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Freezer Cooking in an Hour: Beef and Black Bean Taco Bake, Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread, & Chocolate Peanut Granola

I got a little adventuresome with my Freezer Cooking in an Hour plan for this week and chose three brand-new recipes to make. Here’s the play-by-play:

4:20 p.m. — After a busy morning and early afternoon, Silas went down for a late nap and Kathrynne and Kaitlynn turned on some Adventures in Odyssey CDs to listen to while they built with LEGOs. I took advantage of the quiet and pulled out the meat to start cooking for the Beef and Black Bean Taco Bake.

4:25 p.m. — While the beef was cooking, I turned on the Developing the Leader Within You audiobook and I put together the rest of the ingredients for the Beef and Bean Taco Bake.

4:30 p.m. — I doubled the recipe and quickly realized I had picked the wrong bowl to mix everything up in. I somehow managed to get everything mixed up in the bowl, though, and then divided the ingredients into three dishes to stick in the freezer. I keep stopping to write down quotes from the Developing the Leader Within You audiobook–it’s very good!

4:50 p.m. — The Beef & Black Bean Taco Bake is finally finished and I start whipping up the Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread recipe. My assistant comes upstairs to go over a few things before she heads home. Jesse calls and we talk about our plans for the evening and how our afternoons went.

5:00 p.m. — The audiobook is finished, so I go ahead and download February’s audiobook–The Go-Getter–and start listening to that. I quickly finish the banana bread and put it in the oven and start in on the Chocolate Peanut Granola.

5:10 p.m. — The girls are having an argument, so I go to talk to them and help them resolve their issues. As I leave their room, I hear Silas stirring in his bed. I get him up and give him a snack. And then I set out to finish the granola.

5:15 p.m. — I end up substituting some things on the granola recipe since I don’t have peanuts (I use cashews instead) or sunflower seeds (I replaced those with coconut flakes and wheat germ).

5:25 p.m. — The granola is finally finished and ready to pop into the oven. Time to clean up the kitchen! I’m so thankful that it was a calm and mishap-free freezer cooking session. Those seem to be quite a rarity around here.

As an added bonus, all three recipes turned out well! The banana bread didn’t quite look as pretty as the original recipe (maybe because I used all whole wheat flour?), but it still tasted yummy!

Did you bake or cook anything to freeze this week? I’d love to hear about it and see a link to your recipe(s), if you have one.

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  • Tamara Dillon says:

    I want to try to taco meat recipe!!! Also do you cook your dry beans then freeze?

  • Claudia says:

    I love all types of banana bread, banana nut is my favorite. I tried your banana chocolate chip recipe and it was incredibley delicious. I can’t wait to try this one! Thanks

  • ashley says:

    we got a chest freezer for christmas this year and i’m really looking forward to filling it with many of your freezer cooking ideas! i am curious, though, as to what changes need to be made to the original cooking instructions. do you thaw casseroles first and then bake as directed, or adjust cook time and temp?

    • Crystal says:

      I usually thaw and bake as directed.

    • BethB says:

      I often forget to thaw so I’ll put a frozen casserole in the crock pot after lunch. The only problem with this is I only have one casserole dish that fits in my crock pot so I have to freeze things in shifts.

      I know you’re technically not supposed to put frozen food in the crock pot due to safety issues but if the dish is meatless or the meat is already cooked I don’t see a problem.

  • Aimee says:

    Do u defrost before putting it in the oven?

  • Cindy says:

    I got back on the freezer cooking wagon this week. I followed the link over to the SkinnyMom site. Love it! I now have the following in the freezer:

    ww waffles
    brown rice
    shredded chicken
    cooked pork sausage for breakfast burritos
    sprouted whole wheat bread
    6 week Bran Muffin Mix (in fridge)

    We also tried the black bean and brown rice burritos on the SkinnyMom site. The whole family LOVED them. Even my girl who hates Mexican food loved them. Her not liking Mexican food has been a challenge because the rest of us love it and we live in AZ. They all asked to eat that again soon so I’m soaking black beans right now to make a big batch of the black bean filling to divide then freeze. So glad to have found that recipe:-)

    6 week Bran Muffin Mix (in fridge)

  • Okay, you have an assistant?

