Inside my Freezer...

Inside my freezer, you will find 6 prepared meals, ready to thaw, cook, and eat.  I spent about 4 hours this afternoon preparing 7 meals and freezing them for later.  (Well, one we ate and one is in the refrigerator for I guess technically 5 are frozen).
I'm testing out a few recipes from the book "Don't Panic - Dinner's in the Freezer".  A few years ago Ben and I bought a round of meals from Dish it Up in Rochester, which follows the same premise...spend one day preparing several meals, freeze them, thaw them and cook them when you're ready.  It's meant to help eliminate planning and prep time later on.  We weren't thrilled with the Dish it Up meals, but only because they were pretty bland and we like a little more spice and flavor in our meals.  Generally we liked having frozen meals ready to long as we remembered to thaw them in time!  So I decided to attempt the same thing on my own.
I don't know for sure yet that it's saved me much time, or money (because I didn't really buy all the chicken i used on sale...if there's a next time, I'll wait for a good sale first), but I'm really hoping that they'll taste great and I'll at least have some new recipes to throw into the mix.  I'm pretty tired of tacos, spaghetti, stir fry, and fajitas.  It seems like we've been eating the same things for 8 years.  
I felt a little bit like a chef must feel in a restaurant, trying to juggle lots of orders and keep track of ingredients.  And BOY was it hot by the end of the day!  Although the verdict is out on the final product for each meal until we eat it, the prep time went reasonably well.  Only one meal looks like a disastrous mess.  I just hope it tastes better than it looks.  :)  
On the menu (I'll try and post reviews as we eat them):
  • Chicken Cacciatori (will cook in crock pot)
  • Chicken Parisienne (also a crock pot meal)
  • Chicken Wellington (the messy's supposed to be crescent roll wrapped stuffed chicken, but my chicken wasn't flat enough to roll and the dough was getting warm and unmanageable)
  • Cheesy Chicken (basically parmesan chicken)
  • Spinach and Mushroom Manicotti
  • Baked Ziti (recipe not from the book)
  • and tonight's meal: Crustless Spinach and Mushroom Quiche (recipe also not from book)
The Quiche was SO good and very easy to make.  So my first attempt at a new recipe (although not from the book and not really a freezer meal),  was a huge success.  Even Ayla ate spinach and mushrooms without realizing it. :)
So now I'm hot, tired, and need a bowl of ice cream. I think I burned a lot of brain calories today! 
btw...the last time I was pregnant, I had a sudden domestic urge to cook too, which is very uncharacteristic of me. So I guess we'll all enjoy it (with the appropriate amount of trepidation) while we can!

9 comments so far:

Boston DUI lawyers said:

Wow, this post was so well timed! I was sitting here thinking about what I was going to make for dinner tonight, and I clicked and there it was. I am going to check and see if the library carries this book. I used to purchase the make ahead and freeze meals, but not only was it expensive, it was also bland. I knew there had to be a way to do it at home, I just didn't have the motivation to actually look into it. Thanks for the gentle nudge.

Andrea said:

Update: Spinach and Mushroom Manicotti
Ben said this was the best manicotti he's ever had. I don't know how much manicotti he's had (not much since we've been married), but I'll take the compliment.
The recipe was a meld between the book and the recipe on the box of manicotti. I had too much fresh spinach and mushrooms not to include them in the filling, so I added those into the standard cheese manicotti recipe from the book.
The trick was to cook the noodles to al dente, fill them, and then put them back in the trays they came in. Then plastic wrap the whole thing before putting them in the freezer bags. Then on cooking day, you put marinara sauce in a baking dish, lay out the manicotti and then pour more marinara over the top, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Very yummy.

Prlinehan said:

I have a cookbook called Trim & Terrific freezer friendly meals if you ever want to borrow it.

Andrea said:

Update: Chicken Wellington

This one tasted great, even though it was my "messy" meal. It took the most preparations, and really needed to be done with WELL flattened chicken, which I didn't have. So my "rolls" ended up being flat chicken breasts with stuffing on top and the rolls sort of wrapped around all of that. They actually looked pretty when they were cooked.

The recipe is pretty long and complicated, so instead of typing it out, I'll just say it's on page 95 of the book (which I picked up at the library)...and it really does taste great!


Andrea said:

Update: Cheesy Chicken Bundles
This version of Chicken Parmesan was great! A definite repeat. I like that you can individually freeze them, which means you can make as much of this as you want, and only dethaw the number of portions you need. I still have 4 breasts in the freezer for later.
Cooking Day:
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 6 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
Serving Day Ingredients:
  • 2 T. butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Cooking Day:
Mix together bread crumbs, cheeses, salt and pepper. Dip chicken pieces in melted butter, then in cheese mixture. Tuck sides of chicken breast in to form individual bundles. (I didn't do this). To freeze, wrap each bundle in plastic wrap, and then place in freezer bags.
Serving Day:
Thaw, then place chicken bundles in large, shallow baking dish. Melt remaining 2T. butter and pour over bundles. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees approximately 1 hour, until chicken is crispy.

Carrie said:

I found your blog when I googled "Chicken Parisienne," because I too checked out Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer from the library. Since I've long ago returned the book, but wanted to make the Chicken Parisienne again, I wondered if I could find the specifics online -- and voila, your blog popped up.

So I was interested that you got the Cheesy Chicken Bundles to work! When I made it, they didn't turn out well at all. I couldn't get the coating to stick to the chicken very well, and when I tried to "roll up" the bundles they wouldn't really cooperate, and I just ended up knocking off whatever coating had stuck to the chicken in the first place. In the end it seemed like they were a lot of work for a fairly plain outcome. Any tips? How did you get it to work?

Andrea said:

Update: We had the Chicken Parisienne last night for dinner, served over rice, with green beans. It was pretty good! It's a good variation on the OTHER chicken and rice that I normally make in the crock pot. Here's the recipe:

Cooking Day:

  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 - 10oz can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 6 chicken breasts
Serving Day:
  • salt and pepper
  • paprika
  • rice
Cooking Day:
Mix wine, soup, and mushrooms together. Stir flour into sour cream and add soup to mixture. Place mixture together with chicken in freezer bag. Freeze flat.
Serving Day:
Thaw. Place chicken and sauce in crock pot. Sprinkle salt, pepper and paprika over top. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.
Serve over rice. I added green beans and french onions on top for a little bit of vegetables and some crunch.


devinsmom said:

Let me know how the food comes out. I might have to get some recipes. We always feel like we are making the same thing over and over too.
Kelly Freemyer

Ramona said:

LOVE this idea! It really does save a lot of time during the busy week if you remember to thaw it out. LOL!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.