Mar 29, 2018

Freezer Cooking Example: Ground Turkey

Back in January, Ralphs had their Simple Truth brand of ground turkey on sale for $2.99 per pound, so I picked up five one-pound packages. I brought them home and turned them into the following freezer meals:

Turning 5 pounds of ground turkey into 5 freezer meals | Chief Family Officer

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

When I make a turkey chili freezer meal, I start with this New Leaf Wellness Turkey Black Bean Chili recipe. But I don't like black beans in chili, so I substitute cans of rinsed kidney and pinto beans. I also leave out the corn, because it's not my family's favorite.

To freeze the chili, I put the liquid ingredients (tomatoes and sauce) in the bottom of a freezer ziptop bag, then the beans and spices, and finally the ground turkey. I use two freezer bags, and label and date the outside bag. Prepping the meal in a bag makes freezing it really easy, because you just have to lay the bag flat in the freezer.

To cook the chili, I pull the bag out of the freezer and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The next day, I dump the contents of the bag into my slow cooker and set it for low all day.

Brown Sugar Turkey Meatloaf

This is another adaptation of a New Leaf Wellness recipe. I substitute turkey for the ground beef, and actually mix the sugar-ketchup sauce mixture into the meat mixture. It makes the meatloaf super moist, and it's delicious.

When freezing a meatloaf, I usually just use a glass loaf pan, and cover it with a layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil (as depicted below). I use a Sharpie to write the contents and date directly on the foil. You could use a foil loaf pan if you don't want to tie up a glass loaf pan in the freezer.

To bake the meatloaf, I defrost it overnight, then bake it the next day. I put the cold pan into the oven when I turn the oven on, instead of preheating it, to avoid shocking the glass. No guarantees, but it's worked for me so far.

Teriyaki Turkey Burgers

I completely improvised this recipe, adding onion powder, grated ginger, brown sugar, mirin and soy sauce to the ground turkey. My family actually really liked these burgers, so I'll have to make them again and record measurements.

You could defrost and pan fry the burgers, but I opted for the easy route and cooked the burgers in the oven from frozen. I just put them on a Silpat and baked them until they were done.

5 Freezer Meals | Chief Family Officer

Instant Pot Turkey Bolognese

I've adapted my favorite bolognese recipe for the Instant Pot, which I love because of the saute function. I skipped the carrots and celery, used the saute function to brown the ground turkey before adding rest of the ingredients and cooking it on the Stew function for a few hours.

Once the sauce was done, I ladled it into mason jars, then labeled the lids with masking tape and a Sharpie. I really like the straight sided mason jars for freezing liquids - even if the center is still frozen, I can slide it out. The core doesn't get stuck the way it sometimes does in the more traditionally shaped mason jars.

Turkey Pesto Meatballs

I mostly followed this New Leaf Wellness recipe, but skipped the tomato sauce because my boys don't like tomato sauce except in baked pasta. These were a hit with my oldest, who liked them way more than the chicken meatballs I made a couple of months earlier.

What are your favorite freezer meals? Plus see the rest of this freezer meal series here.

5 Ground Turkey Freezer Meals | Chief Family Officer

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Dianna said...

Pinned! I'd like to incorporate ground turkey in some of my beef recipes. I love your freezer meal posts. Stupid question -- for the chili, did you cook the turkey before putting it in the freezer bag?

I've had a hard time with removing frozen food from the freezer bag when it's time to prepare these frozen meals. Any tips?

Chief Family Officer said...

So glad you're enjoying the series! Nope, the turkey went in raw. For food safety as well as ease of getting the food out, it's best to thaw the bag overnight in the fridge. Even if some parts are still frozen, you can break the slab into smaller pieces that will come out of the bag easily. If, however, you've forgotten to thaw the bag (not speaking from experience or anything - ha!), you can fill a baking dish with hot water and defrost the slab enough so you can break it into pieces. If you do this, keep a close eye on it - change the water out as soon as it becomes warm, and don't let the bag sit out for too long for safety reasons. Hope that helps!