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Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce

By Polly Conner

With just a few pantry ingredients, you can have a large batch of marinara sauce cooking in your slow cooker in no time. You can also use this homemade marinara recipe to stock your freezer. Instant Pot and freezing instructions included, as well!

slow cooker marinara sauce in mason jars
Photo credit: Hélèn Dujardin in From Freezer to Cooker

Making marinara sauce in the crock pot is incredibly easy. It’s very similar to the one in our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, but this batch is doubled so you can make lots (14 cups!) to stock the freezer!

What ingredients do I need to make marinara sauce in the slow cooker?

With a few simple pantry ingredients, you can have your home smelling delicious as marinara cooks in the slow cooker. Here is what you’ll need:

  • Olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • Garlic
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Fresh or dried basil
  • Fresh or dried parsley
  • Red pepper flakes

How long do I cook marinara sauce in the slow cooker?

Homemade marinara is one of those recipes in which the longer your cook it, the better it is.

You’ll cook this marinara recipe in the slow cooker on low for 9-11 hours or on high for 5-7 hours.

Homemade marinara sauce in a mason jar

Can I make marinara sauce in the Instant Pot?

You bet! Here is how to make homemade marinara in the Instant Pot.

Depending on the size of your Instant Pot, you’ll likely need to cut this recipe in half. (An 8 quart Instant Pot might work for this amount of sauce, but since we haven’t test it, we can’t say for sure.) Bottom line: You always need to leave the top 1/3 of the Instant Pot empty to create room for pressure to build.

Set the Instant Pot to “Saute.” Pour the oil into the pot and heat until shimmery. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 to 60 seconds more, until fragrant.

Press “Cancel.” Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 10 minutes, then quick release the pressure. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.

How do I freeze homemade marinara sauce?

Since this recipe makes a large batch, you’ll want to save it for future recipes. Here is how you freeze homemade marinara sauce:

  1. Let the cooked sauce cool completely.
  2. Place the sauce in BPA-free freezer bags, freezer containers, or wide mouth mason jars, being sure to leave at least 1 inch of headspace.
  3. Seal and freeze for up to 6 months.
  4. To prepare, just thaw using one of our safe thawing methods.
slow cooker marinara sauce in a bowl

Recipes that use slow cooker marinara sauce

Here are some recipe ideas that you can use your homemade marinara sauce for:

Beefy Baked Ravioli in casserole dish
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Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce Recipe

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 9 hours
  • Total Time: 9 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 28 servings (or about 14 cups) 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Homemade marinara sauce that is slow cooked in a 6 quart crock pot with just a few ingredients!


Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 4 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil or 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. In large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic for about 30-60 seconds, until fragrant. 
  2. Add the onion/garlic mixture and the rest of the ingredients into a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Stir, cover, and cook on LOW for 9-11 hours (or on HIGH for 5-7 hours).
  3. Taste and adjust seasonings, as desired.

Freeze For Later: Cook the sauce and let it cool completely. Portion into to freezer bags, freezer containers, or mason jars, being careful to leave at least 1 inch of head room at the top for expansion. 

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the sauce using one of these safe thawing methods. Warm over medium-low to low heat on the stove, or use the microwave.


Notes

  • Cut this recipe in half for 3 quart slow cookers and for 6 quart Instant Pots (because you need head room at the top to build pressure).
Marinara sauce in mason jars

Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This chicken burger recipe is a kid and adult fave! Make ahead and freeze a batch for later or make them tonight for a delicious and healthy dinner.

chicken burger on a bun with cheese on a plate

Why Are These the BEST?

I’ve been making these Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs for well over a decade now. In fact, my Freezer Club deemed them a “home run” recipe and it became one that we made for our group several times per year!

Here’s the deal. These miniature patties of ground chicken goodness fit every value I have for a family meal:

Tasty? Check.
Kids like them? Check.
Easy to make? Check.
Healthy? Check.
Freezable? Check.

mini chicken burger recipe

They take just minutes to cook on the stovetop and the taste is out of this world, thanks to fresh garlic, lemon juice, parsley, and the seasoning. The bread crumb coating get toasted on the outside and forms a nice crust that seals in all the juices, too.

Bottom line: No complaints from my crew when I make these. #winnerdinner

How to Make Chicken Burgers

Watch this 1 minute video tutorial to see just how easy it is to make these Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs…

How Do I Freeze Chicken Burgers?

A super smart use of time is to double (or triple) the batch and freeze chicken burgers for later. If you’re already getting your kitchen, bowls, and utensils dirty, why not spend just a few more minutes putting together an extra batch or two for a future dinner?

To freeze for later, place the burgers on a sheet pan and flash freeze them for an hour or so. Once they are hard, toss them in a gallon-sized freezer bag or container and seal well. Freeze for up to 3 months.

How Should I Serve Chicken Burgers?

white plate with chicken burger on bun, sweet potato fries, and grapes

We have two suggestions for how to serve chicken burgers.

  1. Serve them a la carte with Avocado Aioli on top or on the side. Dipping each bite of my mini chicken burger in the avocado aioli is my hands-down favorite way to eat them! The sauce is super easy to whip up.
  2. Serve them on a bun, topped with your favorite cheese if you want. I would suggest Provolone or Havarti cheese over the top, but pick whatever kind you love. Kids especially love the burgers served this way. You can also top them with lettuce (or arugula), tomato slices, and that amazing Avocado Aioli I mentioned.

As for side dish ideas, we enjoy sweet potato fries or Oven Fries and some fruit for a simple weeknight meal.

More Kid-Friendly Freezer Meals

Looking for more easy, kid-friendly freezer meals like this one? We have a whole round-up of 30+ Kid-Friendly Freezer Meals here or get started with a few of these favorites…

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Baked Italian Meatballs

Baked Penne Pasta

Easy Ham and Cheese Sliders

Make or Print This Chicken Burger Recipe

You and your family are going to love this tasty yet light chicken burger recipe! Be sure to Pin it, share it, or print it now.

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chicken burger on a bun with cheese on a plate

Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings (2 mini burgers per person) 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs are kid-friendly, healthy and tasty! Freezer meal instructions included. This meal is a winner dinner again and again!


Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground chicken (sub: ground turkey)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs (recommend: whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs) (*For Gluten-free option see note below.)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
  • Optional: cheese slices (i.e. provolone, cheddar, mozzarella)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. In a large bowl, use a fork or your hands to gently combine the ground chicken, garlic, parsley, oregano, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Form the mixture into 16 small patties.
  2. Place the bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Coat each patty in the crumbs on both sides; set aside. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmery. Add some of the patties (try not to overcrowd the pan) and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked through. They are cooked through when there is no longer any pink inside or they reach 165°F internally. (Note: If the patties brown before they’re cooked through, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and continue to cook for a few minutes more.) Repeat this step with the remaining oil and patties.
  4. Serve the chicken burgers a la carte or on mini buns with a cheese slice on top, if desired.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-2. Place the patties on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet in a single layer and set in the freezer to flash freeze for about an hour. After they are frozen, transfer to a large resealable bag and store for up to 3 months.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the patties overnight in the refrigerator. Follow Steps 3-4.


Notes

*For a Gluten-Free Option: Coat the mini chicken burgers in almond flour or gluten-free breadcrumbs. If serving on buns, use gluten-free buns.

Freezer Friendly Chicken Spaghetti

By Polly Conner

Chicken spaghetti is an easy, cheesy, make-it-again-soon-please, casserole that your whole family will love. We teach you how to make it fresh AND how to prep it to be a freezer meal. A great meal for groups of people too!

Freezer friendly chicken spaghetti

Chicken Casserole: A Family Favorite Dinner

When I made this chicken spaghetti recipe for the first time last week, my husband ate it for about 5 meals in a row and proceeded to ask me to make it again the next week.

My kids eagerly scarfed it down as well. Tonight’s batch ended up on about every area of exposed skin on my 18 month old, but I take that as a sign he liked it. Needless to say, this recipe is a keeper!

While this chicken casserole recipe is baked in a 9×13 dish, I oftentimes split it into two, 8×8 dishes and freeze one for later. More on that soon though!

Chicken spaghetti with a side salad

Short Video Tutorial for Making Chicken Spaghetti

How to Make Chicken Spaghetti

Here is what you’ll need:

Ingredients for chicken spaghetti

Ingredients ready? Let’s do this.

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, until al dente (slightly undercooked). Undercooking it keeps it from getting mushy while baking. This is especially important to do if you are going to make this a freezer meal.

While that pasta is cooking is a great time to sautee those chopped veggies. Multitasking is your friend for this recipe.

In a large mixing bowl, gently stir together the cooked pasta, cream of mushroom soup, chicken broth, chicken, veggies and seasoning.

Now please take note of this: Add in only 1 1/2 cups of the cheese. I always get moving too fast and add it ALL in at this point. You need some to sprinkle over the top so restrain yourself!

Chicken spaghetti being prepared in a mixing bowl

Here it is all mixed up. Yum. Or yuck. Not sure.

Either split it up between two 8×8 dishes or put it all in one 9×13 dish. Top with remaining cheese. Assuming you listened to my warning above about not mixing in all of the cheese, that is.

Chicken spaghetti prepped for the freezer

How to Freeze Chicken Spaghetti

Freeze for Later: Here’s the fun part: If you have split it into two 8×8 dishes, you’ve just made two dinners! To freeze one of the 8×8 Chicken Spaghetti portions, simply wrap it tightly or place a lid (if you have one) on your baking dish. (Here are the freezing containers we use and recommend for recipes like this.) You can freeze it for 4+ months! Even longer if you’ve packaged it well.

Prepare From Frozen: Place frozen casserole into the fridge and let thaw for 24+ hours. Follow step 5!

Chicken spaghetti on a white plate with green salad

What to Serve with Chicken Spaghetti

Here are some recipe ideas that would go well with your Chicken Spaghetti:

Done and done.

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Chicken Spaghetti

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Freezer Meal
  • Method: Casserole
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This freezer-friendly Chicken Spaghetti Casserole will keep your family coming back for more deliciousness. 


Ingredients

  • 1 pound whole wheat pasta
  • Two (10 and 3/4-ounce) cans organic cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 23 chicken breasts, fully cooked and chopped or shredded (roughly 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1 small or medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt, such as Lawry’s Seasoned Salt or use this DIY recipe
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar, divided

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 inch casserole dish or two 8×8 dishes with cooking spray.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, until al dente (slightly undercooked). When the pasta is done, drain it in a colander over the sink.
  3. While pasta is cooking, saute the bell peppers & onions in a bit of olive oil until they begin to soften (about 4-5 minutes).
  4. In a large mixing bowl, gently stir together the cooked pasta with the cream of mushroom soup, chicken broth, chicken, sauteed veggies, seasoned salt, cayenne, and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese. Sprinkle it all with salt and pepper, to your preference.
  5. Place the mixture in the dish (or dishes) and top with the remaining 1 cup of cheese. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  6. Bake until bubbly around the edges, about 40-45 minutes. (If the cheese on top starts to get too dark, cover with foil.)

Freeze For Later: Follow steps 1-5 (do not bake). Cover the casserole dishes with a few layers of plastic wrap and foil. Squeeze out any excess air and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw. (Here are three safe ways to thaw freezer meals.) Follow step 6. If it’s still slightly frozen in the middle, you’ll just have to cook it longer than the recipe calls for or defrost a bit in the microwave before baking. Cover it with foil if the top gets too brown in the oven.


