May 1, 2012

How To Make Your Favorite Meals Freezer Ready



Hi everyone, I'm going on a trip to California this week for the DOLE Salad’tude Summit! Please welcome my guest, Once A Month Mom! 

Once A Month Mom is a website that helps you fill your freezer by creating monthly menus using seasonal recipes. And what greater help to someone trying to stay on track in the health and weight department than to have homemade, ready-made meals awaiting them in their freezer? It is the next best thing to fresh! Once a Month mom will show you how to take a few popular Skinnytaste classics and get them freezer ready!

One walk down your grocer’s freezer case and you will find a multitude of items awaiting you. Low-calorie options are available, but even those can be full of preservatives and ingredients that can be unhealthy and add unnecessary calories. Making the food yourself, especially tasty food like you find here on Skinnytaste, ensures that you know the ingredients going into your food and control those ingredients.

And don't worry! Just because you freeze it, doesn't mean you zap all the flavor out of it. Freezing your food also doesn't mean that you have to stick to just casseroles and pastas. There are a world of things that you can prepare easily and freeze just fine. And the food keeps for 1-3 months, so if life gets busy, you don't waste your efforts.
 
Day in and day out I hear from my readers that one of the most challenging aspects of staying on track with a healthy diet is having healthy meals at the ready when the hunger pangs hit. Isn't this the greatest moment of weakness? When you pull open the drawer, the refrigerator or your purse and find that there is nothing healthy that is going to satisfy your hunger. What happens next? Usually it’s a trip to the vending machine, the "snack cupboard," the drive-thru or your favorite local restaurant. This solves the immediate problem but does nothing for your waistline.

Let’s take a few recipes for example...


 


Spinach Lasagna Rolls

These are great for freezing because you can choose to individually freeze them or freeze them as a finished dish ready for the oven.




  1. Individually frozen - Follow the assembly directions but instead of preparing it in a 9x13 pan, skip to assembling the rolls and then flash freeze them on a cookie sheet. Once they are mostly frozen (30 minutes to 1 hour), place them gently in a freezer bag and freeze. To serve: Place 1 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 pan (or adjust if making a smaller portion), place frozen lasagna rolls in the dish. Ladle sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tbsp mozzarella cheese. Put foil over baking dish and bake at 350 for 60 minutes (1.5x the originally listed bake time), or until cheese melts.
  2.  Casserole-style freezing - Follow the assembly directions completely but do not preheat the oven. Once covered with foil, instead of baking the dish, place it in the freezer to freeze. To serve: Thaw in the refrigerator for 36-48 hours before serving, and follow the baking directions exactly. OR leave frozen and bake dish for 60 minutes (1.5x the originally listed bake time), or until cheese melts.



    Healthy Baked Chicken Nuggets

    Chicken Nuggets are great to have on hand for a quick lunch, for yourself of for your kids. I prefer freezing them already baked so that you can simply reheat them in the microwave or in the oven when you desire them.
    To freeze - Follow the directions given to completion, baking the chicken nuggets. Allow them to cool and then transfer them to a cookie sheet or large surface covered in wax paper and flash freeze. Once they are mostly frozen (30 minutes to 1 hour), place them gently in a freezer bag and freeze. To serve: Place chicken nuggets on a cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until warmed through. OR microwave for 1-2 minutes until heated through.

    Turkey Zucchini Burgers

    This is another great recipe that has two options for freezing, uncooked and cooked. My preference for freshness would be to freeze them raw and then cook/grill them on the day you want them, but if you are looking to have a Skinnytaste meal on the go, cooking/grilling them beforehand is also a great method.

    1. Uncooked - Prepare burger patties as directed. Instead of cooking them as directed, stack them placing a small piece of wax paper between each one or individually wrap them in plastic wrap. Place stacked/wrapped burgers in a gallon freezer bag and freeze. To serve: Thaw. Remove wax paper or plastic wrap. Heat a large skillet on high heat. When hot, lightly spray oil. Add burgers to the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cook on one side until browned, then flip. Flip over a few times to prevent burning and to make sure the burgers are cooked all the way through. If grilling, clean grill well before cooking and spray with oil spray to prevent sticking.
    2. Cooked - Prepare as directed to completion. Allow them to cool and then transfer them to a cookie sheet or large surface covered in wax paper and flash freeze. Once they are mostly frozen (30 minutes to 1 hour), stack them with a piece of wax paper in between or wrap them in platic wrap and place them gently in a freezer bag and freeze. To Serve: Reheat in microwave for 1-2 minutes or until heated through.

