I spent my Labor Day weekend doing the opposite of what most people do- relax! Instead I decided to cook a bunch of freezer meals for after we have the baby. I have been wanting to do this for a while since I know that my future self will be very thankful for it. Now that we are about three weeks away from my due date and settled into our new house, I thought it was a good time to do it!
Here’s what was on the menu for my marathon cooking weekend:
- Vegetable Lasagna
- Garden Zucchini Cakes
- Red Lentil Enchiladas (from the Peas & Thank You cookbook)
- Three Bean Chili
The first dinner I made was vegetable lasagna, based off the recipe that I linked to above. I did make a few modifications to it though. First, I included a bunch of additional vegetables like zucchini, yellow squash, and extra peppers. I love veggies!
I sauteed the veggies until they were soft and then added in the marinara and basil.
Another modification I made was adding some spinach into the ricotta/mozzarella/egg mixture for some extra nutrients!
Then came the fun part- layering! I used disposable foil baking dishes for easy clean-up (you’re welcome, future self). I cooked the lasagna noodles first, then did a layer of sauce, noodles, ricotta & spinach, then sauce & veggies.
In the recipe it says to put a layer of parmesan cheese on next, but I left it out because I felt that it had enough cheese between the ricotta and mozzarella. I’ve made this before and I definitely didn’t miss the parmesan. I repeated these layers three times. The recipe says two layers, but I had way too much for only two! Finally, I topped the lasagna with a layer of mozzarella cheese. I was worried about it being okay in the freezer so I tried to wrap it up well. I covered the top with a layer of saran wrap.
Then folded down the foil that I had put down in the baking pan…
Covered with another layer of foil…
And one final layer on top. I also marked what it was and the date that I made it for easy reference.
One meal- DONE! Next up were the Garden Zucchini Cakes. I have made these before and Kevin and I both loved them. We ate them by themselves, on a bun like a veggie burger, and on top of a salad. I knew these would be a great versatile freezer meal to have on hand.
The first thing I did was grated up onion and zucchini in the food processor (I love this machine!)
I used more onion than the recipe said to use, and probably more zucchini too. I am not the best at following recipes. I like to modify things and adjust as I go. Oh well, it all worked out! Next I added the rest of the ingredients- panko bread crumbs, egg, mayo, Old Bay, and flour, and mixed it all together.
I formed patties that were about 2.5 inches in diameter and cooked them in a pan that I sprayed with an olive oil Misto.
This is what they look like when I flipped them after a few minutes. I made sure not to touch them while they cooked so that they would stay together and not fall apart!
I continued this process until I had used up all of the zucchini mixture. It made 10 patties for me. They looked golden brown and delicious!
Once they cooled I wrapped them individually in saran wrap, then put them all in a freezer bag.
2 meals down- 2 to go! Next up, Red Lentil Enchiladas. This is one of our favorite meals ever and it’s from the Peas and Thank You cookbook. I started by chopping up some onion and jalapeno. I actually made double of this recipe because we were having it for dinner that night too.
I rinsed off some red lentils…
And put them into a saucepan along with the onion, jalapeno, water, and enchilada sauce.
While the lentils were cooking I prepared another disposable baking dish by lining it with foil and putting some enchilada sauce on the bottom.
When the lentils had finished cooking I stirred in some cilantro (another one of my favorite things!)
Then I put the lentil mixture inside flour tortillas, rolled them up and laid them in the baking pan. The one on the left is the one that we ate for dinner and the one on the right is what we froze.
I topped the enchiladas with more sauce and some cheese, then wrapped them up like I wrapped up the lasagna.
I made the chili the next day. Like the lasagna, I added a bunch of extra veggies to bulk it up and make it more nutritious. Instead of using just green peppers and onions like the recipe calls for, I added some yellow squash, carrots, yellow and orange bell peppers, and corn. I started by cooking the veggies to soften them.
Then I threw the veggies, rinsed and drained beans and corn, tomato paste, vegetable broth, fire roasted tomatoes into the crock pot. I also put in chili powder, cumin, pepper, and corn meal as a thickener.
This is what it looked like at 9 p.m. when I turned on the crock pot…
And this is what it looked like the next morning when I woke up!
It looked and smelled so good! I let it cool for a while then put it into tupperware containers to freeze. I made jalapeno cornbread muffins a couple of weeks ago that are still in the freezer, so we will have those with the chili when it’s time to eat!
The previous owners of our house left an extra refrigerator in the basement for us, which we use for extra food storage and Kevin’s beer. This freezer is now stocked with some delicious meals that we can’t wait to eat! As well as some Patron that I can’t wait to drink 🙂 I missed my tequila over the last 9 months!
Last but not least, I had to make some sort of dessert! Except these weren’t for freezing. There is no way they would last very long anyway. I made Reese’s peanut butter cup cookies! They were SO GOOD!
It feels so good to know that these meals are made and waiting in the freezer for when we need them. I know that it will be so nice to be able to pull one out, throw it in the oven or microwave, and eat from it for a few days. Luckily we love leftovers, and we LOVE food that is convenient and healthy at the same time. Plus, all these meals are perfect for fall- my favorite season 🙂
What are your favorite freezer meals? Do you have any more suggestions for things we can make ahead of time? I would love to hear them and make more!