If your family is busy like mine, here are some easy freezer casseroles you can make ahead of time.
These three easy freezer casseroles I’m about to share with you will actually help you have more time to enjoy a sit down meal with your family before you head out to an activity.
As Ruralites, if we want to go and enjoy a program or take our kids to any activity – We have to drive. Sometimes we drive minutes but other times it’s hours.
And many times, it’s divide and conquer with my husband and I. He has a lot of meetings and programs with his town job and our girls take gymnastics and swimming lessons in town. Between activities, homework, and other things, sometimes I even forget about cooking a meal!
But then I remember something brilliant. I have a casserole I made from scratch that I just need to pull out and warm up. And immediately, the dread of having nothing prepared to eat is lifted from my body. Ahhhhh.
In this post, I’m going to share:
– Three easy freezer casseroles that you can make ahead for busy lunch or dinner like I just described.
– Some tips and tools for freezer cooking to make it easier on you.
– The most difficult part of freezer cooking for you to overcome.
You CAN have a quick sit down meal with your family! It is possible! Let’s dive right into the recipes.
3 Delicious Recipes for Easy Freezer Meals
I’ll go into them in just a short minute. I do give a big thank you to my friend Chef Alli for sharing these amazing recipes with me years ago. She is the expert and I am her forever faithful student. I’m sharing these recipes with you because they work great for me and my family.
I’ll share these recipes and then I’ll go into some tips for how to freeze them. So, please read this post all the way through before you start cooking.
If you want a meal that is more fresh, I highly recommend following the instructions for preparing the pan for freezing the raw casserole contents. I’ll go into more of that later. First, let me share these recipes with you right now.
How to Make Bacon Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole for Your Freezer
Here’s what you need:
– 1 1/2 pounds ground beef,
– 1/2 lb cooked and crumbled bacon,
– 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese,
– 10.75 oz. can condensed cheddar cheese soup (Healthy Request),
– 16 oz. sour cream,
– 32 oz. package frozen tater tots, thawed,
– 2 chopped scallions.
First, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef until it’s nicely browned. Drain well.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, crumbled bacon, cheese, soup and sour cream. Spread the prepared mixture into a greased 8X8 inch baking dish. Top with tater tots. Gently spray the tater tots with nonstick baking spray.
Then, bake uncovered on center rack for 40-45 minutes . Tater tots on top should be a golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Wrap with double tin foil and label with a black permanent marker. Now, you can keep in the fridge or put in the freezer for long term.
If frozen, thaw completely. It takes several hours. Then, warm up in the oven on 350 degrees F for at least 20 minutes.
Try My Grandma’s Creamed Chicken & Biscuits for your Freezer
The next recipe I’m going to share with you is an old fashioned favorite. Here’s what you need:
– 1-2 tablespoon unsalted butter,
– A small onion,
– Red bell pepper, diced,
– 2 lbs cooked chicken breasts or thighs,
– 1 can cream of chicken soup (Healthy Request),
– 1/2 cup sour cream,
– 1/3 cup mayonnaise,
– 1 Cup Milk,
– 1/2 cup frozen peas,
– 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese,
– Refrigerated biscuits
First, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Then, in a skillet over medium heat, melt butter; saute’ onion and bell pepper in butter until softened and translucent.
In a large mixing bowl, combine onion and bell pepper mixture with chicken, soup, sour cream, mayo, milk and peas. Place entire mixture into a greased 11 X 7 Baking dish. Bake uncovered on center rack for 15 minutes.
Remove casserole from the oven and sprinkle with some cheese to your liking. Arrange biscuits in a single layer over the cheese and filling. Brush with some melted butter if desired.
Finally, return the casserole to the oven and bake for at least 15 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown and sauce is bubbly. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Wrap with double tin foil and label with a black permanent marker. Now, you can keep in the fridge for later in the week or put in the freezer for long term. If frozen, thaw completely. It takes several hours. Then, warm up in the oven on 350 degrees F for at least 15 minutes.
Lastly, Here’s the Tex-Mex Cowboy Casserole that can be Frozen
This one is one of my favorites. I just love a good Mexican casserole and this one is so delicious.