Notes

We get our meat from ButcherBox*. The chicken is organic, curated from small, trusted farms, and absolutely delicious. We highly recommend this service to source all your healthy meat, from grass-fed beef to uncured bacon, and have used it for years ourselves. *Disclaimer: We are an affiliate of ButcherBox.

Freezer friendly chicken spaghetti in a white baking dish

30+ Kid Friendly Freezer Meals

By Polly Conner

Look no further for kid friendly freezer meals that you can stock up on. These 30+ recipes are well-tested on our own families and many of our readers’ families, as well. A must have resource for the future!

Color foil pans for kid-friendly make ahead freezer meals

A few days ago, my three year old threw a 15 minute tantrum at the kitchen table. The reason for the unrest? A broken banana. I wish I were joking. As I was peeling it for him, it broke in half. My attempts to explain that it would taste just the same fell on deaf ears.

If you’ve had young children, you are well aware that they can love something one day and consider it a crime that you would even consider putting that food on their plate again. Their fickleness about food can be maddening–especially if you’ve worked hard to make a homemade meal.

Colorful freezer containers in a freezer

Because we are well acquainted with the struggle of finding meals that kids will like, we’ve tested and rounded up over 30 kid-friendly freezer meals. We’ve included instructions to make ahead and freeze every single recipe. This means if you are a wise mama, which I’m sure you are, you should probably double the recipe and freeze one for later

30+ Kid-Friendly Freezer Meals

BREAKFAST RECIPES:

Breakfast may well be the most important meal your child eats all day, so why not prep some healthy freezer meal breakfast options to have on hand?

Freezer Breakfast Burritos

Can be frozen and thawed individually for a grab-and-go meal.

Freezer Breakfast Burritos

Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

What kid doesn’t love a muffin? This one’s tasty and healthy.

Whole wheat banana chocolate chip muffin

Freezer Smoothie Packs

Having a stash of smoothie packs is such a fun, unique idea for kids! Use our printable labels to help keep them organized too.

Smoothie freezer packs

Blueberry Power Muffins

Packed with nutritious ingredients and great for busy mornings.

Blueberry Power Muffins - freezer meal for kids

Breakfast Casserole Muffins

Have these on hand for hearty, grab-and-go breakfasts.

egg casserole muffins on a white plate; freezer meal for kids

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

Rachel bakes one of these most weeks and her kids mow through it. Serve warm with a little milk on top. 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal - freezer meal for kids

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

Did you know you make a large batch of pancakes ahead and freeze them? These are a reader and kid fave!

whole wheat pumpkin pancakes

Chocolate Zucchini Waffles 

A chocolately way to pack in some extra veggies. Make extras and freeze for later.

Chocolate Waffle recipe with zucchini - kid friendly freezer meal

SLOW COOKER RECIPES:

Slow cooker meals that picky kids will eat? We’ve found them! P.S. Did you know we published a whole cookbook with family-friendly freezer meals that work in the slow cooker?!

Slow Cooker Balsamic Shredded Beef

One friend’s child confessed, “This is better than candy!” True story. Serve over mashed potatoes or polenta or on it’s own.

Slow Cooker Balsamic Shredded Beef recipe

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Sliders

A simple mid-week recipe that can easily be prepped ahead of time and ready to throw into the slow cooker (or try this Instant Pot version).

Slow cooker chicken parmesan sliders on a cutting board

French Dip Grilled Cheese

This is one of the most popular recipes from our newest cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker. We’re excited that our publisher gave us permission to share this one with you! Your family is going to love this drop-and-go meal.

French Dip sandwich for the slow cooker with au jus sauce

Slow Cooker Chicken and Cheese Taquitos

These go directly from freezer to oven to table in minutes! A family favorite among our readers.

Slow cooker chicken and cheese taquitos - kid friendly freezer meal

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Can’t go wrong with pulled pork! Kids and parents alike love this freezer meal.

Slow Cooker Shredded Pork on a plate

Slow Cooker Shredded BBQ Beef Sandwiches

If your kids prefer shredded beef over shredded pork, then give this freezer meal recipe a try.

Slow Cooker Shredded BBQ Beef Sandwiches

CASSEROLE RECIPES:

Most casserole recipes can be prepped and frozen. They are a great way to stock the freezer for busy nights! 

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Hands down our most popular recipe on Thriving Home. Serve “as is” or over your child’s favorite pasta.

This fake-out lasagna is hearty and delicious!

Beef baked ravioli

Baked Penne Pasta

This baked pasta makes a TON! Tip: Split it between two 8×8 inch casserole dishes and freeze one for later!

Baked Penne Pasta

Mac and Cheese with Sneaky Sweet Potato – Vegetarian freezer meal

Rachel’s made this baked mac and cheese for years for her little ones as a way to add in some extra veggies. The sweet potato is pureed (read: hidden) and gives it that orangey color they like. 😉 

A better mac and cheese with sneaky sweet potato

Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups – Vegetarian freezer meal

Kids love the individual rolled up lasagna noodles. Don’t worry, the sneaky spinach is tucked away inside the cheesy goodness. 

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

MORE KID FRIENDLY FREEZER MEALS

We’re not even close to done! Here are some more make ahead meal ideas that kids will love!

Baked Italian Meatballs

Serve with a side of sauce for dipping, or over spaghetti, or on mini buns with provolone cheese. Delicious!

Baked meatballs on a white plate with marinara sauce

 

Gourmet Chicken Sandwiches

Marinate and grill up these flavorful chicken breasts for some delicious sandwiches that everyone will love.

 

Ham & Cheese Sliders

These are my go-to meal for groups. Kids LOVE them.

Hand lifting a ham & cheese slider from a white dish

Mini Meatloaf Muffins

We have parents tell us all the time that they make these for their kids. Great way to sneak in extra veggies, too.

meatloaf muffins on a white serving platter

Pork Tenderloin with a Seasoned Rub

We’ve both been making this easy, weeknight recipe for our families for years. A winner dinner! Serve with ketchup or BBQ sauce, if the kids like that.

 Pork Tenderloin with Seasoned Rub

Mini Italian Burgers

Take your sliders to the next level by adding in some shredded Parm, fresh herbs, and tomato paste. Yum!

Mini Italian burgers with broccoli on the side

Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs

No one ever complains when we serve these! Eat by themselves or on a mini bun.

Mini Chicken Burger with Herbs Recipe

SOUPS AND STEWS:

Tomato Bisque

One of our most popular recipes! Rachel serves this soup with grilled cheese that’s cut into sticks. She calls it “Grilled Cheese Dippers” and the kids use the soup as a dipping sauce. 

Tomato Bisque soup in white bowl with spoon

Slow Cooker Cheddar & Bacon Potato Soup

Potatoes, bacon, cheese…what’s not to love here, kids?

Slow Cooker Cheddar and Bacon Potato Soup in white bowls with bread. Kid friendly freezer meal.

Easy No-Peek Stew

If your kids will go for beef stew, this is the one to make. It’s the EASIEST!

No-peek stew in a casserole dish

Mexican Soup

Top with some sour cream and cheese and serve with tortilla chips.

Mexican soup recipe - kid friendly freezer meal

 

The Best Kid-Friendly Freezer Meal Resources

Although we love the recipes above, we actually spent years painstakingly developing, testing, and retesting freezer-friendly recipes for our cookbooks! You can find them at all major booksellers. Check out the reviews to see what readers are saying!

Freezer meal cookbooks - ideas for kid-friendly freezer meals

 
 

Instant Pot Chicken and Cheese Taquitos

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This kid-friendly Instant Pot Chicken and Cheese Taquitos recipe goes from frozen chicken breasts to a delicious dinner on the table in 45 minutes with very minimal hands-on work. You can easily double and freeze these for later.

Chicken and Cheese Taquitos piled on a serving platter with avocado lime salsa on top

How We Developed and Tested This Recipe

Polly and I spent over two years researching, developing, and testing Instant Pot recipes for our second cookbook called From Freezer to Cooker. It is a monstrous labor of love, and, thankfully, we had the help of 500 readers on our Recipe Testing Team along the way. Instant Pot Chicken and Cheese Taquitos is one of the only recipes that appears both in our cookbook and on our website here. This meal was a HUGE win with them!

Chicken and Cheese Taquitos piled on a serving platter with avocado lime salsa on top

The inspiration for this easy dinner recipe originally came from our popular Slow Cooker Chicken and Cheese Taquitos. Both the Instant Pot and slow cooker versions have proven to be a favorite dish not only our own households but many of our readers’ and recipe testers’ homes, too. In fact, I had a mom tell me just yesterday that her pickiest eater told her that he loved this recipe. I could see the wave of relief on her face as she told me that story.

If you’re looking for recipes that work in both the Instant Pot AND Slow Cooker AND that you can make ahead and freeze, we think you’re going to love From Freezer to Cooker. Or, if you just want to learn more about freezer cooking and find some of our hands-down favorite freezer meals for families, try our first cookbook, From Freezer to Table.

What We LOVE About Instant Pot Chicken Taquitos

  1. Quick Dinner: If you missed the window for the slow cooker version of this recipe, you can still make it in the Instant Pot in time for dinner. This recipe only takes 7 minutes of pressure cook time (or 15 minutes with frozen chicken). Now, keep in mind that it will take some time for your Instant Pot to build pressure first (about 10 minutes for fresh chicken and 20 for frozen). This Instant Pot Chicken and Cheese Taquitos recipe went from frozen chicken breasts to our table in about 45 minutes with very minimal hands-on work.
  2. Can Use Frozen Chicken Breasts! We’ve all been there…dinner time is rapidly approaching and all we have on hand are FROZEN chicken breasts. I’ve got good news, though. Unlike the slow cooker, you can cook frozen meat directly in the Instant Pot. Unfortunately, the USDA says it’s not safe to put icy ingredients in a slow cooker. It keeps the food in the “danger zone” for too long, a temperature range where bacteria flourishes. Not worth the risk! So, if you are working with frozen chicken breasts, Instant Pot to the rescue!
  3. Make Ahead and Freeze: Once you’ve rolled up your taquitos, you can either cook them right away or freeze them for later. We give you detailed instructions for how to do this below. Be sure to double this recipe so you can make the best use of your time in the kitchen. You’ll thank yourself in the future when you’ve got dinner already done for another night!
  4. Cooks Directly From Frozen: The AMAZING thing about this particular freezer meal recipe is that you can take out however many taquitos you want from the freezer and cook them DIRECTLY FROM FROZEN. This is the perfect solution for those busy weeknight meals.
  5. All Ages Love It! We’ve heard over and over from readers and recipe testers on our team for From Freezer to Cooker how much their entire family loves this recipe.
Chicken and Cheese Taquitos piled on a serving platter with avocado lime salsa on top. Other toppings are nearby, like avocado, tomatoes, and salsa.

Watch How to Make Instant Pot Chicken Taquitos

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1:

You are going to LOVE how simple this is. Start by placing your chicken breasts in the Instant Pot and then seasoning with some taco seasoning (try our Homemade Taco Seasoning here). Then, add some chicken broth.

Chicken breasts with seasoning and broth in an Instant Pot

Now here’s the key: Do not overcook your chicken! If you follow our recipe, you’re good to go. But…be sure to download and print off our Instant Pot Cooking Times Chart that we spent two years developing for our cookbook. This guide will help you pressure cook both fresh and frozen meals perfectly! It’s our gift to you!

