Freezer Meal 101

If you are just getting your feet wet with freezer meals, go check out this post first.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Giveaway

Thanks to Mama Sarah for her comment on the Freezer Meals 101 post.  I will be sending her the newest freezer meal magazine that I picked up at the check stand yesterday.  I would love to hear what meals you have tried and how it's going for you! 

Mama Sarah - Watch your mailbox!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Citrus Ice

Citrus Ice

1 1/4 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp lime juice

1.  In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes.  Cool.

2.  Pour into a 13x9 dish; cover andf reeze for 45 minutes or until edges begin to firm.  Stir and return to the freezer.  Repeat ever 20 minutes or until slushy, about 1 hour.  If desired, divide into two small freezer containers.  May be frozen for up to 2 months.

3.  To use frozen ice; Let stand at room temperature until slushy. 

This recipe can easily be doubled.  Be sure to use two 13 x 9 inch dishes

Striped Fruit Pops

Striped Fruit Pops

3/4 cup hone, divided
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
12 plastic or paper cups (3 oz each)
6 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
12 popsicle sticks
1 1/3 cups sliced fresh ripe peaches

1.  In a blender, combine 1/4 cup hone and strawberries; cover and process until blended.  Pour into cups.  Freeze for 30 minutes or until firm.

2.  In a blender, combine 1/4 cup honey and kiwi; cover and process until blended.  Pour over frozen strawberry layer; insert sticks into cups.  Freeze until firm.

3.  Repeat with peaches and remaining honey; pour over kiwi layer.  Cover and freeze until firm. May be frozen up to 2 months.

Makes 1 dozen

French Toast Sticks

French Toast Sticks

6 slices day-old Texas toast
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup crushed cornflakes

1.  Cut each piece of bread into thirds; place in an ungreased 13 x 9 baking dish.  In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.  Pour over bread; soak for 2 minutes; turn once.  Coat bread with cornflakes on all sides if desired.

2.  Place in a greased 15 x 10 baking pan.  Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.  Transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag.  May be frozen for up to 3 months.

3.  To use frozen sticks: Place desired number of sticks on a greased baking sheet.  Bake at 425 for 8 minutes.  Turn and bake 10-12 minutes longer or until golden brown.  Sprinkle with the powdered sugar if desired.  Serve with maple syrup.

Italian Chicken Roll-ups

Italian Chicken Roll-ups

8 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
8 thin slices deli ham
4 slices provolone cheese, halved
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup RRomano or Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup milk
cooking spray

1.  Flatten chicken to 1/4 inch thickness.  Place a slice of ham and half slice of cheese on each piece of chicken.  Roll up from a short side and tuck in ends.  Secure with a toothpick.

2.  In a shallow bowl, combine crumbs, cheese and parsley.  Pour milk into another bowl.  Dip chicken rolls in milk, then roll in crumb mixture.

3.  Wrap each of the 8 chicken roll-ups in plastic wrap; place in large freezer bag.  Seal and freeze for up to 2 months. 

4.  To use frozen chicken; completely thaw in the refrigerator.  unwrap roll-ups and place on a greased baking sheet.  Spritz with cooking spray.  Bake uncovered at 425 for 30 minutes or until the juices run clear.

Strawberry Lemonade Slush

Strawberry Lemonade Slush

3/4 cup water
3/4 cup pink lemonade concentrate
1 package (10 oz) sliced strawberries, thawed
3/4 cup ice cubes
1 cup club soda

1.  In a blender, combine the water, lemonade concentrate, strawberries and ice cubes.  Cover and process until well blended.  Pour into a freezer container.  Cover and freeze for at least 12 hours.

2.  To Serve: Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.  Stir in teh club soda.  Pour into chilled glasses and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Cheddar Beef Enchiladas

Cheddar Beef Enchiladas

1 lb ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 cup water
2 cups cooked rice
1 can refried beans (16 oz)
2 cups (8 oz) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
10-12 flour tortillas, warmed
1 jar (16 oz) salsa
1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1.  In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.  stir in taco seasoning and water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer uncovered, for 5 minutes.  Stir in rice.  Cook and stir until liquid is evaporated.

2.  Spread about 2 Tbsp of refried beans, 1/4 cup beet mixture and 1 Tbsp cheese down the center of each tortilla; roll up.  Place seam side down into two greased 13 x 9 baking dishes.

3.  Combine salsa and soup; pour down the center of enchiladas.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake one casserole uncovered at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  Cover and freeze remaining casserole for up to 3 months.

4.  To use frozen casserole: thaw in the refrigerator overnight.  Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.  Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake 5-10 minutes longer or until heated through.

