11 Healthy & Inexpensive Freezer Meals!

As I am typing this, I am 39 weeks 6 days pregnant with baby #2!  I know my time is going to be limited once le bebe gets here, so my goal is to get this posted quickly and share all these recipes with you guys!  I remember after baby #1 was born I was so exhausted in the first two weeks that we ended up ordering a lot of pizza, pouring cold cereal, and eating relatively unhealthy simply because I was so tired, sore, emotional, etc that cooking seemed out of the question.  I always feel more tired and sluggish when I eat junk food, and it wasn’t helping my recovery.  This time around, I wanted to prepare some healthy meals in advance that I can easily stick in a crockpot and have ready for dinner.  I did a quick search on Pinterest for freezer meals and found a lot of ideas!  Unfortunately, I had a hard time finding freezer/crockpot meals that were also healthy.  Most of the recipes I found included a lot of cream of celery/chicken/mushroom, etc, or BBQ sauces, or ranch dressing, etc.  So, instead of using the recipes I found online for “freezer meals” I decided to go visit some of my favorite clean eating websites.

Two of my favorite “go-to” sites for healthy recipes are Little B’s site and The Gracious Pantry (click on each name for links to their sites).  Both sites have awesome recipes that I have made many, many times and a lot of times I find myself scrolling their sites for ideas when I have chicken or ground turkey in the fridge but am not sure how I want to prepare it.

After scouring through a few different sites, and going through some of my own recipes, I decided on this list of freezer meals:

-Chicken Tortilla Soup (2 freezer meals)
-Beef & Barley Soup
(3 freezer meals)
-Honey Lime Chicken
(1 freezer meals)
-Little B’s (Mock) Sweet and Sour Chicken (2 freezer meals)
-The Gracious Pantry’s Minestrone Soup (3 freezer meals)

I made all the meals at one time and it took me about 2 hours to prep everything and get them put together (it might not take you quite as long, but I had a 3-year old helper who slowed things down a bit) :)

Below are some pictures I took during the process.  So that this post doesn’t end up too long, I am going to put the individual recipes up separately, except for Little B’s and The Gracious Pantry’s recipes.  For those two recipes, I will link their sites and you can take a look there to get the recipes.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
*This recipe makes enough for one freezer meal – I doubled this recipe and made a double batch when I was prepping my meals.*

This is one of my favorite “not sure what to make for dinner tonight” recipes!  It tastes really good and I usually have all these ingredients in my fridge/cupboard.

 


*Click HERE for the Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe and freezer meal instructions.*


Beef & Barley Soup
*This recipe makes enough for one freezer meal – I tripled the recipe and made a triple batch when I was freezing my meals*

Beef Stew is one of my husband’s favorite meals!  When it is cold outside, he asks me to make it for him all the time.  Usually I just sort of throw random ingredients together until everything tastes good, but this time I wrote down my ingredients so I could put it in a recipe post for you guys.  This soup has a tomato-base to it and the barley makes it nice and thick.  If you prefer, you could use potatoes instead of barley.  I have tried using sweet potatoes before and those do not taste good in this recipe.  Instead, stick with yukon gold or red potatoes cut into bite sized chunks.

*Click HERE for the Beef & Barley Soup Recipe and freezer meal instructions.*



Honey Lime Chicken
*This recipe makes enough for one freezer meal*

This is a really simple recipe that I started making last year, but is really tasty!  I think I originally found the recipe online somewhere at some point and have changed it up a little and added a few of my own ingredients to make it taste the way I like.  When I am really trying to lean down, I am pretty strict about how many grams of sugar I take in each day and might not eat a meal that had honey and pineapple because both are high in natural sugar.  But, after the baby comes, that isn’t something I am really watching as closely so this meal is perfect.


