Category: Freezer Cooking


A huge head of cabbage from my dad’s garden inspired me to make stuffed cabbage rolls for the freezer, or pigs in the blanket as we call them around here.

I ended up with three zip top bags of six or seven pigs each. I also ended up with a container of leftover meat, rice and cabbage to make stuffed cabbage soup.

Cook enough rice so you end up with 6 cups. I used a brown instant variety that I had on hand in the pantry.

Saute 2 med onions in some olive oil.

Mix the onions with the rice.

Mix in 6 lbs of ground beef and 4 eggs. You can use a meatloaf mixture or beef and pork mixture too, equivalent to 6 lbs. At this point I also add any seasonings, such as salt and pepper and maybe some garlic powder.

While you are preparing your rice and onions you need to soften the cabbage leaves. You can use whichever method you prefer. Some remove the leaves and steam them or some core and steam the entire head, peeling off leaves as they go and then steaming again. That’s up to you. My head of cabbage was so large I did both.

Cut out the stem of the cabbage leaf so that they roll easily. Place enough meat mixture in the cabbage leaf so that you will end up with a full pig after you roll it.

At this point you can place your pigs in zip top bags to freeze or bake them in your favorite tomato sauce.

This is such a time consuming task that I make three different zip top bags. This translates into six meals for us as the cabbage rolls are huge, we like them with garlic bread to dip in the sauce, so there is always enough for two meals.

To heat these I ususally place them in a slow cooker or counter top roaster with our favorite tomato sauce. I usually add a can of tomato soup too. It adds an interesting flavor that we’ve all come to enjoy.

We’re busy, busy, busy gearing up for a beach vacation and painting two rooms for my parents. More excellent reasons to know well in advance what we’ll be eating for our main meal of the day.

Sunday – Turkey burgers with carmelized onions, zucchini cakes, baby spinach and field mix salad

Here are the zucchini plants.

Monday – Rotini pasta and meatballs with sauce, salad

Tuesday – Ham and potato hash, pancakes

Wednesday – BBQ chicken, Aunt Connie’s Yukky Potatoes (recipe and story to follow), Fresh broccoli from dad’s garden, baby spinach and field mix salad

Thursday – Broccoli and cheese stuffed baked potatoes, salad

Friday – Hot dogs and beans

Saturday – Steak salads

What’s on your plate this week?

Sunday: Vegetable Lasagna from the freezer and a green salad. More about this dish here.

Monday: Weenie roast with extended family, grillin beans gotten free with a coupon, fresh strawberries, watermelon, chips and s’mores for dessert.

Tuesday: Pasta with Italian ground turkey meat sauce and a green salad

Wednesday: Grilled chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, peas and a green salad

Thursday: Lasagna dinner at mom and dad’s to honor out-of-town guest

Friday: Ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, peas and corn to honor out-of-town guest

Saturday: Family outing at the races

You can get a yummy yet healthy snack recipe and learn more about an affordable family outing at the races here.

Chocolate Banana Bread

Chocolate chips, chocolate and white, fill these yummy loaves. This is an extra yummy recipe to end Money Saving Mom’s 4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer series. I doubled this recipe, altered it a little, and made two loaves, one with mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and one with white chocolate chips. I didn’t use nuts because there are nut haters among us here at the Frugal and Healthful house. I feel an addition of walnuts or pecans would have been delicious.

Chocolate Banana Bread

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 stick butter, melted and cooled
  • 5 large ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips stirred into each pan

Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Stir the mashed bananas, eggs, melted butter, applesauce and vanilla. Carefully fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined.

Pour into a greased loaf pan. Lightly mix in chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 65 minutes until the bread has risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool and wrap in plastic wrap and foil or in a zip top bag. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Adapted from Joy of Baking

You could just smell the dark chocolate of the cocoa as I sliced into these loaves. I decided to slice half of each loaf and wrap the remaining bread for the freezer.

What’s in  your freezer?

Our menu seems to change with the seasons, just like the weather. I suppose that’s true for most families. As it warms up outside we eat more salads and cold side dishes, we grill more, and we picnic and camp.