Sausage Rice Casserole

Sausage Rice Casserole

 2 pkg (7.2 oz each) rice pilaf
2 lbs bulk pork sausage (I use turkey)
4 medium carrots, sliced
1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1.  Prepare rice mixes according to the package directions.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the sausage and carrots over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.

2.  In a large bowl, combine the sausage mixture, rice, soups, onion powder and pepper.  Transfer into 1 greased baking dish and 1 heavy zip lock bag.  Bake casserole at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

3.  Cover and freeze one casserole for up to 3 months.  To use: thaw in refrigerator.  Remove 30 minutes before baking.  Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Q & A

Just thought I would answer a few questions that have come up.

Question: No Cook Noodles?

Answer: Yes.  No cool noodles.  For lasagnas or other dishes that don't require you to cook the noodles, you don't have to buy special no cook noodles.  The idea is that the filling/sauce somewhat softens the noodles as it freezes then cooks the noodles as the dish cooks.  Lasagna is actually better NOT using the no cook noodles.  Don't believe me - try 1.

Question: How many meals do you get out of the Mandarin Orange Chicken?

Answer: I doubled the recipe and got 3 full size meals out of it.  It was a HUGE hit with my kids too.

Question: Gluten Free

Answer: Okay, so not really a question, but I have added the Gluten Free label to the posts.  I know you know this, but just a reminder, most of these dishes can be made gluten free.  In my experience, the hardest part about making things gluten free is the creamed soups and the obvious flour.  There are solutions to those.  I have a fabulous recipe for Gluten Free creamed soups.  Mushroom, Chicken and celery.  (If you need them - let me know).  I would make a HUGE pan of Gluten free Cream of Chicken and Gluten Free Cream of Mushroom and then make your meals and freeze.

As for the flour - there is now a Gluten Free flour that you substitute cup for cup in recipes that call for regular flour.  My experience is that it doesn't taste exactly like it would have, however, this is a great solution for recipes that call for 1/4 cup flour just as a thickener or something along those lines. 

Also, you can substitute Gluten Free noodles or Gluten Free bread crumbs for those recipes that call for those as well.

Keep the questions coming!!  Post if you have questions or if you just liked a recipe.  I will be pulling questions and comments SOON for a giveaway here!!

Hawaiian Chicken

Hawaiian Chicken

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 (1.25 oz) envelope onion soup mix
1 cup pineapple apricot jam
1 cup Russian salad dressing

Cut chicken into strips.  Arrange chicken in greased baking dish.  Bake 20 minutes at 350.   Pour off liquid.  Combine onion soup, jam and dressing.  Pour over chick.  Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Place in freezer bag.  Label and freeze.

To serve: Thaw.  Heat until hot and bubbly.  Serve with rice.

Note: This recipe may be frozen prior to baking.  Bake chicken 20 minutes and pour off liquid.  Place chicken and sauce in freezer lab.  Label and freeze.  To serve: Thaw.  Bake uncovered at 350 for 45 minutes.

Cream Cheese Chicken

Cream Cheese Chicken
Crock Pot

1 - (.7 ounce) envelope Italian dressing mix
1/2 cup butter
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
1 (10 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese

Turn slow cooker on high.  Melt butter in bottom of slow cooker.  Stir Italian dressing mix into butter until well mixed.  Cut chicken breasts into 1 inch strips.  Place in slow cooker and stir to coat with butter and dressing mix.  Cover and cook on high for 2 hours.  Remove chicken to plate to cool.  Add cream of chicken soup and cream cheese to the liquid in slow cooker.  Stir to melt and mix until smooth and creamy.  Remove sauce from slow cooker and allow to cool.  Place chicken and sauce into the freezer bag.  Label and freeze.

To serve: Thaw.  Heat and stir until smooth, hot and bubbly.  Serve over mashed potatoes, rice or hot buttered noodles.

Honey BBQ Ribs

Honey BBQ Ribs
Crock Pot

3 lbs boneless pork ribs
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp liquid smoke

Place pork ribs in bottom of the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on High for 3 hours.  Drain and discard liquid.  Reduce heat to Low.  In a bowl, combine garlic salt, pepper, ketchup, brown sugar, hone, spicy brown mustard, Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke.  Mix well.  Pour over ribs in slow cooker.  Cover and cook on Low for 3 hours.  Remove from slow cooker and allow to cool.  Place in freezer bag.  Label and freeze.

To serve: Thaw.  Heat until hot throughout.

