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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Freezer Meals

Yesterday my good friend and I decided to get together, cook a bunch of meals and freeze them. (Mostly we are doing this because my new stove and fridge STILL haven't arrived yet and the only appliances I have are my microwave and my deep freeze. She is a great friend to suggest and volunteer we do this at her place.) Now I've heard people rave before about the wonders of making meals and deep freezing them, but honestly it always sounded like more work than it is worth. Yes, they're nice to have, but they take awhile to do and it isn't often that I have large blocks of time available when my kids aren't making some new mess for me to clean up.
 I've decided that the secret is a good friend (preferably a friend who has kids who like to play with your kids.) So we each picked a few recipes that we liked, brought the ingredients & pans for said recipes and started cooking. We each made a batch big enough to feed each of our families and froze it all in tupperware. (We each have a family of 4, so we made enough of each recipe to get a lunch and dinner for each of us.) Yes, with all the various interruptions that come with kids and life in general, it took several hours.  But we had a great time talking and cooking, and our kids had a great time playing together. And after several hours of cooking I now have about a weeks worth of microwave lunches and dinners, at a fraction of the cost of buying them from the store. (To make this weeks worth of food I used what I already had in my pantry and freezer and $12 worth of groceries.) And when you split it up with a friend like this, you get more variety. Yesterday we made pizza, chicken manicotti, spaghetti, (I made homemade spaghetti sauce and used it for the first three) beef stew and shepherd's pie. Now I have several meals ready that my family likes to eat that I just need to reheat. We're definitely going to do this again. Here's the chicken manicotti recipe that is a favorite of my husband's.

Chicken Manicotti
3 cloves garlic finely chopped (or 1 Tablespoon of garlic powder)
2 cans cooked chicken (14.5 oz each)
2 boxes manicotti shells
1 cup fresh spinach  finely chopped (or 3/4 c frozen spinach, defrosted and drained)
5-6 cups spaghetti sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
15 oz of ricotta cheese
1 cup of water
1/2 lb of Italian sausage cooked and drained
1. Mix ricotta cheese, Italian cheese, chicken, spinach, and garlic until a smooth thick consistency.
2.Spread 1 cup of sauce in each of two 13"x9"x2" baking dishes.
3. Stuff uncooked manicotti with chicken mixture. Place manicotti in sauced baking dishes.
 Sprinkle with additional sausage. Cover with remaining spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella.
4.Drizzle 1/2 c water around the edge of each pan. Bake each pan at 375 for 45 minutes.
 Freezes well before and after baking. If baking a frozen pan bake for 2 hours. Freezes for up to 3 months.


  1. Heather, remind me to tell you about how we used to do freezer meals. It takes a total of about 8 hours of actual cooking and prep, plus planning and shopping time but we would end up with anywhere from 20-25 meals. Plus it was actually a lot of fun!