This Weeks Supper Menu

Sunday – Picnic with extended family – Cheeseburgers, hotdogs, smoked sausage, peirogies, potato salad, baked beans, pickle boats (dill pickles stuffed with egg salad and topped with green olive slices), fruit tray with yogurt dip, brownies, and chips. Wow! Can anyone say, “Help roll me to the car after it’s over.”? 🙂

Monday – Picnic leftovers

Tuesday – Grilled chicken topped spring mix salad, raw baby carrots

Wednesday – Oatmeal Pancakes, sliced fruits

Thursday – Panko crusted Provolone stuffed chicken breasts, whole grain pasta and sauce, spring mix salad

Friday – Campfire cookout – Cheeseburgers, homemade potato salad, beans

Saturday – Pizza mountain pies (bread, pizza sauce, pizza cheese, and optional pepperoni) made in a mountain pie maker over hot campfire coals, salads, s’mores

In case you didn’t notice, I can tell you that the calorie count for the campfire cookout food is through the roof. Fortunately we seem to burn a lot of calories when we camp. We rarely sit around, unless it’s around the campfire after it’s dark. We hike, swim, and enjoy the great outdoors. Pick up any hiking book and the author often warns about dieting or cutting calories while camping or hiking. It’s just not the time, especially if you are planning a long hike. I’m sure there is a much more healthful menu plan, such as chicken and fish. Let’s just say we are expecting company and the company is expecting the higher calorie fare. 😉 We’ll have to eat the healthful food at the other meals.

What’s on your menu?

These are delicious!

You can find the original recipe for these on Money Saving Mom and the 4 Weeks To Fill Your Freezer series. If you read down through the comments of the original recipe you can see where others changed things a bit. I ended up tweaking the recipe to make it just a little bit more healthful. Remember these are freezer friendly, which helps with portion control. 😉 Thank you Crystal for sharing this. It is definitely a keeper.

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 (15 oz.) can solid pack pumpkin

1/2 cups oil

1 cup natural, unsweetened applesauce

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 package chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and oil until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake 16-20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Makes 24-30 muffins. I filled mine enough to make 24 muffins and baked for 18 minutes.

You could make this recipe even more healthful by experimenting with a mixture of whole grain flour instead of all white flour. An addition of ground flax could also be considered as well as substituting raisins for the chocolate chips, or using less chocolate chips. If you should try any alterations let us know how it worked out for you.

Looking for snack or dessert ideas?  This week we are concentrating on snack and dessert recipes as we follow along with Money Saving Mom and her 4 Weeks To Fill Your Freezer series.

Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup shortening or butter (softened)
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup  sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups oats (rolled or quick oats)
  • 1 12-oz. package chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together first six ingredients. Add flour, baking soda, salt and oats. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Roll into 1-1 1/2-inch balls. Place on greased cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes or until done. Makes approximately 40 cookies.

To Freeze:

Roll dough into balls and place on a cookie sheet. Freeze for 1-2 hours.

Put frozen cookie dough balls into a plastic freezer bag and seal tightly.

When ready to bake, pull out the desired amount of balls and place on a greased cookie sheet for 30-45 minutes to thaw. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until done.

Not only do I like the whole grain goodness of this recipe but how about the opportunity for portion control? Once you have your dough mixed up and frozen you can thaw and bake as many or as few cookies as you like. What a wonderful way to keep yourself from consuming more than you should. I know it is probably not frugal to start your oven and bake only six cookies at a time, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices for what is truly important for you at the time, and in line with your goals during a particular season of your life.

What are you making to fill your freezer?

The vegetable lasagna turned out fine using the no-boil noodles. I had never used them for a freezer recipe so I wanted to make sure. The noodles were tender and baked perfectly. My daughter really enjoyed this dish and my meatless dish snubbing husband even agreed that it was good. It may have helped that the veggies were shredded and not in huge slices.

This flavor combination could turn out to be almost as frugal and nutritious as you can get. It’s a bonus knowing that the two star veggies are easy to grow in the garden, and I plan to grow them both this year. If you find Ricotta (or cottage cheese), sauce, and noodles on sale or with a coupon deal this could be a frugal meal even snazzy enough for company. You could also use a different pasta, switch up the veggies, and make it a casserole like Money Saving Mom did in her 4 Weeks To Fill Your Freezer series.

How can I make this recipe more economical next time is a great question to keep asking yourself. With that mindset I’m sure you’ll continue to see your food bill be reduced.

Don’t forget to plant extra tomatoes this year for home canning. Canning tomatoes is more simple than it seems, and I’ll take you through the process at the end of our growing season.

Remember that it takes a little while to change or start a new habit, so don’t get discouraged if you are only just beginning your journey towards frugality, eating more healthfully or both.

If you’ve never tried freezer cooking because something’s been holding you back, express your concerns here.