**Note - I'm not sure if Liquid smoke is Gluten Free, so if that is an issue, just leave out the liquid smoke!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cheese Manicotti

Cheese Manicotti

1 8 oz package Manicotti
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 cup softened cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese
1 Tbsp parsley flakes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 cups spaghetti Sauce

DO NOT cook manicotti.  Combine Ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, parmesan cheese, Mozarella cheese, dried parsely, salt & pepper.  Mix well.  Cover bottom of a greased foil baking pan with spaghetti sauce.  Place filling into a quart freezer bag.  Zip closed.  Snip of corner.  Squeeze filling into each uncooked manicotti.  Arrange on spaghetti sauce in pan.  Por spaghetti sauce over all.  Cover with extra heavy foil.  Label & freeze.

To serve: Thaw.  Bake covered for 45 minutes at 350.  Uncover.  Top with more mozzarella cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

Side note: I doubled the filling for this recipe and maade 3 trays of manicotti.  Not bad, right?  Make one for your neighbor, someone you know who's having a baby or even an elderly couple you know.  They would LOVE it!!

Also: My kids went nuts on this!  However, my husband thought it was too cheesy.  So, I will be adding some cooked chopped chicken and more sauce to the recipe next time I make it.  But, it was excellent!

Almost Ravioli

Almost Ravioli

1 lb lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp minced garlic
3 cups uncooked bowtie pasta
1 - 26 oz spaghetti sauce
1 - 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 pkg (10 oz) frozen chopped spinich, thawed
1 cup cottage cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Brown ground beef with onion and garlic.  Cook pasta in boiling salted water 2 minutes less than lowest cooking time.  Drain.  Add pasta to ground beef.  Combine spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, pepper and sugar.  Stir spinich, cottage cheese, eggs and parmesan cheese in sauce mix.  Add ground beef & pasta.  Gently combine.  Place in freezer bag.  Label and freeze.

To serve: thaw.  Place in greased baking dish.  Stir.  Place baking dish on a baking sheet.  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes at 350.  Top with more shredded Parmesan cheese.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

1 1/2 cups warm (115 degrees) water
2packets (.25 ounce each) active dry yeast
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for kneading
2 cups whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)

To Prepare
- Place water in a large bowl; sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Brush another large bowl with oil.
- In bowl with yeast, whisk sugar, oil, and salt. Stir in flours with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms. Transfer to oiled bowl; brush top of dough with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let stand in a warm spot until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. With floured hands, knead until smooth, about 15 seconds.

To Freeze & Serve

For 2 large pizzas:
- Divide into two balls. Set balls on a plate (they should not touch); freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Then feeze in a freezer bag up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator.
-Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly oil a large baking sheet; set aside.
- On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin and your hands to roll and stretch dough to a 15-by-10-inch oval (if dough becomes too elastic to work with, let rest a few minutes). Transfer to prepared baking sheet.
-Top with sauce and desired ingredients. Bake until crust is golden and cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

For 8 personal pizzas:
- Divide each ball of dough into 4 pieces. Using your hands, stretch each piece into a 5-inch disk (if dough becomes too elastic to work with, let it rest a few minutes).
- Freeze shells on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Stack frozen shells between layers of parchment paper. Freeze in a freezer bag up to 3 months.
- Turn a large baking sheet upside down; rub with oil. Spread sauce and desired ingredients on pizza shells. Bake until crusts are golden, 18 to 20 minutes.

Mandarin Orange Chicken

Mandarin Orange Chicken
Stove top

5 cups cooked chicken, cubed
1 cup sliced green onions
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 cubes chicken bouillon
3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 1/3 cup water
1 can frozen orange juice concentrate

Cooking day items needed:
2 (11 oz) cans mandarin oranges, drained
Hot Cooked Rice

Cook mushrooms over medium high heat in a large skillet, stirring to prevent burning.  Add flour stirring well.  Then, gradually add water, frozen orange juice concentrate, onions and chicken bouillon cubes.  Bring to a boil, reduce and add chicken, simmering uncovered for 3-4 minutes.  Cool and pour into freezer containers.

To serve: Thaw orange mixture by heating in large saucepan.  Heat through until bubbly, then add mandarin oranges, continuing to heat mixture.  Add to cooked rice and serve.

Taco Pie

Taco Pie

1 lb ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 can tomato sauce
1 8 oz can crescent roll dough
1 cup refried beans
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 bag corn chips
1 cup sour cream

Brown beef with onion.  Add taco seasoning and tomato sauce.  Unroll crescent roll dough and press together perforations.  Press into bottom and up sides of foil baking pan.  Heat refred beans with 2 Tbsp water to make spreadable.  Spread over crust.  Top with 1 cup of cheese.  Cover crust wtih 1/2 crushed corn chips.  Spoon meat mixture over corn chips.  Cover with sour cream.  Sprinkle with reamining cheese then corn chips.  Cover with extra heavy foil.  Label and freeze.

