Eat at Home Habit #3 – Stock Your Freezer

We’re in the midst of a series on 7 Habits of Eating at Home. The first week we talked about working your meal plan around your calendar instead of the other way around. And last week we shared some quick and simple grocery shopping tips.

Today is all about how to stock your freezer, with links to our recent series and all kinds of recipes and ideas to simplify life. And when the dinner hour is simplified so that there’s less stress involved in getting dinner ready, then family time can really be enjoyed around the table!

Habit #3 – Stock Your Freezer

We talk a lot about stocking the freezer here on the blog because it’s such a great way to ensure you’ve got dinner covered, even if your day doesn’t go as planned.  It really puts my mind at ease to know I have options, and I can’t tell you how many times having a freezer meal or protein I can grab and go.


If you are brand new to the idea of freezer cooking, don’t let that stop you! It’s a great way to maximize your time and effort and it is so rewarding–and simple, too! This post covers all the basics and will get you started on the right track.  Last month we talked about

Last month we talked about cooking meats for your freezer using the Instant Pot. If you have a pressure cooker, using it to cook up batches of meat to freeze is a GREAT way to get a head start on dinnertime.  You can also prep and bulk cook meats in your slow cooker!

Here’s one of my favorite things, though. Every month as part of the Slow Cooker plan, Eat at Home Meal Plan members get recipes for 6 meals that can be assembled in an hour, then frozen to use in the slow cooker later. I absolutely love having these recipes and a plan made out for me. My freezer is almost always stocked with something now, and I love having options! The freezer meals have saved dinner more times than I can count.

If you are curious about what the freezer plans are like, I cooked through the May Slow Cooker Freezer plan on Facebook Live.  You can watch the video here and see what I made and what a freezer cooking day looks like.

This post about making 7 Slow Cooker meals in 1 hour  and this older one of 6 slow cooker recipes in an hour are always favorite resource of mine and of many of you on the blog. These recipes are delicious, and some of our family favorites so it’s no wonder these posts are so popular!

Ready to get started on your own freezer cooking adventure? Enjoy it and the peace of mind it brings when it comes to making dinner time easy!

Here are some other posts on freezer cooking that you may find helpful.

How to Cook Turkey for the Freezer in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

Welcome back to our next post in the Cooking Meat for the Freezer in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker! If you happened to miss last week’s post you can catch up by clicking on this link: How to Cook Beef for the Freezer in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker.

This week we’ll be sharing some tips and recipes focusing on turkey. And just in case you didn’t know, turkey is great every month of the year, not just in November.

One of the beautiful things about turkey is that you can easily use it in place of chicken in so many recipes. It allows for a slight change of pace and it’s really easy to cook up lots of it to freeze ahead and add to recipes in a flash.

You will want to consider using a smaller turkey, or cutting it up before cooking because they are so much larger than chicken and typically will not fit in an instant pot whole.

How to Cook Turkey for the Freezer in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

The Instant Pot Pressure Cooker is a great way to cook a turkey breast.  Be warned though – a whole turkey won’t fit inside a pressure cooker, unless it’s very small.  You’ll want to use a turkey breast or boneless turkey roast instead.

Add at least 2 cups of water or more.  You can also add onions, celery, salt, pepper and other seasonings as you like.

Turkey cook times:

  • Boneless turkey roast: 15-20 minutes thawed or 30-35 minutes frozen
  • Turkey breast with bones: 25-30 minutes thawed or 40-50 minutes frozen

Here’s a quick video for you with tips for cooking a turkey breast in your pressure cooker.

Ideas for using frozen cooked turkey

Substitute the chicken in any of these for Turkey cooked in the instant pot.

Turkey Broccoli Picnic Pita Pockets

How to cook turkey for the freezer in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

Creamy Turkey Florentine Quesadillas

White Enchiladas

How to cook turkey for the freezer in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

15 Minute Skillet Turkey Curry

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

How to cook turkey for the freezer in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

Easy Turkey and Tortellini  Kale Soup – substitute turkey for the chicken in this recipe.

Turkey Casserole

How to cook turkey for the freezer in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

Quick and Easy Chipotle Turkey Bowls

Mandarin Turkey and Rice Bake

How to cook turkey for the freezer in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

Easy Turkey Alfredo Pasta Bake

Get more ideas for recipes you can swap Chicken for Turkey in this post of 30 ways to use up leftover Thanksgiving Turkey.  And then there’s also this post 10 Recipes to Use Costco Rotisserie Chicken (or Leftover Turkey) and you’ll find even more ideas for using turkey in this post Ingredient Spotlight: How to Use Leftover Turkey

Tips for freezing cooked turkey

  • Zip top freezer bags, freezer tape and a sharpie or two are your best friends here. Since cooked turkey can be frozen for 3 to 4 months, you’ll want to label each bag and include the date it was cooked.
  • A good rule of thumb is about 3 cups of cooked turkey per bag. If you have a specific recipe in mind for your turkey, you’ll find some good ones listed in the next section, then include further prep instructions and sides that you may want to add.
  • Be sure to cool your cooked turkey before sealing it in the zip top bags to prevent ice build up and freezer burn.
  • If you are new to pressure cooking and the instant pot, check out my honest review of two brands I own, the Instant Pot vs. Cuisinart

What are you cooking in your Instant Pot?

If you own an instant pot, what meats have you already cooked in yours? And if it’s still on your wish list, where would you start? New appliances can be a bit intimidating, but hopefully, you’ll find enough inspiration here to tackle you Instant Pot and be an expert in no time.

