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Simple Freezer Stuffed Shells

June 29, 2023 • 0 comments

Simple Freezer Stuffed Shells
Who doesn't love Italian for dinner? This recipe tastes similar to lasagna, but is more adaptable to your family's needs. Whether it's just you or a family of 5, scale as you need and keep in freezer containers that best accommodate your anticipated meal needs.
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Servings: 4


  • (1 12 oz Box) Jumbo Pasta Shells
  • (1 pound) Ground Beef
  • (1 medium, chopped) Onion
  • (2 cloves, minced) Garlic
  • (1 15 oz container) Ricotta Cheese
  • (2 cups) Shredded Italian Blend Cheese or Mozzarella
  • (1/2 cup) Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • (1 24 oz jar) Marinara Sauce


What containers to use? 

The disposable aluminum pans are the most convenient because the food can be baked directly in them and they come in a variety of sizes.

We don't recommend plastic bags for this recipe because you can't bake in them.

You could also use a regular baking dish or a glass container with lid to freeze these if you wish. Just use caution with glass so it doesn't crack and break and be sure the glass is warmed before baking in it.

The quantities in this particular recipe are written for a 9" x 13" pan.

Consider how you'll plan to be preparing these meals, too, when choosing what size containers to use. We decided to do a mix of disposable aluminum containers so that we could either pull a small one for an individual meal or a 9 X 9 for if we had guests over to feed, as well. If you only prepare them in big pans, you're committed to reheating the entire thing at once, so having a few small options might be helpful.

This is also great if you anticipate having some vegetarian needs. You can easily blend the cheeses without meat, stuff a few shells, maybe add some sauteed mushrooms instead, and prepare a tin without meat and mark it as vegetarian, before adding meat to the rest of the cheese blend and preparing the rest of the recipe.

This picture shows the quantities yielded in multiple sized containers when making a double batch. The small tins in the center fit about 3 shells each for a personal serving size. The longer tin fit 8 shells and the largest container is a 9x9 fitting about 16 shells.

Personalize It

While we used ground beef for this recipe, you could substitute or mix in ground pork, ground round, power grind, ground chuck/sirloin, or use ground turkey instead. You can also use a pre-seasoned Italian ground pork or Italian ground turkey if you prefer.

For the greatest convenience, we use a pre-seasoned marinara sauce and keep things simple. If you'd like to "spice up" your sauce, feel free to! You can feel free to add in or leave out the onion and garlic with the meat, as well. We've prepared it both ways.

Scale this recipe up as needed. If you're making a lot of meals, this recipe can easily double. 

You may want to have extras of the ingredients on hand if you're using multiple containers, as well, as you may use more cheese and marinara sauce to adequately cover many small containers than one larger one, as this recipe is originally written for.


1.Cook pasta shells al dente according to box instructions. When finished, strain the pasta and gently rinse with cold water. Set in a pan and drizzle with olive oil, gently separating any overlapping noodles to prevent sticking.

2. In a skillet, fry up your ground beef (or other meats).

3. As the meat browns, add finely chopped onion and garlic if desired, stirring until translucent and meat is cooked.

4. Remove meat from heat and set aside to cool. If needed, strain excess grease off the meat and discard (if using Riemer Family Farm ground beef, this shouldn't be necessary).

5. In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of Italian blend/mozzarella cheese, all the ricotta, most of the Parmesan (if you want to save some to top the shells with at the end, then leave a small portion out), and half of the cooled ground beef until evenly distributed.

6. Using a spoon, gently fill each individual pasta shell with the cheese blend with a generous spoon full. Set stuffed shells in a single layer on a large pan.

To stuff the shells, gently press the shell in on both ends to widen the stuffing space, as seen below. The shell will return to its original shape after receiving the cheese filling.


7. Arrange your freezer pans/containers (or baking dish if cooking right away). Pour marinara sauce into the bottom of the pan until all areas are covered with a thin layer. 

8. Arrange stuffed shells in a single layer side by side until the pan(s) is filled.


9. Top the layer of shells evenly with the remaining portion of ground beef and marinara sauce. If using multiple pans, disperse remaining ingredients accordingly.

10. Sprinkle the remaining cheese (and any additional desired - we like to top with a little Parmesan, too) on top of the ground beef/marinara layer and you're set!


To freeze, wrap in a double layer of aluminum foil. Label as "Stuffed Shells" with "Thaw first. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes covered" and the date you made them, and you're good to go.

To bake off right away, bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, covered. Remove the cover in the last 5 minutes of baking to brown the cheese. Garnish with fresh basil or parsley if you like, and serve!

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