Healthy Freezer Cooking and Recipes
Freezer Cooking 101

Last weekend, after our Costco trip, Babyface and I spent eight hours in the kitchen preparing frozen meals. Why? Well, a few reasons. First of all, we are commuting to Bloomington two days a week, and it became very clear, very soon that food on those two days was going to be a struggle. On one commuting day during our first week back at work, we didn’t even get to eat dinner until 9pm! So we wanted to streamline meals for those days as much as possible.

Secondly, we live in the country now! Before, when we didn’t feel like cooking or didn’t have anything planned, we’d just head to the grocery store that was 1/2 mile away or grab something from a sandwich shop down the road. We don’t have those options anymore. Thankfully, there is one pizza delivery place, but I don’t want to rely to delivery pizza to fill that void. So the freezer will!

This was our first time really doing batch cooking like this. Sure, I’ve doubled a recipe to freeze, or made a batch of burritos for lunch, but we made seven different recipes in large quantities all in one day. It was an exhausting day, but totally worth it.

But before I get into the actual recipes, let me tell you how I tackled it all. I actually split the process into three separate days (well, actually, two half days of prep and one full day of cooking). I would not recommend trying to do all of this in one day. I’d do at least two days (one for prep and shopping and the other for cooking). Here is how I broke it up:

1. Assess your freezer space.

This may sound crazy obvious, but the first thing you need to do is figure out how much space you have to hold food. The amount of recipes you can cook at one time will vary drastically if you have a chest freezer versus just the fridge/freezer combo. I actually overestimated how much space we have (even though we do have a chest freezer) and had to nix a recipe last-minute because it couldn’t fit.

2. Pick your recipes.

Now, you have to figure out what you are going to make. I chose mostly old standbys (after all, you don’t want 20 servings of a new dish that no one in your family ends up liking) and dishes that were easy to double or triple. I actually ended up making a list of about 20 dishes that would be good freezer cooking candidates. Then, I narrowed that list down to what I wanted to make in this cook-a-thon.

3. Adjust your recipes.

Making just a regular batch of most recipes really isn’t worth the time in the kitchen, so I doubled, tripled or even quadrupled the recipe in certain cases. I created an Evernote note (you do use Evernote, right? It’s awesome!) with all of my new, giant-sized recipes. I also made note of the new number of servings and what kind and quantity of storage I’d need (example: 12 servings, 4 servings per gallon zip-top bag, 3 gallon zip-to bags per recipe).

4. Make your grocery list.

Once all my recipes are ready-to-go, I start list-making. I’m normally a Grocery IQ girl for when it comes to making a grocery list, but this is one occasion when pencil and paper is the way to go. I wrote down each ingredient as it popped up in the recipes and then used tally marks to indicate how many of each item I’d need. Then, I translated this list into my Grocery IQ list. Make sure to check what you currently have stocked in the pantry. No need to buy something new if you already have it! Oh, and don’t forget to add storage containers and bags to your list.

 4. Go shopping!

This is probably the easiest step there is. Go shop! Follow your list and keep a close eye on quantity and size (especially for produce). If the peppers are particularly large, you might be able to get away with getting a few less and vice versa. Also, try to keep your bulk shopping separate from your everyday shopping. We actually did it all in one trip, but once we were home, separated it.

5. Organize the supplies.

Set out all of your non-perishable food, all of your tools, and all of your storage containers in plain sight. If you can, make a separate shelf in the fridge just for the food you’ll need for your cook-a-thon. Make sure all the utensils, bowls, pans, and skillets you need are washed and ready to be used and abused.

6. Clear out freezer space.

Take a few minutes to organize your freezer and prepare it for all the goodies that’ll be coming its way. Trust me, you do not want to be doing this when you have two gallons of chili that need to get in the freezer immediately.

7. Make a rough schedule.

This maybe a little too anal retentive for most folks, but I actually made a rough schedule for my cooking day. I figured out what should go in first, what I could multi-task with and what needed my full attention. We didn’t really follow it exactly, but it did help a lot with multitasking.

8. Start cooking!

Wake up, have some breakfast and then just get to cooking! If you are working by yourself, it might be good to work one recipe at a time, just in case you get worn out and need to stop, you’ll have a good stopping point. Babyface and I did our batch cooking together, so we tag-teamed it. He was my sous chef—chopping, peeling, assembling—while I was keeping an eye on the big picture. It was a huge help to have two people doing it.

9. Clean up as you go.

I have a ton of cooking gear, but even with my stash, I plowed through all my bowls, baking sheets and pots within a few hours. Clean up as you go, or at the very least, take a break every hour or so to do a load of dishes and clean up the kitchen before you start your next endeavor.

10. Label, label, label!

Write the recipe, date, and reheating instructions on each storage container. I know, you think there is no way you’ll forget you put Nana’s Chicken Surprise in that container, but in a few months, you will. I promise.