Step 2:

Once that chicken has cooked, grab two forks and give it a good shred. Return it to the Instant Pot and stir it around with the broth.

Shredded chicken on a wooden cutting board

Step 3:

Then, stir some cream cheese and salsa into the shredded chicken mixture. Next, tightly roll up the chicken mixture and some shredded cheese in each tortilla.

shredded cheese being sprinkled into tortillas with shredded chicken

At this point, you can freeze a batch for later. Then, on a busy night, just pull however many you need out of the freezer, place them directly in the oven, and bake! This is such a smart use of your time in the kitchen. Your future self will be singing your praises!

Chicken Taquitos rolled up and in a freezer bag for a freezer meal.

Step 4:

If you’re making this recipe now, you’ll pop the rolled up taquitos in the oven until they are melty and golden brown.

Chicken and Cheese Taquitos are rolled up and lined up on parchment paper.

Step 5:

Serve warm. To round out the meal and take this crunchy, baked (read: healthier!) meal to the next level, serve with some of these sides or toppings: Homemade Guacamole or Creamy Avocado Dip, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, and your favorite salsa. We love this Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa for something a little different.

Side Dishes to Go with This Recipe

What to Do with Leftover Tortillas

P.S. If you have leftover tortillas, did you know you can freeze them? Here is the best way to freeze tortillas for later.

tortillas in a freezer bag

Are you ready to be the dinner hero in your house? It’s time to get cooking some Taquitos!

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Chicken and Cheese Taquitos piled on a serving platter with avocado lime salsa on top

Instant Pot Chicken and Cheese Taquitos

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings (2 taquitos per person) 1x
  • Category: Freezer Meal
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

With just a few simple ingredients, this kid-friendly Instant Pot chicken dinner takes minutes to whip up. It’s also freezer-friendly and goes straight from the freezer to the oven!


Ingredients

  • 11 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 package of all-natural taco seasoning or 23 tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning recipe
  • 1 cup chicken broth (or substitute water)
  • ¼ cup cream cheese
  • ¼ cup your favorite salsa
  • 8 (8-inch) tortillas (we use whole wheat tortillas; corn tortillas won’t work)
  • 1½ cup shredded cheddar cheese (here’s how to easily shred your own to save money)
  • Optional: sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, salsa, guacamole

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Place chicken breasts in your Instant Pot. Cover both sides of chicken with taco seasoning. Add the broth. Lock and seal the lid.
  2. Cook for 7 minutes at high pressure. (If chicken is frozen, cook for 15 minutes at high pressure.) Use a quick release when the time is up or you can use a natural release, if you have time. (Note: The chicken is done when it registers 165°F internally or has no more pink inside.)
  3. Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  4. Shred the chicken in the pot with two forks and stir it with the broth so the seasoning is evenly distributed. Add cream cheese and salsa to the shredded chicken and stir until the cream cheese is melted.
  5. Arrange tortillas on a flat surface. Top each tortilla with an equal amount of chicken mixture. (Important tip: Drain off the extra liquid from the chicken as you remove it from the pot; I just used two forks to transfer it to the tortillas.) Leave a little room at the edges so the filling doesn’t spill out. Top the chicken mixture with 2-3 tablespoons of shredded cheese. Roll up tortillas tightly. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  6. Place the rolled tortillas on the baking sheet, seam side down. Spray the tops with cooking spray. You can also sprinkle any remaining cheese over the tops, if you like. Bake 15-20 minutes, until cheese melts and they are golden brown.
  7. Serving suggestion: Top with salsa, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, and/or guacamole.

Freeze For Later: Complete the recipe through Step 5. Then, place rolled up tortillas in a freezer bag or freezer container (BEFORE baking) in a single layer. Separate the single layers with parchment paper. Seal tightly and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400°F. Place frozen taquitos on a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper or foil. Cover them lightly with a piece of foil (so they don’t brown too quickly). Bake for about 25 minutes or until warmed through and cheese is melty. Remove foil and bake about 5-10 more minutes until golden brown on top. (Note: You can use the broiler to crisp them up at the end for about 2 minutes, if desired. Watch them closely so they don’t burn.)


Notes

You can also make this recipe in the Slow Cooker. Find the recipe here.

Download and print our free Instant Pot Cooking Times chart here. Learn more about our rigorously-tested Instant Pot cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, here.

We get our meat from ButcherBox*.  The chicken is organic and curated from small, trusted farms. We highly recommend this service to source DELICIOUS and HEALTHY meat—like uncured bacon, grass-fed beef, and wild salmon—and have used it for years ourselves. *Disclaimer: We are an affiliate of ButcherBox.

Chicken and Cheese Taquitos piled on a serving platter with avocado lime salsa on top

Want More Freezer Meals for the Instant Pot?

We’ve got you covered. Hop over to this post highlighting 20+ Best of the Best Freezer Meals for the Instant Pot. It includes freezer meal instructions for EVERY recipe plus tons of pro tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years.


Want to Stock Your Freezer with 6 Meals in 1 Hour?

Try our SUPER POPULAR 1 Hour Freezer Prep sessions. We give you everything you need to throw together 6 delicious, family-sized freezer meals in just 1 hour! Anyone can do it with our simple instructions, organized shopping list, and pre-filled out freezer labels.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Smoothie (+ Freezer Pack Instructions)

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This easy, healthy Chocolate Covered Cherry Smoothie recipe tastes like a chocolate shake (seriously!) but is chock full of antioxidants and protein thanks to spinach, dark cherries, almond butter, cocoa powder, and more. It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, and we teach you how to make it into a freezer smoothie pack for later.

cherry smoothie in mason jar with straw

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Here’s our full disclosure.

Our Easy, Healthy Smoothie Recipes

Over the next several weeks, Polly and I are sharing 7 easy, healthy smoothie recipes that you can make ahead and freeze as freezer smoothie packs. We have been working really hard on developing and testing these on neighbors and family members of all ages. The response has been overwhelmingly positive! In fact, ever since we started smoothie recipe development a few months ago, we have become smoothie addicts and so have our family members. Who knew healthy eating could be so easy and tasty!?

colorful smoothies

Here’s what you can expect from our simple smoothie recipes over the next few weeks. They will:

  • Taste yummy! Yes, these smoothies are SUPER HEALTHY but we wanted to make sure they didn’t taste like weeds from the backyard. Ha! We found that adults and kids alike gulped these down. (Note: You can always add a little honey or other natural sweetener, if you prefer a sweeter version.)
  • Include only simple real food ingredients that you can find in just about any grocery store these days. In fact, most of our ingredients came from Aldi and are very affordable. Of course, if you want to add in things like protein powder or other fancy powders, be our guest. But, we are sticking to recognizable whole foods for these recipes.
  • Make a single-serving (16 ounce) smoothie, which can work as a meal replacement. Or, make two (8 ounce) smoothies for kids or to compliment a meal.
  • Include fruits and/or vegetables and a source of protein and healthy fats–like nuts, chia seeds, avocado, Greek yogurt, or nut butter–to keep you full and satisfied.
  • Include instructions to create a freezer smoothie pack (or packs) for later.

Try making these other smoothies that we’ve shared in this series or Pin them for later:

How to Make a Freezer Smoothie Pack

What are freezer smoothie packs? Only the best, most genius idea ever. You’ll simply toss most of your smoothie ingredients in a freezer bag/container to have on hand in the freezer. (Be sure to follow our layering instructions.) Then you can throw together a delicious, nutrient dense smoothie for breakfast, as a snack, or as a meal replacement anytime.

chocolate cherry smoothie in mason jar with straw

Amazingly, all of the fruits, vegetables, and add-ins that we’ve tested from frozen have worked well in a smoothie. That’s not always the case when you freeze certain fruits/vegetables for other uses, however. Smoothies are very forgiving!

If you’re trying to cut down on plastic bag use like we are, try these reusable silicone bags. We’ve personally tested these bags for weeks now. I’ve found them to be easy to rinse out and dry, and they do not leak. They seem well made and worth the investment.

Reusable quart sized bags. Great for smoothie packs.

How to Make a Chocolate Covered Cherry Smoothie

Now, on to our very first easy, healthy smoothie recipe! We are starting off with a big bang with our Chocolate Covered Cherry Smoothie. Hands down, this is the best smoothie recipe I’ve ever made. In fact, I stopped halfway through writing this blog post to make one! How is that for putting my money where my mouth is!?

cherry smoothie in mason jar with straw

It’s actually very easy to throw together once you have all the ingredients on hand. Here is your shopping list:

  • Almond milk (or substitute your favorite milk of choice)
  • Banana (preferably frozen in slices to create the perfect smoothie texture)
  • Frozen dark sweet cherries (NOT tart red cherries)
  • Baby spinach (I prefer organic, which is easy to find)
  • Almond butter (or substitute your favorite nut butter)
  • 100% cocoa powder or cacao powder
cherry smoothie in mason jar with straw

It’s important to note that you will need the dark, sweet cherries. I tested this with the tart red version, as well as strawberries, and it just wasn’t the same. Neither of those fruits were as sweet. I found the dark, sweet cherries in the frozen food section at our local Hy-Vee store.

This, my friends, is all you need to make a smoothie that will taste like a DELICIOUS chocolate shake with a hint of cherry to it! You will NOT taste the spinach but still enjoy all the health benefits of slurping up your greens. {{Knucks}} If you really like things sweet, you may want to add a dollop of raw honey, too.

cherry smoothie in mason jar with straw

What Blender Do I Need to Make a Chocolate Covered Cherry Smoothie?

Now, let’s talk blenders for a minute. Not all of them are created equal. I’ve owned a lot of brands over the years–Frigidaire, Cuisinart, Ninja, Vitamix, and Oster. To really pulverize the freezer smoothie packs, you’ll need a high-powered blender. The two blenders that stand out as clear winners from my experience are:

  1. The Vitamix (of course!) because it is very high-powered, super simple, and will last for an eon. I saved up for and owned a refurbished version that lasted over five years with daily use. I could have sent it in to Vitamix to get fixed but instead opted for the blender below (and am very happy). (Update: I bought a new Vitamix on Black Friday and LOVE it. So worth the $.)
  2. My current and more affordable Nutri Ninja Personal and Countertop Blender makes smooth smoothies and allows me to make single serving smoothies. Love the single serving blend-and-go design! The big blender doesn’t pulverize as well as the smaller containers do or the Vitamix, just so you know. We use the single-serving blender daily!

Alright now, if you’ve got your blender and ingredients on hand, it’s time to make your delicious chocolate shake…I mean your healthy Chocolate Covered Cherry Smoothie! Or, spend a few minutes dividing up ingredients and make some freezer smoothie packs for later.

cherry smoothie in mason jar with straw
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cherry smoothie in mason jar with straw

Chocolate Covered Cherry Smoothie

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 minutes
  • Yield: One 16 ounce smoothie (or two 8 ounce smoothies) 1x
  • Category: Smoothies
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Chocolate Covered Cherry Smoothie tastes like dessert but is chock full of antioxidants and protein thanks to spinach, dark cherries, almond butter, cocoa powder, and more. Easy, single serving smoothie that can be made into a smoothie pack, too.