  • April says:

    I do what I call compost cooking 🙂 Here is one of my basic recipes I use to make LOTS of dishes in my kitchen. I always keep a ton of it made up in my freezer, too!

  • margaret says:

    It could be the wheat flour re: the banana bread. Every time I try to make a baked good with all whole wheat flour it turns out flat. I wonder if it’s just too heavy.

    • Wendy says:

      I’ve found whole wheat is not good for baking. If you want to use it, you need to mix it with white flour. Usually about 1/2 and 1/2 but it works better when you have slightly more white flour than whole wheat. I know whole wheat is healthier, but if you want prettier dishes, I’ve found you really do need to mix. That’s why you never see cakes, etc….made with whole wheat…at least not here in the south.

      • Amy says:

        We use whole wheat pastry flour for baking and have great results – my family often can’t tell the difference between the whole wheat pastry flour and white flour but we still get some of the benefits of whole wheat flour.

    • BethB says:

      I’ve found there is a wide range in the grind of wheat flour. Some brands work great in everything but others are simply too heavy so my yeast breads don’t rise as much and the quick breads are a little more dense. That said, I’ve been using whole wheat flour in everything except cookies and cakes for years and I think it adds much more flavor. I’d suggest trying whole wheat pastry flour for quick breads.

      • Cindy says:

        Not sure if anyone will see this but go and look up Chef Brad. I just came from a Relief Society Seminar an hour ago that he catered lunch at. He has a website. If you google”Chef Brad” I’m sure you’ll find it. He has a Wonder Flour that is different grains ground together. I once saw the “formula” somewhere and it might be on his site. The Chocolate chip cookies at the luncheon were AMAZING! They weren’t gluten free but wheat free. I know of people who call him the guru of whole grains. He also taught for an hour before the luncheon on the importance of food and fellowship. Delightful to listen to.

  • Sarah says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who has problems with using wheat flour. I keep trying to use it in place of regular flour in my bread machine recipes, it tastes good but loaf comes out smaller and more dense than with white flour.

    • Wendy says:


      See my comment above. Whole wheat is not the preferred choice for baking. You definitely need to mix it with white flour if you are using it at all.

    • BethB says:

      Whole wheat flour does work very well but you have to treat it differently. In my experience it doesn’t work to simply use wheat flour instead of white in yeast breads. I suggest getting the Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book from the library. Their bread machien recipes work very well without the addition of white flour or dough conditioners.

      • Cindy says:

        I make 100% whole wheat bread that’s light as a feather all the time. One of the secrets is to use hard white wheat. Great protein content and lighter texture. My bread has not one single teaspoon of white flour in it. I use the common easy to locate Bosch recipe. Any Bosch dealer can provide you with it. You might try Martha Green’s site: I love her site! So pretty and helpful. The bread can be made by hand but the kneading will take longer. It does call for “dough conditioner”. You don’t have to use it. It also calls for lecithin granules but I prefer a good “pour” of liquid lecithin. I found a dough conditioner from the Blue Chip group that doesn’t have yucky stuff in it. I often also use ground flax meal (about a cup) in my bread as well as chopped sprouted wheat or cooked quinoa. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you use hard white wheat. You can easily find it at places like the Azure Standard website.

  • Rebecca says:

    @Tamara – I have done off again/on again big bean freezing and have not had problems when using black, kidney, white beans. They might be a bit “mushier” but in a chili that is ok. Plus, sometimes I just mix and mash it with salsa when using for burritos, etc. It sure is a more economic way – buying a big bag, throw them in the crockpot and then freeze smaller portions!

  • Heather says:

    I froze a bunch of your chocolate chip pumpkin muffins and two big bags of taco chicken bowl. I made a banana blueberry bread to freeze but we ate the entire loaf. I tried the beef and bean back on Wednesday night – it was a big hit and I was able to make an extra pan for my sister and family as she was feeling under the weather. They also liked it. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Erin says:

    I made the cinnamon swirl banana bread earlier in the week — I agree, it didn’t look as nice as hers but it tasted great. I also made the winter granola on Marathon Mom’s site.


  • Heather says:

    I really love when you do these posts! This type of cooking is a way of life for me and really makes our busy family life much easier! You have a large circle of influence and I get excited to see your posts about freezer cooking because I know you are inspiring so many to give it a try. It really does make things simpler. Anything we can do to make bringing our family together at the table easier and more enjoyable (and less stressful for the cook) is what I’m all about!! Keep up the great encouraging posts!!!!

