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Freezer Meals

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One of our big downfalls with our budget has historically been in the area of food. We’ve relied a lot on eating out for quick and easy meals when time is short, work in long, etc. But because of you guys, I’ve been challenging myself to try to make more freezer meals. Over Thanksgiving week (really, in the wake of Thanksgiving), I created several freezer meals to have on-hand that can help with those busy nights when I know I won’t have time to cook.

My photography skills are not the best, but this will give you an idea of some of the things I’ve thrown together and will maybe give you an idea or two for creating Freezer Meals out of leftovers at your house!

Turkey Shephard’s Pie:

This meal was truly thrown together as a random hodgepodge of ingredients, but it worked out so well together! I did a take on “Shepherd’s Pie”, but using turkey! I made it up as I went, but it was somewhat similar to this recipe. I used shredded turkey that had been chopped up (rather than ground turkey). I didn’t use the heavy cream or egg and, instead, had stirred in a can of cream-of-celery soup to the meat mixture. I still did include peas with the meat, topped it all with potatoes, and then a generous serving of cheese. It was delicious!

Turkey Enchiladas Verde

I got real ambitious in making a TON of enchiladas! We had a MASSIVE turkey (16-lb. for our family of 4!) so this was the one meal I planned on making ahead-of-time, knowing it would be a great way to use up a bunch of turkey. In all, I made 3 containers-worth of turkey enchiladas. I used up a can of green chilies that had been in my pantry for a long time and used a store-bought can of verde enchilada sauce. Topped with some cheese, and placed gently in the freezer for future use.

Turkey Sandwiches

There’s no reason that every meal has to be this big, elaborate thing. My Mom was a stay-at-home Mom until I was a teenager, so I think I got used to each meal being this “event.” Every meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) was served at the dinner table with everything nicely “set” and each meal was totally balanced: fruit, vegetable, protein, and dairy. <3

I love my mom and would love to emulate her in any way I can. I still insist that we eat at the dinner table each night together because I think it’s nice to sit all together and talk about our days, etc. But I also don’t think every meal needs to be this big elaborate thing. One night we just had plain-jana leftover turkey sandwiches. I made a little honey mustard sauce (literally just mixing together honey and mustard) and it was a tasty dinner one night with carrot slices and chips on the side as accompaniments.

Thanksgiving Bowl

Probably the ugliest picture of them all (and this was totally lopsided because I swear the potatoes were not that out-of-portion with the rest of the meal!), but this is what I called the “Thanksgiving Bowl.” I got the idea from the KFC Bowl. If you’re unfamiliar, the KFC bowl consists of layered food: mashed potatoes, sweet corn, and fried chicken, with gravy and cheese on top. Sounds like a lot going on in one bowl, but it comes together nicely. I decided to do a similar thing with leftover Thanksgiving Food. In our bowl, I layered turkey on the bottom, leftover stuffing, sweet corn, mashed potatoes, and gravy. It looked pretty gross, but it tasted delicious! The kids gobbled it up, each asking for more! That’s a win in my book!

Turkey Noodle Soup

Last but not least (and, unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo), I did a turkey noodle soup! I used the turkey bones to make a homemade turkey broth (remember my last homemade broth?). To it, I added turkey, chopped carrots and celery, and some frozen noodles. This was our last of the Thanksgiving-related meals. We had one serving while still “fresh” and I froze the other serving to have on-hand for an extra freezer meal.

I have LOVED having additional freezer meal options on-hand! Even though they do require some advance planning (in order to take them from the freezer to thaw out), I can typically look at my schedule and estimate what days they would work best. It’s been so convenient that I really hope to maintain this new “tradition.” I hope to plan at least one meal per week that I can double (eating half of it and freezing the other half), but I also plan to stock up on freezer meals at times when I’m home more (e.g., over the winter break will be a great time to stock up!)

Do you cook freezer meals? If so, link to recipes you like to use! I’d love to compile a list of options!

Ashley

Texan at heart; Arizonan on paper. Lover of running, cheese, camping, and family (fur-family included!). Blogger, motivated to get out of debt YESTERDAY! Follow along with my journey!