Ingredients

  • 11 1/2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 1/2 banana, sliced (preferably frozen for best smoothie texture)
  • 1 cup frozen sweet dark cherries (NOT red tart cherries)
  • 1 cup baby spinach (preferably organic)
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon 100% cocoa powder or cacao powder
  • dollop of honey (optional)

Instructions

Make It Now:

1. Start by adding 1 cup almond milk to a high-powered blender. Then, add all the other ingredients.

2. Blend until smooth. You may need to stop and stir/shake the blender or add up to 1/2 cup more of almond milk, as needed, to make sure it gets smooth.

3. Taste and add a dollop of honey, if preferred.

Make Freezer Smoothie Packs for Later:

1. Layer ingredients in small freezer bags (or reusable silicone bags) in this order:

  • ½ banana
  • 1 cup frozen dark sweet cherries
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 cup baby spinach (preferably organic)
  • 1 tablespoon 100% cocoa powder or cacao powder

2. Seal tightly, squeezing out the air, and freeze for up to 3 months.

3. To Blend: Pour 1 cup almond milk into a high-powered blender first. Break up the ingredients in the bag by hitting it on the counter or crunching it with your hands. Dump the ingredients from the bag in and follow blending instructions above.

Slow Cooker Chicken Fiesta Soup

By Polly Conner

This delicious, slow cooker chicken soup is not only gluten free and dairy free (if you don’t add cheese at the end), but it freezes beautifully either before cooking or after. Packed with fresh flavor, the veggies give it that fiesta vibe that everyone will love. This easy and healthy freezer meal is great for feeding a large group of people.

Slow cooker chicken fiesta soup in a white bowl

I hesitated on sharing this recipe. I mean, don’t we have enough Mexican-inspired slow cooker meals already?

But then, just in the nick of time, Smart-Polly showed up. And she got nose to nose with Lame-Polly and asked the question, “Is there such thing as having too many slow cooker Mexican-inspired meals?” 

Smart-Polly won. 

And I’m so glad she did. Because this crock pot Chicken Fiesta Soup is amazing. And incredibly simple. And makes a lot. And freezes well. And. And. And. 

Freezer friendly chicken fiesta soup in a white bowl with sour cream

Now hear me out on something. I would have loved to make this a dump and go meal. It would have given me something else to brag about on this soup (as if it needs more, ha!). But here’s the deal. The chicken is done in 4-6 hours and the onions just aren’t. They are a little too oniony when they don’t get a jump start or the chance to cook all day. That is why we have the extra step of sauteing the onions and peppers before dumping it all in. 

BUT, if you love a good shortcut, you can toss the veggies in a little oil and microwave them for 4-5 minutes until they begin to soften. Then just toss them in the slow cooker and do your dang thang. 

Did I mention that you guys are going to love this recipe? 

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Slow Cooker Chicken Fiesta Soup

  • Author: Polly
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 hours
  • Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

This amazing, freezer friendly chicken soup is not only gluten free and dairy free (if you don’t add cheese at the end), but it freezes beautifully either before cooking or after. Packed with fresh flavor, the veggies give it that fiesta vibe that everyone will love. 


Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 bell peppers, diced (suggested: one red and one green)
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 pounds medium boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 (28 ounce) petite diced tomatoes, juice and all (or two 14.5 ounce cans)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (11 ounce) can shoe peg corn, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans green chilis
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 23 tablespoons taco seasoning 
  • Optional toppings: diced avocado, lime wedges, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt*, shredded cheddar cheese*, sliced green onions, corn tortilla chips, hot sauce

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add diced onion and bell peppers, and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper while they cook. Stir in the garlic during the last 30-60 seconds. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Add the veggie mixture, chicken, tomatoes, black beans, pinto beans, corn, green chilis, chicken broth, and taco seasoning to the slow cooker. Stir until combined.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until cooked through. (Chicken is done when it has no more pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.)
  4. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and shred with two forks or chop into bite-sized pieces. Stir it back into the soup.
  5. Taste and adjust salt and pepper amounts. Serve warm, topped with your favorite suggested toppings.

Notes

Freeze For Later: Follow Step 1. Add cooked, cooled veggies and all other ingredients (except the optional toppings) to one or two gallon-sized freezer bags or containers. Seal and freeze. Prepare From Frozen: Note: You will need your favorite optional toppings to make this meal. Thaw. Follow Steps 2-5.

 

Spoon full of chicken fiesta soup

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that as we were testing recipes for our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, we have learned that not all slow cookers are created equal. Some cook hot and fast while others are low and slow. Based on the recommendation of America’s Test Kitchen, we use a Kitchen Aid Brand. You can find the exact one we use in our Kitchen Favorites. 

If you are digging this Slow Cooker recipe, you’ll love our roundup of 101+ Slow Cooker Freezer Meals. Hop over and snag some more recipe ideas!

101 Real Food Slow Cooker Freezer Meals - Your life just got easier and healthier with this list of the best whole foods freezer meals for the slow cooker. Enjoy these real food crockpot recipes today or freeze for later.

3 Safe Ways to Thaw Freezer Meals

By Polly Conner

Can you thaw food in a crock pot? How long does it take to thaw a freezer meal in the fridge? Can I just leave it on the counter for a few hours?

Ever since the release of our cookbook, From Freezer to Table, Rachel and I have had the awesome opportunity to speak to groups about meal planning and freezer cooking. One thing we’ve realized is that there is a bit of confusion on how to properly thaw frozen food.

Fear not. We are here to set the record straight.

Three ways we recommend to safely thaw your freezer meals:

Read more

A Super Simple Summer Freezer Party: The Answer to Our Junk-Eating Slump

By Rachel Tiemeyer
Throwing a Freezer Party with friends is a simple way to stock your freezer with healthy, homemade meals and enjoy a night out with friends. Here's how to pull it off.

I’m gonna be straight up honest with you all. My family hasn’t been eating all that well this summer.

I’ve been swamped with work, my son has baseball games and practices many nights a week, we’ve been traveling, and momma just needs some time off. So, we’ve eaten out waaaay more than I would like. Maybe you can relate. Turns out it’s easy to talk the talk of menu planning and freezer cooking, but it gets harder and harder to walk the walk as life gets fuller!

To turn the corner on our junkie eating (and to spend some much need girl time with my gal pals), I asked a few neighbors and friends to come over for a Freezer Party on Monday night. My girls even agreed to make all meals from our new cookbook, From Freezer to Table. Because these ladies are THE best.

Here’s a 60 second peek inside our book…

My Modified Freezer Party

Polly and I have had many freezer parties over the years (here’s a tutorial if you want to try it), usually cooking in someone’s kitchen with a group. And I was in an on-going Freezer Club for seven years when my children were little. Both versions of freezer cooking with your friends are fun and so very helpful. We explain in step-by-step detail how to do both in our cookbook.

However, since I wanted to keep things simple and non-committal at the moment, I decided to throw a modified version–a super simple summer version–of a Freezer Party. I’ll walk you through how this concept works and what we recipes made for each other in just a sec.

We interrupt this post with a low quality selfie of happy friends going home with six healthy, kid-friendly freezer meals each…

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Mini Turkey Cheeseburgers {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

These Mini Turkey Cheese Burgers are full of flavor and are a family favorite. Be sure to double and freeze an extra batch for later.

It had been an uneventful dinner so far. Everyone…yes, picky eaters and all…munched away on these easy Mini Turkey Cheeseburgers, which I served alongside some Simple Roasted Veggies that night. Uneventful dinner = a RAGING success these days. 🙂

We heard the familiar knock of my dad (aka Daddyman) at the door in the middle of said uneventful dinner. The kids raced to the door, and there he was with tool box in hand ready to fix yet another broken item in my house. Yes, I’m that spoiled.

As Daddyman worked away in the kitchen, I heard him mutter, “Oooo, those look good” toward my plate of cheese-topped patties. A few minutes later, he took a break from his fix-it job to down a Mini Turkey Cheeseburger with an audible, “Mmmm!” Then, as he walked back out the door, I noticed a second burger in hand.

It makes my heart skip a beat when I make someone happy with my food, especially my daddy!

Mini Turkey Cheeseburgers: A kid-friendly, healthy freezer meal!

I hope you can make your people so very happy with these flavor-packed and quite healthy little burgers. Either eat them plain or doctor with them up with all your favorite cheeseburger toppings. They make for great leftovers the next few days, too. Read more

Farm Fresh Breakfast Quesadillas {Freezer Meal}

By Polly Conner
Freezer Friendly, Farm Fresh Breakfast Quesadillas. A simple, kid-friendly, healthy breakfast idea that anyone can make. Kids love that they can be customized and love to help assemble them. Make lots and freeze them for later!

Disclaimer: This recipe was created in partnership with Frigidaire Gallery®. But the opinions are all ours! 

Freezer Friendly, Farm Fresh Breakfast Quesadillas. A simple, kid-friendly, healthy breakfast idea that anyone can make. Kids love that they can be customized and love to help assemble them. Make lots and freeze them for later!

My kids are totally on a quesadilla kick. No matter what we put in it, if we put something between two tortillas and call it a quesadilla, it’s a win. 

In light of the kids’ quesadilla obsession and my continual hunt for easy, healthy, freezable breakfast ideas, a breakfast quesadilla recipe was born.

Freezer Friendly, Farm Fresh Breakfast Quesadillas. A simple, kid-friendly, healthy breakfast idea that anyone can make. Kids love that they can be customized and love to help assemble them. Make lots and freeze them for later!

Here’s the great thing about breakfast quesadillas: they are totally customizable. Each person can pick what they want on them which makes fickle, power-hungry children happy. Kids also love to help with the assembly so this is a great way to get them involved in the meal making process.

On this particular morning, we assembled Farm Fresh Quesadillas. The ingredients were simple and things that you mostly likely have on hand:

  • eggs
  • ham
  • bacon
  • cheddar cheese
  • spinach
Freezer Friendly, Farm Fresh Breakfast Quesadillas. A simple, kid-friendly, healthy breakfast idea that anyone can make. Kids love that they can be customized and love to help assemble them. Make lots and freeze them for later!

Three secrets you need to know about making breakfast quesadillas:

  1. Assemble them on top of parchment paper or foil. This makes transferring them to the skillet or freezer bag a lot easier.
  2. Start and end with cheese. The cheese serves as a binding that holds the quesadilla and its contents together after cooking. It needs to be in contact with the tortilla to do this.
  3. If you plan to freeze these bad boys, undercook your eggs a tad. They will likely cook a little in the reheating stage so you don’t want overcooked eggs.

Assemble Your Breakfast Quesadilla

Starting with cheese, add your preferred ingredients to make your Farm Fresh Quesadilla. Here’s what mine looked like.

Freezer Friendly, Farm Fresh Breakfast Quesadillas. A simple, kid-friendly, healthy breakfast idea that anyone can make. Kids love that they can be customized and love to help assemble them. Make lots and freeze them for later!

After it’s assembled, warm a large skillet to medium heat and melt a little butter in the pan. Slide the quesadilla off of the parchment paper and onto the pan. Top the quesadilla with a bit more melted butter. (The butter on the tortilla helps give it a little bit of a crisp when cooked). Cook about 3-4 minutes on each side or until the tortilla starts to brown.

Freezer Friendly, Farm Fresh Breakfast Quesadillas. A simple, kid-friendly, healthy breakfast idea that anyone can make. Kids love that they can be customized and love to help assemble them. Make lots and freeze them for later!

Want to make a bunch and freeze them? Here’s how:

There are two ways to go about freezing breakfast quesadillas.

