I knew I wanted to stock our freezer with some easy pop-in-the-oven meals before L1 arrives, so our super awesome friend Sharon came over and we spent the day assembling casseroles and making sauces. Did I mention she’s SUPER AWESOME? Seriously.
I’m fast and loose with recipes, so I’ve made some notes below on changes I generally make, but I’m confident that the recipes I linked to would be quite delicious in their own right. I froze meals in 8×8 foil pans that were double-layer foil wrapped, then labeled, or in gallon or quart freezer bags, also appropriately labeled. I have a full grocery list for this set of meals if anyone is interested.
Let me also note that I am Hashtag Blessed with a husband who is not a picky eater, who loves vegetables and doesn’t mind leftovers. It’s the best.
Texas Lasagna: One of my mom’s go-to Taste of Home recipes that Chad happens to love. I added a can of black beans and some frozen TJ’s peppers.
Lucille’s Chicken Casserole: This was a staple growing up, and is by far my favorite comfort food. Chad doesn’t like it and I don’t even care – I’ll eat the whole thing. I can’t find the exact recipe on line, but it’s pretty close to this link, plus some diced onion, hard boiled egg, and a few good dashes of soy sauce.
Classic Ragu Bolognese: Gotta love veggies hidden in a classic meat sauce. Ain’t nobody got time for veal around here, so I use a combination of ground pork and ground beef, and a little bacon instead of pancetta.
Beef Enchilada Filling: No official recipe on this one – I use a 1:1:1:1 ratio (you could keep going with the 1s forever on this one) of 1 lb ground beef, 1 can black beans, 1 can enchilada sauce, 1 can diced green chilis, 1 handful frozen spinach, etc… can’t go wrong. I freeze it in quart ziplock bags, and we eat the filling spread on tortillas and broiled with cheese, or poured over cornbread muffins with sour cream, or piled on top of nachos. You could also roll them up and pour more sauce on top if you have a lot of time.
Pork & Mushroom Meatballs: I was inspired one day at the grocery store by a sample giveaway of some Johnsonville pork burgers, and recreated these mushroom meatballs with ground pork. They’re simple, savory and comforting, and are great with rice or on slider buns. Chad will also eat leftovers cold straight out of the refrigerator. Pro tip: chop your mushrooms really really small before sautéing. If the mushroom pieces are too big, the meatballs won’t hold together well.
Funeral Potatoes: No one said we were keeping track of calories here, people. Classic church potluck style and tasty as heck. I’m not even sorry.
Italian Meatballs: I love having a variety of meatballs on hand to throw in a jar of Prego (it’s my favorite) or toss with cheese ravioli or turn into gooey meatball subs. The Pioneer Woman’s recipe here is a great standby if you need a place to start. I also add frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed) to these.
Chicken Spaghetti: My love affair with chicken spaghetti began well after we got married, and I must have tried 4 or 5 recipes before I found one that I really like as a foundation. I actually follow this recipe pretty closely, although I use probably twice as many veggies as the recipe calls for, and use whatever I have on hand, although a wide variety (carrots AND celery AND zucchini AND peppers AND mushrooms AND spinach AND onion) tastes best, I think. No shame in adding/subbing cream of chicken soup for some of the broth base, either.
Chicken Enchiladas: I do like to get extra veggies in where I can, so I add a layer of sautéed mushrooms/spinach/onion/zucchini/peppers/whatever into this classic Gimme Some Oven recipe. I used a combo of cream of chicken soup, sour cream and yogurt for the sauce, since that’s what I had on hand.
Florentine Lasagna: I also add a layer or two of any/all sautéed veggies to this. And I JUST realized I forgot to add bacon to the batch I made for the freezer. Sigh. I may have to fry up a 1/4 lb and eat it standing at my stove just to make up for it. For the freezer version, I just mix sour cream and cottage cheese and milk plus all the seasonings, in lieu of actually cooking the sauce, simply because I am a lazy cook. Also a messy cook, but that’s a different story.
Tater Tot Casserole: I mix the beef, beans and sauce, then freeze in ziplocks. I’ll transfer to a casserole dish and top with tots before baking. We’re a no-cheese family for Tater Tot Casserole (and for heaven’s sake, don’t add corn), but I know many who like it with the cheddar. Weirdos.
Classic Lasagna: I will not lie and say I make this homemade sauce for lasagna. I don’t. I was raised on Prego and I think it works just fine in lasagna. But do as you must. And, because I was feeling fancy and had it in the freezer, I added some bulk Italian sausage to the mix.