I recently dove into the world of freezer cooking. I tried my hand with three different meals. I limited myself to this few of meals for several reasons:
- I wanted to make sure that this was something that I could do — and that it would work well for me
- I found only a few recipes (without digging too hard and spending too much of my time) that seemed intriguing
- I have a small freezer — and as much as I love to cook, this is unfortunate (when Jon and I buy a house, I have determined that one of our first purchases needs to be a chest freezer)
But, despite those issues, I have a fantastic recipe to share with you — and it’s so easy! A total of 3 ingredients, and you’ll probably be surprised at one of the ingredients. Plus, you’ll get 2 meals prepared and ready to be made with this! And that’s the real plus!!
In order to prep this as a freezer meal, here’s what you’ll need to gather:
- 1 large bag of meatballs (the original recipe that I found stated that you wanted between 12-14 meatballs in each bag — based on the large bag of meatballs that I chose, I ended up with just over 30 meatballs in each bag and I still had plenty of sauce for them) :: I used Mama Lucia’s Homestyle Meatballs (25 ounce bag) as I was too lazy to make my own
- 1 large jar of grape jelly (about 20 ounces)
- 20 ounce container of barbeque sauce (I used an “original” flavor as I didn’t want to get too experimental)
- 2 freezer bags
To prepare the meal to put in the freezer:
- Label your freezer bags with what you’re about to put in there and the cooking directions before putting anything in the bag: “Sweet and Tangy Meatballs” and “Cook on LOW for 2-4 hours”
- Between 2 freezer bags, evenly split your barbeque sauce and grape jelly (it doesn’t have to be exact — just eyeball it)
- Seal the bag and mix barbeque sauce and jelly together by mashing with your hands
- Evenly distribute the meatballs between the bags
- Seal the bags, removing as much air as possible
- Store flat in the freezer until frozen and then move around to suit your storage needs
Once you’ve decided that the day has come to cook your meal, take the bag out of the freezer the night before and let thaw in the refrigerator. (I set my bag upright and against the side of the fridge so that if anything wants to leak out of the top, it can’t. I really hate cleaning up messes in the fridge so I take every precaution I can to prevent that.) When you’re ready to cook, dump the contents of the bag into your crock pot. I used my smaller 3-quart crock pot to prepare this meal. I cooked it on LOW for 2 1/2 hours and it was completely done. The original directions of the recipe state to cook it for 2-4 hours on LOW. You will need to adjust this to your crock pot, based upon how fast your crock pot cooks. (As for me, I know my small crock pot cooks very fast. If I had put this in my larger 6-quart crock pot, it probably would have taken closer to the 4 hours to cook completely. My advice: just watch it.)
This can be a meal and served over rice, like Jon and I did for dinner, or you could serve this as part of an appetizer spread. Either way, it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser, even for the pickiest eaters. Even my super-picky husband, who admitted that he wasn’t sure he would like it based on the scent that emanated from the crock pot as it cooked, said that he enjoyed it and would eat it again if I made it! That’s definitely a win!
The great thing is that I still have another bag of this in the freezer waiting for me to pop into the crock pot. And that makes me smile at how easy that is! So far, I’m liking this idea of freezer meals and think that this will be a great thing when I’m back to work and the schedule gets more hectic.
Have you tried freezer meals before? What did you think? Have you run into some of the same issues I mentioned? What did you do to overcome them? Have any recipes you recommend trying?
Original recipe from Ring Around the Rosies