Freezing Method One: Assemble the quesadillas and freeze just before cooking. To prepare them, simply let them thaw out and cook them as normal.

Freezer Friendly, Farm Fresh Breakfast Quesadillas. A simple, kid-friendly, healthy breakfast idea that anyone can make. Kids love that they can be customized and love to help assemble them. Make lots and freeze them for later!

Freezing Method Two: Cook quesadillas as normal, let cool and then freeze. To prepare, either wrap frozen quesadilla in a moist paper towel and microwave for 30-60 seconds OR let them thaw and warm them up in the oven at 350 for 5 minutes. (I prefer the oven method.)

Freezer Friendly, Farm Fresh Breakfast Quesadillas. A simple, kid-friendly, healthy breakfast idea that anyone can make. Kids love that they can be customized and love to help assemble them. Make lots and freeze them for later!

Feel free to branch out with the ingredients! Some other ideas to get your creative juices stirring: grilled onions and peppers, breakfast sausage, ham & pineapple, fresh herbs, pepper jack cheese, etc.

Eat up!

Freezer Friendly, Farm Fresh Breakfast Quesadillas. A simple, kid-friendly, healthy breakfast idea that anyone can make. Kids love that they can be customized and love to help assemble them. Make lots and freeze them for later!
Freezer Friendly, Farm Fresh Breakfast Quesadillas. A simple, kid-friendly, healthy breakfast idea that anyone can make. Kids love that they can be customized and love to help assemble them. Make lots and freeze them for later!

What to Do with Leftover Tortillas

P.S. If you have leftover tortillas, did you know you can freeze them? Here is the best way to freeze tortillas for later.

tortillas in a freezer bag
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Farm Fresh Breakfast Quesadillas {Freezer Meal}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 18 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican-American

Description

Farm fresh quesadillas are your family’s next must-try! Every family member can choose his/her favorite toppings in order to create the perfect, healthy masterpiece.


Ingredients

  • 12 whole wheat tortillas
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 12 eggs, scrambled
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 pound ham, diced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 23 tablespoons butter

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Lay out parchment paper or foil for assembly.
  2. On a tortilla, assemble by evenly distributing ingredients in this order: 1/4 cup shredded cheddar, about 1/3 cup scrambled eggs, 1/3 cup spinach, sprinkle of bacon, sprinkle of ham, and end with another 1/4 cup shredded cheddar. Top with another tortilla.
  3. Warm skillet to medium and melt a little butter in the pan.
  4. Using the parchment paper as help, slide assembled quesadilla carefully into hot pan and cook on each side for 3-4 minutes or until tortilla begins to brown and cheese is melted.
  5. Slice it up like a pizza and serve!

Freeze For Later: Method 1: Assemble the quesadillas and freeze, just before cooking, in a freezer bag between layers of parchment paper. Lay flat in the freezer. Method 2: Cook quesadillas according to instructions but do not cut into pieces. Let cool completely and then freeze in freezer bag or container, separating layers with parchment paper. Prepare From Frozen: Method 1: Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and cook according to instructions. Method 2: Either wrap frozen quesadilla in a moist paper towel and microwave for 30-60 seconds OR let thaw in refrigerator and warm up on sheet pan in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 5 minutes.

Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatloaves {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

These Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatloaves are a kid-favorite and a great way to sneak in extra nutrition!

Disclaimer: This recipe was created in partnership with Frigidaire Gallery®. But the opinions are all ours! 

I could eat these super healthy Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatloaves hot or cold, I tell ya. They really aren’t just for kids, although my three children gobbled them up with a side of ketchup tonight. I’m glad I doubled the recipe, so I can freeze half of them for another night. Snaps for #freezermeals, eh?!

These Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatloaves are a kid-favorite and a great way to sneak in extra nutrition! #realfood #freezermeal #healthy

Here’s the other thing: If you have a hard time getting enough vegetables into your family, these mini meatloaves are also a winning way to sneak some extra nutrition in (which you may know I’m a fan of). I would suggest using the food processor to chop the vegetables finely, if you have some suspicious kiddos. Give your munchkins a good squirt of ketchup for dipping purposes and you’re good to go!

These Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatloaves are a kid-favorite and a great way to sneak in extra nutrition! #realfood #freezermeal #healthy

I served our Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatloaves up with a twice baked potato, steamed broccoli, and some strawberries. Want to really hit a homerun when it comes to the sneaky nutrition, though? Try a side of Cream Cheesy Mashed Sweet Potatoes. You’ll have just fed your kids zucchini, carrots, onion, and sweet potatoes in one delicious meal. Boom!

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These Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatloaves are a kid-favorite and a great way to sneak in extra nutrition!

Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatloaves {Freezer Meal}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatloaves are a kid-favorite and a great way to sneak in lots of extra nutrition!


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion (about one small onion)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot (about one carrot)
  • 1/2 cup shredded zucchini (squeeze out excess liquid with hands)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 1/4 lbs 99% fat free ground turkey
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs (or whole wheat panko)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup all natural ketchup, divided
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley, crushed in hand
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed in hand (or dried oregano)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a baking rack over the sheet (baking rack keeps bottoms from burning and allows drippings to fall below.) Grease baking rack generously with cooking spray.
  2. In a saucepan over medium to medium-high heat, sauté vegetables in 1 tablespoon olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Lightly season vegetables with salt and pepper to taste while they sauté. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a mixing bowl, using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine cooled vegetable mixture, ground turkey, egg, panko, 1/4 cup ketchup, broth, garlic powder, parsley, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Do not over mix.
  4. Gently scoop out a heaping, loosely packed 1/2 cup of meat mixture for each meatloaf. Gently form into a patty that’s evenly about 1 1/2 inches thick. Do not press down hard on mixture to avoid compacting it. Top each mini meatloaf with about 2 teaspoons ketchup, spreading around on top evenly.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the middle is no longer pink.

Notes

Freezer Meal Instructions:

To Freeze: Bake and let cool completely. Seal in freezer bag or container, squeezing out all the air. Freeze up to 2 months.

To Prepare: Thaw in refrigerator overnight and reheat in microwave, using a lower power setting, just until warmed through. Or if reheating from frozen, use the defrost setting on the microwave.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 meatloaf

Southwest Grilled Chicken Kabobs {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer
These Grilled Marinated Chicken Kabobs are one of our favorites for the grilling season. Make ahead and freeze before or after grilling!

You want a killer marinade that everyone will like? Give this baby a try. This Southwest-inspired marinade packs a little smokiness, just a hint of heat, and a salty punch. We love it, especially on these fast-cooking kabobs.

For juicy, tender bite-sized chicken that will please a crowd try these Southwest Grilled Chicken Kabobs.

Just chop up your chicken, throw it in a bag with the marinade, and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two. While it soaks up the flavor, sit your kabob sticks in some water so they don’t get obliterated on the grill.

These Grilled Marinated Chicken Kabobs are one of our favorites for the grilling season. Make ahead and freeze before or after grilling!

Then, all you have to do is quickly thread them on the sticks and grill away. This recipe only takes a few minutes on each side. The marinade would also be great on grilled veggie kabobs like peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes, and mushrooms. But, I prefer to cook them on separate kabob sticks, because they cook at a different pace than the meat.  

For juicy, tender bite-sized chicken that will please a crowd try these Southwest Grilled Chicken Kabobs.

As long as you don’t overcook these guys, you’ll end up with very moist, tasty pieces of meat. Serve them over rice, a salad, inside a taco, or on their own with some of your favorite sides.

For juicy, tender bite-sized chicken that will please a crowd try these Southwest Grilled Chicken Kabobs.
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Southwest Grilled Chicken Kabobs

Grilled Marinated Chicken Kabobs {Freezer Meal}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: Southwest

Description

These Grilled Marinated Chicken Kabobs with a southwest flare are one of our favorites for the grilling season. Make ahead and freeze before or after grilling!


Ingredients

  • ⅔ cup olive oil (or I like avocado oil b/c of it’s high smoke point)
  • ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar (sub: white vinegar) (Gluten-Free: Make sure your vinegar is gluten-free.)
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (sub: fresh parsley)
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, crush in hand
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients (except the chicken) in a large zip top bag and shake. Add chicken and shake again. Place bag in a dish and set in the refrigerator. Let chicken marinate for an hour or two, occasionally turning the bag to evenly distribute the marinade.
  2. While chicken marinates, place wooden kabob sticks in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling.
  3. Grill chicken kabobs over medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes per side. Chicken is done when you cut into it and there is no more pink. Do not overcook.

Notes

Freezer Meal Instructions: To Freeze: Place marinade and chicken in a freezer bag, shake, and freeze. To Prepare: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Grill according to directions.

Leftover Ham and Nine Bean Soup {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Cheap, rich and savory, and good for you too! This Ham and Bean Soup is a perfect winter comfort food. #freezermeal #realfood

Cooking within a tight grocery budget? Let me tell ya, this soup is the bomb. It’s not only cheap thanks to the beans, but it’s also very filling and boasts a rich savory flavor thanks to the ham. (Want to save even more? Try my equally delicious Ham and Bean Soup that’s even more budget-friendly due to only using a ham bone to flavor it.)

I created this new Ham and Bean Soup recipe after Thanksgiving as a way to use up the leftover ham for my Uncle Rich, who won’t touch turkey with a 10 foot pole. What makes this soup so simple is the use of a nine bean soup mix that you’ll find in the bean aisle of most grocery stores. Just be sure to follow the package directions, because YOU WILL NEED TO SOAK THE BEANS a few hours or even a day beforehand. That’s about the most complicated part of all this, which isn’t complicated at all. Soaking the beans just requires a wee bit of planning.

Cheap, rich and savory, and good for you too! This Ham and Bean Soup is a perfect winter comfort food. #freezermeal #realfood

Make this recipe before winter passes, because it’s one of those soups you need to sip on while watching the snow flakes fall outside your window. Add a hunk of crusty bread alongside it, and you’ll feel that all is right in the world for those 10 minutes. It’s true.

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Leftover Ham and Nine Bean Soup

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Cheap, rich in taste, savory, and good for you too! This Ham and Bean Soup is a perfect winter comfort food.


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 64 oz (2 cartons) salted chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 12 cups of ham steaks, cubed
  • 1 lb soup bean mix (Soak first according to package directions.)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lb bag of carrots, peeled and sliced

Instructions

  1. In a large stock pot, saute onions in olive oil. Add garlic, red pepper, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Add chicken stock, water, ham, beans, and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Lower heat, put on a lid (keep it tilted for venting), and simmer for 1 hour. Stir occasionally. Add more stock or water, if it reduces too much.
  3. Taste broth and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add carrots. Simmer another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove the bay leaves.
  5. Garnish a bowl of soup with some fresh chopped parsley. Serve with crusty bread.

Notes

Freezer Instructions:

To freeze:
Simply fully cook the soup, let it cool completely, and freeze in a BPA-free gallon freezer bag or other air-tight freezable container for up to 3 months.

To prepare:
Either thaw in the fridge overnight and warm up over low heat on the stovetop or in a crockpot.

What Should I Freeze My Meals In?

By Polly Conner

"What should I freeze my food in?" A collection of recommended, safe and durable freezer containers that you will use over and over again.

Note: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Read our full disclosure policy here.

Is it possible to be a freezer cooking evangelist?