  • Tiffany says:

    Thanks for linking to my Beef and Black Bean Taco Bake recipe. I’ve never frozen that one before. Let me know how it works out!

  • Jen says:

    I really want to do more freezers cooking, but am having the hardest timefiguring it out. Maybe bc I have a 3.5 year old, just turned 2, and am 7 months preggo. All I can seem to figure out is I always make extra dinner and freeze leftovers. I would love to do an hour every week if I can just make time to plan and do it 😉

    • Crystal says:

      If you can just do one small thing every week to get ahead when it comes to freezer cooking, it can start to add up. You’re doing a great job to freeze an extra dinner each week!

  • I had an old boss who was FANATICAL about The Go-Getter, so I’m very interested in hearing your thoughts! Hint, hint 😉

  • Siobhan says:

    I make 4 ingredient PB&J cookies and they are always a huge hit!

  • Jodie says:

    Cinnamon swirl banana bread…?! YUM! Sounds beyond tasty! Just read your interview article thing on Christianity Today’s site… Great stuff! Makes me like you so much more :)… very inspirational…

  • I was given 10 lbs of chicken breast and ground beef that had to all be thawed out at once. I put the chicken in the crockpot before I went to bed one night and woke up to juicy, and so easily shredded chicken. I divided the chicken up into ziploc bags which held about 1 – 1 1/2 pounds each. I love having this cooked chicken to throw into so many recipes. With the ground beef, I made mini meatloaf for our dinner that night, froze another 5 mini meatloaves and browned the rest of the ground beef. I scooped that into ziploc bags and froze. Yay for easy, easy freezer cooking!
    Here is the recipe for the Mini Meatloaf. I think it’s the best meatloaf I’ve ever made and my family agrees!

  • Denise C. says:

    I am new to freezer cooking, and am starting off small. I roasted some bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, cooled them, shredded the meat and froze it in small portions. I used one bag for chicken fried rice this week. Yum! My husband has been making this awesome pasta sauce with ground beef that I got on sale, I’ve been freezing the leftovers and we used up what was in the freezer last night. I love how both the chicken and the sauce tasted fresh. I do believe my freezer and I are going to become very good friends. 🙂

    • BethB says:

      Good for you! When I started freezer cooking two years ago, in a much different way than I did when preparing for our babies, I kept thinking, “Why haven’t I done this before? It saves so much time!”

  • Stephanie says:

    I love your freezer cooking posts. They always give me new ideas. And I am totally going to try the banana bread. I was just saying to my husband last night that I had better make bread before our bananas go bad and here you are with a recipe! 🙂

    My latest freezer cooking adventure was homemade Cavatelli. I wrote it up just last night and it posted this am, actually!

    • Sarah says:

      Just wanted to comment on the bananas. The BEST banana bread is made with bananas that have already gone bad! I wait until my bananas go completely brown, then throw them in the freezer. (The more “ripe” the banana, the sweeter it is.) When you’re ready to make the bread, just microwave them and peel. Just make sure you freeze as soon as they are brown, before you start to see mold.

  • Carrie says:

    I just made the bread and it is delicious! I added a 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, used 1/2 wheat & 1/2 white flour, and used sucanat (my first time ever!) instead of sugar. A new family favorite!

  • Jennifer says:

    The Go-Getter book is now available on Amazon for Kindle for FREE! Get your free copy before the price goes up!

  • Caren says:

    I recently started listening to audio books and have enjoyed your recommendations. Where did you find an audio download of The Go-Getter?

  • Carrie says:

    I just got done making the banana cinnamon swirl bread and it is already half gone!! It was delicous! I think next time I won’t use as much of the sugar/cinnamon mixture on the top because it was a little too sweet to me.

    I made the pumpkin chocolate chip muffins last week and they were AMAZING! Definitely one of my very favorites!

    I put 3 tblspns of Chia seeds (they are amazingly healthful for you – more so than flax seeds, even) and they worked well in both!

  • Julie says:

    Am I missing the link to the taco bake somewhere? I’m really interested in that one and can’t seem to find a link to click on! Thanks.

