You may recall that several months ago, I undertook a huge freezer cooking project, in order to make things as easy for myself as possible while recovering from childbirth and getting adjusted to being a mom. Now that some time has passed, and I’ve had a chance to use several of the prepped recipes, I figured I’d go back and comment on how things turned out! Mostly for my own future reference.
I never did get to any of the muffin recipes on the original list, though I did adapt a recipe to use up some berries I had at home. Truthfully, I’ve only mostly eaten the dinners so far, since my in-laws brought over this huge pot of goulash that lasted me for lunches for about 2 weeks. So for those, I’ll also be adding my husband’s comments where applicable.
The three recipes I didn’t link to were taco meat, crock pot lasagna, and the chicken nuggets. The taco meat and lasagna tasted just like they always do. The nuggets didn’t work quite as well as my initial freezer experiment, since the chicken got a little dry. In its defense, I may have overestimated how long to cook it for, since I was completely guessing. I did notice that those worked better when I was able to flip them halfway through cooking. D enjoyed them all, of course, and I’ll probably keep doing extra nuggets to keep on hand when I make this recipe. It’s so time-consuming that it just makes sense to do big batches when I have all of the breading set up anyway.
For the taco meatloaf and BBQ turkey meatloaves, the biggest issue was also estimating the cooking time when going from the freezer to the oven. We already knew the taco meatloaf was a keeper recipe. D commented that he still likes that better than the turkey meatloaf, but that he’d still eat the latter again. (Good thing, since we still have a second one in the freezer.) I was pleased with that one, personally– it was really moist, even after having been frozen, and I felt like it will be a good alternative to beef-based meatloaf when I can get ground turkey at a better price.
We’ve also eaten the bacon ranch chicken pasta before, but this was my first time trying to prep it as a freezer meal. The ranch mix did separate a little in the freezer, but it cooked up fine. Freezing the bacon in a separate bag worked out really well, too! I cooked the pasta at the end and mixed it into the chicken mix, just like I usually do. I thought that overall, this one did adapt to the freezer very nicely, and I would do it the same way again. And we’re in agreement that the flavors are even better on the second day, since they have more time to meld, though I like the extra sauciness of day 1 better and D likes the drier version that it becomes on day 2 better.
The two recipes besides the turkey meatloaf that were new-to-us that we’ve eaten so far were the Hearty Western Casserole and a pasta sauce recipe. We ate the western casserole on hamburger buns. It was very easy to heat and go, since everything was pre-cooked. My only complaint is that the cheese kind of got lost in there, so if I make this again, I’d probably add the cheese fresh at the end of the cook time. D liked it overall, but said there was too much corn for his taste. (And that it needed more meat, but he says that about everything!) I’d used a bag of frozen corn instead of the can that the recipe called for, and I suggested that maybe next time I could cut the corn in half and add some red bell peppers, and he liked that idea. I’m a little undecided about the pasta sauce, tbh–I think I personally would have liked it better if I’d combined the Italian sausage with another ground meat to cut the intensity of that, since I’ve discovered that sausage-heavy meals don’t always sit well in my stomach. I feel like it needed more tomato sauce as well, since the portion I froze was barely enough to cover a regular-sized box of pasta. Overall, I don’t think this will be my go-to from-scratch pasta sauce recipe.
As for other meals, the blueberry baked oatmeal turned out well, and was pretty easy to eat from a bowl with one hand and the baby in the other arm! I’ve also tried the two pizza dough-based recipes so far for my lunches. The chicken alfredo calzones were ok, though I think I would have enjoyed them more with all-white flour pizza dough. (I used some whole wheat flour in the mix to try to make them healthier.) And it needed more bacon. I guess I just felt like they were a little bland, but not so terrible that I can’t stand to eat the rest of what I have. On the other hand, even though they didn’t look pretty at all, the pizza spirals turned out delicious! The carrot and zucchini didn’t affect the flavor in a bad way at all (I left out the onion, because ick), and I’m a big fan of recipes that have extra veggies but don’t taste like they do. And the partially whole-wheat pizza dough mixed with the flavors much, much better than in the calzones. This one is a keeper. Which is good, because now that I’m a stay-at-home mom, I need easy lunches. If I can prep them ahead of time, even better.