A Week of Dinners from the Freezer

A Week of Dinners from the Freezer

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Faith Durand
Feb 28, 2015
  • Number of meals: 6 main dishes, with side dishes and one dessert
  • Sized for: Four adults with moderate appetites, or two with larger appetites
  • Primary ingredients: Ground beef, pork chops, pasta, chicken, eggs

I hosted a freezer meal party a few weeks ago, and now I am enjoying the products of my labor. My husband and I are eating well — homemade meals, no take-out or last-minute going out — but I've spent almost no time cooking. I've just been opening the freezer and pulling out meals that go straight into the oven or slow cooker. It's pretty awesome, and I'm hooked on freezer cooking now.

Do you want to fill your freezer too? Here is a whole week of freezer meals. Spend a day prepping and assembling with this plan and you'll have dinner for a full week stashed in your freezer (or more, if you double or triple the recipes). I offer side dish recommendations too to round out your freezer cooking into a solid week of hearty, family-friendly dinners.

Bagged and labeled freezer meals
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

We assembled all the meals in this meal plan during my freezer party, and at this point I've also thawed and cooked them all. I can attest to how delicious they all are! The manicotti was a particular hit with my pasta-loving husband, and I personally loved the pork chops, especially when served with a cranberry chutney I had in my fridge.

Breakfast & Lunch Options

This meal plan doesn't include recipes specifically for breakfast and lunch, but the plan could easily be adapted, especially if you don't really need or want six distinct dinners throughout the week.

The chile and sausage frittata is a great make-ahead breakfast. If you don't want or need it for dinner, just bake at the beginning of the week and eat for breakfast. It's sturdy when chilled so individual slices can even be wrapped up and slipped in your bag for eating at the office.

The twice-baked potatoes are a wonderful lunch option. Wrap them individually, thaw overnight, and warm up in the office microwave.

Baked frittata
(Image credit: Faith Durand)
Frittata in the freezer
(Image credit: David Hopler of D Squared Photo & Video)

The Plan

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

6 Weeknight Dinners

The Recipes

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

The Freezer Meals

The Side Dishes

Your Cooking Plan

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Freezer Cooking Tips

This is a quick overview of the cooking you'll need to do to get these in your freezer. For a more in-depth look and lots of tips for freezer cooking, make sure to check out the posts from this past week's freezer meal party Gathering from The Kitchn.

Prepare the Freezer Meals for Freezing

Plan about 3 to 4 hours for prepping all of these meals. It won't take much extra time, though, to make more than one batch of each meal, so I highly encourage doing this.

Bake the potatoes for the twice-baked potatoes and cool them completely. Cook the manicotti and cool completely. Meanwhile, cook the taco meat and the sausage for the chile frittata. Chop and sauté the vegetables for the pork chops. Cook the bacon and onions for the potatoes. Cool the meat and vegetables completely. Chop the vegetables for the chicken bake and quick-freeze.

Prepare the manicotti filling and stuff the cooked manicotti. Place in dish, cover with sauce, and freeze. Assemble the taco kit with cheese and tortillas and freeze. Assemble the pork chops kits with cooled vegetables and pork chops and freeze. Assemble the bags with chicken, wild rice, and vegetables for the chicken and rice bake. Freeze. Assemble the chile and sausage frittatas and freeze. Slice open the potatoes and hollow out, then make the potato filling. Stuff the potatoes and wrap individually.

Don't forget to label each meal with its name, date, and cooking instructions.

Manicotti going into the oven
(Image credit: David Hopler of D Squared Photo & Video)

Bake or Heat Each Night's Meals

Here's what happens each night to get dinner on the table.