If you’re already enjoying your Instapot, then you’ll want to check out my 10 Best Instant Pot Accessories post to see how you can do even more with your new appliance.

And for those of you still dreaming of your Instant Pot, you can use your slow cooker in the meantime. Whichever method you choose, having your meats already cooked and frozen sure does cut down the time and stress of fixing dinner.

We’ll have more meats, tips and recipes for you in the coming weeks, so be sure to check back.

Instant Pot Beans for the Freezer

I’ve been making this recipe for years in the slow cooker.  It’s one of my favorites, because you get a lot of bang for your buck and for your time.  But using the Instant Pot Beans for the freezer recipe makes it both easy and fairly quick for cooking beans. [Read more…]

Cheddar Chive Freezer Biscuits

Cheddar Chive Freezer Biscuits

Cheesy biscuits in the freezer, ready to bake for dinner?  Now, that’s a great short cut for cheaters!

These Cheddar Chive Freezer Biscuits are simple to make and freeze really well. I serve them with so many dishes: chili, soups, chicken pot pie, pork and ham. My family loves it when I bake up enough that I have leftovers the next day. I cut the leftover biscuits in half and use them for bread in ham sandwiches. Quite delicious!

To form the biscuits, I drop them on cookie sheets using a soup spoon out of my silverware set. Using this method, I tend to get 18 biscuits out of the recipe. I usually bake 9 right away, then freeze the other 9. I love it because I can serve hot biscuits for two different dinners but only have to wash the dishes once!

To freeze these biscuits, line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Then drop the biscuits onto the waxed paper. Freeze for one hour. Remove frozen biscuits from the baking sheet and store in a freezer bag, making sure to squeeze out as much air as possible.

Helpful hint: I always mark the bag with the temperature and the cooking time. That way, when I pull out the bag, I know I need to bake the biscuits at 425 for 15 – 18 minutes.

Cheddar Chive Freezer Biscuits

Serves: 18 biscuits

Ingredients
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Whisk together flour, Cheddar, chives, salt, baking soda, and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk and eggs. Stir until flour mixture just until all ingredients are wet.
  4. Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake until golden, between 15 and 18 minutes.

Hot cheddar chive biscuits are comfort food at its best! How will you serve them?

Andrea has been married to Peter for 20 years, and together they have two teenage daughters. Struggling with the reality that soon her girls will be on her own, she is leaving them vlogs at 101 Life Lessons. You can also find her at The Greenbacks Gal where she finds organic deals, green steals and cooks real food meals.

Freezer Cooking – Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Storing Food in the Freezer

Have you ever wanted to try Freezer Cooking but not been sure exactly how to do it? Alison, an Eat at Home reader, sent me an email asking a few questions about how to store food in the freezer.  She’s hoping to stock up her freezer to help get ready for a new baby.  I thought I would answer her questions here in a post since others may have the same questions. Freezer cooking really is a smart way to make sure that no matter what goes on, you always have a plan b. This is my easy guide to how I stock up my freezer and save myself a lot of stress when life gets crazy.

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Freezer Cooking Supplies

There are a few items you will want to have on hand to store foods in the freezer. Before you start any big freezer cooking day, make sure you have stocked up on all of these so you don’t have to worry about it when you’re in the cooking zone! 

[Read more…]

Chicken Lettuce Wraps – Freezer Cooking Recipe

The filling for these lettuce wraps is perfect for making ahead and freezing.  I see this becoming one of my vacation food recipes.

The chicken is seasoned with garlic, soy sauce and some vinegar.  Water chestnuts and green onions add to the flavors.  I based the recipe on Spicy Garlic Chicken Pizza, another winning freezer recipe.

The chicken filling would also be great served over rice, but we liked the crunch of the lettuce.

Any recipe that calls for cutting raw chicken will require a sharp knife.  My favorite knife comes from Rada Cutlery.  It’s called Cook’s Knife and it costs just $9.20.  Frugal and sharp – I love it!

Here’s what you’ll need for the Chicken Lettuce Wraps: [Read more…]

Freezer Meatballs – extra large batch

88 meatballs.  That’s a lot of meatballs to stash away in the freezer.

It boggles my mind, but somehow we have managed to eat all 88 meatballs and we didn’t even have company to help.  Did I mention it only took us 3 weeks to polish them off?  Yikes!

I used them for spaghetti/tortellini meals twice.  And I had two recipes to try out that used meatballs.  One of them didn’t turn out quite the way I’d hoped the first time, so I tried it again.  My kids have revolted now.  I don’t think I can feed them another meatball dish for  a while.

But, I still think it’s a great idea to have homemade meatballs in the freezer.  They taste much better than the store-bought kind and they are better for you too.  You can use them for spaghetti, of course.  But they’re also good in Sweet and Sour Meatballs over Rice and Meatball Subs.

Back to today’s recipe:  Somehow I failed to take a picture of the finished meatballs.  The ingredient photo is at the top of the post.

Here’s what you’ll need: [Read more…]

Italian Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells

I have a freezer full of pork that we got from my niece’s 4-H project.  The place my sister took it to be processed doesn’t always give you what you ask for.  I think it’s more what they are in the mood to make.  The day they processed my order, they must have been in the mood for Italian Sausage.  I’ve never seen so much of it!

With so much Italian sausage, I’m having to get creative to use it.  I decided to give it a try in stuffed shells.  The result tasted great and as a bonus, you get to cook once and eat twice.  This recipe makes enough for two 9×13 pans! [Read more…]