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Freezer Cooking Menu & Recipes

on 11.18.2011 at 12:42pm
21 Comments

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Start saving money in the kitchen my freezer cooking.  Here are some freezer menus and tips.

To have a successful freezer cooking experience, it’s important to have a plan. You want to focus on recipes that have variety, but that use some common ingredients to make preparation easier.

Focusing on Sale Ingredients

Meal planning alone can save you money, but if you also incorporate stocking up when essential ingredients are on sale, you can really shave a lot off the budget!  It helps if you focus on in-season items and do several weeks of stocking up before your cooking day.

Remember, just like with couponing, you can choose to go extreme and make every meal for a whole month in one day, or you can keep it simple and make a few dishes to freeze that will supplement your weekly meal plans for when you have a busy night – it’s all up to your needs.

Special Diet Requirements

If you have special dietary restrictions there are freezer cooking ideas out there for you too! One resource I found are the Gluten Free and Vegetarian menus at Once A Month Mom and there are tons of other recipe ideas out there if you do a little hunting. When you get the hang of it, you can probably even convert some of your family favorites into freezer cooking meals by doing some or all of the steps in advance!

Types of Meals you Can Prepare

You may think that freezer cooking is limited to casseroles and microwave meals, but the truth is that you can prepare most recipes in advance to some degree (even restaurants do it). To keep things interesting, you may want to focus on a variety of cooking methods like grilling, slow cooking, baking and sauteing. Don’t forget to label things and keep a list of any special cooking instructions handy.

To give you an idea of where to start, I’ve put together a menu for a freezer cooking session that is based on the sale items around the south this week. I would also love for you to share links to your favorite freezer cooking recipes or tips in the link-up and comments below!

Jenny’s Freezer Cooking Menu Plan

Sale Ingredients:

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast $1.97-$2.29 lb (HEB, Bi-Lo, Winn Dixie)
Boston Butt Pork Roast, $1.69-$1.79 lb (Harveys or Bloom)
Ground Beef, $2.49-$3.99 lb (Food City, Winn Dixie, Bi-Lo, Publix)
Russet or Idaho Potatoes, 37-50¢ lb (Sweetbay, Lowes, Publix, Winn Dixie)
Baby Carrots, 16 oz, 84¢ (Publix)
Sweet or Yellow Onions, 66-99¢ lb (Harveys, Lowes, Bloom, Publix)
Sweet Potatoes, 27-49¢ lb (Food Lion, Lowes, Bloom, Publix, Sweetbay, Bi-Lo)
Bell Pepper, 64¢ (Harveys) or $1.49 lb (Publix)

(you will need additional ingredients, spices, etc but these are a good foundation to work from because they are at a big discount!)

Recipes:

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry – Recipe
Prep all the ingredients and store in gallon baggies to put in the slow cooker the day you want to eat it.

Cheddar & Cracker Chicken – Recipe
Bread the chicken in advance and then thaw/bake for dinner.

Chicken Enchiladas – Recipe
Prepare completely, thaw and bake for dinner.

Spiced Pork & Apricot Stew – Recipe
Prepare completely and freeze into meal-sized portions. Thaw and reheat.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches w/ Caramelized Onions – Recipe
Prepare pork and freeze in dinner-sized portions or use as a starter for other dishes like this Pulled-Pork Torta.

Slow Simmered Meat Sauce – Recipe
Prepare ingredients for sauce into storage bags & put in the slow cooker the day you want to eat it. Serve with noodles.

Sloppy Joes for Crowd – Recipe
Prepare beef and freeze into dinner sized portions. Reheat & serve.

Potatoes O’ Brien – Recipe
Prepare as directed. Makes a great side or easy breakfast.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi – Recipe
Prepare the gnocchi & spread them on a cookie sheet to freeze. Bag into dinner sized portions and boil or saute for dinner.


    • Nicole in NC

      I LOVE freezer cooking! IT allows me to never waste those short life sale items like biscuits, crescent rolls, and potatoes. We have a constant supply of twice baked potatoes (in a variety of flavors) and breakfast sandwiches (made in ONE pan but frozen will feed a family of four for almost 2 weeks) !! I even do freezer cooking for the holidays to save valuable family time which is priceless!!

      • Erin

        Will you share the breakfast sandwich recipe and the variations that you do?  I’d love to make ahead for my family!

      • Carmanij

        Do you mind sharing your breakfast sandwich recipe with us, please?

    • Cl3v3rgirl33

      Jenny, Thank you for sharing this with me.  I have gone back to school at the age of 40 and have two teenagers.  This is a Godsend!  I will be able to get the help I need from my kids and have a freezer full of delicious meals and a happy husband to boot!
      Thanks for all you do.

    • Mlavender82

      My favorite freezer meal is mac-n-cheese.  I buy the 8×8 aluminum cake pans at the dollar store that come in packs of 2 & freeze the casseroles in those.  It’s the perfect size for me, my hubby & our 2 year old (with a bit of leftovers).  The best part is I don’t even defrost!  Just pop it into the oven at 375 for 45-55 min & dinner is ready!  

      • Andrea

        Would you mind sharing your recipe? I’ve tried a few mac-n-cheese freezer recipes and haven’t found one that reheats and still tastes right. My 5 and 3 year olds would thank you!

        • Mlavender82

          No Prob! Would love to share!