To serve: Thaw.  Bake uncovered 45 minutes at 375.

Zesty Pineapple Chicken

Zesty Pineapple Chicken

2 lbs chicken breasts, with skin (about 4 breasts)
2 Tbsp melted mutter
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Preaheat oven to 375.  In a disposable 9" foil container (or baking dish that is freezeable) place chicken breasts with the skin side up.  Brush each piece of chicken with melted butter, then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Bake 30 minutes.  Just before chicken is finished baking, make glaze.

Zesty Pineapple Glace

8 3/4 can pineapple tidbits
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp prepared mustard
1 tsp soy sauce

Remove chicken from oven and cover wtih glaze.  Allow to cool completly then freeze.

To serve: Thaw.  Bake in preheated 375 oven for 50-60 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and glaze is dark brown.  Serve with rice or noodles.

Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas

1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp butter
1 - 4 oz can diced chilies
3 cups cooked, choped chicken
1 - 12 oz can evaporated milk
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
10 flour tortillas

Cook onion in butter until soft.  Remove from heat.  Stir in green chilies and chicken.  In a bowl, combine evaporated milk, soup and sour cream.  Dip tortillas one at a time in sauce.  Place 3 tablespoons chicken down the center of each tortilla.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Roll up.  Place seam down in greased foil baking pan.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.  Top with remaining sauce.  Cover with extra heavy foil.  Label & freeze.

To serve: Thaw.  Bake covered 60 minutes at 350.

Crock pot Lasagna Salad

This is one of my very favorites.  I love it because it goes from freezer to crock pot to your table!! 

Crock pot Lasagna Salad

1 pkg. lasagna noodles
1 16 oz. small curd cottage cheese
1 jar favorite spaghetti sauce
Parmesan cheese
1 lb browned ground beef
1 egg
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook noodles 1/2 time on the box.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Cut noodles into bite size pieces.  Combine spaghetti sauce and meat in bowl.  Combine cheeses and 1 egg in another bowl, reserving 1 cup mozzarella cheese for the top.  Spray freezer bag with non-stick cooking spray.  Mix all ingredients together.  Top with 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.  Place in bag and let completely cool. 

**if you don't like the salad mix, don't cut the lasagna noodles and layer then in the bag cutting or tearing the noodles.  You layer noodles, cheese mixture then sauce.  Keep layering until you have used all your sauce/cheese mixture. 

To serve, remove frozen lasagna from bag.  Place in crock pot and cook on high for 3 - 3 1/2 hours on high or 4-5 hours on low.

Teriyaki Beef

Teriyaki Beef
Stove Top

2 lbs beef sirloin steak
3 Tbsp sesame oil
3 cups water
2/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp minced garlic
3 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup water
1 cut thin carrot strips
1 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 cups sliced green peppers
1 cup sliced onion

Cut steak across the grain into thin strips and brown in oil.  Add water, soy sauce, sugar, pepper and garlic.
Cover and simmer 45 minutes.  Dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 cup water.  Stir into sauce.  Cook and stir until thick.  Add carrot strips and mushrooms.  Simmer gently 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add bell peppers and onions.  Allow to cool.  Place in freezer bag.  Label & freeze. 

To serve: Thaw.  Heat until bubbly and hot.  Serve with hot rice.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pineapple Meatballs

Pineapple Meatballs

1 pkg meatballs (I love using the turkey meatballs from the frozen section)
3/4 cup BBQ sauce
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp corn starch
1 - 20 oz can crushed pineapple

Arrange meatballs in greased baking dish.  Combine BBQ sauce, orange juice, brown sugar, cornstarch and pineapple.  Pour over meatballs.  Bake covered for 45 minutes at 350.  Cool.  Place in freezer bag.  Label and freeze.

Italian Chicken - Crockpot

This is one of my favorites.  LOVE it!!  :) 

Italian Chicken
3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pkg dry Italian dressing mix
1 can condensed Cream of Chicken soup
8 ounces cream cheese cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tablespoon minced onion

Place all ingredients in Ziploc bag and freeze.  (The chicken is raw.)  To serve: Thaw completely in refrigerator.  Put in crock pot.  Cover and cook 6-7 hours.  Serve over rice or pasta.

Other ideas:
  • Add frozen or fresh broccoli 45 minutes before finished cooking.
  • Add frozen peas 10 minutes before finished cooking.
  • Add 10 oz frozen spinach (that has been thawed and squeezed dry) 10 minutes before finished cooking.

Let's get started....

