Fill Your Freezer for Easier School Days

Make some meals ahead of time and freeze them to enjoy later. It will make school days and nights so much easier!

This week in a frenzy of cooking, I filled my freezer. Those who follow along on Good Cheap Eats know that we are coming off the heels of a pantry challenge. This deep freeze was empty and thawed on Sunday morning. Today it is almost full to the brim.

It was a busy week with school starting, dentist appointments, swim lessons, a trip to the movies, and I don’t remember what all else. But, I made a point of cooking a little bit each day to work toward filling the freezer.

We’ll eat — three times a day!

In fact, I made meals for breakfast, lunches, and dinners to make this back-to-school season go a little more smoothly. It took five days, but now we can eat!

Breakfast

The girls were SO excited to help make stuff. I really need to bottle this enthusiasm. We made pancake, waffle, and muffin mixes as well as lots of instant oatmeal packets. Head here to see how we pulled that off.

Then, one morning before anyone awoke, I made granola. It won’t last long. And another day, I prepped fruit and yogurt for smoothies and made sure that our smoothie station is ready to go.

We’re set for easy Breakfast Bars on school days with these recipes:

Lunch

During a couple of my cooking sessions, I prepped things for lunches, particularly those that hubs could take with him and reheat at work. I shared the basic details on Good Cheap Eats during the week. Be sure to check those posts here, here, and here.

We’ve got recipes similar to these to draw from during the next few weeks:

(Head on over to Freezer Meals for Work Lunches for more ideas on what you can brown bag.)

Dinner

I made several pans of Creamy Chicken Enchiladas and Chicken Divan with Cheddar Crust (from this cookbook), hamburger patties, Carnitas, and of course, bigger portions of the lunch items. I chopped a lot of this grilled chicken to add into other meals.

Dessert

Hubby and I are trying to reign in our summertime overeating, so I am trying not to make too many tempting treats. I made a big batch of cookie dough, reducing the sugar content dramatically. I baked a dozen and then froze the other five dozen’s worth of dough into five packages to bake later. Less temptation, but easy baking for a quick and not-too-sweet dessert.

While we certainly don’t have the entire month’s meals cooked and ready, I do have several options waiting for me in the freezer to help me out on crazy school days — and nights.

Have you done any freezer cooking lately?

Tell us in the comments how your cooking session went.

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.

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Comments

  1. Grill Big or Go home….whenever I turn the grill on, I try to fill it up! When tenderloin goes on sale I have the grocery store slice it for me and cook as much as i can fit on the grill. I vacuum seal different size packets. Single piece packets are for my husband’s lunch, or my daughter’s dorm room. I use the same process for chicken breasts, too. (we discovered that a dorm refrigerator cranked down to the lowest setting is like a mini freezer. It at least will keep frozen things frozen.)
    I’ve collected large crockpots from garage sales and the thrift store. I set them up on our covered patio so I can make multiple packs of shredded chicken, ground beef, pulled pork BBQ, and shredded pork. No muss, no fuss, and the house doesn’t even smell like I’ve been cooking meat all day. Knowing that I can easily attack large quantities meat with so little prep makes it easy for me to take advantage of clearance deals and unexpected sales. The vacuum sealer really extends freezer life…no more freezer burn.
    Fast food at our house is just a few minutes in defrost and express cook. We save time, money and eat much healthier. Win-Win-Win!

  2. Great work filling the freezer!

    I have been using our extra CSA ingredients to fill up our freezer with meals. Here is how we did:

    http://www.momsplans.com/2012/07/menu-planning-for-july-31-2012/

  3. Been playing around with how we want our oatmeal packets so should have those ready to go this weekend. 5 pounds of ground turkey cooked and ready to be put in meals today. Woke to 2 chickens in the crock pot–yuck but at least its done. But overcame the chicken smell with the two breakfast casseroles that I prepped last night and pulled from the oven this morning that will be frozen for quick breakfasts. Just having some meat prepped makes life a whole lot easier to make sure I cook.

  4. I love your plan. I may have to refer to it the next time I do some planning ahead! I like to “fill” my freezer for the week’s meals. Kind of like Once a Week Cooking, only I prepare each of them so that I can cook them in the crockpot. Here’s my menu so far, if anyone would like some recipes on how to do that: http://www.sidetrackedsarah.com/freezer-to-slow-cooker

  5. I am loving the container you have your flour in. I have been looking for something like that to buy larger quanities. Any clue where you got it??

  6. In my effort to eat from the pantry this month, I took two bell peppers and 1 lb ground turkey (and some other pantry items) and made 8 jars of pasta sauce! Eek! They definitely take up more room in the freezer than the turkey did, but they’re ready for future meals and easy spaghetti nights.

    I’m also trying to make double batches of the meals I’m making, one for now and one for the freezer. Hopefully I’ll get through the pantry quicker, PLUS have a full freezer to boot!

  7. The granola doesn’t last long around here either, and there aren’t 6 of us! I grilled extra chicken last night for the freezer. I have not tried this before, so I only did a little bit to see how we like it. I want to make some oatmeal packets, too, and some breakfast burritos. Your freezer cooking is an inspiration!

  8. This is my plan for the weekend – get ready for Back to School with lunches, snacks and breakfasts ready to go – thanks for some great ideas!

  9. Steak fingers, chicken strips and corn dog muffins are big school lunch items for us. I also make hams and chickens just for lunch meat and some diced up for adding to salads and what not. I also freeze rice in small portions the texture is different but my kids don’t mind. Still trying to figure out freezing macncheese and spaghetti. We are gluten free and so the pasta is rice pasta and the texture is different. Oh and freezing soup, chilli and stew is a big hit with my better half. Rather than do one huge freezer cook I find it works better for me to cook for my freezer one afternoon a week. I also cook for my pantry one day a week (granola for example) and lunch prep one day a week. (Repackaging chips cutting up carrots etc.)

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