          4 Tbl butter
          4 Tbl flour
          2 cups milk
          2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 
          1 Tbl dijon mustard
          salt & pepper to taste
          8 oz cavatappi pasta (or any other you like)
          1 pkg frozen spinach, defrosted & well drained
          Makes 2-3 servings as main course, or 4 as side dish

          Cook pasta until about 3/4ths done (even less than al dente).
          Over medium heat, melt butter in medium sized saucepan.  Add flour & cook 2 minutes.  Whisk in milk & increase heat to medium high.  Heat until just bubbling & sauce thickens, about 6-7 minutes.  Stir in mustard, 2 cups cheese, salt & pepper.  Combine pasta, cheese sauce & spinach, breaking up well with your hands.  Put pasta in dish of choice & top with remaining cheese.  Put in freezer bag & enjoy later!   

          I love to mix this up by adding different meats like ham, sausage or bacon, or different veggies (although spinach is my favorite b/c it doesn’t seem to change texture with all the freezing & reheating).  And with all the cheese sauce, even my picky eater will devour spinach!  I love this recipe soooo much & I hope your family will too :)  

    • Khyla

      I just posted on FB last night that I needed help with cooking with me and my husband’s crazy schedule and someone suggested freezing the meals. I searched last night and found a link similar to this post. Once I’m near my computer I’ll post the link. Thank you so much for this Jenny!

    • Rainscouponmama

      I brown hamburger meat and put it in the freezer in bags.  This is perfect when I forget to take something out to defrost for supper.  The hamburger takes no time to defrost and is perfect for taco’s, soups, casseroles, spaghetti, etc.  The burger has already been cooked and drained, it makes for a super fast meal.

    • Bradyfigueroa

      One of my favorites it Bacon Wrapped Chicken.

      8 Chicken Breast
      2 (8-0z) containers Onion Chive Cream Cheese
      24 Slices of Bacon, thin works best.

      Flatten chicken breast and then spread with 2 oz of cream cheese. You can put seasoning on at this point (we use adobo) as well as spread on a little butter if you would like (we like, lol). Roll Chicken and wrap the the long way with one piece of bacon and the short way with two pieces of bacon. Flash Freeze and then bag.

      When you are ready to use, thaw out completely. Bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes and then broil for a few minutes to get your bacon crisp.

    • Bradyfigueroa

      One of my favorites it Bacon Wrapped Chicken.

      8 Chicken Breast
      2 (8-0z) containers Onion Chive Cream Cheese
      24 Slices of Bacon, thin works best.

      Flatten chicken breast and then spread with 2 oz of cream cheese. You can put seasoning on at this point (we use adobo) as well as spread on a little butter if you would like (we like, lol). Roll Chicken and wrap the the long way with one piece of bacon and the short way with two pieces of bacon. Flash Freeze and then bag.

      When you are ready to use, thaw out completely. Bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes and then broil for a few minutes to get your bacon crisp.

    • Nicole in NC

      Breakfast Bars
      (*I double this recipe and bake in large cake pan, but I suggest trying the standard recipe first!)

      2 pkg crescent rolls
      1 lb browned sausage (or 1/2 lb sausage and bacon)
      shredded cheese of your choice
      8 eggs beaten
      whatever spare veggies you have (optional) we use onions, peppers, mushrooms etc.

      Spread and pat down 1 pkg of rolls in bottom of 9×13 pan, crimping perforations. Scatter sausage on top of dough (I do half pan with sausage, half pan with bacon for variety) then the cheese(s) then pour the eggs on top of the cheese. salt and pepper (optional) and cover with 2nd pkg of crescent rolls. Dont worry if it doesnt look pretty! Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes. Butter top when warm. Cut when cool, wrap in quantities of choice (I do 4) and freeze!! Reheat in microwave

      VARIATIONS: you can alter this MANYways. Ham, eggs and swiss cheese with onions. OR Sausage, sauteed peppers, onions, mushrooms, mozzerella. I double the recipe, and do half pan with different variation. My family loves them so much they take them for lunch!!

       

      • Nicole in NC

        Please remember to remove from freezer bag when frozen, then microwave them on a microwave safe plate…

    • Nicole in NC

      Twice baked potatoes
      (another staple in our home, when you find them on sale freeze these for year round  homemade microwavable sides!)

      Potatoes
      butter
      shredded cheese of choice
      add-ins of choice! (cream cheese, bacon, jalapenos, onions, broccoli, leftover chili, peppers, you name it! Make sure veggies are cooked.  

      Wash and bake potatoes (or microwave them) Slice in half, core out centers placing in large mixing bowl. Add ingredients of choice and mix (I used a blender). If mix is too dry, add butter or milk (I have used ranch dressing with a veggie loaded potato, was delish!)

      Refill potato skin shells. Top with cheese salt and pepper. Place potatoes in a single layer (uncovered) on a cookie sheet and freeze for approx 1 hour. Remove from freezer, wrap in quantities of choice (I do 4, in foodsaver bags) and freeze!! Reheat in microwave

      • Nicole in NC

        Please remember to remove from freezer bag when frozen, then microwave them on a microwave safe plate…

    • GrammarDiva

      I love freezer cooking!  I have Parsley-Parmesan chicken fingers, three different types of chili – regular tomato-based, Cincinnati and white chicken chili, Mexican beef for tacos or chimichangas, shredded beef for barbecue sandwiches, and lots of herb-marinated and Asian-marinated chicken.  Having a lot of stuff on hand makes it so easy to plan.

    • Balletdancer_gurl_2005

      Thank you for this post!!!! Just what I was looking for you. Jenny is the greatest!

    • Mellingue

      Do the veggies need to be blanched before freezing??

    • Teresa

      Love this, Jenny, THANK YOU!

    • Mama And Baby Love

      Thanks so much for including my Chicken Curry recipe!  

    • Kelliea

      My upright freezer in the garage is pooping out. What is the best place to get a DEAL on a new one?  Know of any good Black Friday appliance sales?