I’m just over two months into this “freezer cooking” commitment for 2019 and I have to say that so far- THIS. IS. AWESOME!
- I absolutely LOVE opening the freezer to find beans and rice, already prepared for dinner.
- I LOVE sitting down to make a meal plan and writing down a meal that I put in the freezer a few weeks ago.
- And I really, REALLY love when it’s time to make dinner and all I have to do is dump something into the Instant Pot and hit go!
Having a stash of dump dinner recipes in my freezer is totally rocking my world, but it wouldn’t happen if I didn’t have a plan to get those meals in the freezer in the first place!
The last time I did a freezer cooking session I focused on breakfast. I dedicated just one hour to making NINE breakfasts and cooked everything LIVE on Facebook… it was terrifying, and so much fun! (You can watch the entire video HERE, and you can download the exact cooking plan I followed and recipes HERE.
I want to do another one hour cooking session, but I want to focus on dump dinner recipes.
What are dump dinner recipes?
A dump dinner recipe is a meal that when you open the freezer container, you “dump” it into a skillet (like this one) or slow cooker (I use this here) or Instant Pot (my favorite here) and you’re pretty much done.
Some say that dump dinner recipes shouldn’t include anything else other than what’s in the freezer container, but I feel like that pigeon-holes you into certain types of recipes that you or your family may or may not like.
Maybe your husband isn’t a fan of roasts.
Or maybe you like your side vegetables to be crispy instead of soft.
If either of these were the case, your choices of dump dinner recipes would be greatly limited!
That’s why I like to broaden “dump dinner recipes” to include meals that may need a simple side dish, like rice or baked potatoes or tortillas.
Even if my dump dinners need aren’t 100% ready to go on their own, I can usually prepare side dishes ahead time by cooking in bulk. My husband knows that anytime I make rice or beans or lentils or quinoa in the slow cooker, I make A LOT. It’s very normal for me to double or triple a recipe so that I can freeze several portions for future dinners.
That’s how I can still press the ‘easy button’ when I make a dump dinner recipe that needs a side dish –when I pull out my main meal to thaw, I pull out those ready-to-go side dishes too!
As I mentioned, the idea of having a dump dinner recipe in the freezer isn’t good enough. You need a PLAN in order to prepare that recipe now, so it’s ready when you need it later.
And that’s exactly what I’m sharing with you today: my one hour freezer cooking plan for dump dinner recipes!
How this Freezer Cooking Dump Dinner Recipes Plan is Going to Work
I’m pretty strict when it comes to which recipes I put in the freezer and which ones I don’t.
- Every recipe has to be easy. No ninja cooking skills required!
- Every recipe has to be something my family already loves (and that means the husband and both kids!)
- Every recipe needs to be affordable. They don’t have to be rice and beans cheap, but we can’t go all out lobster and prime rib here.
- Every recipe needs to use normal ingredients. If I can’t find something at my local grocery store, it’s not happening!
Just like the breakfast meal prep session, I’m cooking this LIVE on Facebook!
This Friday, March 22, 2019 I am going to me following this EXACT one hour freezer cooking plan and making everything LIVE on Facebook. I’d love for you to join me!
I’m going live at 10am and you can click HERE to watch. If you’re a few minutes early (which I recommend), refresh your screen now and then and my video will pop up when I’m live.
Remember that this is a ONE HOUR cooking session, so I’ll be live for awhile… feel free to watch and cook alongside me, or watch/listen while you’re folding laundry, doing the dishes or working on some other chore.
Unfortunately you can’t watch live if you don’t have a Facebook account, BUT you can watch the video after the fact! Here’s how:
- Go to https://facebook.com/dontwastethecrumbs
- Close any pop-ups that you get.
- From the menu bar (left on desktop, top on mobile), click on the VIDEOS button.
- Look for the video dated March 22, 2019 with “freezer cooking” in the title.
Update: Here’s the link to the recorded video! Enjoy!
Before You Make These Dump Dinner Recipes
I’m not a professional freezer cooker, but I’ve been doing a lot of practicing and I like to think I’m getting pretty good! I highly recommend reading this article on 13 Tips for Planning a Freezer Cooking Session, but here are a few important things to remember:
- Make sure you have EVERYTHING you need BEFORE you start. Obviously this includes ingredients, but this also includes any appliances or tools or storage supplies you might need.
- I recommend grocery shopping the day before you cook. That means if you cook on a Saturday, shop on Friday. Your actual cooking time won’t take any longer than an hour, but tack that onto a morning of hectic grocery shopping and crowded stores and it quickly becomes a long day. Plus when you shop the day before, you can simply leave out anything you need for the cooking session instead of putting it all away!
- Clean the kitchen before you start. Clear off the counters and put away unnecessary appliances so you can start with a clean slate.
- Empty the dishwasher and wash the dishes. I went through WAAAY more spatulas during my breakfast meal prep session than I thought I would, so it’s important to be over-prepared. Besides, you’re going to make a lot of dirty dishes. Those dishes need somewhere to go!
