Around the beginning of January, I became interested in giving freezer cooking a try. I thought it would be a great way to save time and money. The first thing I did was hit Pinterest to do some research. There are lots of recipes to be found and also some great advice from people that are pros at freezer cooking.
Here are a few things I learned when I first tried it:
- Don’t take on too much when you are just starting. I know you’ve seen those posts about people making 30 meals in 1 day, but don’t feel like you have to do that.
- Read up on storage methods so you know the best way to prevent freezer burn.
- Don’t get discouraged! I only did three meals to start and about half way through I was ready to give up on the whole thing. It seems tedious, but in the long run it makes life so much easier.
- Prepare yourself because there will be A LOT of clean-up.
One of the first three recipes I made and froze was this one for baked pasta. I found it on Six Sisters’ Stuff. (They have lots of other fun recipes as well!)
The reason I was so excited about this recipe is that it’s a great money saver. It makes two meals and only uses one box of pasta and 1 lb of ground beef. I made a few minor adjustments to the recipe. I only used half an onion, I used bowtie noodles because that is what I had on hand and I omitted the sour cream completely.
Source: Six Sisters’ Stuff Baked Ziti
- 1 lb Farfalle (bowtie) noodles cooked al dente
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 – 24oz jars of pasta sauce (I used Prego meat sauce.)
- 1/2 a small onion – chopped
- 12 slices of provolone cheese (I used 6 on each meal.)
- 1 – 8oz bag of shredded mozzarella
- Parmesan cheese (However much you want. We like a lot of cheese so I was pretty liberal with it.)
- In a deep skillet, brown ground beef with onion over medium heat. (Or if you are impatient like me high heat until it’s almost done and then switch it down to medium.)
- Add the two jars of pasta sauce and let it simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Spray your pans with non-stick cooking spray (the original recipe called for 8×8 pans, but I didn’t have any that size so I used an 11.75×9 inch pan and it still worked.)
- Layer a quarter of your cooked noodles into both pans.
- Top with a quarter of the sauce.
- Place 6 slices of provolone on top of the sauce.
- Add half of the remaining noodles to each pan.
- Place a third of the mozzarella on each.
- Add half of the remaining sauce to each pan.
- Finish off with a bunch of parmesan (or a little if that is your preference) and the remaining third of the mozzarella.
Once you have your two pans prepared, cover them with foil. Make sure it’s on there nice and tight so you can avoid freezer burn. Label the meals so you know what they are and put them in the freezer.
When you are ready to cook one, thaw it in the fridge 24 hours. Then take the foil off and bake it at 350 for a half hour.
Both times we had this it came out great. It freezes very well. You definitely couldn’t tell that it had been frozen for three weeks. Plus, having a meal prepared so all you have to do is pop it in the oven is so very convenient. I count this as a win in both the time-saving department and the money saving department because I was able to stretch the pasta and beef (which I would’ve normally used for one meal) into two!