    99 comments :

    1. I would love to see more posts like this! I want to freeze more meals, but never know the appropriate way to do it.

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. I would love to see more. Thanks Judy
        jkgroene@yahoo.com

        Delete
      2. I would also love to see more. I freeze a lot of Gina's soups, chills and casseroles but I love seeing other meals frozen!!!

        Delete
      3. I would love to get the recipes too! One of my friends and I are doing healthy freezer cooking and always need more recipes. Thanks! lesserpoet(at)gmail.com.

        Delete
      4. I would love to see more posts about freezing your health meals. I am a single person trying to lose weight and this would be of great help.

        Delete
    2. This is absolutely perfect for us! We work all day and get home starving and don't want to take a lot of time cooking! This is wonderful! Thanks!

      ReplyDelete
    3. I have been dicing chicken and freezing it in EVOO, but I am so happy to have a way to actually make and freeze the Healthy Baked Chicken Nuggets. They are delicious! More posts like this are really great for us busy moms. Thanks!

      ReplyDelete
    4. I agree with Ashley! This was an excellent post and I would love to know the appropriate way of freezing and reheating/cooking more frozen meals. Thank you!!

      ReplyDelete
    5. I love seeing posts like this! Having something simple and healthy ot pull out of the freezer is fantastic.

      ReplyDelete
    6. Will there be a time where each recipe will have its own method for freezing properly?

      ReplyDelete
    7. Ditto what the first commenter said. I love freezing things, but never know how to do it...do I cook first or just freeze uncooked. Do I flash freeze or just stick it in the freezer? Love this! thank you!

      ReplyDelete
    8. You has a great blog. I'm very interesting to stopping here and leaves you a comment. Good work.

      Lets keep writing and share your information to us.

      Nb: Dont forget to leave your comment back for us.

      ReplyDelete
    9. So excited to see Once a Month Mom guest blogging here! I use OAMM and my freezer is packed full of great meals. She has everything done for you except the cooking to include recipes, servings, and a plan for cooking day.

      I just recently came across skinny taste and my kids have given every dish "two thumbs and two fives!" We always keep the chicken nuggets pictured above stocked in the freezer. Great for when you have a baby sitter over, a rushed evening, or just want something easy.

      ReplyDelete
    10. I love this post. I do a lot of freezing ahead so that I know that we have something on hand to eat when in a rush, which seems to be always.

      ReplyDelete
    11. Great info! Will the tips be incorporated into the original recipes so we can find them later?

      ReplyDelete
    12. This post really makes me wish I had a bigger freezer. :-( Yummmmm.

      ReplyDelete
    13. Thanks; This helps with meal planning so much! Freezing tips on future recipes would be great.

      ReplyDelete
    14. Great tips! I especially love the one about the chicken nuggets. Must do this soon!

      ReplyDelete
    15. Love it! My question is about portion sizes: since I live by myself, this would be great so I can make a big batch and heat up as I need it. However, if I'm baking just a little (i.e. like 2 lasagna rolls instead of all of them) do I need to adjust the baking time? I assume yes, but don't know how. Thanks!!!

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. You might need to adjust the baking time to be a bit less, but probably not too much so.

        Delete
    16. Love this!! Hope you will share more :)

      ReplyDelete
    17. Thanks for sharing these freezing tips! I live apart from my husband, and cooking for 1 person is so challenging! So I love when I find meals that freeze easy so I can prepare a lot and freeze individual servings.

      ReplyDelete
    18. This is awesome!

      I cook 99% of my meals from skinnytaste. I do a large cook on Sunday afternoons for the week of 2-3 meals. After it is done I portion everything out and into the fridge. This way I am not rushing home afterwork to cook for another 30-60 min...I can just grab a portion, add a veggie (or whatnot) and warm up.

