8 Freezer Meals for $60

Recently I put some of my Pinterest pins to work in real life. I’ve pinned so many meals: freezer meals, easy 30 minute meals, budget meals and so on. But have I used many of them? Honestly, no. A couple of weeks ago my sisters and I wanted to provide a friend with meals that she could easily feed her family while they were learning how to deal with some major health issues in one of their children. For their privacy, I’ll be vague… but life got shaken up for them. We wanted to do something that could serve the family with little effort on their part so we opted for freezer meals. I browsed my pins and found a handful of things I thought would be doable for my cooking abilities, our budget and their family (and I knew they used their crock-pot a lot). At any rate, this same concept could be used for a family with a new baby, someone who had surgery and such. I tried to choose things that are less popular “delivered meals” since plenty of people make lasagna, chili, casseroles and mashed potatoes. I chose my recipes, made a menu and a “master grocery list” of what each recipe required and efficiently piggy-backed it onto my own grocery shopping trip (separate transaction for the sake of easily splitting the cost).

Menu:

Sweet and Tangy Meatballs served with rice

Teriyaki Chicken served with rice

Sausage and Peppers served over noodles

Chicken Pesto Ravioli

 

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All of my ingredients stacked up and ready to go! This is my list (combined for all recipes):

2 red onions

1 green onion

3 green peppers

2 red pepper

2 zucchini

medium bag of baby carrots (or crinkle cut… whatever you can find)

garlic cloves- I like the jar so I can measure and its all broken up for me

about 3 lbs of chicken breasts (I had 1.5 lbs cut into cubes at the meat counter and the rest of the breasts I planned on boiling and shredding. You can also find cooked/shredded chicken at some stores)

6-8 Italian sausage

2 cans Italian diced tomato

2 large cans of pineapple (I chose chunks but rings could work too) with juice

pesto (one cup is needed so I thawed some I had made but you can buy packets or jars of it too)

1 bottle of Teriyaki sauce

16 oz grape jelly

20 oz BBQ sauce

Italian seasoning

1-2lbs frozen cheese ravioli

3 dozen frozen meatballs

1 bag (2 cups) grated parmesan cheese

1 box Linguini noodles

1 large (family sized) box of rice

freezer bags

 

The cost:

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I spent 1 hour at the grocery, $60.98 and 1.5 hours in the kitchen.

 

Directions:

Each recipe was to be split between 2 bags so these 4 recipes make 8 meals! I lined up my bags, labelled them accordingly and wrote directions (thaw/cook times and serving instructions) on them and put aside. Then boiled 1 lb of chicken breasts while I diced up all of the veggies and set aside. I started piling them into the bags for each meal, squishing and stirring a bit as I went. if something called for 2 can of something then one can went directly into each bag, or I’d split a jar into 2 bags and so on. This way I was using minimal dishes and making minimal clean-up for myself. I approached it assembly line style but I’m sure you could prep one meal at a time too.

 

Sweet and Tangy Meatballs:

Label: Crockpot Low 2-4 hours, serve hot with rice/veggies

36 frozen meatballs, 160z grape jelly, 20 oz BBQ sauce.

Split between 2 bags.

 

Teriyaki Chicken:

Label: Crockpot, add 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce, Low 8 hours, High 4 hours, serve over rice

bag of carrots, red onion cut into large chunks (I quarted mine), 2 large cans pineapple with juice, 4 cloves garlic, 4 raw chicken breast (cubed), 1 cup teriyaki sauce

Split between 2 bags

 

Sausage and Peppers:

Label: Add 2 Tbsp olive oil, crockpot low 6 hours, serve over noodles.

6-8 Italian sausage, 2 green peppers and 1 red pepper (I left mine in larger chunks maybe 1inx1in), 1 red onion cubed, 4 cloves garlic, 2 cans Italian diced tomatoes, 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning

Split between 2 bags.

 

Chicken Pesto Ravioli

Label: Thaw, pour into pan, bake 350F for 1 hour.

1.5-2lbs frozen cheese ravioli, 1 lb shredded chicken, 2 zucchini sliced and halved, 1 red pepper and 1 green pepper diced, 1 chopped green onion, 1.5 cups chicken broth OR the water you used to boil the chicken, 1 cup pesto, 2 cups grated parmesan cheese

Split between 2 bags.

 

I let out all of the air out of each bag, sealed them securely, laid them flat in my freezer in a stack and delivered them a few days later with the boxes of rice and noodles as well. I figured they could serve salads or veggies as they pleased along with with each meal. Hopefully it will be something they can enjoy as a family without much effort of planning. I’ve heard they already did a couple of the meals and so far they are a success with the kids too!

 

1-2-3 Lemon Pesto Chicken

I should start this post out by stating a little fact about myself: I don’t eat meat (fish, chicken, beef, veal, etc- but I do eat eggs and dairy). I haven’t for about 16 years. I do, however cook meat and such for Hubby. But when I make recipes up, its literally on a whim. I go “hmmm… I wonder if this and this would be good on chicken?” and then I run it by Hubby. I’m never surprised to have some total misses.

This is one of Hubby’s favorite home-runs though. I knew he loved pesto and I whipped this up. Here’s what you need.

Preheat your oven to 375, grease a glass baking dish. I make single servings, but basically you’ll need boneless skinless chicken breasts, lemon juice, pesto and olive oil. For each chicken breast measure 1 Tbsp of each: lemon juice, pesto (I keep Buitoni on hand but homemade, prepackaged mix or whatever will work), and olive oil. Mix in a small bowl.

Brush the mixture onto each chicken breast.

Bake 45 minutes, I like to take it out with about 20 minutes remaining and brush the remainder on to keep it moist and flavorful.

Ta-Da! You can serve this with a simple salad, garlic potatoes or slice it up and toss it with pasta, veggies, parm and more pesto. I often serve it with caesar salad and tortellini since I can eat those too. Whatever floats your boat. Enjoy!