Step #1 - Decide on 15 meals. The easiest part to get 30 meals is to do 2 of each meal. I am probably only going to freezer meals 4 nights a week. Friday is homemade pizza night and the weekends I'll have more time to cook and will probably do fish or something - since we have an excess. So, if I average 4 meals a week, these meals will last me 8 weeks. Enough time to have enough space between meal #1 and meal #2 of each one. Hope that makes sense. Some of them I KNOW my kids will love so I made double those recipes.

15 meals - the book I read suggested you do 2 crock pot meals, 2 oven meals, 2 stove top meals and 9 assemble meals. I have 2 crock pots so I was able to double even the crock pot recipes and not be short on time. The idea is that you start the first crock pot meal, start the oven meal and put it in the oven, start the stove top meal and then work on your assemble recipes. VERY IMPORTANT - make a recipe card of each of the recipes. The last thing you wan to to have to do on cooking day is try and find where the recipes are. It was tedious, but it sure was helpful. I did it while I watched TV. I marked each card with freezer then crock pot, oven, stove top or assemble.

Step #2 - Make your lists. List #1 is your item list. Write EVERYTHING down. Then, take that list to your pantry and cross off the things you already have. It's VERY inconvenient to run out of something and have to wait on that meal for another day. (I broke down into meat, produce, dairy, frozen, pasta, canned goods. You get the idea.) Then, I made a list of what to get at Costco and what to get at the regular store. If Costco had it, it was a better idea to get it there, just because I was using things in bulk. Note - you don't need chicken broth. You'll understand in a bit, but you don't need to buy this.

Step #3 - Buy your food. DON'T do this on cooking day. It's too much for 1 day. I did it the morning the day before. Cleaned my kitchen that afternoon (it's VITAL to start with a clean kitchen) and then did some cooking the night before. When you get home from shopping, I put everything out on the counter. The crock pot meal ingredients (that didn't need to be in the fridge or freezer) went by the crock pot area. The oven ones by the oven, the stove top ones on the other side of the oven and the assemble ones along the long counter so I could assemble.

Step #4 - The night before cooking day, I boiled all my chicken breasts (took 2 pans). The leftover water will be your chicken broth. How great is that? :) I browned all my hamburger with the combined ingredients for each recipe (most of them say to brown with onions, green peppers, mushrooms and/or garlic.) I chopped all the onions, green peppers and mushrooms. I sliced the green peppers and onions. Everything was ready for cooking day. This made everything SO much smoother. I was able to do more than 1/2 my meals in 4 hours. I had to break mine up into 2 days because I had plans until 1:30 on cooking day.

Also beforehand, it's nice to have the labels prepared with cooking instructions once your meals are thawed and ready to cook. I also put the date on these. I also made sure I had space cleared in the freezer for my FINE creations. Some of the recipes are freezer to crock pot. These recipes are golden and I did 4 of each one. You can wake up and realize that you forgot to take something out the day before. So hello freezer-crockpot meal!! And, the lasagna one is a recipe that my friends daughter LOVED even though she doesn't normally like lasagna. Something about the way the crockpot cooks it. She's been begging for the recipe ever since! SO Cute!!

Cooking day - make sure you have a stiff drinks or caffinated beverages! Be prepared to be extremely tired. My legs killed at the end of each day. Play music loud. Do what you have to do to keep yourself sane. The time will be much more enjoyable and pass quicker if you are singing or occupied.

One note: buy EXTRA heavy aluminum foil.  I bought the super long one at Target and use SO much less.  The width of the foil is the length of a 9 x 13 pan with enough left over for tucking.  Perfect for your pans. Make sure you buy foil that says freezer on it.  I didn't skimp by buying the store brand.  It is better to buy the toughest brand.  What good is all this work if your food isn't going to be any good??  :)  One other nice thing, is I bought the crock pot liners so that there was no clean up required.  Switching was easy between the two crock pot meals and by the end of the day, I was SO sick of dishes that I was super gratefull to not have to wash both my crock pots.

Another note: I bought the 9x9 and 9x13 pans with NO lids.  You are going to be using extra heavy foiling.  Doing spend the $$ on the lids when you won't use them.  They aren't too expensive, but totally worth your sanity!  Most of the dishes can be frozen in Freezer bags.  Do your self a favor.  Buy Ziploc heavy duty freezer bags with standing bottoms.  They freeze better and they are easier to stack in your freezer.

Another idea.  For 1 month, double your dinner.  Every night, take a recipe and make it twice.  You will pay a ton in grocery's that month, but, you will slowly build up your freezer meals. Then, the next month, you don't have to pay for dinners.  NICE!!  I do a little bit of both.