      The freezer method is just another option for me :) Especially the individual portion ones. Thanks!

      ReplyDelete
    19. This is an awesome post! Thank you so much for sharing!

      ReplyDelete
    20. YES! More freezer recipes! One of my goals for the year is to actually use the big freezer in the basement that came with our house, and I'm terrible about using it (though I do have frozen pumpkin butter in little individual 2oz baby food containers :). I don't usually get home until 6:30pm, and I've started working out multiple times a week again, so being able to quickly pull a healthy meal out of the freezer will be really helpful....

      ReplyDelete
    21. Awesome! Thank you for sharing this wonderful website!

      ReplyDelete
    22. Great post! I freeze just about everything I make from your site! I've made the chicken and rice soup, lentil and chicken soup, the broccoli chicken and pasta casserole, and all the stuffed chicken recipes. I freeze them all in indiviual portions and take them out for my lunch at work! They all heat up beautifully from frozen! I even freeze cooked brown rice in individual portions. Love your site Gina...thx so much :)

      ReplyDelete
    23. Love Once a Month Mom!! And just like Melanie above me, I cook almost all meals from this website. Thanks for posting this!! Enjoy your trip :)

      ReplyDelete
    24. SOOO much healthier to do this than buy those sodium-packed frozen meals. Now just have to figure out how to plan ahead a little better... ;)

      ReplyDelete
    25. Has anyone tried freezing the chicken rollatini? It's a family favorite and I'd love to be able to batch cook it. I did my first OAMM monthly cooking two weeks ago and I am thrilled with the results, my friend and I are planning the next one right now. To have Skinnytaste and OAMM together in one place couldn't be better timing for me. I have lost 30 pounds because of skinnytaste, and I love your recipes.

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. I froze them! I bake them off, let them cool, then freeze on a parchment lined baking sheet in the freezer. Once frozen I move to a freezer bag. I bake them off as needed at 375 for approx 20 mins. Perfect every time :)

        Delete
      2. I was worried they would get dry if I cooked them before freezing, and that they wouldn't be crunchy if I froze them raw. Sounds like I need to try this soon.

        Delete
      3. I have frozen them before cooking and while they were still tasty, I was missing the crispness from the breading. I will try to cook, then freeze next time.

        Delete
      4. Lots of people tell me they partially cook them, then freeze. Perhaps using a panko will keep that crispness you might otherwise lose from freezing.

        Delete
      5. i made over 130 servings of i think 10 diff. meals from your site yesterday! (thanks so much btw, for all of your recipes and info) I fully baked then froze the chicken rollatini and just warmed some up, tasted fine!

        Delete
    26. Hello,

      I am addicted to both the Skinnytaste & OAMM website. I just join an oamc club with some girlfriends and we are having a blast. But, finding healthy meals that are freezable is sometimes difficult. I think it will be fun to see how the two can merge for a week and see what the outcome is. HOORAY...SkinnyTasteOAMM!

      ReplyDelete
    27. I LOVE this!! I was just telling a friend about how intimidated I am when it comes to freezing things. My mom didn't freeze much growing up, so I often forget about freezing as an option.

      ReplyDelete
    28. I freezer cook 10 meals every month to have on hand. A group of 6 of us get together, split the shopping, and then split the cost of the meals and cook together for a few hours one Saturday a month. Thanks for showing how to do some of the skinnytaste recipes!

      ReplyDelete
    29. Great tips! I wish I had more room in my freezer.

      ReplyDelete
    30. Great tips, I would also love to see more post like these in the future

      ReplyDelete
    31. I've frozen the lasagna before. However, I baked mine and then froze individually after they cooled down. I just add a little water and zap it in the microwave after thawing out in the fridge. It tasted great to me. This way you can also take it for lunch at work.

      ReplyDelete
    32. Love this post! Tried once a month cooking years ago but all the recipes were flavorless and haven't been inspired to try again since. Now I will have to give it another try since all the SkinnyTaste recipes are fabulous!

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Thanks Melissa, I think it depends what you freeze and how you freeze it.