11. Cool, store and freeze properly.

You want to cool your food completely before freezing it, but you also want to do that very quickly to help prevent yucky bugs from growing. Putting hot food in the freezer will cause the temperature of the freezer to rise (putting all the food in danger) and also it’ll cause the food itself to freeze unevenly. Use the fridge or sinks full of cold water and ice to chill food before stashing it in its final resting place.

And there you have it. That’s how I made over 100 meals in less than 8 hours.

Now are you ready for some recipes? A word of warning, we actually haven’t eaten all of these yet, so a few are untested (namely, the Vegan Beer Chili and Florentine Calzones and Meatballs). Also, I’m writing these out old-school on this post, so if you’d like to download a PDF of the whole list of recipes, you can here.

Slow Cooker Vegan Beer Chili

Like I said, we haven’t had this yet (it’s been 15,000° here!) but it smelled amazing while cooking away in the slow-cooker.

Makes: 12 servings
Storage: 4 servings each in 3—1 gallon freezer bags

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bottle beer (whatever you have on hand)
  • 2-28 ounce cans crush tomatoes
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can vegetarian refried beans
  • 1-16 ounce package frozen corn
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in the basin of a very large slow cooker. Heat on high for 2-3 hours or until bubbly. Cool and ladle into labeled freezer bags. Freeze flat.

To reheat: defrost the bag in the fridge over night and then pour into a slow cooker. Heat on low for 8-9 hours or high for 4-6.

Roasted Veggie, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos


We made a lot of delicious food on our cook-a-thon day, but these are far-and-away the favorites. They are so packed with flavor, fiber and good-for-you veggies. We’ve been eating them pretty much daily for lunch.

Makes: 24-30 burritos, depending on size
Storage: 1—10″x 10″ sheet of aluminum foil to wrap each burrito, 8-10 burritos per 1 gallon freezer bag

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ cubes
  • 4 large red bell peppers, roughly chopped
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups salsa (your favorite!)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of one lime
  • 24-30 whole wheat tortillas (we like the Truly Homemade ones from Trader Joe’s)
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic, jalapenos, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and olive oil. Toss to coat. Spread onto two large baking sheets and roast in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until veggies are all soft and browned. Allow veggies to cool enough to handle. Transfer roasted veggies into a large bowl, add in beans, salsa, cilantro and lime juice and toss until well combined. To assemble burritos, place one tortilla on a square of aluminum foil, top with 1/2 cup-1 cup of filling, sprinkle on cheese and roll burrito closed. Wrap in foil. Place wrapped burritos in labeled gallon freezer bags.

To reheat: unwrap foil from frozen burrito. Wrap loosely in a paper towel. Microwave on high for 90 seconds to 2 minutes or until the burrito filling is hot.

Whole Wheat Flax and Applesauce Waffles

These waffles have been perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast. We just slather them in a little bit of nut butter and sprinkle on some chia seeds and we’ve got a breakfast we can eat in the car.

Makes: About 24 toaster-sized waffles
Storage: 3—1 gallon freezer bags

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups nonfat milk
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat waffle iron. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and flaxseed. In a second bowl, whisk together honey, eggs, milk, buttermilk, applesauce, vanilla and vegetable oil. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until just combine. Make waffles according to waffle iron instructions. Cool completely and store in gallon freezer bags.

To reheat: Pop in the toaster. Push the lever. Let it pop up. Eat!

Slow Cooker Creamy Veggies and Chicken

I really loved how easy this one was to put together and reheat. I also loved how yummy it was! It’ll be a great dish for once the weather gets a little bit cooler.

Makes: 16 servings
Storage: 4—1 gallon freezer bags

  • 8 chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 zucchini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2—6 ounce cans, tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

For serving:

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice

Divide the chicken, garlic, green peppers, red peppers, zucchini, sweet potato and onion evenly between each of four one-gallon freezer bags. In a small bowl, whisk together tomato paste, Worcestershire, dry mustard, salt, pepper and vinegar. Divide evenly between bags. Freezer flat.

To reheat: Dump frozen contents of bag into the basin of a slow cooker. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 6-8. Just before serving, turn off slow-cooker and stir in yogurt. Serve over cooked brown rice.

Florentine Calzones and Meatballs

I love this recipe because it’s a two-for-one deal—you get calzones out of it and meatballs that are great in a marinara sauce. We haven’t eaten from this batch yet, but we have been eating this recipe for years. It’s a favorite!

Makes: 12 calzones and 16-18 meatballs, depending on size
Storage: 4—1 gallon freezer bags

  • 3 pounds ground turkey
  • 16 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 large onion, diced finely
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 eggs, divided and beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 batches whole wheat pizza dough (we used the fresh whole wheat dough from Trader Joe’s)

Using clean hands, combine ground turkey, spinach, onion, garlic, 2 eggs, bread crumbs and cheese in a large bowl. Set aside. Divide each pizza dough batch into six balls. Roll out each ball to a 6″-8″ circle. To assemble the calzones, take a handful of the filling (about 1/3 cup) and form into a ball. Place in the middle of the dough. Using a pastry brush, paint remaining beaten egg along side of dough, fold over and seal. Repeat with remaining dough balls. Place assembled calzones on baking sheets and freeze flat until hard. Then remove from sheet, place in labeled one gallon freezer bags, and freeze.

