I promised my insights for freezer meals and apparently peaked the interest of many of my readers!
While I may not be the best expert on freezer meals, I do try to use them about once a week. My philosophy is, if I am already going through all the work to make some form of food, why not make a bit extra and stick it in the freezer for later? The extra effort is quite minimal compared to having to start all over from scratch. Plus, there is nothing greater than zero prep for dinner the night you pull it out. My kids actually get a bit more attention from mom on those nights :)
I generally stick to main dishes, like this tasty Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf, but I also do other foods as well. I know it isn't the best for the environment, but yes....I use disposable pans, bags and plastic wrap for my freezer meals. Please don't get after me about that. I don't have room in my cupboards for any more pans and containers! There are 8 of us stuffed into this little house here people!!!!
My favorite disposables are from Sam's Club because you can buy heavy foil lids to go with them, they are dirt cheap in bulk and much better quality than the dollar store!
So, if you haven't already noticed, I have begun including freezing instructions at the bottom of my recipes that are appropriate for the freezer. They are the bright pink instructions, so you can't miss them. Unless, of course, you are as color blind as my 12 year old....poor kid!
makes 1 regular sized loaf or 2 smaller loaves in foil pans
(recipe adapted from Joelen)
1 lb ground chicken or turkey
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 C fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2-3 cloves garlic finely minced
1 onion, grated
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 C fresh parmesan cheese
1/2 C pasta sauce
1/2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease loaf pan with spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic, onion, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. Lightly mix together with your hands, but do not over handle or it will get tough. Place into loaf pan and form into a loaf. Top the meatloaf with the pasta sauce.
3. Bake for 50-55 minutes, then remove to add the mozzarella cheese. Return to the oven to melt the cheese. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving so it won't fall apart.
**For gluten free, use gluten free bread to make your crumbs.
**For freezer meal, make as stated above, but divide into two small foil pans. Top with sauce, cover with foil and freeze. To serve, defrost in the fridge for one day, then bake as listed above, but reducing the time to about 40 minutes.