        Delete
    33. I just had a baby recently and we froze a bunch of meals like this. We LOVE the Dijon Lime Chicken recipe and we just froze the chicken and the topping separately, thawed, and mixed. It turned out just like it does when we make it "fresh". Some of our freezer meals were hit and miss but some are great.

      ReplyDelete
    34. Oh - thank you so much for this post! I've been wondering how I could make so many of your recipes and wanted to freeze them for later.

      ReplyDelete
    35. Such a great post. I love freezing meals for nights when I do not feel like cooking!

      ReplyDelete
    36. Awesome! So nice to have things ready during the work week!

      ReplyDelete
    37. Thank You Thank You Thank You!!! I am at a loss for how to freeze meals! I am always scared I will mess it up! I SO needed this info and tips!

      ReplyDelete
    38. First, I love you blog and cook 1-2 things from it a week right now. Your recipes are awesome!

      I think you should start something new. Freezer Friday and have a freezer ready recipe each week. I know I could use more recipes like this. :)

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. LOVE that idea!!

        Delete
      2. What an awesome idea!

        Delete
      3. Great idea!!

        Delete
      4. Oh, please, please, please!!! (But if you get any more awesome, I just don't think I can take it!)

        Delete
    39. I love this post. I never knew how to freeze food until talking to my grandmother recently. I was complaining how some days I just don't want to cut up veggies, and do all the prep. I must admit I do have frozen chicken nuggets in my freezer for the weekend if i'm away and the hubby can pop them in the freezer. My kids favorite from this site is the chicken nuggets and i'm now going to stop buying frozen chicken nuggets, make my own in a large batch and freeze them.

      I will also be making my way over to the OAMM website.

      ReplyDelete
    40. Great post! I freeze everything!! But now your showing us the proper way to freeze. Thank you!

      ReplyDelete
    41. Yes. Can you show the best way to freeze? Thanks

      ReplyDelete
    42. The Santa Fe Chicken and the chili recipes also freeze very well. I freeze them in individual portions and it's so convenient for lunches or easy dinners. Thanks!

      ReplyDelete
    43. This is great! I own a NuWave oven in which you can cook from frozen and quickly so this is perfect. I can just take the stuff out of the freezerm, pop it in the NuWave, set the timer and walk away.

      ReplyDelete
    44. This is a great post! I always freeze food and it ends up going bad, so I know I'm doing soemthing wrong. Thanks for this!

      ReplyDelete
    45. I agree, great post. I never know what I can freeze and how to thaw or cook post freezing.

      ReplyDelete
    46. Wow! Two of my most favourite blogs meshed together! You ladies are amazing! (And thanks for the Spinach Lasagna Rolls - one of our family favourites!) One question though, generally when cook a meal from frozen we just 1.5x the cooking time? I've recently started cooking whole sized recipes and freezing half (as its just 2 of us) but I've been hesitate to use anything yet, as I'm not 100% sure how to cook it. I know I know, you'd think I would have thought this through first.... lol

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. If you cook it from a frozen state, 1 1/2 x is probably fine, or you can that it in the refrigerator the day before.

        Delete
    47. Great post, do you mind if I give readers on my blog a link to it in a post?

      ReplyDelete
    48. This is awesome. Thanks so much for the info!

      ReplyDelete
    49. I love this post! I don't know why I hadn't thought of freezing things before!

      ReplyDelete
    50. Fantastic tutorial, Gina! This will be useful for me, but I bet that expecting families and those going through other times that keep them away from the kitchen will appreciate this.

      ReplyDelete
    51. I see lots of references to OAMM website. What is it?

      ReplyDelete
    52. We just bought a huge box freezer. Perfect timing!

      ReplyDelete
    53. If you use a foodsaver (vacuum sealer) do you still have to flash freeze the items?

      ReplyDelete
    54. This is a great idea! I start nursing school in the fall so time to cook a good healthy meal for my husband and I will be hard to come by. This will be my go to aid for staying on track.

      ReplyDelete
    55. I'm gonna save so much money now that I won't be spending it on Kashi and Lean Cuisine frozen meals. Yay! Thanks!

