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Freezer Meal Menu Coordination

The hardest part of planning well for me is staying on topic, focused, not getting swept hither and yon on whims of interest (or Pinterest, haha).  It's too easy to just pick out a bunch of tasty recipes for a week's worth of menus without thinking about how they will fit together, whether there's a good balance of ease of preparation and nutritional variety.  Especially if you're planning to sock away a bunch of meals at once, you don't want to wind up choosing 7 dinners that each require a great deal of unique preparation, without taking advantage of the ability to coordinate shopping or prep work among them.

Here are some suggested recipe collections, either grouped by main ingredient (for shop-ahead coordination to take advantage of sales) or preparation technique (to streamline freezer meal preparations).  I've included a few recipes that are not freezable but would be good to have for dinner on the day you do your freezer prepwork.

When red peppers are on sale:

Peppers freeze well after roasting.  You can add them as needed to recipes out of the freezer, or prep ahead several red pepper-based dishes.

When mushrooms are on sale:

Buy a bunch and slice them in the food processor to make:

Take about a cup of the sliced 'shrooms and put them back in the food processor with the regular chopping blade to make:

Then roast a bunch of the sliced mushrooms to make:

Use the trimmings to make:

When you make a lot of white sauce:

Figure out how much sauce you need.  Use that amount of milk with 1 tbsp flour and 1 tbsp butter per 3/4 cup of milk.  See link above for technique (don't add cheese for regular white sauce/bechamel).

By the way, you can make the bechamel alone, portion it and freeze it by itself if you don't want to prep the following recipes in their entirety.

Stir in cheese to make:

When whole chicken is on sale

First of all, the most space-efficient way to freeze multiple whole chickens is to spatchcock, or butterfly, them.  They'll cook faster too.  You can prepare the following recipes with either spatchcocked, whole or halved chickens.

  • Gai Khamin
    • To buy: lemongrass (fresh or puree)
    • Pantry staples: garlic, turmeric, salt, black peppercorns
  • Chicken Veronique
    • To buy: 3/4 lb. grapes
    • Pantry staples: oil, salt, pepper, wine/stock, milk, butter/flour
  • Piri Piri Chicken
    • To buy: 2 red bell peppers, 3 lemons, 5 serranos
    • Pantry/garden/freezer staples: mint/parsley, red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika
  • Cinnamon Chipotle Brined Chicken (Prepare the brine and freeze separately from the bird; thaw everything a day in advance of cooking to allow up to 24 hours for brining)
    • To buy: 1/4 cup fennel seed, aniseed, chipotle
    • Pantry staples: ground coriander (3 tbsp), star anise, cocoa powder, red chili flake, thyme, parsley, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks (5), bay leaves, white sugar, brown sugar, salt, garlic, liquid smoke

To use whole chickens for parts (don't forget to save any backs from spatchcocking to add to the stockpot!):

  • 2 Chickens 4 Ways
    • 2 chickens
    • To buy: 1 lb. frozen stirfry veggies x 2, 8 oz. romano cheese, 8 oz. frozen pot pie veggies, waffles (if you want to skip making your own waffles)
    • Pantry/freezer staples: stirfry sauce x 2, carrots, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, cumin, paprika, black olives, tomato paste, bay leaves, peppercorns, flour, milk, eggs, chicken stock (about 2 quarts, if you don't make your own in step 3)
  • Coca Cola Chicken (crockpot version)
    • 1 chicken
    • To buy: 1 green bell pepper, 1 can Coke
    • Pantry staples: onion, celery, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, Italian seasoning, pepper, hot sauce
How to plan to use up leftover chicken from whole cooked chickens:

  • Chicken Veggie Croissant Loaf
    • 1 1/2 cups chicken
    • To buy: 1 cup broccoli, red bell pepper, 2 8 oz. tubes crescent roll dough, sour cream
    • Pantry/freezer staples: carrots, garlic, shredded cheese, egg, sliced almonds
  • Chicken Wellington
    • 3-4 cups chicken
    • To buy: puff pastry, 8 oz mushrooms, 8 oz cream cheese
    • Pantry/freezer/garden staples: butter, onion, garlic, thyme, sage, dijon mustard, parsley
  • Chicken Biscuits
    • 1 cup chicken
    • To buy: biscuits (if not from scratch), tomato
    • Pantry/freezer staples: shredded cheese, minced onion
  • Southwest Egg Rolls
    • 1 cup chicken
    • To buy: egg roll wrappers, red bell pepper
    • Pantry/freezer staples: garlic, frozen corn, beans, shredded cheese, minced jalapenos, cumin, chili powder

When Chicken Breast is on sale

  • Honey Beer Chicken
    • 1 lb. chicken
    • To buy: 1 shallot
    • Pantry staples: beer, honey, dijon mustard, soy sauce
  • Hula Chicken
    • 2 lbs. chicken
    • To buy: 2 lbs. frozen stirfry veggies, 20 oz. pineapple chunks, 4 packets ramen
    • Pantry/freezer staples: stirfry sauce
  • Doomsday Chicken
    • 1 lb chicken
    • To buy: 3 bell peppers
    • Pantry staples: onion, garlic, wine/stock
    • 3 lbs. chicken
    • To buy: 2 lbs. frozen broccoli, 1 1/2 lbs. frozen snap peas, 2 cans water chestnuts, 1 bell pepper
    • Pantry staples: sherry, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger
  • Grapefruit chicken
    • l lb. chicken
    • To buy: 1-2 grapefruit (if you don't have zest in your freezer stash), sliced almonds
    • Pantry/freezer staples: grapefruit zest (if you have it in your freezer stash), olive oil, chicken stock
  • Chicken Francese
    • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken 
    • To buy: capers, black olives (if not in your pantry)
    • Pantry staples: capers, black olives, olive oil, butter, lemon juice

When seafood is on sale

These recipes are all pretty well interchangeable.  You can use the sauces and seasonings on just about whatever fish or shellfish is on sale to make several seafood freezer meals...even if the recipe calls for salmon or tilapia in particular, it will work with other types of fish.

These recipes really need to be made IMHO with the type of fish/shellfish named in the recipe.

Big Batch Marinades

Make double or triple recipes of these marinades, rubs and condiments.  Apply them to different proteins and use different cooking techniques for variety (e.g. grilled pork, baked chicken, roasted veggies, pan-fried fish, burgers/meatloaf, stirfried tofu, etc.)

Big Batch Tomato Sauce

When ground beef is on sale

A balanced week

Easy favorites

All crockpot

Cook once, eat twice (plan to use leftovers)

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