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Back to School Freezer Meal Prep

Well y'all its about that time...schools back in session! Now my little ones aren't of school age yet but my stepson and nieces are. School in the south starts much earlier than we do here in Wyoming and many of the counties have already begun classes. Now I know it is a relief to get the kids back in school and out of your hair, regardless of whether you're a working or stay at home parent. But things can get stressful when it comes to making sure you have a healthy(ish) meal on the table every night when there's work, school, extra curricular activities, etc. 

Don't fret! I have got you covered with 30 freezer meals you can prep in a day and be set for the entire month. I chose 10 meals and repeated each meal 3 times. This means you'll be eating the same meal 3 times in a month BUT repeating the meals makes the prep go faster AND it is cheaper because you can buy certain things in bulk. If you don't like having the same meal more than once per month you can just make the 10 meals once and you'll at least have some meals stocked in your freezer to make things easier on those really busy days.

I have some freezer meal tips for you to make this process easier and more budget friendly. 

1. Before you start prepping your meals I strongly suggest going ahead and labeling all of your bags. One of the three bags for each meal should have the ingredients needed for the bag, serving day ingredients excluded, written on the front of each bag. This will make it easier when prepping because you won't have to pull the recipe up on your phone. You can also go ahead and write the cooking instructions and serving day ingredients if that makes it easier for you but I prefer to just pull it up before I cook it so the bags don't look chaotic. I am a little OCD like that ;-)

2. A great way to save money when doing freezer meals is not only buying in bulk but also shopping clearance items. Our local grocery store, which is a Kroger affiliate, marks down items that have a sell by date for the next 1-3 days. This allows me to get great deals on organic produce and meats as well. Since you'll be freezing all of it anyways you don't have to worry about using it ASAP. For example, I needed 3 pounds of ground beef for this freezer meal prep session and it just so happened that they had a 3 pound tube of it on clearance for almost half the price because the sell by date was a few days from when I bought it. 

3. Coupons! Now I am not saying go get a Sunday paper and clip every single coupon and become one of those extreme coupon ladies. However, most of us have a phone number or a little club card on our key chains that we use to snag the in store deals. You can also go on most of the apps or websites for the store and download the digital coupons to your number/card. A great example of #2 and #3 combined is my store was doing a 5X event which is when you can use the same digital coupon up to 5 times. They had the Simple Truth Natural ground turkey on clearance for $2.99 a pack and I had a $0.50 off coupon downloaded on my card. So I was able to snag 3 packs for $2.49 each! I also had a coupon for $0.30 off a can of Simple Truth Organic beans. Since they had the Simple Truth Organic canned beans on sale for $0.99 each I was able to get all 3 cans of garbanzo beans for $0.69 each which is even cheaper than the store brand. 

4. Lay the bags flat in the freezer to freeze! This will help maximize space and also allows the meals to thaw faster. I have the luxury of having a deep freezer so I keep one bag of each meal in my regular freezer in the house and the other bags of each meal in my deep freezer in the garage.

5. Be willing to adapt! One of the recipes below originally called for 4 boneless pork chops per meal, so 12 pork chops total. Well the pork chops weren't on sale BUT they had small boneless sirloin pork roast on sale for about $4 a piece so I grabbed 3 of those instead. 

Okay so enough of that lets get started on the list of 10 freezer meals. 

30 Healthy(ish) Freezer Meals

1. Mushroom Stroganoff 
(recipe courtesy of What Vegan Kids Eat)

  • 2 (32 oz carton) Imagine mushroom soup
  • 3 small yellow onions, finely diced
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tsp gluten free beef bouillon 
  • 24 oz whole white mushrooms, sliced
  • salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
  • 12 oz cream cheese (4 oz on on each serving day)
  • 12 oz box gluten free rotini noodles x 3
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water (on each serving day, more may be needed)
Prep:
In each labeled gallon size freezer storage bag, add 2 & 2/3 cup mushroom soup, 1 diced yellow onion, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 cup water, 1 tsp beef bouillon, 8 oz sliced mushrooms, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Remove as much air as possible, seal bag and lay flat in freezer to freeze. 

Serve:
Remove bag from freezer and allow to thaw overnight in the fridge. Pour contents of bag into slow cooker and cook on low for about 5 hours. Add the cornstarch slurry to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Add more until desired consistency is reached. Add 4 oz of cream cheese and combine well. Cook rotini noodles according to the directions on the box then drain well. Add the cooked pasta to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Serve warm with fresh parsley if desired. 

2. Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken Burrito Bowls
(check out my original post here)

  • 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 3 small or 2 large bunches fresh cilantro, stems removed
  • 3/4 cup lime juice
  • zest of 3 limes
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper 
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
Serving Day:
  • 3 cups uncooked white rice
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil (vegetable, canola, olive oil)
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp dried cilantro
  • 6 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups frozen corn, cooked
  • toppings of choice: salsa verde, sour cream, jalapenos, cilantro, shredded cheese, etc.
Prep:
In a food processor or blender, add the cilantro, lime juice, lime zest, orange juice, olive oil, garlic cloves, salt, pepper and cumin. Combine well. In each labeled gallon size freezer storage bag, place 1 pound of chicken breast and 1/3 of the marinade. Remove as much air as possible, seal bags and lay flat in freezer. 

Serve:
Remove bag from freezer and allow to thaw in fridge. (The chicken will marinate as it is freezing and as it is thawing) Over medium-high heat, grill chicken until cooked through completely. Remove from grill and allow to rest before slicing into bite size pieces. While the chicken is cooking bring 2 cups of water, 1 cup uncooked white rice, 1 tbsp cooking oil and 1 tsp salt to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Add 2 tbsp of lime juice and 1 tsp dried cilantro to the rice and stir to combine. Divide rice, grilled chicken, 1 can of black beans and 1 cup of cooked corn evenly between bowls. Serve with toppings of choice. 

3. Potato Soup
(recipe courtesy of Happy Money Saver)
  • 32 oz bag frozen southern style diced hash browns x 3
  • 3 yellow onions, finely diced
  • 6 medium carrots, grated (3 cups shredded)
  • 12 cups chicken broth (I used chicken bouillon and water)
  • 9 tsp minced garlic 
  • 3/4 cup butter, sliced
  • 4.5 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp celery salt
  • 1.5 tsp ground black pepper 
  • 3 cups half & half (1 cup on each serving day)
  • toppings of choice: shredded cheese, chopped green onions, crumbled bacon, etc.
Prep:
In each labeled gallon size freezer storage bag, add 1 bag of frozen diced potatoes, 1 diced yellow onion, 2 grated medium carrots (or 1 cup shredded carrots), 4 cups chicken broth, 3 tsp minced garlic, 1/4 cup sliced butter, 1.5 tsp salt, 1 tsp celery salt and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Remove as much air as possible, seal bags and lay flat in freezer. 

Serve:
Remove bag from freezer and thaw in fridge overnight. It is okay if the bag is only partially thawed, as long as you can dump the contents into the slow cooker you'll be fine. Add contents of bag to slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Using a potato masher, lightly smash all of the potatoes to reduce the amount of chunks. Add 1 cup half and half then stir to combine. Serve warm with toppings of choice. 

4. Spaghetti with Homemade Sauce
  • 3 tbsp dried basil
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 9 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 (28 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 3 (15 oz) cans of tomato sauce
  • a few pinches crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp olive oil 
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 (12 oz) boxes of gluten free spaghetti noodles
Prep:
To each labeled gallon size freezer storage bag, add 1 tbsp dried basil, 1 bay leaf, 3 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 an onion diced, 1 can crushed tomatoes, 1 can tomato sauce, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp brown sugar. 
Remove as much air as possible, seal bags and lay flat to freeze. 

Serve:
Remove bag from freezer and allow to thaw in fridge overnight. Pour contents of bag into slow cooker and cook on low for 2-3 hours. You can also simmer the sauce on the stove for about 30-60 minutes if needed. Cook a box of spaghetti noodles according to directions on the package. Divide noodles evenly between bowls and pour desired amount of sauce over each bowl. 

5. Blue Cheese Spinach Burgers
(recipe courtesy of $100 A Month)
  • 3 lbs lean ground beef
  • 9 oz raw spinach
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 9 oz crumbled blue cheese
Prep:
In a saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook down stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool completely. In a large mixing bowl, add ground beef, cooked spinach, blue cheese, salt and pepper. Combine well. Divide mixture into 3 even balls. Form 4 burgers from each ball. You should have 12 burgers when you're finished. Place burgers on a parchment lined baking sheet. You will probably only fit about 6 burgers so place another piece of parchment paper on top of those burgers and place the remaining 6 burgers on paper. Place baking sheet in freezer. Once burgers have frozen transfer 4 burgers into each labeled gallon size freezer storage bag. 

Serve:
Remove a bag from the freezer and place in fridge to thaw overnight. Grill burgers over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes per side or until desired temperature is reached. **Eating under cooked meat can make you sick!** Serve on buns or thick slices of tomato with fries on the side. 