To make meatballs, form remaining filing into desired meatball size. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sear all sides of meatballs in skillet. Place on baking sheet and freeze when cool. When meatballs are frozen, transfer to a labeled one gallon freezer bag.

To reheat calzones: Preheat oven to 425°. Place frozen calzones on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until dough is golden brown. Serve with warm marinara sauce for dipping.

To reaheat meatballs: Drop frozen meatballs in simmering marinara sauce and cook until heated through.

Provolone Penne Bake

This is a classic in our house. I’ve already written a post about the original, but I modified this version to produce more and to be sans the meat. It’s delicious!

Makes: 12 servings
Storage: 4 servings in each of three 8″x8″ foil baking dishes

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 green bell peppers, diced
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2-28 ounce cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1- 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds whole wheat penne, cooked omitting fat and salt
  • 1 pound provolone cheese, sliced
Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and pepper. Cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add in mushrooms and salt. Cook until mushrooms have released most of their water, about 10 minutes. Add in diced tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in penne. Divide half the mixture into each of three 8″x8″ foil containers. Layer on half the cheese. Then top with remaining penne mixture and remaining cheese. Cool completely and freeze.
To reheat: Place frozen casserole in a 350° oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the center is hot and cheese is browned and bubbly.

Veggie Supreme Pizzas

Who needs to buy frozen pizzas when you can just make your own? Feel free to sub in your favorite pizza toppings.

Makes: 4 pizzas
Storage: Each pizza in an aluminum foil pizza pan, wrapped in plastic wrap.

  • Cooking spray
  • 4 batches whole wheat pizza dough (again, we used Trader Joe’s fresh)
  • 2 cups pizza sauce
  • 4 cups assorted sliced veggies (we used red and green bell peppers, onions and mushrooms)
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 teaspoons Italian seasoning

Spray each aluminum pizza pan with cooking spray. Spread out the dough in the pan. Split the pizza sauce, veggies, cheese and Italian seasoning evenly between each pizza. Wrap in plastic wrap, stack and freeze.

To reheat: preheat oven to 450°. Wrap pizza and remove from the pan. Place frozen pizza directly on the oven rack and bake for 18-20 minutes or until crust is browned and cheese is bubbly. For a less crispy-crust, heat oven to 400° and bake in foil pain for 23-25 minutes, or until crust is browned and cheese is bubbly.

And there you have it! Make sure to chime in and share your tips for batch cooking and your favorite recipes!


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  1. These burritos are the best, and have completely won me over to freezer cooking. I’ve made (and frozen them) probably 6 or 7 times. The (sceptical at first) boyfriend loves them, I love them, and actually everyone I’ve ever given one to loves them.

    I usually make them with the small tortillas, so they can be eaten as a snack or a small lunch. The boyfriend usually just takes two for his meals.

    If you ever think of any more fresh, non-casserole freezer ideas please do a post about them. I’d love more ideas like this to stash in the freezer for those nights when take-out sounds just too good.

  2. Hi Cassie – I just want to make sure I’m reading this right. You get 6 calzones out of 1 ball of TJ’s dough? And there’s nothing inside the calzones except for the meatballs?


  3. Hello love all of these. I have some questions with the creamy veggies and chicken I have heard to put chix at the top of bags so they the meat ends up on the bottom of crock pot. And do you remember how much all of this costed?

  4. I just bought my new chest freezer last week and am planning our first big freezing day this weekend. My husband will be watching the younger kiddos while myself, my 13 yo and my 12 yo will be having some girl time… My question is, can you tell me more about how you plan it all out. I have the rest (except from shopping, that will be on Friday) ready to go, just not sure how to plan out the rest… Thanks for any help you can give! {LOVE THE POST!!}

  5. Awesome. THANK YOU so much for posting this! We’re expecting our first baby in September and I’ve been trying to figure out how to surmount some freezer stock ups. I looked into some local ‘Time for Dinner’ prepare it yourself to freeze type places but their menus suck nutritionally. This is awesome! Thanks for all the recipes and how to! Congrats on the “new” house!

  6. You have just rocked my world! Thanks for these recipes, I definitely am going to need to make some!!!

  7. I am a university student who recently upgraded to my very own (albeit very tiny) studio apartment. Yesterday, I decided to make the burrito freezer recipe as a backup for busy days at work when I don’t have time to pack a lunch. I have to say, they are amazing! They will be made frequently. 🙂 I turned two friends onto your blog after they tried the burrito filling. Cassie, thank you!

  8. This is one of my fav posts I have read in a long time! I am totally gonna do this before I start up law school again (I literally had NO TIME to cook last year, it was depressing). Thank you this has given me the best idea!