We’re going on week four of social distancing in this house and we’re finally getting a rhythm down! I’ve been trying to soak up each day at home with my sweet family and at the same time keep from going crazy. Anyone else with me?!
There has been no shortage of cooking over here (and SO MANY DISHES). Before coronavirus I was known to have a well stocked freezer. Between late work shifts and two one year olds there are so many days I forget about dinner and don’t have time to plan out groceries and that’s when I run to the freezer! Or we have unexpected guests drop by and I beg them to stay for dinner because I love a full table. I always have meals on hand that I can quickly throw together last minute from the freezer and pantry.
I don’t believe that we need to overbuy during this pandemic, the grocery stores aren’t going anywhere. BUT I have been incredibly thankful to have a stocked freezer, save trips to the grocery store, and be able to throw something together when I’m too tired to think. Also thankful for takeout…yes and amen.
Here are a few tips I want to share when it comes to stocking your freezer:
- I keep 5-10 meals on hand at all times that I can make with ingredients that are purely stored in the freezer and pantry. That way they won’t expire in the refrigerator and I always have them ready. I’ll share the 10 meals I currently have stocked below!
- Use what you already have. What’s in your freezer? Do you have ingredients you could go ahead and use up to create a meal with? Use those items to make a plan first.
- I line my freezer door with mason jars filled with soup. Anytime I make a soup recipe, I double it and put the leftovers in the freezer. That way I always have five or more varieties of soup to reheat and viola! Five easy last minute dinners!
Here are the ten meals that I currently have in my freezer to throw together when needed! I hope these are helpful for you!
1. Gyoza + Japanese Fried Rice
Freezer: Trader Joe’s Frozen Bag of Pork Gyoza and TJ’s Frozen Bag of Japanese Rice
Fridge Staples: Eggs
Pantry: Olive Oil
Extra Ideas (optional): Frozen Egg Rolls
Follow instructions on the bag. So easy! We cook three eggs in the skillet before adding the fried rice for extra protein. 10 minute dinner or less.
2. Turkey Burgers + Sweet Potato Fries
Freezer: Costco Turkey Burgers, Alexia Sweet Potato Fries, Cheese slices (we freeze all of our cheese and take it out of the freezer as needed)
Extra ideas (optional): Garlic Powder, Seasoned Salt, Hamburger Buns, Avacado
We normally eat these without buns but they would be great with buns also! I cook the burgers on a skillet, coat with BBQ sauce, top with a melty cheese slice and fresh avocado. Yum! I cook the fries in the oven as directed and when they are finished I add garlic powder and seasoned salt to taste.
3. Crab Cakes + Red Beans & Rice
Freezer: Frozen Crab Cakes (We love Trader Joe’s but most grocery stores have these!)
Pantry: Zatarain’s Red Beans & Rice Box
Extra ideas (optional): Cocktail Sauce
Just follow instructions on the boxes!
4. Steak + Butter Noodles + Corn on the Cob
Freezer: Any type of steak
Fridge Staples: Butter, Milk
Pantry: Knorr Butter Noodles Packet, Steak Marinade
We thaw the steaks and marinate them the day before we eat them. Cook noodles and corn on the cob as the packaging directs. Side note: Our favorite way to cook steak is with this sous vide. This one takes the cake as Ryan’s fave.
5. Poppyseed Chicken Casserole + Broccoli & Cheese
Freezer: Shredded Chicken (I buy the pre-shredded chicken from Target and keep a few boxes in the freezer at all times. But you could also cook chicken breast and shred it or pull apart a ready rotisserie chicken and store in freezer bags ready to go), Frozen Steamers Broccoli & Cheese Bag, 16 oz Sour Cream (I freeze my sour cream but it does change the consistency so I only use frozen sour cream in casseroles), Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Fridge Staples: Butter
Pantry: Egg Noodles or Rice, Ritz Crackers, Poppyseeds, 2 Cans Cream of Chicken Soup, garlic powder, salt, pepper, dried parsley
This is one of Ryan’s favorite meals and a staple in the McDougal House. His family recipe is slightly different but I found this similar recipe on pinterest! I cook the egg noodles and layer them in the bottom of the casserole dish before baking!
6. Chicken Pot Pie
Freezer: Pre-made Frozen Chicken Pot Pie
Well this one is a no brainer. Follow directions on the box and you have an easy dinner that includes both protein and veggies!
7. Orange Chicken + Coconut Rice
Freezer: Trader Joes’s Frozen Orange Chicken
Pantry: White Jasmine Rice, Can of Unsweetened Coconut Milk, Salt, Brown Sugar
Extra ideas (optional): Frozen Egg Rolls
8. Lasagna Soup
Freezer: 1 lb. Italian Sausage, Frozen Bag of Chopped Onion, Shredded Mozzerella, Shredded Parmesan,
Fridge Staples: Squeeze Bottle of Minced Garlic (or you could use fresh or frozen garlic cloves)
Pantry: Olive Oil, Lasagna Noodles, 32 oz. Chicken Stock (or keep boullion cubes handy to make chicken broth), 30 oz canned diced tomatoes, 6 oz canned tomato paste, ground oregano, Italian seasoning, dried basil, salt, pepper
Extra ideas (optional): Frozen Texas Toast or Garlic Bread
I serve this without the Ricotta! It’s already cheesy enough for me and I LOVE cheese! Don’t forget to double the recipe and freeze some mason jars for later.
9. Hamburger Helper + Arkansas Green Beans
Freezer: 1 lb Hamburger Meat, Bacon (I freeze cooked leftover bacon, or freeze it raw and cook before making this recipe. Or use ready made bacon bits instead if you want it extra easy!)
Fridge Staples: Milk, Butter
Pantry: Hamburger Helper Box, 5 Cans Italian Green Beans (or sub frozen), Soy Sauce, Brown Sugar, Garlic Powder
I marinate the green beans overnight before baking. YUMMMM. Our favorite hamburger helper is the “stroganoff” version.
10. Chili Frito Pie
Freezer: 2 lbs ground beef, shredded cheese (for topping)
Fridge Staples: Squeeze Minced Garlic Bottle (or use fresh or frozen cloves)
Pantry: Bag of Fritos, 1 can tomato sauce, 1 can Rotel, salt, oregano, cumin, chili powder, 1 can kidney beans, 1 can pinto beans, flour
Optional: Fresh onions for topping
This recipe calls for corn flour but I don’t keep that on hand so I use regular flour and can’t tell a difference!
11. BONUS MEAL: Frozen Pizza
Enough said. 😉