How to Start Freezer Cooking 5 Bulk Recipes to Create 20 Meals

If there is one thing I have changed significantly over the last 2-3 years, it is my cooking style.  I really prefer to eat homemade foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner whenever possible.  While we do eat out and I do occasionally resort to carry-out meals, for the most part I cook from scratch at least 80% of the time.  As a full time working family, I think I am doing pretty well. 

I cook in large quantities so that we have leftovers, and found it easy to freeze individual portions.  This past weekend I spotted an article in Rachel Ray’s magazine entitled “Twenty Dinners, One Day.”  I flipped through the basic components and suggested 20 recipes and was sold.  Lemon pork?  Wine-reduced tomato sauce?  Roasted vegetables?  Sign me up!

Here are the basic five components you need to start your stash for the 20 or so different recipes I plan on posting.  The basics of these recipes are just like Rachel’s article, with adjustments made for our own personal tastes.

Item 1: Pulled Pork
8-10 pounds pork roasts
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup of white wine (optional) – I added a splash of dry sherry to mine
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Instead of roasting the pork, I cut mine into large chunks, seared in a wok with all the seasonings, then cooked them in my slow cooker until the meat fell apart nicely.  This makes about 15 cups.

Item 2: Tomato Sauce
I don’t know about you, but I go through a lot of jars of tomato sauce.  I was excited to make my own.  The recipe below makes about 10 cups.

1/4 cup olive oil
10 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I added more)
1 cup of red wine (I would only do 1/2 next time – the flavor was too strong for me)
4 cans (28oz each) of crushed tomatoes
6 oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional – I did NOT use them!)

You can easily modify this recipe for your personal tastes:
* Add finely chopped carrots for  a sweeter sauce
* Add another 3/4 teaspoon red pepper for a spicier sauce
* Double the wine for more intense flavor





Item 3: Roasted Vegetables
This recipe makes about 15 cups of roasted veggies.

10-12 colorful bell peppers
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 3-4 pounds)
2 large onions, cut in large chunks
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
splash of olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper

Position your racks to top and bottom of your oven.  Preheat to 450 degrees.

Combine bell peppers and onions in large rimmed backing pan.  Drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper and mix around.  Set on lower part of oven and bake for 15 minutes or until done.  Do the same with your squash at the top of your oven for about 10 minutes.  Cook, then store in 1 cup increments.

Item 4: Pulled Chicken
This recipe makes about 12 cups.  It called for chicken breasts and thighs but I just use skinless chicken breasts.

6-8 pounds chicken
2 tablespoons olive pil
2 lemons, cut into wedges
paprika
dried thyme
salt and fresh ground pepper

Place rinsed chicken on parchment paper in your pan.  Sprinkle with paprika, thyme, salt and pepper.  Squeeze some lemon over the chicken, then toss wedges into the pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 45-55 minutes then shred your chicken.






Step 5: Rice Pilaf
We used baby lima beans instead of the peas.  We love peas, but I had the lima beans on hand.  This makes about 15 cups.

3 tablespoon olive oil
3 onions, chopped finely
3.5 cups long-grained rice
2.5 cups chicken broth
4 bay leaves
16 ounces frozen peas of lima beans
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot, add onions and saute until cooked through.  Add rice and cook, stirring, for one minute.  Add water, bay leaves and seasonings and bring to a boil.  Lower heat, simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 20-25 minutes.  Remove from heat and fluff with a fork, then add your peas or lima beans.  Cover and let stand a few minutes until it cools.  Remove bay leaves and mix together.

I forgot to get a picture of the rice.  Oops.  You can see it in future recipe posts ;)

20 Dinner Recipes with these 5 components
These recipes serve a family of 4 or 5 quite well.  Since we are a family of 2.5, the recipes leave us with leftovers which we can bring to work for lunch.  We love leftovers!

I will be adding links to this list as I experiment with the recipes (links to recipes to come):

1) Mexican Chicken Soup (Item 4 and 5)
2) Brunswick Stew (Item 1 and 2)
3) Mango, Pork and Watercress salad (Item 1)
4) Fusilli with Chicken and Tomato Sauce (Item 2 and 4)
5) Pork and Avocado Tacos (Item 1)
6) Butternut Squash and Spinach Strata (Item 3)
7) Spanish Rice with Shrimp (Item 2, 3 and 5)
8) Veggie Flatbreads with Hummus (Item 3)
9) Lemon Chicken Fritatta (Item 4 and 5)
10) Pork Fried Rice (Item 1 and 5)
11) Pulled Pork and Slaw Sandwiches (Item 1)
12) Creamy Chicken with Soft Polenta (Item 3 and 4)
13) Pork and Ginger Noodle Soup (Item 1)
14) Cheesy Spinach and Pepper Calzones (Item 2 and 3)
15) Swiss Chard with Bacon and Eggs (Item 3)
16) Roast Pork and Veggie Burritos (Item 1, 3 and 5)
17) Warm Chicken Salad (Item 4)
18) Pork Chilaquiles (Item 1 and 2)
19) Mediterranean Chicken Pitas (Item 3 and 4)
20) Rigatoni with Apple and Squash (Item 3)

Happy cooking!

Comments

  1. OttosMom says

    omg, I love this idea! go you! we are currently hampered by a teeny tiny freezer in our rental but we’ll be outta here this summer and i’d love to start doing this! we joined CostCo recently and i’m trying to incorporate more and more bulk buying and economical shopping into our lives. what a great project! xo

  2. kalea_kane says

    Awesome tips. Our refrigerator died a couple of days ago, and EVERYTHING defrosted. I spent two days cooking everything up to refreeze in our freezer for future use, and at first I was annoyed, but it has made cooking sooooo easy. I batch cooked everything I could with my crock pots (the only thing I didn’t cook with them was my ground beef). What started out aggravating has turned into a blessing. I am so glad I did it. Thanks for sharing your story. I am definitely going to batch cook some sauce.

  3. Tammy says

    Okay…I am going to try and do this too! I tend to go for the easy meals because I am tired from running around etc. I love this idea and going to make meals like that…YUM!

  4. Patrice says

    I’m going to have to set aside a weekend to try this out so I don’t have to cook all week!

    I just noticed your in Roswell…I’m in Lawrenceville…howdy neighbor!

  5. Sarah says

    Thanks for sharing this! I have been wanting to get started doing this, but overwhelmed at the thought of starting. I am hoping that tax refund season brings me a stand alone freezer, and half a cow…. Bso the sooner I figure this out the better

  6. Anonymous says

    You are a kitchen genius. Please add more recipes! I’ve cooked up your main ingredients, and I’d love to branch out with this idea. Do you have any other websites that you’d recommend I use to move forward with this plan? I’m not a very intuitive cook. Thanks for sharing these great ideas!

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