Editor’s note: At the Table with the Gabels features tasty recipes and tips from Vanessa Gabel and her daughter, Kaitlyn, of Danville.

Kaitlyn: We’ve been super into freezer meals lately and it’s great to have them on hand. Now this didn’t really taste like a pizza, however it still tasted delicious.

This recipe didn’t take long at all and was super easy to just mix together. While making the meal in the freezer bag, we just put all the ingredients together in the bag and mushed it around and threw it in the freezer. I feel like it could’ve had a bit more cheese because I couldn’t really taste it and you can never have too much cheese. You could also change the noodles to spaghetti noodles to make it more like a meat sauce with noodles.

This recipe is so great because you can make it ahead of time, throw it in the microwave and move on. This meal will definitely be a part of our meal routine, especially when sports start getting hectic.

Vanessa: It’s no secret that I love to meal prep. I enjoy the satisfaction of having our meals lined up to allow dinnertime to come and go more effortlessly. But, more importantly, it helps my family skip the temptation of take out when our schedules become too hectic and we don’t have the energy or time to make a cooked meal happen.

Sports season in our home is the prime time for me to constantly be thinking ahead for freezer meals that I can spend a few hours on over the weekend to prepare for the week or weeks ahead. What I really like about this recipe is that it can be pulled together with very minimal effort. No browning the beef, just toss all the ingredients into a freezer bag or cooking vessel.

Save time and effort by making multiple at a time. One of my favorite “tricks of the trade” is buying the ingredients in bulk to immediately put to use. A 5 pound package of ground beef works great for this recipe, but also has a multitude of other uses, such as stuffed peppers or porcupine balls. Both can be made ahead with just a few ingredients to freeze for an easy meal at a later date.

My biggest tip to offer with freezer meals is to include the cooking instructions with the meal. I like to print the directions on card stock and insert into the outer bag so that it doesn’t wipe off or get soggy and fall off if it is on the outside of the bag. This also allows you the opportunity to reuse the outside bag since it’s just the package and won’t be dirty or written on.

Serve this recipe with some crusty garlic bread or garlic knots for a fancy twist to a delicious favorite.


1 pound lean ground beef

1 tbsp. garlic & herb seasoning

1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

1 tbsp. onion seasoning

4 ounces sliced pepperoni

32 ounces pasta sauce

8 ounces mozzarella cheese

2 ounces Parmesan cheese

3 cups water

1 pound rotini pasta

Additional ingredients needed: 1 (16-oz.) box uncooked rotini or other short cut pasta, 3 cups water

Assembling freezer meal: In a gallon-size freezer bag, add beef, seasonings, pepperoni, pasta sauce, Parmesan cheese and 4 ounces of the mozzarella cheese. Knead contents together and seal, removing as much air as possible.

In a quart-size freezer bag, add the remaining 4 ounces of mozzarella cheese.

Place both bags inside a second gallon-size freezer bag and label with the cooking instructions inside the outer bag.

To thaw: Transfer bag to refrigerator 1-2 days before cooking.

Cook time in the crockpot is four to six hours on high and 20 to 30 minutes on high in the microwave.

Cooking day: Pour mixture into a cooking vessel and add water. Cook according to directions above,

Add rotini in either the last hour of cooking time if using a crockpot or the last 12-15 minutes of cooking time if using a microwave.

Top casserole with remaining shredded mozzarella cheese at the end of cooking.

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