*Click HERE for the Honey Lime Chicken Recipe and freezer meal instructions*


Little B’s (Mock) Sweet and Sour Chicken
*This recipe makes enough for one freezer meal – I doubled the recipe and made a double batch when making my freezer meals.*

This is a meal I have made many times and it always turns out so good!  My husband and 3-year old really like it too.  I followed the exact recipe that is on her site.  I didn’t have Truvia packets on hand, but I did have Truvia that they sell in bulk in the little green container and so I just used 1.5 Tbsp Truvia instead of six packets.  Also, this meal can be higher in grams of sugar because of the pineapple.  Just keep that in mind if you are trying to lean out and watch your grams of sugar.  For me, after baby is born, I am not stressing too much about it.  Make sure to get pineapple that is packed in juice and not heavy syrup.  I used about 1/2 of the juice that was left in the can.

To make this into a freezer meal I just put all the ingredients in a gallon-sized freezer ziplock.  Make sure to push any extra air out of the bag before you seal to avoid any freezer burn.  I trimmed the fat off my chicken breasts and then just put them in whole, but you could also dice the chicken up first (like the recipe calls for).  I was just feeling a little lazy and decided that when I cook it I will either cut it after it’s cooked or shred the chicken.  The day before you decide to cook the meal, pull it out of the freezer and let defrost in the fridge for about 24 hours.  The day you want this for dinner, cook in the crockpot on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.


*Click HERE to get Little B’s (Mock) Sweet & Sour Chicken Recipe*


The Gracious Pantry’s Minestrone Soup
*This recipe makes a big batch!  It is enough for three freezer meals – I just followed the recipe and split it evenly between three gallon-sized freezer ziploc bags*

If you haven’t ever visited The Gracious Pantry’s website you are missing out!  She posts a ton of recipes that are processed food/preservative free and I have yet to try a single recipe on her site that hasn’t been delicious.

This is how I prepped this meal.  There are a ton of veggies in this recipe, so first I got out my ziploc bags (three) and then split each of the different veggies up three ways and just evenly spaced the veggies between each bag.  Also, I forgot to get fresh chives and fresh basil so I just used dried chives and dried basil.  At first, I wasn’t sure if I would have enough space in my bag for the veggie broth, but turns out I did.  So, I wrote on the bag ‘add veggie broth’ but then crossed it out because I had enough room for all the ingredients when I froze everything.  Make sure you push out any extra air in your bag to avoid freezer burn.

When you are ready to make this meal, pull it out of the freezer the day before and allow to defrost in the fridge.  On the day you are ready to cook this meal, you can put it in the crockpot and warm up for a few hours, or put it in a pot on the stove.  There isn’t any meat in this recipe so you don’t have to cook it long, just long enough to heat and cook the veggies all the way through.  You could add chicken or rice/beans to this soup if you wanted to add more protein to it.

^^I didn’t actually use all the carrots/celery/mushrooms shown here – I just hadn’t taken the veggies out of the bags I bought them in yet^^

**Click HERE to get The Gracious Pantry’s Minestrone Soup Recipe**


Lastly, I also made a double batch of Jamie Eason’s Cinnamon Swirl Protein Bread and a double batch of her Pumpkin Protein Bars.  I bagged the bars in portion sizes (4 bars), labeled them, and put them in ziploc bags.  These are great to have on hand when you need a quick meal or to curb a craving for an unhealthy snack.  I usually keep one in the fridge defrosted, or if I want I will grab a frozen bag, take the bars out of the bag, and put in the microwave for 1 minute.

I get asked often if it is ok to use protein powder while you are nursing and/or pregnant.  I asked my doctor about this and he said that if I was just using one serving a day and it wasn’t my only source of protein that is was perfectly ok.  I try to stay away from protein powders that use artificial sweeteners (splenda aka sucralose, aspartame, etc) or many fillers.  The brands I like and use is MRM All Natural Whey Powder .   If you have specific questions I recommend talking to your doctor about it.  You can also read the blog post I wrote about taking protein powder while pregnant and nursing here.

I hope these ideas and suggestions were helpful!!  Leave a comment and let me know if you end up making any of these freezer meals and how they turn out!

Comments

  1. These were helpful for me and I’m not even pregnant! I love making things to throw in the freezer. It makes meals during the week MUCH easier!

