Wow, I did not realize that I would get so many requests for the freezer meals :) I am glad so many people are interested in it...With that said, I must say that I am not an expert in the area. This is my first time so I am just winging it. I have done a lot of internet searches on the topic. There are lots of sites with tips and recipes. So with that said here was my little system:
1. I watch the sales ads that usually come out on Wednesday. There are usually great buys such as buy 1 get 1 free on the meats (that is one way I kept cost down)
2. I went to the local dollar store and stocked up on aluminum pans, foil, and clear plastic wrap. Don't bother with purchasing the pans with lids because once you wrap them up the lids will not fit.
3. I wrapped the pans A LOT...nothing is worse than freezer burn flavoring. I first wrapped with the clear plastic wrap and followed up with the aluminum foil.
4. Most of the recipes I chose had detailed instructions about how to freeze. So
I knew whether or not to pre-cook the dishes. Most dishes were just assembled then frozen. I encourage you to look for recipes that detail what to do.
5. I divided the recipes up by meats...i.e. chicken, hamburger, pork, etc
6. I cooked all the like meat dishes on the same day. I have a very large stock pot that I put all the chicken in to cook at one time. Once it cooked I shredded it and divided it up among the dishes. I found this to be very fast and easy. All the leftover chicken that was not used in a dish I put into a ziploc bag and froze to use at a later time. Another plus is that by cooking the chicken this way, I had the chicken broth that so many of the recipes called for. (another money saver)
7. After each casserole was assembled, I covered them up and wrote on them with a permanent marker. I wrote the name of the dish, how to cook it, and what side dishes (if any) to include with it. I also put the date on which the dish was prepared so that we use the oldest first.
So that's my little "system" I am sure that over time I will tweak it some. I hope that some of these tips will help you get started in the meal freezing. I am going to include one recipe today. I will share more on another post, BUT I have a lot to do today :)
CHEESY CHICKEN ENCHILADAS
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves - boiled and shredded
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (7 oz) can chopped green chile peppers
1 (1 oz) pkg taco seasoning mix
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups cottage cheese
1 tsp salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
12 (6 inch) corn tortillas
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
1 (10 oz) can red enchilada sauce
Meat Mixture: Heat oil in medium skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, onion, and green chile peppers and saute until browned. Add taco seasoning according to package directions. ***I also added Fiesta Party Dip Mix (a tastefully simple product)
Cheese Mixture: In a medium bowl mix sour cream with cottage cheese and season with salt and pepper; stir until well blended.
To Assemble: ***I changed this part up. Instead of taking the time to assemble and roll each enchilada, I made it into a casserole. I layered 6 corn tortillas on the bottom of pan (spray with non-stick spray) then layered with half of cheese mixture and half of meat mixture. I then repeated the layer...tortillas, cheese mix, meat mix. On top of the last layer I put the cheese and enchilada sauce.
To freeze: cover tightly and freeze
If you do not want to make this a casserole, just take a spoonful of each mix and place in the center of the tortilla. Roll each tortilla and place in pan. Once all are completed cover with cheese and pour sauce over. (freeze same)
To cook: thaw completely, bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
I made myself a note to put extra cheese (because we love cheese around here) and serve with a side of spanish rice...yumm-o!