6. Pork Roast with Apples and Sweet Potatoes
(Recipe courtesy of Stockpiling Moms)
  • 3 (2 pound) boneless pork sirloin roast
  • 9 apples, peeled and chopped
  • 6 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1.5 onions, chopped
  • 9 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 3/4 brown sugar
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
Prep:
In each labeled gallon size storage freezer bag, add 1 pork roast, 3 chopped apples, 2 chopped sweet potatoes, 1/2 chopped onion, 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp minced garlic. Remove as much air as possible, seal bags and lay flat in freezer. 

Serve:
Remove bag from freezer and allow to thaw in fridge. Dump contents of bag into slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 8 hours. 

7. Sticky Honey Garlic Chicken Thighs with Steamed Broccoli and Rice
(recipe courtesy of Sweet Peas and Saffron)
  • 6 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 18 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup gluten free soy sauce
  • 4.5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 tsp sesame oil 
  • 6 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 6 tbsp cornstarch + 9 tbsp water (2 tbsp cornstarch + 3 tbsp water on each serving day)
  • 9 cups cooked white rice (3 cups on each serving day)
  • 3 bags of frozen broccoli (1 bag on each serving day)
Prep:
In each labeled gallon size freezer storage bag, add 2 pounds of chicken thighs, 6 cloves minced garlic, 1/3 cup of honey, 1/3 cup of soy sauce, 1.5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 2 tsp sesame oil and 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar. Remove as much air as possible, seal bags and lay flat in freezer. 

Serve:
Remove a bag from the freezer and place in fridge to thaw overnight. Dump contents of bag into a small (2.5 quart) slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours. Serve warm with steamed broccoli and cooked white rice. 

8. Chickpea Wild Rice Soup
(recipe adapted from Happy Money Saver)
  • 1.5 onions, finely diced
  • 6 medium carrots, grated (or 3 cups shredded)
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 & 1/4 cups uncooked wild rice
  • 3/4 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 3 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 12 cups chicken broth (I used water and chicken bouillon)
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 3/4 tsp celery salt
  • a few pinches of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup butter (1/4 cup butter on each serving day)
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch (1/4 cup on each serving day)
  • 7.5 cups whole milk (2.5 cups on each serving day)
Prep:
In each labeled gallon size freezer storage bag, add 1/2 diced onion, 2 grated carrots (or 1 cup shredded), 1 tsp minced garlic, 3/4 cup uncooked wild rice, 1/4 cup uncooked brown rice, 1 can of drained and rinsed garbanzo beans (chickpeas), 4 cups chicken broth, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp poultry seasoning, 1/4 tsp celery salt and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Remove as much air as possible, seal bags and lay flat in freezer. 

Serve: 
Place a bag in the fridge to thaw overnight. Dump contents of bag into slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours. In a small saucepan melt 1/4 cup of butter over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup of cornstarch to the melted butter and whisk until smooth. Add in 2.5 cups of whole milk and whisk, stirring constantly until thickened. Add mixture to soup and blend until soup is creamy. Serve warm. 

9. Thai Peanut Chicken with Rice 
(recipe courtesy of Smart Nutrition)
  • 3 onions, finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, grated
  • 24 oz whole mushrooms, sliced
  • 1.5 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup gluten free soy sauce
  • juice of 3 limes
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp sriracha (original recipe calls for 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper per bag but I didn't have any)
  • 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 9 cups cooked white rice (3 cups on each serving day)
  • optional toppings: bean sprouts, cilantro, peanuts, etc. 
Prep:
In each labeled gallon size freezer storage bag, add 1 diced onion, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 grated carrot, 8 oz sliced mushrooms, 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup soy sauce, juice of 1 lime, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1/4 tsp sriracha (or 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper) and 1 pound of chicken thighs. Remove as much air as possible, seal bags and lay flat in freezer. 

Serve:
Place bag in fridge to thaw. Dump contents of bag into slow cooker, cover and cook for 6 to 8 hours on low. Shred cooked chicken thighs and stir to combine. Serve over rice with toppings of choice. 

10. Turkey Cheddar Burgers
(recipe courtesy of Pinspired Home)
  • 3 lbs ground turkey
  • 1.5 small onions, grated
  • 3 tsp gluten free soy sauce
  • 3 tsp ketchup
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • rounded 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Prep:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, grated onions, garlic, soy sauce, ketchup, shredded cheddar, salt and pepper. Make 3 large balls from meat mixture. Divide each ball into 4 burger patties and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place all 12 patties, using parchment paper to separate layers of patties, and put sheet in freezer. Once burgers have frozen place 4 into each labeled gallon size freezer storage bag and return bags to freezer. 

Serve:
Remove a bag from the freezer and place in fridge to thaw. Cook thawed burgers over medium-high heat until cooked through completely. Serve on buns with condiments of choice and a side of fries. 


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