Freezer Cooking: Lunches and Frozen Burritos

In years gone by, the noon meal was often referred to as “dinner.” It comes from more agrarian times when folks had been working hard in the field since sunup and by noon were ready for a hearty meal. The evening meal was then referred to as “supper” and “lunch” was considered the same as a snack. As life has become busier for many of us, the noon meal has evolved into Lunch, a quick meal that can often be eaten on the go.

But it’s still work.

Even though lunches are eaten quickly, they still involve some prep work. But, who wants to stop in the middle of what they’re doing to fix a meal? That is where Freezer Cooking can help.

Salads and sandwiches are easy enough to pull together on the fly, but there are other options that can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer.

  • Chili - cook in the crockpot, portion into meal-size containers, cool, label and freeze
  • Hamburgers – just season the meat, form patties, flash freeze on a tray, place in freezer bags, and freeze
  • Taco Kits: place a package of tortillas, cooked taco meat, and a bag of shredded cheese in a larger freezer bag and freeze.
  • Sandwich Fillings like BBQ Pork or shredded chicken to have later for Chicken Salad

Frozen Burritos are something that I recently have been making a lot of. I was skeptical that they would work for our family, wondering if they would turn out soggy or tough. But in fact, they are one of the first items to disappear from our freezer each month. I use burrito size tortillas, cooked pintos, taco meat, and grated cheese. Easy peasy.

Favorite burrito recipes:

You just gotta know how to fold ‘em.

Watch this vlog for a demonstration on burrito folding and a very cute FishBoy peeking in.

Can’t see the video? Read the transcript here.

For this Freezer Cooking round, I bought about 11 pounds of ground beef. I cooked 3/4 of it and seasoned it for Burritos, Taco Kits, and to put in the chili. I made the remaining fourth into hamburger patties. It took about an hour to 90 minutes to do all that, but resulted in 20 hamburger patties (some large and some sliders), 3 dinners of chili, 24 burritos, and 3 meals of taco meat. And, I’m hoping it will buy me some time for lunches and dinners in the coming weeks.

Curious about freezer cooking? Consider purchasing my cookbook, Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local bookstore. It’s chock full with over 200 freezer-friendly recipes, planning pages, shopping lists, cooking plans, and basic and advanced how-to’s to making freezer cooking work for any home, family, and lifestyle.

What’s your favorite lunch to make ahead?

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Comments

  1. We love burritos made with chix, black beans, corn (the fire roasted kind from Trader Joe’s), cheese, and salsa. I usually make a couple dozen at a time and freeze them individually wrapped. This is a great way to use up the random jars of salsa that seem to multiply in our fridge and bits of cheese. Heat in the oven until the outside is crispy or place several in a dish, cover with enchilada sauce and cheese, and bake.

    BTW–a friend makes veggie burritos with sauteed zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, onions and tofu with mexican spices. Pretty yummy stuff.

  2. Zucchini Soup! I just made my first batch for the summer!

  3. I love your video! I’ve found a new way to fold my burritos now. Thanks!
    God bless,
    Amanda

  4. Sara Z. says:

    A question about ground beef. With a family of 6, we go through 2 pounds of ground beef per meal. I am trying to find a way to buy quality ground beef that doesn’t cost a fortune. I can buy the 25% fat content stuff pretty cheap, but I worry about the fat content and potential use of hormones, etc. I can buy something like ground round, sirloin or Laura’s lean beef but at a much higher cost per pound. Even with a sale the price is double what I would pay for the fattier beef. Are there other options for saving on meat?

    Thanks,

    • @Sara Z., I would love some tips on meat as well because that seems to be one of my family’s bigest costs and CSAs are not an option for me.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      Keep track of the lowest price you see in your area. Then make that your target price. When it gets that low, buy enough to last you several weeks to several months. Check the markdowns, too. I have found organic beef as low a $1.99/pound (my target price for regular beef) when it was a day or two before its sell-by date. Organic or hormone-free don’t always move as quickly as regular so if you time it right, you could score big. Also talk to your butcher and ask if he will give you a bulk discount. We have bought a 1/4 or 1/2 cow before as well, but that will be higher priced about $4/pound. But, you can get all kinds of cuts for that same price.