    • Awesome!!! Thanks for the feedback Kelsey! Let me know if you end up trying any of the recipes and what you think :)

    • Hi – love this idea of combining healthy food and exercise. Would it be possible for you to set up a heading on your index called “slow cooker meals”. Would save me a lot of time looking for these. I’m guessing also that you are including recipes that are low in calories, refined carbs. Since these are becoming more popular topics, do you also do a section on cooking vegetarian or finding GMO free fruits and vegetables? Thanks for the great ideas! Maggie from Canada.

    • AS a Chef I was taught to never mix Raw Chicken and vegetables together for any length of time prior to cooking!! Food for thought!!

      • So right about the raw meat. When I do a pre-packed freezer meal for the crock pot I always put the meat in one bag & the other stuff in a second bag then pack them together in a larger bag for quick access. That way I can actually switch out the meat portion if I feel like a change (i.e pork instead of chicken) it makes it a little more versatile.

        Pre-pack crock pot meals are great for everyone. I know that after a long day at the office I am not in the mood to come home and start making a big meal. They also provide great impromptu gifts for your friends and family. Nothing says love like a home cooked meal.

      • Hey Cory! We grew up making freezer meals this way, and as long as the bag is put in the freezer right away I have never had a problem.

  2. These are great!! Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Jennifer says:

    I can’t wait to make up some of these. I was truly coming to a dead end when thinking of things to make post pregnancy that would still be healthy. I’m so glad you posted this. :)

  4. Love these! I love all of the vegetables in the meals. Has anyone gotten extra extra productive and created a grocery list including ALLof the recipes included here? Just thought I’d ask before putting mine together! If not…I’ll share too if anyone needs. :) Thank you Natalie!

    • Thanks for the feedback Lynnsey! I don’t think anyone has put together a grocery list, but if you do please let me know! I would love to include that in this post and give you credit for it. :)

    • Jennifer says:

      Is there a grocery list now? I’d love to have it! I want to make these for me and for a prego friend! :-)

  5. Thanks for sharing these recipes. They look really good.

  6. Tish Lanier says:

    What a great idea Natalie, I love throwing everything in a bag until the day you need it! That is so smart!

  7. Thank you! I’m 21 weeks pregnant and already panicking about what we’re going to eat once the baby is here. My husband can barely make toast. I

  8. Thank you! I’m 21 weeks pregnant and already panicking about what we’re going to eat once the baby is here. My husband can barely make toast.

  9. These ideas are FANTASTIC for me, as I am a boring eater and will make the same ridiculous sauteed chicken breast until I actually want to vomit from it. I took some time out to make these recipes for the crockpot and I’m excited to eat properly this week. My motivation has been sideways, but I’m setting the expectation to see changes in 4 weeks, I’m hopeful.

  10. Thanks for these! I’m not prego but in the older school kids (x 3) phase of life that means we have activities almost every night during the school year plus homework, so quick fixing dinner ideas are always welcome!
    FYI, it appears that both links go to the same site, Little B’s. I was really interested in Gracious Pantry so will google but thought I’d let you know ;)

    • Ooh I didn’t realize I had the link wrong – thank you for letting me know I appreciate it! I will fix it now. Hope you like the recipes! I am the oldest of ten kids, so although my own kids aren’t school age yet, I remember how much shuffling was involved. I was the oldest, and the day I got my drivers license my mom was so happy so I could help carpool! haha :)

  11. I’m a single, working, going-back-for-her-master’s mother of a 3 year old, and these were wonderful ideas! I just started preparing meals two Sundays a month so I can spend more time with my little one, but I have a hard time finding freezer meals that we both can enjoy while staying healthy (the fun of having a picky eater!) These certainly seemed to be a hit, and I will be using them again! Thank you for sharing!

