Nothing says "grown up" like a freezer meal. Cooking in bulk and freezing meals for later saves time and money, and it protects your future self from those days when you look into the refrigerator, find nothing, and have to order delivery. They're sort of like the culinary equivalent of a retirement plan. Making and storing them takes a bit of advanced planning and foresight, but if you make a bunch of freezer meals today, at some point in the future you will probably be glad that you did.
Freezer meals are a hot topic on Pinterest, and this chicken broccoli rice casserole recipe from the blog Money Saving Mom is the most popular of all of them. It's been saved more than 157,000 times, and it's easy to see why it's so popular — it's unbelievably easy. According to the recipe it provides 18 servings of food with just six ingredients, three of which are packaged and bought from the store.
The recipe is wildly easy, but you're going to need a really big bowl if you want to make it. The recipe calls for 10 cups of cooked rice; four cups of chopped, cooked chicken; four cups of chopped, lightly steamed broccoli (frozen is fine, because the whole thing is going in the freezer after this anyway); then two cans of cream of mushroom soup; two cans of cream of chicken soup; and four cups of shredded Cheddar cheese.
You could make your own cream of mushroom soup and cream of chicken soup if you wanted, and the blogger behind the recipe recommends cooking a tray of frozen chicken breasts in the oven and chopping them up as part of a "freezer cooking day."
The recipe obviously calls for a ton of food, but that's OK, because it's specifically designed to be stored in the freezer for later. After the rice, broccoli, and chicken are cooked, all you have to do is mix your 26 cups of ingredients together, then dish it out into four zip-top freezer bags and freeze them flat. Next time you want a casserole, just thaw one of the bags out and put it into an 8x8-inch pan and bake it for about 30 minutes, or until it's golden brown and melty.
The recipe as written makes four whole casseroles, each frozen flat in a freezer bag, and each bag serves four to five people, so the recipe is approximately 15 to 18 servings.
If you do try this, make sure to package everything well, because there's nothing worse than spending a nice weekend day inside preparing freezer meals, only to lose them to freezer burn. And be sure to label all your bags clearly with the contents and date prepared. You might think you'll be able to keep them all straight, but once a few months pass and those bags are under 8 pounds of ice packs and a Ziploc full of chicken bones, you'll be glad for the labels.
See it on Pinterest: Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole from Money Saving Mom
More Delicious Casserole Recipes from Kitchn
What's your favorite freezer meal?