If so, I imagine Rachel and I would slide right into the role. We are constantly talking about how freezer cooking saves time and money, how to start a freezer club, giving freezing instructions on all of our recipes, sharing tips and tricks on how to freeze certain vegetables, cheese, cookies, etc.  Heck, we’ve even created our own freezer cooking quiz.

Without intentionally meaning to do so, we have carved ourselves out a little freezer cooking niche in the blogland and as a result get thousands of visitors each day in search of healthy freezer meal recipes. We love it!

As we try to educate readers about freezer cooking and share tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way, one of the most common questions we have run into is, “What should I freeze my meals in?”

Good question.

Here are the qualities I want in freezer containers:

  • Reusable: I don’t want to have to keep buying them over and over again (i.e. Ziplocks, Gladware).
  • Quality: I want something that will last.
  • Safe: Containers that are free from BPA, PVC and PHTHALATES.
  • Easy to Stack: My freezer isn’t huge so I need containers that can stack easily.
  • Can Cook AND Store: Less dishes, less mess.
  • Affordable: Duh.

To be honest, until now we’ve had a hard time finding a product that met all of these criteria. I personally used a lot of gallon Ziplock bags which isn’t ideal at all, because they can leach chemicals when hot food is put into them.. We both have also used disposable Gladware dishes from time to time but the lids tend to crack and they are still made of plastic.

So what is the best way to store freezer meals? Ask no more, my friends — we have an answer!

freezer container collection

Away we go! Read more

Homemade Whole Wheat Egg Noodles

By Rachel Tiemeyer

These homemade whole wheat egg noodles are cheap, healthy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. All my favorites in one recipe!

Homemade whole wheat egg noodles - delicious and simple!

My 5-year-old daughter and I threw these together one afternoon in about 15 minutes. I know it looks fancy or difficult, but I ASSURE you that you can do this.

Check out just how easy it is to make Homemade Whole Wheat Egg Noodles…

Homemade whole wheat egg noodles - delicious and simple!

My kids took several helpings of the chicken noodle soup we made with these. And, the leftovers were even better the next day. We’ll be making them again soon!

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Homemade Whole Wheat Egg Noodles

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Mix and prep
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Homemade whole wheat egg noodles are delicious and simple! Make them from scratch and enjoy the fantastic flavor in Chicken Noodle Soup or as pasta with sauce on them.


Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups whole wheat flour (I recommend white whole wheat flour for lighter noodles.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup water, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Instructions

Make the Noodles:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Then, make a “well” in the middle using your finger.
  2. In a separate small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, water and olive oil. Pour this wet mixture into the “well” in the middle of the dry mixture. Stir with a spoon until the ingredients are mostly combined. Add a little more water if it is too crumbly and not coming together like a dough.
  3. Generously dust flour over a clean countertop. Dump the dough out onto the well floured surface and knead it with your hands a little bit to get the ingredients combined well. Form into a round disc-shaped dough ball. Sprinkle with a little more flour.
  4. Use a well floured rolling pin and roll out your noodle dough until it’s very thin, about 1/8 inch in thickness. If needed, add more flour under the dough to keep it from sticking to the counter. This is very important!
  5. Use a pizza cutter to cut long strips of noodles as thin or thick as you like and any length you like, but try to keep them a uniform size.

Cook the Noodles:

Simmer your homemade egg noodles in a big pot of salted water until noodles are fat and tender to the bite (aka al dente). Drain in a colander. Or, try using them directly in this Chicken Noodle Soup.

Store the Noodles for Later:

Option 1 (Freezing the Dough): After Step 3, place the dough in a freezer bag, seal, and freeze until ready to use. The dough will be good for about 3 months. When you’re ready to use it, thaw the dough in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours and following the instructions, beginning with Step 4.

Option 2: (Drying and Storing the Noodles): Complete the recipe through Step 5. Spread the cut noodles on a wire cooling rack and let dry for about 2 hours. Store in an air-tight container in the pantry for up to a month.

 

Mini Italian Burgers {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Moist and packed with Italian flavor, these Mini Italian Burgers will impress anyone from guests to the youngest eaters in your house. Freezing instructions included.

Moist and packed with Italian flavor, these Mini Italian Burgers will impress anyone from guests to the youngest eaters in your house.
Oh how I hate a boring, flavorless piece of meat. That’s why I’ve been making these Mini Italian Burgers for years. They are packed full of fresh flavor (and some added nutrition) thanks to the additions of Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, tomato paste, garlic and more.
Moist and packed with Italian flavor, these Mini Italian Burgers will impress anyone from guests to the youngest eaters in your house.
And, just recently I discovered how completely amazing these burgers are served on these easy, homemade Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns. I don’t know if I can go back to store-bought buns after these. They are inexpensive, healthier, and flat-out delicious. Although they don’t contain any preservatives, they also store well for a few days on the counter.
Moist and packed with Italian flavor, these Mini Italian Burgers will impress anyone from guests to the youngest eaters in your house.
Add some Roasted Asparagus, Oven Fries, and fresh fruit salad to the Mini Italian Burgers and you’ve got a family-pleaser! My kids and husband devoured this meal…

 

Moist and packed with Italian flavor, these Mini Italian Burgers will impress anyone from guests to the youngest eaters in your house.
These raw burgers also freeze well. So, save yourself some money by buying ground beef in bulk and save yourself some time by simply doubling and freezing an extra batch of these for later. Freezer meal instructions are included below.
Moist and packed with Italian flavor, these Mini Italian Burgers will impress anyone from guests to the youngest eaters in your house.
If you like these simple, delicious burgers, you’ll love our cookbook called From Freezer to Table that is packed full of healthy, family-friendly freezer meals. You can make all the recipes as either a fresh meal or into a freezer meal. We show you how to feed your family healthy, homemade food all while saving time, money, and stress. This book is filled with our families’ favorite recipes all in one ultimate resource. Watch this 60 second peek inside our cookbook…
 
 
Now, ready to whip up some mini burgers (and make an extra batch for later)?
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Mini Italian Burgers Recipe

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 8 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 46 (8 sliders) 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Moist and packed with Italian flavor, these Mini Italian Burgers will impress anyone from guests to the youngest eaters in your house. Freezing instructions included.


Ingredients

  • 1 1/21 3/4 pounds ground beef (I prefer grass-fed)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 mini buns, sliced in half
  • 4 slices Provolone or mozzarella cheese, cut in half
  • Optional toppings: lettuce, tomato slices, mayonnaise, ketchup

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Preheat a greased skillet over medium heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill.
  2. Place the ground beef, garlic, parsley, Parmesan, tomato paste, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Using clean hands, combine the ingredients until they are all well-incorporated into the beef, taking care not to compress the ingredients. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  3. Shape the meat into 8 small patties of equal size and thickness.
  4. Place the burgers on the grill or in the pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes each side, until cooked through.
  5. Top each warm burger with a half slice of cheese and serve on buns with preferred toppings.

Freeze For Later: Complete Steps 2 and 3. Then, place uncooked burgers in a gallon-sized freezer bag or container in single layers with parchment paper between layers. Put the buns in another gallon-sized freezer bag. Wrap cheese slices tightly in plastic wrap or foil and place in the bag with the buns. Freeze the burgers, cheese slices, and buns together in the freezer as a meal kit.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw in refrigerator overnight (preferred method) or using the cool water method (submerge freezer bag with the burgers in cold water until thawed, replacing water every 30 minutes). Cook according to instructions.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1-2 sliders
From Freezer to Table Cookbook

How to Start a Freezer Club (and Why You Should)

By Rachel Tiemeyer
A thorough guide about how to start your own time-saving, money-saving Freezer Club from a mom who did it for 7 years!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means we get a small commission if you make a purchase through one at no additional cost to you. Read more here.

Tight budget? Want to eat healthy meals at home regularly? No time to cook homemade meals during the week? I’ve got the answer for you: Start a Freezer Club.

Before having kids, I worked a full-time job with irregular hours. Dinner at home was the exception rather than the rule, unfortunately. Soon after quitting my full-time job to stay home with my first child (when the budget was much tighter!), my friend Darcie asked if I wanted to join her Freezer Club. After hearing what it was, I decided to give Freezer Club a try. Seven years later, we’re still going strong. And, now I’m a HUGE proponent of freezer meal cooking. I’d love to tell you more about my group, why I love it, and how to start a Freezer Club of your own.

What is a Freezer Club?

A Freezer Club is a small group of friends (anywhere from 2-8 people) who commit to cooking freezer-friendly meals for one another each month. (Take a moment and READ THIS if you’re unfamiliar with freezer meal cooking and wondering how it works.) My friends and I began our Freezer Club in 2007 and never looked back. Our local news station did a story on our Freezer Club several years ago. The clip will give you more of the story behind our group.

Our Freezer Club has had varying amounts of women in it over the years. Now days, I just swap with two of my good friends. Although I loved the days of bringing home 12 pre-made meals in one night, we find our smaller, more low-key group to be more manageable. However you decide to structure your Freezer Club, I think you’ll find it to be really fun and helpful!

Why Start a Freezer Club?

There are so many advantages to freezer meal cooking. These advantages are multiplied when you work together with like-minded friends. If we were sitting down for a cup of coffee and I was trying to convince you to start your own group, these would be my bullet points:

1 – Save money. By meal planning and buying in bulk, you’ll see your grocery bill go down significantly. Plus, for our family, knowing I have ready-to-go meals within reach keeps us from spending money by eating out. It’s hard to say for sure how much we save, but I’d wager to say it’s at least $100-200 a month by cooking this way even part of the time.

2 – Save time. By planning your shopping trip, you’ll cut down on all those little stops by the store during the week. You’ll also cut down on your prep and cooking time each month by preparing the same one or two meals in a large batch.

3 – Have healthy meals always on hand. If your Freezer Club is committed to a “real food philosophy” like ours (see “What makes for a healthy freezer meal?” in this post), you’ll be giving your family a wide variety of wholesome, nutrient-dense meals and NOT processed junk.

4 – Help others. A bonus to freezer meal cooking is that it’s easy to have meals on hand to take to new parents or someone in need, too. Over the years, our Freezer Club has collectively given many new moms, people in a crisis, and even a man recently released from prison some extra freezer meals to bake or warm up at their convenience.

how to start a freezer club

5 – It’s fun! Before paring down to my simpler Freezer Club group (just me and my two friends), I would meet with about 6-8 other gals every five weeks for our Freezer Club meetings for years. Those meetings were a blast! We had coffee, wine, snacks, and caught up at someone’s house. Then, we got to share recipes and chat about food, all while accomplishing a monthly meal plan. To top it all off, I came home each time and filled my freezer to the brim with pre-prepared healthy meals. The perfect night out if you ask this stay-at-home mom.

How Does a Freezer Club Work?

Step 1: Our Freezer Club comes up with a meal plan in advance over email. We used to do this at a once-a-month meeting but just don’t have time now. We each send about 3-5 recipes ideas out to our group and then we each vote for the ones we’d prefer from each person. We try to make sure there is variety in the menu plan, including some beef, chicken, pasta, seafood, soup, etc. You can cook one, two or even more meals for each other each month. Right now, my small Freezer Club group cooks one to two meals for each other depending on our schedules.