      • @Jessica Fisher,

        We also substitute Ground Turkey or Ground Chicken when we find a good deal on that. You can taste a slight difference, but with all the other flavors in a burrito it’s hardly noticeable!

    • @Sara Z., I like to stretch my ground beef by adding beans or rice to it. You can even add rolled oats, in some recipes. This makes it go much further for our family. Hope this helps! :)

  5. I love your vlogs….and Fishboy is very cute. :D

  6. After freezing, do you warm the burritos in the microwave or oven before serving? Does it take long to warm them?
    I can’t wait to try this, thanks!!

  7. since i’m usually cooking for just 1, leftovers are my regular lunch (i just pack up the main dish and sides in a rubbermaid container and freeze so they’re like my own lean cuisines). i also regularly do a big pot of chili and freeze in individual portions.

  8. You just gave me an idea…..Wendy’s uses their chili to make Chili, Chips and Cheese. My girls would have to take some serious persuading (or bribing) to eat something like chili for lunch. But some sort of dipping, goopy mess (including that same “dinner” chili may be up their alley.

    I also just started planning our lunches; I’ve been planning dinners for a decade. It has taken the guess work out.

    Love the cute fishboy!

  9. So you microwave the burritos from frozen? I have been wanting to do the burritos for a while.

    My dad is a rancher with lots of (grass fed) cattle and he is giving us a whole cow to eat! I am due for baby number 3 in 3 months so I am thinking I will try to make some beef freezer meals since I am going to have it coming out my ears. But I feel so blessed to not worry about purchasing that for probably a year!

    I don’t know how expensive it would be to buy a 1/4 or 1/2 beef but if you can find grass fed, local or semi local, who use antibiotics sensibly (when a cow is actually sick) then you could feel good about spending that money-maybe use your tax return money to pay for it.

  10. Jessica,
    I started making the freezer burritos about a year ago for our family, but was wondering if how you could address how you store them individually in the freezer. How do you wrap them? Do you flash freeze them on a cookie sheet and then put them in a zip top bag, or do you wrap them individually? I make a pan of them a freeze those, but I would love to have some individual meals on hand. Thank you so much for all you do for us.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      I don’t do anything special. No flash freezing. I just put as many as will fit in a freezer bag. I saw Crystal was doing it that way, and it works. So, that’s the only way I’ve tried. It’s very easy to pull one or two or ten out and reheat.

      • Wow! Thanks for the quick reply. I am going to try that next time I make some up. Thanks again for being a great inspiration for us.

  11. Are those cooked burrito-size tortillas? I assume so, but they look like the kind you fry yourself, from Costco.

    I love your mini-freezer-day cooking idea (with the 11 lbs ground beef into taco meat, chili, burritoes, and patties). I would love to hear more mini-ideas like this. It seems more do-able!

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      No, those are just standard issue tortillas. The brands that Costco carries vary by region.

  12. My step-daughter has started detasseling and I made the burrito’s to be breakfast burritos. I cook up some edd, hashbrowns, and cut up sausage link (or have used bacon before too). I wrap them in the paper towel and aluminum foil and freeze. She pulls one out each night before bed and cooks in the morning in the microwave.

    I have also made these for camping, minus the paper towel. I still froze them, and would pull from the cooler in the morning and cook on a small propane grill-I would image still work sitting next to a campfire too. Happy cooking-Love the site!

  13. Loved the demo on folding the burritos. Thanks!

  14. Love this vlog! I haven’t tried doing a big cooking session yet but the more I read your blog, the more inspired I am to try it. I have to ask – how do you cook 11 pounds of ground beef? I’m terrified to even try it!

  15. Nichole says:

    Thanks so much for the vlog! My good friend a state away and I have been emailing back and forth since last night about these burritos. Her four-year-old watched the video with her and was begging to make them. So we both made them with our preschoolers/toddlers today. What fun! Both of the four-year-olds were quite insistent that they knew exactly how to fold the burritos after watching you on the video several times. My friend’s almost-3-year-old is begging to watch the video just for the fun of it! My children enjoyed seeing your son peeking in, too. Have you done more videos? If so, what’s the easiest way to find them on the site?
    Thanks for the great info AND the free entertainment. :)

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