Freezer Cooking Saved My Summer

Even as we celebrated the last day of school in May, I knew it was coming. Busy.  Hot.  Spontaneous.  Unpredictable.  Fun. With farming and ballgames and swimming and VBS and day-cations and heat, summer is what it is. Add in a very pregnant mama, and the potential for meal disaster after unplanned disaster is there!

Not this time.  Not on my watch!  Early in June I took advantage of a few mostly uneventful days and a rare energy surge.  The resulting food surplus saved our summer. We’ve been able to eat Breakfast Like a King nearly every morning, which has been our only predictable summertime sit down meal.  Add in a full grill every now and again, and on the crazy days… meal inspiration from the freezer.

Pigs in a blanket, pizza pockets, and brown bag burritos are all quick grab-n-go meals.  Eaten with a piece of fruit, supper can be served in 5 minutes.

Pigs in a Blanket

Pizza Pockets

Brown Bag Burritos

Cooking up a bunch of dry beans made fast work of last minute loaded tostadas, chicken and black bean quesadillas, and bean and cheese quesadillas (a new lunchtime favorite).

kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans

Jenna’s Sticky Chicken has fast become my favorite way to fix a whole chicken.  Toss it in the crock pot overnight, and enjoy 6+ cups of flavorful chicken ready for quesadillas, tacos, sandwiches, salads, etc.  Then I took the bones and skin and made lots of yummy chicken broth for soups and casseroles this fall.  Used every bit of that bird!

Sticky Chicken

It took the better part of two days, but having convenience food in the freezer all summer saved this mama’s sanity! Sometime in the next month I need to hit the rewind button and do it all again, before school and football season and a new baby threaten to sabotage our meals.

What do you cook for convenience?  Have any great recipes I should add to my list?

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Comments

  1. I love freezer cooking & that sticky chicken sounds really good.

  2. I did that with a couple of chickens this summer! The crock pot is my new friend for whole chickens. It was so easy to get all the meat and then set the broth to simmer right in the same container. I love not having a bunch of pots and pans to wash!

    I’ll be doing some breakfast freezer cooking today since school is starting for us this week. Good luck in your quest to get your freezer stocked back up!!

  3. Your so smart, I keep saying I need to do some freezer cooking, I know I will thank myself if I did, I just need to make a plan and set some time aside, I think your plan, some quick meals, but not too overwhelming.

    So glad you guys enjoy the sticky chicken, I just love it too. In fact we made one last week, and tons of broth!

    • It’s hard to set aside the time for big projects… I struggle just to keep the dishes done and floors washed! You’re right, though. It’s worth it every time. :)

  4. Oh let’s see… foods in my freezer right now (as my husband’s about to be gone for 2 weeks and he wants to make sure I have enough healthy food):
    - peanut soup
    - squash soup
    - vegan chili
    - fruit salad (AMAZING frozen, or even slushed/half thawed)
    - along those lines.. frozen berries and frozen grapes (I’m far more inclined to eat my fruit when it’s already prepared, and I just have to grab and go)
    - veggie stock cubes
    - coffee cubes (for those really hot days)
    - beans and rice
    - eggplant parm or lasagne, maybe (they’re usually there, but I might’ve eaten them all)
    - bananas for baking
    - tofubq

    And then in the fridge:
    - veggies all cut up and ready to eat (carrots, tomatoes)
    - sweet and sour bean pot
    - roasted veggies
    - cheese
    - yogurt

    And then in the pantry:
    - oatmeal packets (homemade)
    - tortillas (which make a fantastic base to lots of fillings, and they don’t squish like bread)
    - mixed nuts
    - PB and nutella
    - cereal

    I find that it helps me a lot to have plenty of “sides” that are ready to grab and go. I’m perfectly happy eating fruits and veggies and no “main”, but that’s just me. When I get home from work, I don’t want to have to think and then spend time cooking; I just want to heat (or not) and eat.

    • The fruit salad sounds right up my alley… love it frozen or slushy. And the coffee cubes – brilliant! We’ve been on a “frozen coffee” kick and it would be nice to have some brewed whenever we have the craving!

  5. Oh! Two quick recipes (not quite convenience foods, but close enough):
    - tofubq (cube and drain tofu. saute onions and garlic. add tofu. cook. add bbq sauce. cook. serve on buns. mozz cheese optional)
    - cheesy mustard lentils (cook lentils. this takes ~20 minutes. drain. do not rinse. they need to be hot. add mustard – any kind but honey mustard. add cheese – preferably cheddar, but any sharp kind will do.)

    And a few more convenience foods I have in the freezer – boca burgers, bean burgers, and fake chicken burgers. The fake chicken burgers make fantastic “chicken” parm sandwiches.

  6. I so need to do some more freezer cooking… Ugh! That sticky chicken looks mah-velous!! :D

    • Would you be up for a freezer cooking swap early in September? That would be perfect timing for me… right before baby. Let me know; maybe we can work something out! I’ll actually be headed your way the Sunday before Labor Day… we could meet up. :)

  7. I am an avid freezer cook! Three or four times a year I plan giant cooking sessions during which I fill our freezer with enough meals to last 3 months or more. I just finished getting the freezer stocked las month – a relief to know I can focus on school, not dinner. I have converting some of my best recipes to .pdf files and putting them on my blog, if you are interested in more ideas.

    That is an interesting way to do chicken – I’ve never seen that before, but I will give it a try!

    • Three months or more… that is some SERIOUS freezer cooking! :)

    • Mind sharing your blog and pdf here, Deb? We’re interested. :)

      • Sure – I am at http://notinadequate.com.

        Along the left sidebar, look under Printable Recipes. I have been slowly converting my tried and true recipes to .pdf form, and there is also a 4-part series I wrote on Freezer Cooking. The series covers a tutorial, some tips, and a day-by-day diary of my last cooking session, in which I put over 80 meals in my freezer.

        Sorry – I thought my avatar would link to my site, didn’t mean to refer to something and then not give you any way to get there!

        Thanks so much for the interest!

  8. Oh, I want to try all of these. I haven’t made a recipe of yours that I haven’t liked yet!

  9. I need to rethink these freezer meals because I have slipped a lot this season and fall is just going to get worse!

  10. i tried some freezer cooking yesterday , making some brown bag tortillas(thanks for posting the recipe) but it didnt quite work . I have 2 teens and my son had a friend sleep over and just as soon as i got done cooking they brought me the empty freezer bag lol

    • {sigh} My hubby and I have already wondered how in the world we are going to keep food around the house in a few years when we have teenagers! A good problem to have, I suppose. :)

  11. I really need to cook and freeze some dried beans! I have a pressure cooker so they don’t take horribly long to cook, but still it would be nice.

  12. I love doing whole chicken in the crock-pot. I am not a fan of cutting up a whole raw chicken but I don’t mind handling it when it is cooked. So much cheaper to buy a whole chicken. I buy them on sale and keep in the freezer. Sometimes I am able to make 3 meals from 1 cooked chicken.

  13. We love sticky chicken! What I usually do is season the chicken, place it in a gallon freezer bag and freeze it uncooked. Then I thaw it in the fridge a couple of days before I want to cook it in the crockpot. I typically buy 4-6 chickens when they are on sale and Dh and I put them together that evening. (it’s nice to have only one person touching the raw chicken and the other person holding and sealing the bags)

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