Note that clicking the link will trigger a pop-up form. Enter your information to have the recipe sent to you via email. Please allow up to 12 hours for the email to be delivered and check spam folder and “promotions” folder if using gmail. If you still can’t find the download, please email me tiffany (at) dontwastethecrumbs (dot) com.
One Hour Freezer Cooking: Dump Dinner Recipes
Here are the five recipes we’ll be making:
- The Best Slow Cooker Carnitas
- Beef Ragu
- Sheet Pan Sausage, Peppers, Onions and Mushrooms
- Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken
- Homemade Cheeseburger Helper
We’re going to be making each recipe twice for a total of TEN dinners. Be sure to print the recipes before you begin!
Here are the supplies you need:
- (10) one-gallon freezer bags
- (2) sandwich size freezer bags
- cutting board
- sharp knife
- freezer bag stands
- liquid measuring cup
- dry measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- permanent marker
Here are the ingredients you need:
- bell peppers
- black beans (canned or homemade)
- garbanzo beans (canned or homemade)
- chicken stock (homemade optional)
- olive oil
- pasta (macaroni or shells)
- salsa verde
- salsa (homemade optional)
- tomato sauce
- crushed tomatoes
- chuck roasts
- chicken pieces
- ground beef*
- Italian sausages
- pork shoulder/butt
- cheddar cheese
- frozen corn
- bay leaves
- chili powder
- garlic powder
- Italian seasoning
- onion powder
- red pepper flakes
- taco seasoning (make your own!)
This time around, I’m using these baggie holders to make my life easier. They hold sandwich, quart and gallon size bags open for you so you can fill the bags without worrying about making a mess everywhere.
Anyone who has ever tried to ladle leftover spaghetti sauce into a freezer bag knows exactly what I’m talking about here!
I also recommend having two cutting boards ready before you begin. We’ll be cutting both meat and vegetables, so having two available will prevent contamination and help us to keep a good cutting pace too.
What to do Before You Begin Cooking
Read through every recipe, all the way through.
Reading through the recipes will help you to know exactly what type of storage containers you need, and how many, in order to make the recipes work. It also lets you know what measuring cups you might need, how many, and any other tools you might need.
***NOTE: A few of these recipes are for the crockpot or slow cooker, but if you’d like to convert them into an easy INSTANT POT recipe, you can read about that here.
LABEL YOUR STORAGE BAGS.
This doesn’t sound important, but TRUST ME! This will be a very fast hour and once everything is in a bag and frozen, IT ALL LOOKS THE SAME!!
Use a permanent marker to label what will go in the bag or container, the cooking instructions and today’s date.
Let’s get these dinner dump recipes started!
- Chop the vegetables for The Very Best Slow Cooker Carnitas and place them in the storage bags. Measure all the seasonings into the bag and then add ½ cup of liquid. Squeeze the bags so that the spices and onions and liquid mix together. Place the pork roasts into the bags. Remove as much air as possible and set aside for the freezer.
- Chop the vegetables for Slow Cooker Beef Ragu and place them in the storage bags. Measure all the seasonings into the bag and then add the crushed tomatoes. Place the chuck roasts into the bags. Remove as much air as possible and set aside for the freezer.
- Chop the vegetables for Sheet Pan Sausage, Peppers & Onions and place them in the storage bags. Measure all the seasonings in and then place the sausage links into the bags. Remove as much air as possible and set aside for the freezer.
- Measure corn and then beans from Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken into the storage bags. Add the two salsas and squeeze the bags GENTLY so that everything mixes together. Place the chicken into the bags. Remove as much air as possible and set aside for the freezer.
- Shred 3 cups of cheese and divide between two sandwich baggies. Measure the vegetables from Homemade Cheeseburger Helper into the storage bags. Add all the seasonings and then add the tomato sauce. Place the ground beef into the bags. Remove as much air as possible and set aside for the freezer.
Double check that your bags are labeled and give yourself a pat on the back – you’re done!
I highly recommend laying the bags flat to freeze at first. Once they’re frozen through, you can stack them like books in the freezer. I’ve found that this is the best way to utilize freezer space!
Other dinner dump recipes that would be great for a dedicated freezer-cooking session:
- Thai Pineapple Curry
- Tex Mex Beef & Cabbage (from the Quick & Easy Stovetop Freezer Meals eBook)
- Rice & Bean Burrito Bowl (found in Skillet Freezer Meals, serve same week as Carnitas to prepare toppings once and eat twice!)
- Tortilla Soup
- Hamburger Potato Soup (get this in Crock’d Slow Cooker Freezer Meals)
- Easy Blueberry Crisp (from Crockpot Freezer Desserts)
- White Chicken Chili
Are you doing these dump dinner recipes with me? I’d love to hear how they’re coming along for you! Is there a specific type of cooking session you’d like to see here on the blog? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!