butter Balls - This is not a meal but my husband likes to make one out of them! He said I needed to include this recipe :) A great high protein rich and nutritious snack that my family absolutely loves, especially when made with honey! I don’t actually have these in my freezer right now but Katy and I are going to mix some up as soon as I’m done with this post. We always work together on these and we each have our own cookie dough scoop to be able to make up a whole bunch in a flash!

There are over 800 recipes on SouthernPlate.com right now and a good many of them are freezer friendly, but I just thought I’d give ya something to think about and go over what I have in my freezer right now for inspiration.

Do you have any make ahead meals in your freezer or do you plan on putting some up soon?

Talk to me in the comments section below!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“You can make positive deposits in your own economy every day by reading and listening to powerful, positive, life-changing content and by associating with encouraging and hope building people.”

~Zig Ziglar

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Comments

  1. Stacey says

    I will confess to rarely having meals in my freezer. My one baby step in this area, is to always make a double recipe of meatballs and marinara sauce. If I’m going to the trouble of making homemade meatballs, I always make an extra recipe of them to save. Because we mostly eat them as spaghetti, I freeze them in marinara sauce.

  2. Regina says

    I’ve been wanting to do this for years but my health limits me from doing a lot. I wouldn’t be able to be in the kitchen all day, do you have suggestions on how to make it easier on someone with a disability? Also, what if your freezer is limited in space? Thank you for all the yummy recipes and suggestions. I love reading your blog!

    • Cheryl says

      One way I save space if I do casseroles and don’t want to put in baggies before baking (or don’t have baggies) I line my pan with foil – freeze the dish then remove the casserole in foil from the dish it was baked in then wrap well and place back in freezer. When it is time to cook it I just take the outer wrapping off and place foil covered casserole back in dish and bake. That way I don’t have my dishes tied up in the freezer and that space is saved as well.

    • Celisa says

      Regina…I have asthma and sometimes am unable to spend a lot of time in the hot kitchen. I suggest cooking large quantities in a crockpot and then freezing. You can do this over-night or while sitting on the sofa. I do quantities of beef or chicken and freeze to use in recipes later.

    • Kandy says

      Regina, I also have health issues and have a hard time standing for any length of time to make multiples of casseroles etc. I have found that precooking hamburger, making meatballs and baking them, cooking chicken and pulling meat off the bones and freezing helps. Onions, peppers and celery can be chopped and frozen without having to blanch them. If you can make an extra meatloaf and put it in the freezer helps. I have also seen that people will do mini muffin meatloaves…anything you can do in steps would be helpful. Do you have someone that could also help you with some of this?

  3. muriel says

    I just sat down at my computer, and found this in my e-mail. About 20 mins ago, I went to get some chicken breasts out of our large upright freezer. They weren’t frozen. t didn’t take long to figure out that my freezer had picked today to die. Luckily, most of the meat and fish is still partially frozen, so I put all of that in bins, and set them on the deck (Grateful that it’s 10* here!). Other stuff didn’t fare as well, and is now in the trash. So, when I read your subject line, “Quick suppers from your freezer”. . .well, the Universe has a sense of humor! :D

  4. mary dotson says

    I try to keep spaghetti sauce with meat,meatballs,seasoned ground beef for pizza,soup, casseroles,cooked chicken and broth,meatloaf.I cook the meat for casseroles when I am shor ont room.That way it doesn’t take as long to make the casserole.I also make menu cards with what I have on have on hand as well as how many I have,I then mark off as I use one,to help me remember how many I have left.I reuse the cards as long as I can.(I use 4×6 index cards).I use both of your methods for freezing.Thank you so much for your recipes and your words of encouragement and wisdom.I look forward to your posts everyd

    • Trice says

      The trick it to get all the air out. I usually freeze for a day, them take them out and use a straw to suck out any additional air. Or I do have a sealer that I use for non-liquid foods.

  5. Trice says

    Now that our girls are married with families of their own I still find some things are just not that easy to make for only 2 people. One of my favorite things this time of year is chicken noodle soup with homemade egg noodles and chili soup. I made them in the same old way then after they cool store in freezer bags and lay them flat on the shelves of my freezer. Then, like tonight, when the temperature is dipping down into the high 20′s I’ll stick a bag of soup in a pot of boiling water, then when the big block starts to thaw, I’ll pour out the water, open the bag and pour into the warm pot! Ready in minutes and warm and yummy!

  6. Katie says

    Two years ago when I was pregnant with my #3 i decided to stock my freezer with all kinds of good things so I could make high quality dinners with ease, something I knew would be challenging with another new baby. I used quite a few of your recipes Christy, but one that comes immediately to mind is your crockpot chicken wild rice. I froze everything but the rice in a freezer safe zippy bag and it turned out great!

  7. Rachel Drake says

    I make homemade spaghetti sauce in my stock pot (large batch) and then freeze it in containers for later to use for spaghetti, lasagna sauce, italian soup). I also pre-cook ground beef & package it in 1/2-1 pound bags. Vegetable soup, zuppa tuscana (minus the kale) and several other soups I make oversized batches of so that I can freeze some for later. Have done this for years and when our kids were little I did the all weekend cooking thing and made huge quantities to freeze but now I mainly just fix more than needed so i have extra to freeze. Makes my life so much simpler!!

