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Preparing Your Own Frozen Food

By Brenda Hyde

Homemade frozen food is our friend on busy, hectic days when you just can't think of what to cook from scratch! By creating your own frozen entrees, you can control the fat and salt content by making substitutions, and you certainly save money over buying processed frozen foods from the grocery store. Set aside a day once a month to cook and freeze. Once you start this routine and come up with your own variations you'll never be forced to order take-out again because you don't have an easy meal on hand!

Italian Style Freezer Meatballs

2 1/2 pounds ground round or chuck
1 pound hot or sweet Italian sausage-casings removed
5 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup minced yellow onion
1 2/3 cups fine dry breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 2 tsp. dried
1 tsp. dried, crushed rosemary
2 cups milk

Mix all ingredients very well, and form into about 48 meatballs, depending on the size. Preheat oven to 350° F. Place meatballs in a shallow baking pan and bake about 30 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. You can use part of these at this point and freeze the remainder after cooling for 30 minutes. Place a dozen meatballs in a single layer on freezer wrap and fold over wrap neatly. Or freeze partially on a cookie sheet and place in plastic bags. Do not stack anything on top of the packages for at least 12 hours. To serve heat them in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until warmed through. These make wonderful Swedish meatballs, meatball sandwiches, spaghetti or in a meatball stew!

Multi-purpose Chili

1 1/2 pound ground chuck or round
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 (19 ounce) cans tomatoes with chilies
1/2 cup water
1 cup salsa, any type
1 cup frozen corn (optional)
1 (28 ounce) can chili beans (with sauce)

Brown beef and cook until no longer pink, breaking up as you go. Dice onion and add to pot. Sprinkle garlic,chili powder, and cumin over beef. Stir in onion and sauté 2-3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, water, salsa, and corn. Bring to gentle boil and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beans to the pot. Cook covered until beans are tender-about 5 minutes. NOTES: This can be used for topping hotdogs, tortilla chips, omelets (melt Colby-Jack with it!), or eating it by the bowl! Freeze in containers when cooled for at least 30 minutes and mark containers before freezing.

Freezer Sloppy Joes

1 pound bulk pork or Italian sausage
1 pound ground chuck or round
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans tomato sauce (8 ounces each)
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

In a skillet, brown sausage, beef and onion. Remove from the heat and drain. Stir remaining ingredients into sausage mixture. Cool. Spit the mixture into containers-using the amount you would need for one meal. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and warm on the stovetop or in the microwave. I always add a little water to stir in or more tomato sauce. Serve on buns or over hotdogs.

Three Dinner Beef Roast

1 boneless chuck roast (4-5 lbs), cut in 3/4" cubes
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper (or more)
1/2 tsp. crushed rosemary

In a large skillet, cook the beef cubes, onions and garlic in the oil. Drain if necessary. Transfer to a crockpot. Stir in the water, salt, and pepper and rosemary. Cover and cook 3 or 4 hours on high. Every crockpot is different. You want it to be tender, but not falling apart! Cool. Divide beef into three freezer containers-dividing any liquid that may have been left. This will freeze for about 3 months. Use it in soups, stews or chili.

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer, wife and mom to three kids living in the Midwest United States. For more old fashioned recipes and their variations visit Brenda at

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