1 lb ground beef
– 2 Cups thawed frozen corn,
– 2 Cups Chunky mild salsa,
– 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese,
– 2 oz. sliced black olives, divided
– 1 1/2 cups sour cream
– 5 Cups Whole Tortilla chips
– Green Bell Pepper, diced,
– 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
– 1 diced tomato,
– 2 chopped scallions
Like the other two easy freezer casseroles, the first thing you need to do is preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef and drain.
Into the skillet with the beef, stir in corn, salsa and all but 1-2 tablespoons of black olives. Then, bring beef mixture to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes longer or until hot throughout. Remove from heat.
In a mixing bowl, combine cottage cheese with sour cream. Crush tortilla chips by placing them into a gallon bag and gently crushing them using your hands.
In a 2 quart greased baking dish, place half of the crushed chips, then top with a layer each of half the prepared meat mix, 3/4 cup cheddar cheese and half the prepared cottage cheese mixture. Repeat the layers, but make sure you end with the cottage cheese mixture on top.
Now it’s time to bake! This time, you’ll cover with tin foil and bake on the center rack for 35-40 minutes. Remove foil; top with remaining cheddar cheese, tomatoes, black olives, scallions and bell peppers.
Bake a little bit longer uncovered for five more minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove casserole from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
If you want to freeze this one, wrap with double tin foil and label with a black permanent marker. Now, you can keep in the fridge or put in the freezer for long term. If frozen, thaw completely. It takes several hours. Then, warm up in the oven on 350 degrees F for at least 15 minutes.
Should Easy Freezer Casseroles be Baked First and then Frozen?
Bake first or Freeze first? It all depends on what you’d like to do. Should casseroles actually be frozen and baked later? Or should it be the other way around where you bake them first and then freeze?
There’s two ways to look at this. The reason you might want to freeze a casserole before baking is because it will be fresh and easier. You’re not just reheating the meal as a leftover. Most casserole recipes work great when you prepare, freeze, thaw and then bake them in the same dish or pan.
The reason you might want to bake the casserole first is to save you some time. All you have to do with a frozen casserole is reheat it. Those are the two main differences and you can pick or choose which works best for you and your family.
Preparing the Casserole for the Freezer
If you’re still confused on the freezing part, don’t worry. I got you.
When you’re ready to place your casserole ingredients into your baking dish, first place an oversized sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil into your dish, letting it overlap on all sides. Then, place an oversized sheet of plastic wrap on top of the foil.
Then, place the casserole ingredients as described above into your prepared and lined baking dish and put it directly into the freezer. When the casserole is frozen solid, remove it from the freezer. Once it has set on the counter for a few minutes, you can give the foil a gentle tug. Then, lift the casserole out of the dish.
Next, wrap the frozen casserole with the excess plastic wrap and then the foil. Take a second sheet of foil and use a permanent marker to write the date, type of casserole and baking instructions on it before wrapping this sheet of foil around your frozen casserole and pop it back into the freezer.
The hardest part of freezing make ahead casseroles
Definitely trying to remember to take the casserole out of the freezer can be difficult when you’re so busy. I try to keep a little dry erase board stuck to my fridge with my meal plan, which includes pulling out freezer meals the night before and thawing them in the fridge.
Don’t forget to use colorful dry erase markers.
Be sure to always thaw frozen casseroles in the refrigerator, not on the counter for safety reasons. It can take anywhere from 24-36 hours to properly thaw a large casserole in refrigeration, so try not to forget to pull out that casserole!
Another tip to help you remember to pull out a casserole is to set an alarm on your phone or you can use an actual real alarm clock. Or you can use the reminder app as well.
What you can do today will save you time in the future!
I have to admit. Meal planning is something that I tend to struggle with. But, in an effort to eat healthier and save some money, I’ve been more motivated to try hard with preparing meals ahead of time, either in the crock pot or pulled from the freezer.
And these three casseroles I shared with you are all amazing. My family loves them and they freeze really well. Actually, most casseroles do freeze very well, so you can find your favorite one and start making meals ahead, too.
What is your favorite freezer meal?