Over here at the Frugal and Healthful house we’re still trying to fill the freezer with Money Saving Mom and her 4 Weeks To Fill Your Freezer Series.  On Friday I  intended to get a double batch of pizza dough into the freezer with one batch kept out to make a BBQ chicken and caramelized onion pizza on the grill. The grill ran out of gas so my plans switched to making the pizza in the oven.

Then I noticed I ran out of yeast. I was sure I had some left. I intended to stop at the store to pick some up but we didn’t want to be late for the movie we were on our way to see and the store looked really crowded. (The movie was Battleship and if you enjoy a good sci-fi action flick, I highly recommend it.) After the movie we were hungry and decided to just go home and pull something out of the freezer that was already made. After all, Saturday was another day and I would be able to buy the yeast and catch up.

On Saturday we stopped at Target to pick up a few coupon deals and I grabbed the yeast lest I forget it at the grocery store. When we were doing our grocery shopping I noticed what a great deal I got on the yeast at Target. We arrived at home and put everything away. Husband went outside to mow and I started getting things around to make the pizza dough. No yeast! The yeast was nowhere to be found. I looked high and low twice and husband checked the car. I guess it wasn’t meant to be, but cheese-stuffed chicken breasts made it all better.

With a little assembly line prep you can have dozens of these beauties in the freezer waiting to be baked on a day when you crave extra special chicken breasts, but just don’t have the time.

You will need:

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Butter for dipping

Breadcrumbs, whichever kind you like

Seasoning you desire for breadcrumbs

Blocks, strips or chunks of cheese to stuff your chicken breasts (You can always cut to fit, stack, etc.)

Pour some bread crumbs into a shallow but wide dish (I used Panko) and stir in some seasonings (I used Parmesan cheese and garlic powder) to taste.

I like to pound my chicken breasts. It helps them to cook more evenly and makes the easy to wrap around the cheese. Melt some butter in a pan on the stove and dip both sides of your pounded chicken breasts into the butter. Then place in the bread crumbs.

Place a long, thick strip of your cheese of choice in the center the chicken breast. I chose Provolone this time. There are almost endless possibilities. At this point you may secure your little package with toothpicks. I find this is not necessary if your chicken breast is large enough and pounded thin enough.

Place your prepared chicken breasts in zip top bags, label and into the freezer they go.

To bake:

Thaw in frig overnight or microwave for a few minutes, place in a baking dish and bake at 375 for around 30 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken breasts. While they are baking you have time to make a side dish and a salad.

Another of our favorite combinations is southwest seasonings with Monterey Jack cheese.

What are some of your freezer cooking experiences, good or bad?

Vegetable Lasagna

Lasagna is one of the most time-consuming, yet so worth it dishes that I can think of. Once you get going assembly line style it doesn’t take much time to make several for the freezer. I like a meat sauce for my lasagna and tons of cheese, but here’s a version that’s a bit lighter and still tastes great. You should also check out the yummy looking lasagna casserole at Money Saving Mom and her 4 Weeks To Fill Your Freezer.

This recipe makes two 8″ square dishes

You could use foil pans or line your baking dish will double foil and freeze lasagna in that dish. Once frozen, pop the lasagna and foil out, wrap, and then pop it back into the same pan to thaw and reheat.

1 quart of your favorite red sauce

1 carrot, grated

16 oz part skim ricotta

10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained (or use fresh steamed and cooled)

1 egg

1 tsp garlic powder

2 cups shredded zucchini

12 lasagna noodles (I tried the no boil this time and will let you know how that worked after I bake one of these.)

2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend of your choice

1 cup Parmesan cheese

In a medium bowl mix ricotta, spinach, egg and garlic powder. Set aside. Grate your carrot into your sauce and stir. Place a couple of spoons of sauce in baking dishes and spread to lightly cover the bottom. Place two lasagna noodles on top of sauce. Spread more sauce on noodles. Spread one-fourth of the Ricotta mixture on the noodles in each dish, using half of the Ricotta mixture. Spread 1/2 of the zucchini onto the Ricotta mixture in each dish, using all of the zucchini. Sprinkle with cheese blend and Parmesan. Then, sauce, noodles, Ricotta, sauce, noodles, sauce, cheese blend and Parmesan. Wrap and freeze.

I usually get this out the night before or morning of and place it in the frig. Bake at 350 degrees F for about and hour. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes. I always check the center with a meat thermometer to make sure food is a safe temp. Remember your lasagna will need to stand a good 10 minutes before slicing so it will hold together and it will continue to cook a little during that time. I heat additional sauce to serve with this.

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