  • Danielle says:

    We had the black bean bake this week–thanks! It seems versatile and I can do a lot with it…I kind of wanted to make it into a platter of nachos:) Thank you, Crystal!

  • Erica says:

    I so appreciate these posts that include your real life interuptions. It makes it even more inspiring to read and note how even with many distractions if you keep on doing the next thing you can still make a hefty amount of achievement in a small amount of time. Thank you!

  • Laura P says:

    I haven’t gotten into full-fledged freezer cooking yet, but I do like to bake a whole bunch of chicken breasts when I get them on a good sale – I shred and freeze for quicker dinners after work! I saw a tip online recently for shredding the chicken (I used to do this with 2 forks and hated how long it took)…after cooking the chicken, throw it (while still warm) in your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Turn it on slow speed and watch until it gets to the amount of “shredded” you want!! Soooo much easier!

  • Paige says:

    Crystal, I have a question about listening to audiobooks. 🙂 Do you transfer them to a MP3 file and put on your phone or do you carry around a portable CD player? I hope this question is not too silly, but I was really curious how you choose to get your audiobooks listened to this year. My husband listens to a lot of them in his car, yet the littles are with me most of the time and they want “happy songs” instead of audiobooks for mommy.
    thanks for your feedback in advance. Long time reader here!

    • Crystal says:

      I often listen to them on my laptop. For instance, when I am freezer cooking or washing dishes, I’ll just set it nearby and then push pause and play as needed. It works pretty well for when I’m working in the kitchen or doing laundry. I also have some audiobooks on my phone and I’ll play those when I’m in the car.

  • Jeri says:

    I went crazy with my bread machine this week! I made challah bread (great for french toast) and froze that, made a loaf of whole wheat bread (which by accident I made with AP flour….I think by that time my brain was fried), several balls of pizza crust dough to freeze and one to put in the fridge for last night’s homemade pizza night. And finally cinnamon rolls for this morning. Not going to do that one again, the dough was very tough for cinnamon rolls, I’m going to stick with my mother-in-law’s recipe.

  • WilliamB says:

    I happened to be reading this post when I discovered I needed dinner for many in a hurry. Taco Bake it was! Sorta.

    – Ground pork rather than ground beef because that’s what I have in the freezer
    – I had Ro-Tel rather than black bean salsa; Ro-Tel is awesome canned salsa, with the added benefit of being cheap.
    – I added sauteed onion and garlic because they add fresh flavor to canned foods.
    – Added 3/4 c. white rice I happened to have on hand from lunch.
    – Just happened to have 3 tortillas left from another dish, which I served on the side because my guests decided they’d rather wrap their food.
    – Served raw spinach to add to the wraps, very popular and boosting the meal’s health factor.

    All in all, a very successful dish even if it bore only a passing resemblence to the original recipe.

  • Jackie says:

    I freezer cook all throughout the week by doubling what we’re having for dinner. I also do a one to two hour power cooking session for snacks/breads and freeze. Here’s my weekly plan from last week, which I post every Monday. I’m also starting a freezer link up party each Monday, starting in February. I’d love for Crystal along with others join and link up your ideas with us. We’re a community of moms looking for great freezer friendly meals/snacks/meats, etc. Link up your menu this Monday here, I make a shoebox of 5-minute Artisan dough weekly for all sorts of bread items. We love the following recipe for pizza, sandwich bread, cinnamon rolls/loaves, flatbread and more.
    3 1/2 cups warm water
    1/2 cup oil
    1 1/2 tablespoon yeast
    1 tablespoon kosher salt
    7 cups ap flour ( I use either Eagle Mills or a combo of King Arthur white whole wheat plus ap flour)
    Mix well in a shoebox and let rise for 2 hours on counter. Refrigerate and shape into desired breads. Most loaves stand for 1 1/2 hours room temp prior to baking at 450. I get better results with cinnamon rolls by rolling and cutting the night before and baking the next day. They last cut/covered for several days.

    Great post to referral post,

  • Jackie says:

    Hi Crystal,
    Here’s a kitchen tip regarding how to have finely ground meat, I thought you might like.

  • Emily says:

    I posted my version of the bread this morning, super yummy! The taco bake is in my plans for next week, make a triple batch, eat one, freeze 2!

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