  12. Kim Slivka says:

    Please post more freezer meals! I have MS, and often hear of friends cooking all of their meals one one day-like on a Sunday. It makes such good sense! Any suggestions on how to double or triple these recipes since we feed a couple of elderly neighbors throughout the week? Iris it pretty much common sense! Please, please post more recipes like this so I can cook for the whole week without having to repeat? I plan on using quinioa for a couple of these because the protein value is amazing! Thanks so much! This is a blessing for my family, and cost-effective effective, too! So get busy, girl! Lol….create more genius recipes! ;)

  13. I am 32 weeks pregnant and made freezer meals BBQ chicken
    X2, sloppy joe x2, spaghetti x4,meat loafs x3, Mac and cheese, dozen breakfast burros and bacon spinach quiche x2. If I have room in the freezer I will add tortilla soup.

  14. Don’t defrost! Throw the whole frozen thing in the crockpot in the morning. (To get it out of the bag, you might need scissors.) It’ll be cooked by dinner time. I promise. Forgot to defrost a whole chicken once and had no choice but to throw it solidly frozen into the crockpot thinking I’d finish cooking it in the mircrowave when I got home. No need. Perfectly cooked. I throw all my frozen make a head meals straight into the crockpot now.

    • Just be careful when throwing your meal in the crockpot frozen. You can crack your pot (if it’s stoneware). Mine cracked, so I bought one with a metal pot and now I have no problems. I almost always put my meat/meals in frozen in the crock pot!

  15. I am an American living in India at the moment, and these are a great idea for me because not only do I like to buy my vegetables when they are local and in season rather than shipped from elsewhere, but around here, it’s often the only way to get some vegetables. So I tend to freeze a lot. When mangos are in season, for instance, we buy dozens of them, then dice and freeze for smoothies in non-mango season. Since corn is in now, I see some of your recipes really need corn, and I’m glad to be able to make those now and eat them later in the year. So thanks for sharing!

  16. Wow thanks for sharing these recipes and information! Being disabled has created some permanent challenges and one of them is not having the energy to cook daily. DH works full time and over time plus he has become the full time chef so these will really help cut down on prep and cooking time plus we will be eating so much healthier! I really appreciate it a lot! Thank you again.

  17. As I am reading this I am 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant, also! I just wanted to say that.

  18. do you put the raw meat in the bag with the raw vegetables before you freeze them?

  19. Hi there I love to plan ahead meals and pack food. BUT if one of those ziplock bagsbegan to leak you would have a messy freezer. That is why Tupperware is AWESOME! With Tupperware you can plan meals, freeze Foods, and store left overs in the freezer. I also made my baby food and froze it in ice trays. Tupperware is inexpensive when you think of all the use you get out of it. And has that guarantee for life. And there are many sales. Check out my website. It is only $99 for the beginner kit. Or you can host a party on-line. Thanks Tammy

  20. Maybe I need to read the recipes… but what is the serving sizes for each meal? I have to feed 7… three are teen boys and a very skinny husband that still finds a way to ‘pack away’ a TON of food… :(

    Their appetites are KILLING my grocery budget :’(

    Thank you!!!

  21. Did you sauté the onions, etc. as in the minestrone recipe before freezing, or just put them in the bag raw?

  22. My daughter had a c-section so it was especially important for her to have some extra help. Her husband is wonderful around the house, but not a very experienced cook.

    I played magic house fairy the first week or so to help them out. The night before my daughter and grandson were due to be discharged I went the their house and prepped a crock pot meal and left it in the fridge with instructions for my son-in-law to pop it into the crock pot base in the morning when he left for the hospital. I made sure the dishes were done and the floors were swept and the house was tidy before I left. They came home to a hot meal and a tidy house. The only thing to worry about was little John and getting some sleep.

    The next day I slipped in just prior to afternoon nap time with a turkey breast that I had started at home and a bag of marinated vegetables for roasting (potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes acorn squash and onions ), I put it all into a disposable roasting pan, popped it into the oven set and set the timer. I snuggled the baby for a few minutes then I tidied the kitchen folded a load of laundry and slipped back out knowing that when the new family got up from their nap, supper would be ready.