Step 2: We each cook our assigned meals on our own time, making sure that each family gets at least four servings of the selected recipe. Then, put it in the freezer until you’re ready to swap. To give you an idea of prep time, when I’ve made a meal for six families (that includes mine), it usually takes me about 2-3 hours from start to clean-up depending on the recipe.

how to start a freezer club

Step 3: Put a label on top of the meal, including the name, date prepared, who prepared it (in case they have questions), and directions for what to do with it after thawed (i.e. “Bake at 350 for 20 minutes” or “Warm on low on the stove.”). We have some super cute Freezer Meal Labels for only $1.99 here. Use them again and again.

Step 4: We swap our meals about once a month. You can meet at a friends’ house for dessert and drinks, meet up for coffee or dinner out, or just run the meals by each others’ houses when you’re out (not as fun!).

Are you ready to start a Freezer Club? Intrigued at least? Then you will need to think through these…

Questions to Ask Before Starting a Freezer Club

If you have some friends interested in starting a Freezer Club, it’s important to set up some ground rules from the beginning to make things run smoothly and to avoid frustration later. The bigger your group is, the more vital this becomes. Believe me. Our group learned this through trial and error, so I’m saving you a lot of headaches. Here are some questions to get you started:

What are our top food values? For instance, our group decided that we want to cook using “real food” ingredients and avoid processed ingredients as much as possible. We also try to use local or hormone-free/antibiotic-free meats. Other possible values: cost-effective, kid-friendly, healthy (and discuss what you mean by healthy!), or simply tasty. It’s important to have a discussion upfront with your group about what is most important to each of you when it comes to feeding your family.

How many meals will we make for one another each round? When I was in a bigger group we usually made two meals every 5 weeks. Now I usually make one per month with my two friends. You have to decide what works best for you in your phase of life.

How often will we swap meals? Every 4 weeks? 6 weeks? It can change during busier seasons, of course.

How much will we spend on our meals? Every group is different when it comes to figuring out meal cost, but it’s an important topic to discuss up front. Here are a few options to consider:

1 – Everyone polices themselves. This is how our group operated. So, if I did a more expensive meal one month, I would plan to do a cheaper meal the next. As a group, we tried to rotate who did the salmon and steak meals, for instance, since they were usually more expensive. This option also allows people who are thrifty shoppers to use their talent and not feel constrained by meeting a minimum cost.

2 – Set a cost range that members should think in terms of most months. We found that most of our meals were about $8-12, since we used local and organic ingredients.

3 – Have everyone bring their grocery store receipts, tally up the group cost at your meeting, and divide out equally. The upside is that cost is always even for everyone. The downside is that it takes a LOT of work and someone will inevitably forget their receipts or lose them. There’s also the occasional complications of people who purchase a side of beef for the freezer or those who grow some of their own ingredients, for instance. Figuring out exact cost can become tedious. I wouldn’t personally recommend this method. But, hey, if you’re a super administrative and love drowning in details as a group, then feel free! 🙂

How will we create our menu? Will we choose our meals at a face-to-face meeting? Over email? Using a Google Doc? Will each person be responsible for bringing at least four recipe ideas to the group to discuss and pick from, for example?

How many servings should each meal be? Our group has always done four servings for each family, since the majority of recipes make 4-8 servings. We even went so far as to create Freezer Club Guidelines & Reminders, a Google doc which you can download and use if you like, with some portion guidelines for certain kinds of meals (i.e. burger meals should contain four 1/4 lb burgers, chicken meals are 1.5 lbs of meat, tilapia should include 6 filets, etc.). The reason we did this is that often recipes vary when it comes to what a portion size actually is. When in doubt, though, we try to be generous with portions.

What kind of containers will we swap meals in? We highly recommend using a BPA-free container or dish. While it may be easier to buy the disposable foil containers, it might make sense for your group to invest in some quality, safe dishes that you can freeze AND bake in. After searching long and hard, I highly recommend using this container:

8×8 Glass Baking Dish with TrueFit Lid

A few reasons I like this pan:

  1. Glass is a natural, non-porous material.
  2. Glass cookware doubles as food storageware.
  3. Glass is easy to clean and dishwasher safe.
  4. The clear lid allows easy visibility to your food.
  5. Because they are oven and microwave proof, you can cook, heat, and store your food all in one dish.
  6. Flat top allows for easy stacking.
  7. They are affordable.

A few other freezer meal storage options are…

BPA-free freezer zip-top bags* – These work well for some frozen foods, like meat in marinades, muffins, and even soups. They do not work so well for casseroles.

Disposable aluminum pans with lids – These are particularly helpful when making a frozen meal to give away to a friend or someone in need, but aluminum can react to acidic food (like tomato sauce) and leave a unwelcome taste behind. So, we do not recommend using these for long-term storage most of the time.

*Important Note: Be sure to let your foods cool completely before putting them in plastic containers to avoid chemicals being released into your food.

Who will be the administrator? The larger your group is, the more helpful it is to have one person to be the administrator. This person will keep track of who is making what meal, keep the meeting moving along, send out email reminders, etc. You can even rotate who does this everyone once in a while.

how to start a freezer club

How will we evaluate meals? Our group determined early on to be really open to feedback each month. This is the only way to get better at what you’re doing and determine which meals are the very best freezer meals. To evaluate, we decided to vote at each meeting about the previous month’s meals and simply say if we want them again or not (or offer suggestions to make a meal work better next time, if we thought it had future potential). It sounds hardcore, I know. But, we all understood that everyone has different preferences and that we all have flops from time to time. The advantage of evaluating is that you can remake the successful ones again and again. The Google Doc we used to vote and keep track of our “successes” is our Homerun List, which you are welcome to download (just click HERE) and use.

Where Can We Find Freezer Meal Recipes That Work for a Freezer Club?

We wrote a cookbook just for you called From Freezer to Table, where we lay out the basics of freezer cooking, how to start a Freezer Club, and include 75+ of our favorite freezer meals recipes.

Rachel and Polly with cookbook

Every recipe in our book is well-tested, made with whole food ingredients, and family-friendly. We’re proud to say we’ve now sold over 16,000 copies and it still ranks as 5-stars on Amazon. We know you’ll love it! Take a peek inside here…

Buy our cookbook here now.

We also have a large collection of family-friendly, easy freezer meals right HERE on Thriving Home for you. 

70+ healthy freezer meals with instructions. Recipes your family will actually eat! |Thriving Home

Motivated to start a Freezer Club now? Questions about starting a Freezer Club? I’m happy to help! Please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to respond quickly.

*I am indebted to my friends Darcie and Carla for helping start, guide, and keep our Freezer Club going for so many years. This post would NOT be possible without their wisdom and friendship.

Meatballs with Sneaky Veggies {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer
Delicious meatballs with sneaky nutrition. Makes a great, flavorful freezer meal!

These meatballs are full of flavor and packed with sneaky nutrition thanks to the finely chopped carrot, onion, garlic, and parsley. Our entire family loves them!

Delicious meatballs with sneaky nutrition. Makes a great, flavorful freezer meal!

When I make these, I usually double the recipe and freeze half of them for future lunches or dinners. They make such a great freezer meal!

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Meatballs with Sneaky Veggies {Freezer Meal}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 15 (1 1/2 inch) meatballs 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

These delicious meatballs are packed with sneaky nutrition. Makes a great, flavorful freezer meal!


Ingredients

  • 1 medium carrot, finely shredded or minced in food processor
  • ½ small onion, finely chopped or minced in food processor
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (by hand or in food processor)
  • ⅓ cup fresh loosely packed parsley, finely chopped or minced in food processor
  • ½ cup fresh, finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (How to make your own)
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cover a sheet pan that has sides or a 9×13 casserole dish with parchment paper or foil for easy clean-up.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the carrot, onion, garlic, parsley, Parmesan, egg, bread crumbs, ketchup, salt and pepper.
  3. Mix in the ground beef. Use your hands to combine well.
  4. Roll meat mixture into meatballs, using about 2 tablespoons of mixture per meatball. They will be about 1½ inches in diameter. Place on sheet pan, leaving a little room between each one.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cooked through. Cut one open and make sure there is no pink in the middle to assure doneness. Internal temp should be 160 degrees F.

Freeze For Later:

Option 1 (Uncooked Meatballs): Follow steps 1-4. Store uncooked meatballs in a freezer bag or container in a single layer. Or, if stacking meatballs in a container, divide single layers with parchment paper. Seal and freeze.

Option 2 (Fully Cooked Meatballs): Follow Steps 1-5. Let cool. Freeze the cooked meatballs in a freezer bag or container in a single layer. Or, if stacking meatballs in a container, divide single layers with parchment paper.

Prepare From Frozen:

Option 1 (Uncooked Meatballs): Thaw the uncooked meatballs. Follow Step 1. Bake according to directions in Step 5. Or, if cooking directly from frozen, increase baking time by about 30 minutes (total baking time will be about 50 minutes); cover with foil if they are getting too brown on the outside.

Option 2 (Fully Cooked Meatballs): When ready to cook the fully-cooked meatballs, thaw in the refrigerator. Warm up over low to medium-low heat on the stove in some marinara sauce. If you warm frozen meatballs in sauce it will take longer, so stir continually so sauce doesn’t scorch. Another option, although not the preferred method, is to warm frozen meatballs by themselves in the microwave in 30 second increments until warmed through, being careful not to overcook. Lastly, you can warm up the meatballs in marinara sauce in the slow cooker over Low heat for about 2-3 hours.

Use them to make our Healthier Meatball Sub Sandwiches or serve on top of some whole wheat spaghetti with our Homemade Marinara Sauce.

Looking for more ground beef recipes?

Check out our Top 10 Ground Beef Freezer Meals!

Ground Beef Freezer Meals

Chicken Piccata {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Chicken Piccata - try this light, flavorful, French-inspired twist on baked chicken.

Chicken Piccata might very well be my absolute favorite way to eat chicken. It is simple French cuisine at it’s best.

Lemons provide a vibrant citrus base for the sauce, giving this dish a light, bright feel. The butter–oh the butter!–lends a velvety richness to the sauce that perfectly balances the acidity of the lemon juice and white wine. With each bite, you get crunchy breading, tender chicken inside, and a burst of flavor from the sauce. It’s worth the work!

Chicken Piccata - try this light, flavorful, French-inspired twist on baked chicken.

This recipe was a winner with my family and is probably my favorite Freezer Club meal we’ve had so far. I often serve it on top of whole wheat angel hair pasta, but tonight we had it with Basic Roasted Vegetables. Unforgettable.

Chicken Piccata Recipe - try this light, flavorful, French-inspired twist on baked chicken.

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Chicken Piccata Recipe

Chicken Piccata

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Chicken Piccata – try this light, flavorful, French-inspired twist on baked chicken. It is sure to become a family favorite.


Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I buy organic or Smart Chicken)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 extra-large eggs (preferably organic or local)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/2 cups panko or whole wheat bread crumbs
  • Good quality olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
  • 1 cup dry white wine (choose one that you’d drink)
  • Sliced lemon, for serving
  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick.
  3. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
  4. Mix the flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate.
  5. On a second plate, beat the eggs and 1 tablespoon of water together.
  6. Pour out the bread crumbs onto a third plate.
  7. Dip each chicken breast in the flour, then shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.
  8. Coat the bottom of a large saute pan with a thin layer of olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) and heat over medium to medium-low heat. Add two of the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan.
  9. Wipe out the pan and add more olive oil to coat the bottom.
  10. Saute the remaining two chicken breasts for 2 minutes on each side. Place on the sheet pan with the others.
  11. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce. (Check for doneness by making sure there is no more pink inside the chicken breast.)
  12. For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel.
  13. Over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2-3 minutes.
  14. Turn off the heat, add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine.
  15. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate.
  16. Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

Notes

Freezer Meal Directions:
To Freeze:
After basting chicken breasts in the egg and bread crumb mixture, transfer chicken to a freezer safe container. Store chicken breasts up to 2 months in freezer. Prepare sauce as directed and put in freezer safe container.
To Prepare:
Let chicken and sauce thaw in refrigerator overnight or for several hours. Saute chicken breasts in small amount of olive oil on stovetop for approximately 2 minutes per side. Then transfer to baking dish and cook for 5-10 minutes at 400 degrees. Spoon on the sauce and add additional parsley for garnishing.

Italian Sausage & Tortellini Soup {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup. Comfort food that is bursting with flavor. This recipe is really filling to so it is great for large families for for large groups. Such a delicious, healthy soup recipe that is freezer friendly! | Thriving Home

My husband begs me to make this soup in the fall.  It’s got depth of flavor and interesting textures and is even better as leftovers.

This soup freezes well. Just follow the Freezer Meal directions at the bottom of the recipe.

Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup. Comfort food that is bursting with flavor. This recipe is really filling to so it is great for large families for for large groups. Such a delicious, healthy soup recipe that is freezer friendly! | Thriving Home
 ht: Christine S for the original recipe that I tweaked

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Italian Sausage & Tortellini Soup

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 servings 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup will keep your family’s tummies full and cozy. Prepare yourself for unbeatable flavor packed into a delicious, hearty soup.


Ingredients

  • 16 oz. mild Italian sausage, crumbled and browned
  • 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
  • ½ tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, minced (or add to the soup whole and you can pull it out later)
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 celery rib, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (14 oz. non-marinated) cans quartered artichoke hearts (liquid and all)
  • 1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes (liquid and all)
  • 1 (28 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 cans French Onion Soup
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I used 1 box)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 package frozen cheese multi-colored tortellini (I used Trader Joe’s tortellini)

Instructions

  1. In a large stock pot over medium high heat, brown Italian sausage until cooked through. Add seasonings to the sausage. Set aside.
  2. Over medium high heat, saute onion, carrots, celery, and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Add cooked sausage, artichoke hearts, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, French Onion Soup, broth, corn, and bay leaves to the pot and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
  4. Add tortellini and cook according to package directions just a few minutes before serving.
  5. Remove bay leaves and serve with Parmesan cheese on top.

Notes

Freezer Meal Instructions:

To Freeze: Stop cooking the soup before adding tortellini. Completely cool the soup and place in a freezer bag or container. Squeeze out all air, seal tightly, and freeze. Place bag of frozen tortellini next to frozen soup to keep the meal together.

To Prepare: To reheat, thaw soup in the fridge but do not thaw the tortellini. In a stock pot, bring soup to a simmer on the stove over medium-high heat. Add tortellini and cook until done according to package directions. Serve as directed.

Chicken Noodle Soup {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. This veggie rich version is creamy, hearty, and oh-so comforting!
The kids and I wanted to make a meal and cards for a friend who was feeling under the weather today.  By the way, I’m learning (thanks to some amazing friends I have who do this) that serving others alongside my kids is the best way to teach them to think of others.  What’s more comforting to a sick friend than Homemade Chicken Noodle soup? We also delivered some Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread (below) and some fresh cut up fruit for her family.
Homemade wheat sandwich bread
My family and hers l-o-v-e-d this veggie-rich version of Chicken Noodle Soup.  I even subbed purple cabbage in for parsnips in the pot of soup pictured below, because I had it on hand! This recipe is creamy, hearty, and comforting, plus it’s easy to adapt. The keys are seasoning each step of the way, making a roux (instructions in the recipe), and using a good store-bought version of egg noodles or homemade ones (even better!).

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New and Improved Chicken Noodle Soup

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: America

Description

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. This veggie rich version is creamy, hearty, and oh-so comforting!


Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 cooked chicken breasts or 4 chicken thighs, diced (I use organic)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 34 medium organic carrots, chopped
  • 2 medium parsnips, chopped (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 34 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour (I used whole wheat; if using homemade noodles you do not need to add this)
  • 10 cups organic chicken broth (2 and 1/2 boxes or this Homemade Chicken Broth recipe)
  • about 9 ounces uncooked store-bought egg noodles (or the Homemade Whole Wheat Noodles on our site)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • fresh parsley, chopped (optional, for garnish)

Instructions

  1. In a large stock pot, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium to med-high heat.
  2. Season chicken with a bit of salt and pepper.
  3. Cook chopped chicken until no longer pink (maybe 4-5 minutes). Remove and set aside.
  4. Add 3 tablespoons oil. Throw onion, carrot, parsnip, celery, and garlic in and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until just tender, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Remove and set aside. (Cooking Note: You can skip this step and just add these veggies raw to the broth in Step 4, but this method infuses more flavor.)
  6. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour and a splash or two of chicken broth for about 2 minutes (until it forms a golden brown paste).
  7. Whisk in the rest of chicken broth a little at a time, making sure lumps don’t form. (Cooking Note: The point of this step is to cook the flour a bit and create a thickening paste to the broth. If you are using the Homemade Whole Wheat Egg Noodles from our Recipe Index, you can skip this step.)
  8. Add vegetables, bay leaves, basil, oregano, salt and pepper (go shy on this since you can add more at the end) and let simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  9. Add egg noodles and chicken. Bring back to a boil and turn down heat to a simmer.
  10. Cook noodles a little less than the package recommends, so you don’t overcook them. Or if you’re using fresh homemade egg noodles, simmer for about 20-25 minutes until noodles are fat and tender.
  11. Remove bay leaves and adjust seasoning as needed. Top with chopped parsley to garnish. Serve warm.

Notes

Freezer Meal Instructions:
To Freeze:
If you plan to freeze this recipe for later, cook your soup but be sure to under cook your noodles by a few minutes. Cool soup and freeze in a BPA-free freezer bag or air-tight freezable container for up to two months.
To Prepare:
When ready to eat, thaw in fridge overnight (or for several hours). Then, warm over low heat on the stove. You can also use the microwave.

Chicken Apple Bites {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Chicken and Apple Bites - perfect size for small hands!

Last night we tweaked and tried a new recipe that Jack (age 4) picked out from a cookbook called Perfect Food for After School. I made a few substitutions to make it healthier and more kid-friendly. We all really enjoyed these Chicken and Apple Bites. They remind me of the Mini Chicken Burgers recipe, except they are more moist, a little less tangy, and have a sweetness from the apple.

Chicken and Apple Bites are great for little hands to pick up and dip in ketchup.  My husband and I preferred to eat them in a mini burger form on a bun with cheddar cheese.  I will be making these again, as they led to a complaint-free meal!

Chicken and Apple Bites - perfect size for small hands!

Check out our list of 60+ Healthy Freezer Meals here or pin it here!

healthy freezer meals

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Chicken and Apple Bites

Chicken and Apple Bites

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 13 minutes
  • Yield: 20 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Chicken and Apple Bites – perfect size for small hands! There is a great flavor combination between the chicken and the sweet, tangy apples.


Ingredients

  • 2 small or 1 large apple, peeled, cored, and grated
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley or 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 cup fresh whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon chicken stock
  • 1/41/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • whole wheat flour, for coating
  • olive oil, for frying

Instructions

  1. Peel, core, and grate 2 small, or one large, apple.
  2. Spread the apple out on a clean dish towel and press out all the excess moisture.
  3. Put the grated apple, chicken, onion powder, parsley, breadcrumbs, chicken stock, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper in food processor and blend until well combined.
  4. Spread the flour out on a plate.
  5. With wet hands, divide the mixture into 20 mini portions.
  6. Shape each portion into a ball (or a mini burger using several of the portions) and then roll in the flour.
  7. Heat a little oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the balls for 5-8 minutes, rolling them occasionally so they brown on all sides.
  8. When done, they should be golden brown and juices should run clear (no pink inside).
  9. Remove and drain on paper towels.
  10. Serve hot (or cold for lunchbox).

Notes

Freezer Meal Directions:
To Freeze:
Roll into balls and coat with breadcrumb mixture. Then, freeze in airtight container for up to 2 months.
To Prepare:
When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or in the microwave on the defrost setting. Cook as directed.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 20 chicken and apple bites

Breakfast Cookies {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

breakfast cookies

I stayed up late last night making a new recipe called Breakfast Cookies, since I had to go to work early today and needed a quick, healthy breakfast.  They are packed with protein, potassium, fiber, and calcium, as well as being lower in sugar (and contains no refined sugar) and fat (and contains no saturated fat at all) than your average cookie or muffin.  That alone sold me on making them…but did they pass muster with my family?

breakfast cookie recipe

Reviews:

Me:  They aren’t as sweet or gooey as a traditional cookie, but they do taste good to me.  I feel great about feeding my family these, so this is definitely something I will make, freeze, and use as snacks and/or breakfast in the future. I really liked them combined with coffee! Also, hopefully something like this can quell my 2:00 p.m. sugar fix!

Kids:  L-O-V-E-D them. My son asked me about five different times, “Did you make me COOKIES for breakfast?”  He couldn’t believe his eyes, I guess.  My youngest daughter kept reaching for more and grunting.

My husband:  “They remind me of no-bake cookies, and those aren’t my favorite.  I probably would eat these in a pinch, but I don’t love them.”  (I could have told you he’d say this.  Oh well, at least the rest of us enjoyed them.)

Breakfast Cookie Recipe

Ingredients 

  • 2 large ripe bananas, mashed (about ¾ cup)
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter (chunky or regular)
  • ½ cup organic honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed  (Why eat flaxseed?)
  • ¼ cup nonfat dry milk powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • *optional: 1/2 cup raisins or craisins

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.  In a large bowl stir together banana, peanut butter, honey and vanilla.  In a small bowl combine oats, flour, flaxseed, milk powder, cinnamon and baking soda.  Stir the oat mixture into the banana mixture until combined.

Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop mounds of dough 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets.  Flatten and spread each cookie.

Bake, one sheet at a time, for 10 to 15 minutes or until browned.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months; thaw before serving.

breakfast cookies- freezer meal

Check out our recipe index for more healthy breakfast ideas!

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healthy breakfast cookies

Breakfast Cookies {Freezer Meal}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 12-15 cookies 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Wow your kids by making them breakfast cookies! Packed with fiber, potassium, and calcium, your family is sure to love these!


Ingredients

  • 2 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (chunky or regular)
  • 1/2 cup organic honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • optional: 1/2 cup raisins or craisins

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl stir together banana, peanut butter, honey and vanilla.
  4. In a small bowl combine oats, flour, flaxseed, milk powder, cinnamon and baking soda.
  5. Stir the oat mixture into the banana mixture until combined.
  6. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop mounds of dough 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Flatten and spread each cookie.
  7. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 10 to 15 minutes or until browned.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Store in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag for up to 3 days.
  10. – See more at: https://thrivinghomeblog.com/2010/01/breakfast-cookies/#sthash.u4RRDimx.dpuf

Notes

Freezer Directions:

To Freeze:
Store in airtight container or reusable bag for up to 2 months.

To Prepare:
Thaw overnight, or for several hours, before serving.