Today was day 1 of my, “before baby arrives freezer cooking plan.” With baby a mere five weeks (at the most) away, it is time to start cranking out some freezer meals. While I typically do a few freezer sessions in the fall, this year I am trying to produce more meals than usual.
My line up this morning included:
Chicken Pot Pie Filling
1 lb of Venison Stuffed Pepper Filling
1 lb of Venison Taco Meat
1 lb. Venison Meatloaf
1 lb. Venison Italian Meatballs
Crock pot Venison Chili
Marinated BBQ Chicken Breasts
Raspberry Chipotle Chicken Breasts
It took me about 3 hours to prep the kitchen and make the meals. I had all meats ready ahead of time. The key to a good freezer cooking session is to prep your kitchen ahead of time. Below is my step-by-step process for preparing a freezer cooking session.
1. Have a list of all meals handy and all needed ingredients on hand . If you are using recipe cards or websites, have those ready to view. *If you need ideas and recipes, there are tons online and on Pinterest,* Though I would start with your favorite meals. Most meals are easily adapted into freezer meals..
2. Make sure your kitchen is clean, the counters are clear, and the dishes are washed and put away. You need all possible room.
3. Bring out all ingredients so you are not running from kitchen to the pantry or the basement to pull ingredients.
4. Begin your session with the longest cooking task first. I always preheat the oven, prep my chicken, and get it in the oven first. It takes about an 1.5 hours to bake a bird. I then break out the crock pot and start my crock pot meal (chili). This serves as dinner and a freezer meal. I then move on to the rest of my cooked recipes (pepper filling, taco meat, chicken pot pie filling). After cooked, cooled, and packaged, I begin my non-cooked recipes (meatloaf, meatballs, marinated chicken breasts) though these meals can be cooked and frozen. I prefer to freeze them uncooked and cook them when thawed.
5. Prep bags in between tasks. I use plastic freezer bags, mostly gallon size. I have index cards with directions that I adhere to the front on the bag.
6. Clean between tasks. I like to clear counters and make room while things are cooking. I also end up washing dishes as I reuse some of the utensils.
- Allow all cooked meals to cool before packaging. Hot food against plastic bags causes chemicals to leech into the food.
- Don’t let food cool in pans and bowls; it takes too long. I line a cookie sheet with foil and spread the food out until it cools. It only takes a few minutes to cool.
- Have a roll of paper towels on hand for cleaning up meat spills and for use after washing hands. I prefer paper towels when freezer cooking as to avoid any meat contamination.
- The USDA advises all thawed meats should thaw in the refrigerator before using or re-freezing. I thaw ground venison in the refrigerator for refreezing and cooking at a later date. I have never experienced a loss of taste or texture.
Here are a few recipes from my cooking session. ALL venison in recipes can be substituted with ground beef.
Chicken Pot Pie
I always eye-ball this recipe. I will try my best with measurements.
1 pound cooked chicken – cubed
1 cup cooked, diced carrots
1/2 cup cooked, diced celery
1/3 cup chopped, sautéed onion
1/2 cup cooked potatoes, diced
2 cups liquid base (gravy or drippings and stock thickened with corn starch)
Make gravy. Mix all ingredients together and cool. Put into bags for freezer. When ready to use, simply fill your pie crust with the thawed filling and cover with second crust. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes until crust is slightly browned.
Bacon Topped Venison Meatloaf
I use this recipe from Taste of Home. I follow the recipe but use GF bread crumbs and sometimes omit the sausage. Mix all ingredients. Place in bag, flatten, and freeze. When ready to cook make loaf and follow directions in recipe link.
Venison Italian Meatballs
1 lb. ground venison
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup room temp pasta sauce
Mix all ingredients. Place in bag, flatten, and freeze. When ready to use: roll into balls, place in a grease pan, bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and put into sauce, simmer for 1 hour. Makes about 15 meatballs.
Venison Stuffed Pepper Filling
I also make this with ground beef. Great either way!
1 lb. ground venison
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup pasta sauce
Cook ground venison. Add pasta sauce and turn down to simmer. Add rice, sprinkle in some Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese, mix. Pull off burner. Allow to cool. Fill bag, flatten, and freeze. When ready to use: stuff peppers and add mozzarella cheese during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Cook about 35 to 40 minutes at 350.
This wraps up today’s freezer cooking session. I will be sure to post my next session as well. What are some of your favorite freezer recipes?
The Joyful Homemaker