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. The portion sizes are so much bigger when freezing Gina's meals to eat later.

        Delete
    56. This is great! I was already planning to make your chicken nuggets this week, and my husbandw as upset we were going to have chicken all week.

      Now, instead of knowing that my hubby will be eating bad frozen snackees, I know that he will reach for this instead! So excited, I will making a bunch of these tomorrow and freezing them.

      More freezer posts would be awesome! I will also be freezing the lasagna ones too, and eventually the turkey burger.

      As usual, thank you gina!!!

      ReplyDelete
    57. Perfect timing with this post, as I'm currently freezing up some meals for my expected due date in 3 weeks! I have one question though....how do I adjust the cooking time when freezing a recipe, such as veggie enchiladas? I read somewhere to double the cooking time...would you agree?

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Smart lady! Wish I had done this, especially when baby #2 came and I had a newborn and 18 month old.;)

        Delete
    58. I live alone and love this website. I usually cut the recipe's in half (3 servings instead of 6) and when I serve myself, I get the Ziploc plastic containers out. I serve myself one serving, and place the other two servings in containers. One goes in my freezer and the other in the refrigerator. I use these for quick dinners or to take in my lunch. My "frozen" dinners are always better nutrition choices than those from the freezer aisle in the grocery - low sodium and delicious as SkinnyTaste makes it!

      ReplyDelete
    59. I've just started on Weight Watchers and was looking for some good lower calorie, healthy recipes and am thrilled to find your website. A brief look so far and I've identified several recipes that I will definitely try. All the recipes look delicious and satisfying and make it seem that its not diet food at all. Thanks so much for coming up with and sharing all these great recipes and ideas.

      ReplyDelete
    60. I look forward to seeing more of these posts. I've always wantd to know how to properly freeze homemade food. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!

      ReplyDelete
    61. LOVED THIS!!! Thank you, Gina!

      ReplyDelete
    62. Great tips, and so fun to have two of my favorite blogs in one post!

      ReplyDelete
    63. any way to freeze those banging shirmp?

      ReplyDelete
    64. This entry is so helpful. I'm always confused on the proper way to freeze food. If you only one spinach roll, how long should you bake it?

      ReplyDelete
    65. I love to make your white bean chicken stuffed peppers and freeze them. I steam the peppers until halfway tender, stuff and set in a small baking dish. Put in the freezer until solid, then stick the peppers in a freezer bag until I need them. To reheat, I lay them in a baking dish in an inch or two of ff chicken broth, cover with foil and bake. Its the easiest weeknight dinner and its a great time saver for me! I also do your cuban pork and package in smaller freezer bags. My husband loves those cuban quesadillas for lunches so we pull a bag out to thaw for the week and he can have his cubans when he wants them :)

      ReplyDelete
    66. I baked this from frozen and it took one hour at 350 and another hour at 375 before it was barely warm.

      ReplyDelete
    67. WOW this site is amazing!!

      ReplyDelete
    68. Love your site, Gina. Would love to see more ideas for making your recipes freezer-ready. I know OAMM has tons, but can't afford to pay for it, and also don't always like all of them in the meal plans.

      ReplyDelete
    69. Such a genius and helpful post Gina!

      ReplyDelete
    70. I missed this one - thank goodness for Pinterest :) what a great post!! I never thought to make lasagna rolls & freeze like that - so smart!

      ReplyDelete
    71. I love this recipe. Found this from Pinterest. I love freezing home cook meal. Thank you so much for sharing this.

      ReplyDelete
    72. Am I correct in thinking you used fresh spinach in the freezable lasagna rolls?

      ReplyDelete
    73. can you freeze a meatloaf raw

      ReplyDelete
    74. I know this is an old thread but I have a whole turkey from work and wonder if anyone has any ideas of prep ahead healthy meals I can make with a whole turkey.

      ReplyDelete

    If you really like a post please share, like on FB, Stumble and give it a THUMBS UP or Pin It on Pinterest!

    Comments are welcome but please keep it positive and helpful. No hyperlinks, no spam, no ads, no keywords and no personal attacks.