    The key to being a good house fairy is to remember that you are there to help not to be entertained and to keep your visit really short (30 minutes or less) but helpful … and of course magically producing a great meal that will provide left overs is also a requirement of the job. I hope that prospective parents will show this post to possible “House Fairies” in their own life and hopefully recruite some fly by help for those first exhausting weeks.

  23. I am way past baby barring, but I am going in for surgery and I am going to try three of these soups. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Sincerely Rena

  24. Thanks for these recipies! My girlfriends and I meet 2 or 3 times a year to prepare things like this. We agree on the 3 or 4 selected recipies ahead of time and shop for ingredients times four or five, depending on how many of us will participate. Then we all show up at my house and they also bring certain pans, foil, plastic bags, etc. We spend the day preparing, talking, eating and laughing. It’s so great when we can get together and be productive, since everyone’s time is so precious. Best of luck to you and your family–you are quite industrious!

  25. Angie Kramer says:

    This is the shopping list I came up with:
    Gallon Freezer Ziploc Bags

    Meat
    11 chicken boneless skinless chicken breasts, not frozen
    1 1/2 lbs Beef Stew Meat

    Produce
    1 small onion
    2 large red onion
    9 cloves garlic
    1 jalapeno
8 limes, juiced OR 8 Tbsp lime juice
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
    1 small bunch of chives
    1 medium bunch of basil
    15 carrots
    9 stalks of celery
    1 pound zucchini
    1 small eggplant
    1/2 pound mushrooms
    1 red bell pepper

    Canned/Misc
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
    5 (14.5 ounce) can tomato sauce
    1 (28 ounce) can stewed tomatoes 
1 (14.5 ounce) can black beans
    2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans 
3 (14.5 ounce) cans low-sodium chicken broth
    2 (32 ounce) cartons veggie broth
    1 (20 ounce) can pineapple bites packed in juice
    1 can diced pineapple and juice
    3/4 cup barley (pearled)

    Frozen
    1 pound frozen peas
    2 lbs frozen corn

    Spices/Seasonings/Condiments
    3 bay leaves
    1 tsp parsley flakes
    1/4 tsp black pepper
    1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    6 Truvia packets
    1/4 cup honey (raw honey is best)
    2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
    1/3 cup reduced sugar ketchup
    1/3 cup Dijon mustard
    1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    2 tsp Siracha sauce
    1 1/2 Tbsp “Better Than Bouillon” paste or 3 cubes of beef bouillon

  26. Be sure to freeze them so the fit in the crock pot… tape the corners in maybe?

  27. I am dutch, but love my american crockpot.
    As a single mom of 2 teenage boys who bike 20km to school every day, I need big meals every night.
    But next to my job, I’m going back to school for one year fulltime, so these recipes are a lifesaver for me!!
    thanks so much

  28. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now
    each time a comment is added I get four e-mails with the same comment.
    Is there aany way you can remove people from that
    service? Thanks a lot!

  29. Heading to the grocery tomorrow to get all the ingredients for my freezer meals and have all of these added to my list. Thank you so much! I am 39 weeks pregnant today with my third and final child and can’t wait to get my body back :)

  30. Amanda McCleese says:

    I’m pregnant with baby number 2 due in late February. I’m so glad I found a link to your blog on Pinterest. I know that I’m not going to have much time or energy to cook dinner after taking care of a new born and a 2 and a half year old, so I decided to give “freezer cooking” a try. I’m so glad I was able to find HEALTHY recipes to try this with. Thank you so much for this! I can’t wait to try all of these recipes! :)

  31. Samantha says:

    How long do these stay good in the freezer? I am new to the idea of freezer meals but I really want to try! Any tips are appreciated =]

  32. I’m wondering if you sauteed the onions in the minestrone or prepared the soup at all before putting them in the freezer bags?

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  1. […] expecting a new baby soon? Any of my healthy freezer meal recipes that I have on my website (click here to see the list) would be a great thing to bring over for dinner for a new mama. They are all fairly […]

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