  8. Val in MN says

    Happy New Year Christy!

    I found this post in my email, followed it over here, and just spent a lovely hour or so clicking back and forth reading all the posts and recipes and pinning them like crazy! Thank-you.

    I need to stock my freezer better, instead of always subjecting the Hubby to yesterdays leftovers. I still cook like I have hollow kids in the house, instead of just the two of us.

    Love your recipes, stories, old-fashioned common sense and big heart.
    Val

  9. Eileen Wells says

    My husband is on a low-sodium diet due to CHF (a virus attacked his heart). Nearly all canned foods and frozen entrees have huge amounts of sodium. I converted my soups and chili recipes to low-sodium versions by pre-cooking dried beans (kidney, pinto, red, etc.) and dividing them into two cup portions and freezing in baggies. I also cook my ground beef and freeze in recipe portions in baggies. When making my soups and chili, most of my ingredients are ready to go.

  10. Martha Staton says

    I am going to make your Peanut Butter Balls. Thank you for the recipe! I would like to know why is powdered milk used in the recipe? Also, do you think Quinoa could be added too?
    Thank you Christy

  11. Julia says

    What a helpful post! I just discovered your site and I love it. My husband and I are newlyweds on a tight budget – so your recipes have been perfect for us. Thanks for sharing so many wonderful recipes and so much positivity!

  12. Susan Barr says

    Since there are only two of us, my usual meatloaf recipe is way too big. But we both like meatloaf , so I make up the whole batch and divide it in two. I bake one for dinner the first night and sandwiches the next day and I freeze the rest of the unbaked mix in a loaf shape. Next time we want meatloaf, I just thaw it in the fridge overnight and bake the next supper time. I use fresh ingredients for this, not things that have been frozen and thawed. Don’t want to re-freeze! Anytime I can cook once and eat twice, I’m happy! More time to sew!

  13. Freda Newton says

    Thanks for the Taco Pizza recipe! Oh my goodness it looks like it is “to die for”. I love Pizza and I love Tacos too, so this will be just perfect for me.

    Have a blessed New Year!

  14. Genie Sawyer says

    How do you keep them from getting freezer burn?? When I cook ahead, I put the extra in a aluminum foil lined dish, freeze, remove from dish and wrap in the foil, plastic wrap and put in a freezer bag. Sometimes they still get the dreaded freezer burn and do not taste real good..

  15. Terrell says

    After reading all the post I thought… There’s one thing I didn’t see… When I make extra shrimp creole, soups, stews, chilli I always freeze left overs in extra large muffin tins. Then after they freeze I remove and put into freezer bags for a quick lunch or a addition to any supper. Love the site…thanks for sharing!

  16. Elizabeth Powell says

    I make stuffed bell pepper mix & freeze for a meal. I take enough bell pepper from the freezer boil 5 minutes I salt water, place on bottom of casserole dish cover with the meat mixture bake 25 min cover with after removing from the oven. While this is baking the balance of meal is done

  17. Michelle says

    This was an inspiring post…I work two full time jobs and am constantly running…my New Year’s resolution is to lay off the fast food! I’m doing well and feeling better…I’m home now for a bit and wishing I had a frozen meal waiting to heat up…LOL…well, onward…I have something to shoot for now :)

    Thanks Christy!

  18. says

    I agree with the frozen pre-cooked burger! I cook 7-8 pounds up in my crockpot then freeze. I LOVE it! People don’t know what they are missing out on by not doing this.

    And those chicken cakes have intrigued me so much I am making those babies tonight! I make crab cakes all the time and not sure why I have never thought to try chicken. Thanks for a great post!

  19. cookie says

    Oh wow Mrs. Christy!!!!! I must really be out of the loop lol. I knew there’d changes but wow. I think its only been 2 or 3 years (lots of life happened. lost my dad, moved & added a boy to our herd lol) but I’m just tickled to think of the prospect of more cookbooks (i have your first one) & what looks to be a magazine! Evidently there’s much more I haven’t discovered. It’s running into an old friend & find yourself beeming at their success. I’m soooo very happy to see it all!! (Although I’m not surprised cause you’re just awesome !!)

    • BJ says

      Kelley, I had the same problem when I lived alone. Most of my recipes were my Mom’s for a family of 5. So I made spaghetti sauce, taco meat, my favorite soups and chili, meatloaf, burgers and then made them into smaller loaves, smaller packages, smaller containers and just froze them so I always had something in the freezer to cook. I would make meatballs and freeze them in packs of about 6, with my spaghetti sauce I could make spaghetti with or without meatballs, lasagna, or some other pasta, meatball subs. With chili, I could make chili, baked potatoes with chili and cheese or chili mac just for a variety. Hope this helps.