  • Monday: On Sunday night or Monday morning, take the manicotti out of the freezer and put in the refrigerator to thaw. In the evening, while the manicotti bakes, make the Garlic Bread and Italian Chopped Salad with Lemon Caper Dressing. Thaw for tomorrow: After dinner, take the Taco Kit out of the freezer and put in the fridge to thaw.
  • Tuesday: Heat the thawed taco meat in a covered pan over low heat with a few tablespoons of water. Make the Tri-Color Slaw with Lime Dressing (a double batch, if necessary, since it also goes with Thursday's meal). Heat the tortillas. Serve tacos with avocado, cheese, salsa, sour cream, and any other toppings you enjoy. Thaw for tomorrow: Take the twice-baked potatoes out of the freezer and put in the fridge to thaw overnight.
  • Wednesday: Unwrap the twice-baked potatoes, top with extra cheese if desired, and bake at 425°F for 15 to 20 minutes. While they bake, cook the Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts and Fried Capers. Thaw for tomorrow: Take the Chile & Sausage Frittata out of the freezer and thaw overnight in the fridge.
  • Thursday: Bake the frittata at 400°F for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with leftover Tri-Color Slaw, salsa, and sour cream. Thaw for tomorrow: Take the pork chops out of the freezer and place in a dish to thaw overnight in the fridge.
  • Friday: In the morning, put the pork chops in the slow cooker. Cook for 6 to 8 hours on LOW. When you get home from work, roast the broccoli and prep the apples for baking. Put the apples in to bake as you get ready to eat dinner. Thaw for tomorrow: Take just the chicken out of the freezer and place in a dish to thaw in the fridge.
  • Saturday: Eat out or hit your leftovers!
  • Sunday: Mix the brown and wild rice mixture in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Pour 4 cups of chicken broth over top. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on top. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 375°F for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour. While it bakes, prepare and bake the buttermilk quick bread (it bakes at or around the same temperature as the chicken) and the green beans.
Freezer meals, ready to go!
(Image credit: David Hopler of D Square Photo & Video)

Your Shopping List

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Freezer Meal Shopping List

Here is your shopping list for the freezer meal cooking session. If doubling recipes just double this shopping list, straight down the line.

Dry Goods

  • Manicotti (1 (8-ounce) package)
  • Marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought (3 cups)
  • Taco-sized tortillas (12, flour or corn)
  • Vinaigrette, homemade or store-bought (1/2 cup)
  • Long-grain brown rice (2 cups)
  • Wild rice (2 tablespoons)
  • Chicken broth (4 cups, low-sodium)
  • Diced green chiles (4-ounce can)

Dairy

  • Shredded mozzarella cheese (2 cups, any fat content)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (1 cup, any fat content)
  • Shredded Monterey Jack or blend of cheeses (3 cups, any fat content)
  • Ricotta cheese (15 ounces, any fat content)
  • Sour cream (1/2 cup)
  • Large eggs (1 dozen)
  • Unsalted butter (1 pound)

Produce

  • Sun-dried tomatoes, dried or oil-packed (4 ounces)
  • Russet potatoes (4 large, about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • Yellow onions (3 small)
  • Mushrooms (8 ounces)
  • Celery (1 small package)
  • Cilantro (1 small bunch)
  • Garlic (1 head)
  • Cranberries (1 cup, may be in frozen section)

Meat

  • Ground beef, (1 pound, 90% lean/10% fat)
  • Chicken thighs (2 pounds, skin-on, bone-in)
  • Boneless pork chops (4 large, 2 to 3 pounds total)
  • Italian sausage (4 ounces)
  • Bacon (10 ounces, 6 to 8 strips)

Serving & Side Dish Shopping List

This shopping list is for the week you want to serve your meals with the suggested side dishes and accompaniments.

Bakery

  • Baguette or artisan loaf (1 loaf)

Canned and Dry Goods

  • Capers (1/2 cup)
  • Kalamata olives (1/2 cup, pitted)
  • Breadcrumbs (1/2 cup)
  • Salsa and other taco trimmings

Dairy

  • Buttermilk (1 cup)
  • Ricotta salata or feta cheese (4 ounces)

Produce

  • Almonds (1/2 cup, blanched and slivered)
  • Hazelnuts (1/2 cup)
  • Iceberg lettuce (1 head)
  • Radicchio (1 head)
  • Bagged slaw with red and green cabbage and carrots (1 bag)
  • Cherry tomatoes (1 cup)
  • Lemons (4 large)
  • Limes (3 to 4)
  • Italian parsley (1 bunch)
  • Green beans (1 1/2 pounds)
  • Broccoli (1 pound)
  • Brussels sprouts (1 pound whole or pre-hashed)
  • Avocados (2 to 3)
  • Apples (4)

Seasonings & Pantry Staples (Double-check your stock)

  • Salt and flaky salt
  • Black pepper
  • Dried thyme
  • Garlic powder
  • Taco seasoning
  • Ground cumin
  • Smoked paprika
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Flour (2 1/2 cups)
  • Rolled oats (1/4, old-fashioned)
  • Sugar (1 cup)
  • Brown sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Olive oil
  • Neutral oil, such as vegetable or safflower
  • Rice vinegar
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