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7 Comments

  • Reply Cheryl |

    Very smart ideas. I make different soups and pasta sauce with meatballs and freeze. Think of all the money you are saving. Cheryl

  • Reply Theresa |

    I love anything that makes dinner easier. This is my favorite leftover turkey recipe. You could freeze 2 cups of the turkey and use it in this meal. https://www.passionforsavings.com/crockpot-turkey-chili-recipe/

    I love to make and freeze this Chicken Pot Pie Filling. Use ready made pie crusts.
    Note- I think I up the veggie amount and decrease the chicken amount.

    Chicken Pot Pie
    • 4 cups cooked chicken breasts, chopped
    • 4 cups chicken stock
    • 1 tsp dried parsley
    • 1 cup chopped onion
    • 1 cup chopped celery
    • 2 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
    • 1 cup peeled and sliced carrots
    • 2 cups additional vegetables of choice (we like corn and broccoli)
    • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1/2 cup water
    • one set of refrigerated or frozen pie crusts, warmed to room temperature per package directions
    Put chicken stock in large pot. Add vegetables and cook until tender. Blend flour with water in a small bowl. Add to pot and stir until broth thickens (5-10 minutes). Add meat to pot. Simmer until mixture is very thick and resembles pie filling.
    Place bottom pie crust in large pie pan. Spoon in filling. Top with second pie crust. Cut slits in top crust. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake until crust is done and filling is bubbling.
    FREEZING:DO NOT PUT IN CRUST! Finish filling. Let cool. Place in zipper bag, label and freeze. Freeze crust separately. SERVING: Defrost pie crust and filling in fridge. Assemble pot pie and bake as directed above.

  • Reply Jenna |

    As only a slight modification to your shepherd’s pie theme – we make it at my house instead of using your cream soup by mixing in the leftover cranberry sauce and a bit of miracle whip with the chopped or shredded turkey meat.
    Then will mash in the leftover carrots/sweet potatoes/mashable vegetables with the mashed potatoes adding in the shredded cheese [and butter]. If it still seems a bit dry – it gets a squirt of miracle whip, too. Or more butter.
    Then on the very top goes some stove top stuffing.
    Bake ’til bubbly.
    The amounts vary every time – based on what is leftover. But it is such a favourite, I will make this with a couple cooked bbq chickens from the grocery store – every couple months.

  • Reply Been There Done That |

    Whatever we are eating, I frequently double the recipe. (Our four children are grown, so it’s just Hubby and I) We then have enough for 2 dinners and lunches, which I pack every day. For instance, in the freezer this week are two soups–bean/ham and turkey rice. I also do things like cook extra rice and black beans and freeze in meal size portions (very handy for burritos). I make and freeze chicken stock, which is nice for soups and for cooking rice. I brown ground beef or ground turkey so it’s ready for meals. I chop and freeze onions. There are a lot of things you can do to cut down on the time spent in the kitchen after work.

    I also keep an index card taped to the fridge with the week’s menus. This serves as a reminder to me to take things out of the freezer to thaw if needed!

  • Reply Mindy |

    Way to go, Ashley! I do something similar when I cook chicken. I usually end up making 3 or 4 meals with it – chicken fettuccine Alfredo, chicken parmesan bites, chicken tenders, chicken tacos or chimichangas, and/or hot chicken salad. It feels like a lot of work at the time, but I’m so grateful later that I did it.

  • Reply Jean |

    Yay for you! glad you were able to take the time to make up some freezer meals. Not only did you not waste money by throwing food out, but it will make your life SO much easier to know that there are meals already in the freezer that you can pull out and defrost.

    Erin Chase of $5 Dinner Mom has some great freezer meals. I also attended a freezer meal workshop through Wildtree (organic spices, etc). You can Google “wildtree meals” and see if there are any that your family would eat. I think you could get away with not using their spices and it would be fine.

    Keep up the good work – a little bit of effort in prep will pay off in the long run.

So, what do you think ?