  20. Melissa says

    Being as I work 3rd shift,dinners are usually late on workdays and having stuff frozen helps speed things up.
    I usually make big pots of chili,spaghetti sauce,soups,etc for one dinner then I divide and freeze what’s left.It also works for casseroles or leftover roasts or whatnot.
    It also gives me something fast to grab for my lunchbox for work.We have a nuke oven in the breakroom and a few minutes later lunch is served.
    Love your posts every day!You talk a lot like the hillbillies in my native SW VA.
    I gotta try that cobbler cake one day.Looks awesome!
    Thanks for listening and have an awesome day!

  21. Amy Drown says

    I did have some I only have some Chicken & noodles left. We have been super busy and I have been using them up, Plan on restocking them this Saturday hubby works late and Daughter will be at a sleep over.

  22. Mary Jo says

    I love your super easy spaghetti sauce. Since there is just 2 of us now. We have it for dinner and then what is left gets divided into 2 freezable containers. I will also freeze left over cooked pasta. Just thaw one and add a salad and I have dinner. I love that spaghetti sauce. So good.

  23. Brittany R says

    Christy, you have the best slow cooker recipes! Your angel chicken is one of my favorites. I can’t wait to make some of these recipes! Thank you so much for sharing time saving tips and recipes.

  24. connie says

    We grow all our veggies and a lot of our fruit so I can and freeze everything I can during the summer months. In the winter when things slow down a bit I can a lot of beef and venison so most of this stuff is just heat and eat. This is a real time saver for me. I enjoy southern plate and all of your recipes and the great stories.

  25. Mona says

    What type ingredients or foods do not freeze well? My daughter is a full-time kindergarten teacher and has 4 kids including 2 yr. old twins. Needless to say, she is overwhelmed most of the time. As her mom, I try to help her as much as I can. I work full-time also.

    Food is expensive, so I wouldn’t want to freeze a dish that just won’t taste good after being frozen.

  26. Missy says

    I used to stock double batches of meals in my freezer (my fav was crock pot chicken/dressing). I don’t purchase many canned items, but I do buy and put up lots of frozen meats/veggies. When my hubby needed to switch from salt laden frozen dinners to homemade frozen dinners (to take to work) I had to stop stocking double batch meals for lack of freezer space and start stocking his meals in plastic divided plates. I found that most recipes feed 4 (which I have to double) or 6-8 and we have 5 in our family, so I always had leftovers which we didn’t usually want to eat the day after. Instead of throwing that food out I make as many plates as possible for him to take to work. This is a great option for him because he works swing shift and doesn’t always have the option of ordering a plate from any of the restaurants that deliver to his work site. When I recently ran out of meals for him and couldn’t make some up (because we are in the middle of construction at our house) I realized how expensive it was for him to order from a restaurant when he is at work. Hopefully I can catch up this week while he is off and get some meals stocked in the freezer.

  27. Carrie says

    Since we are talking about freezer meals I thought I would share a couple of freezer organization ideas that have helped me. For pasta sauce, stock, etc… I freeze them flat in qt. size freezer bags then stand them up like file folders in a plastic shoe bin (minus the lid). It makes it easy to pull out, flip through and find what I am looking for. Also, for my deep freeze I put smaller, like items in a plastic crate (i.e. hamburger meat packages, etc…). It is a lot easier if you don’t have to move whole turkeys and hams out of the way to find what you need :). Of course, many of you may already do those types of things :). Have a great day!

  28. alicia says

    How do you organize the freezer meals so that you eat them in a reasonable time? When I defrost my chest freezer I always find something delicious has been lost down deep and now it’s way too old to eat.

    • Carrie says

      I don’t know about everyone else, but I usually try to keep similar things somewhat together and when I make something new I put it on the bottom of the stack (for casseroles, etc…) or in the back of the bin if it is something frozen in a freezer bag. That way we always use what has been in there the longest :).

  29. Jodi says

    Christy, I buy those 10 lb. chub packs of ground beef from Wal-Mart or when someone has a good buy on them, and I sauté onions, garlic and the ground beef and freeze just like you do but in 12 oz. bags using a food sealer. I find that I put garlic and onions in virtually every single thing I make with ground beef and after you allow for one pound of ground beef to cook down (I tried it the first time with just one pound) it shrinks down to 12 oz. I date them after sealing in my food sealer. That way you can grab any bag, pop it in the microwave one minute on each side, and you’re ready to rock and roll. I do the same thing if I get a good buy on bulk Italian sausage. DD wants a share of those too. She’s definitely NOT a cook, but does make spaghetti, hamburger helper, etc. and since her tastes are so limited to stuff like salami sandwiches, spaghetti, etc. she makes big batches. I can’t tell you the hours AND money I’ve saved buying those things on sale and cooking them ahead of time. I’m not working much anymore so I don’t have to do this, but it sure makes throwing supper together a breeze these days. I’m 66, hubby is 81, we don’t eat much, so 1 lb. of ground beef or ground Italian sausage is half the battle throwing something together. One of my favorites is Taco Soup. I also make chicken noodle soup from scratch from buying the 10 lb. bag of chicken leg quarters when they go on sale, stew them up with celery, onions, carrots, garlic, and voila, I have chicken ready to go AND home-made chicken broth. I pick the chicken off the bones, and likewise freeze that in those food sealer bags. Easy Peasy!!!!!!!!!

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