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In the Kitchen: Fillin' Up the Freezer

19 July 2013

**I've linked up with one of my favorite blogs to read, Kelly's Korner today as part of her Show Us Your Life series.**

What do the next 6 weeks look like for you? Let me tell you about our next 6 weeks...in just those 43 days (ok, so it's 6 weeks-ish) we will....
...give birth and have a new baby boy,
...our Baby Girl will turn 2,
...and we will move to another place/city/state=destination unknown.

Any one of these things is a big deal, well specifically two of the three options are pretty big deals, but all of them happening at the same time...yeah, it's a lot!  {Just a little FYI for you...on the top 10 list of most stressful life events, moving ranks in at #3, and having a baby is #7.} :) We aren't super stressed and we are definitely excited, but we are fully aware that life is going to be a little bit cray-cray.

All of this is to say that this week I have spent a fair amount of time filling up our freezer with meals so in the midst of the chaos that is eminent we can still eat. You know, since eating is one of those necessary things in life. I have to say I'm really surprised I haven't been more in to the whole 'freezer cooking' craze. It makes SO much sense...and it's really not difficult at all. I have been dragging my feet on it because, for the most part, I don't have any trouble getting a meal prepared at dinner time. Yes, Karis wakes up from her nap during that time, but I can still get things done and food on the table during that time of day, no problem. So, it just didn't seem necessary. But after spending just a little bit of time in planning and preparation I totally understand why there are factions of women in the US that use this method of meal prep on a regular basis. They are smart!

The recipes that I made are ones that we eat pretty regularly anyway, or at least things that I have made with some regularity. Although I perused Pinterest a bit looking into Freezer Meals, I didn't use a single thing that I found that way; I just stuck with what I know. I thought I'd share with you what I've got stocked...you know, in case you want to jump on the bandwagon too. If nothing else, I will share a few tips I've discovered along the way.

So, what's in my freezer?!? Well, this....
But, what is all that? Let me break it down by category...and I will link to the different recipes in case you are interested in them yourself. (Or put the recipes at the end if I don't have a link).

Dinners/Meals:
Each of these is a main course/protein-base portion of the meal, but with the addition of vegetables and salad on the side, you've got a well-rounded meal. I also tried to get a sampling of different genres: Mexican, Southern, Italian, American. We are really big into leftovers in our family, so each of these meals will provide a minimum of 2 dinners. Often times there is also enough extra for a lunch or for one of us to have again.
Chicken Enchiladas
       - I like to add black beans to mine and recently have started adding corn too. I also scale back the amount of broth/sour cream for the sauce, it makes way more than you need. But, this is a good, easy recipe.
Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole
       - I don't add the cheese on the top of the breadcrumbs. I also don't use cream of mushroom soup; I don't use cream of anything soups anymore, I make my own versions. (They work just as good and have no chemicals.)
Lasagna Casserole
       - I actually don't even know where I found this recipe, I have no link. I've been making it for years, it's nothing new or profound, but is good and easy. Find recipe at the bottom of this post.
Turkey Pesto Meatballs (& Tomato Sauce
       - This is actually the one thing I've never made before, but I hear really good things about it. The tomato sauce is quite good. We actually almost never have meatballs, but they are so versatile it seemed like a good thing to make. We can make meatball subs, put them with pasta, or just enjoy meatballs with some veggies on the side.
Poor Man's Meal
       - Again, I don't have a link for a recipe; I don't even know what it's technically called, but I call it Poor Man's Meal. This is something I've had almost my whole life (the current recipe is with my own tweaking). To my knowledge, it derived from my Mema, who was actually our babysitter when I was little, but she was like a 3rd grandmother.
Browned Ground Beef 
       - This, obviously, isn't a recipe or anything profound, but I had an extra pound of ground beef, so I went ahead and cooked it up. Just having the meat cooked through saves such a tremendous amount of time on the flip-side, I can easily defrost this and quickly make spaghetti, tacos, or any number of things.

Snacks/Treats: 
Well, because why not have a little treat on hand?!?
Chocolate Chip Cookies
       - I've talked about these before, but they're always nice to have on hand.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
       - SO yummy! I've made them before I found this recipe, but it's the same one, so I'm linking it.
Granola Bars
       - These get made with frequency at our house...and they freeze really well. By the way, she has TONS of great freezer recipes on her website.

Breads/Breakfast: 
We love breakfast foods and it's nice to have a few things like this on hand, just to switch things up every now and then. Plus, they freeze well and are a nice grab-and-go meal, or even just something warm for breakfast.
Amish Cinnamon Bread
       - This works really well in muffins as well and is a nice bread/muffin to have on hand.
Veggie Toddler Muffins
       - Karis LOVES these...and I love her getting some vegetables in at breakfast time.
Banana Bread Muffins 
       - I use the Pampered Chef recipe, which I can't find online but will link below. It's quick, easy, and tasty!

Do you make freezer meals with any frequency? What are some of your favorite recipes??



RECIPES NOT LINKED ABOVE:
Lasagna Casserole
Ingredients: 
1 lb. ground beef
1 jar spaghetti sauce (or you could make your own)
1 box penne pasta
1/4 cup butter
1 T garlic salt
1 T onion salt
1 T Italian seasoning
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese

Directions: 
Brown ground beef, drain fat and season with salt and pepper.
Add spaghetti sauce and Italian seasoning to browned beef and heat through.
Boil pasta according to directions. Drain water.
Add butter to pasta and stir until it is melted and evenly distributed. Then pour in garlic salt, onion salt and parmesan cheese. Stir until completely mixed together.
In a 9x13 baking dish, layer 1/2 of the sauce mixture.
Then layer the pasta on top of sauce layer.
Add the other 1/2 of the sauce mixture on top of pasta.
Top with mozzarella cheese and cover with foil.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for 5 minutes.
---------------------------------------
Poor Man's Meal 
Ingredients:
2 cups brown rice
1 lb. ground beef (this meal can easily be made without meat)
2 cans petite diced tomatoes
1 can black beans

Directions:
Cook rice according to directions. (I like to cook my brown rice in chicken stock because it adds a nice flavor. It's also helpful to cook the rice in a large pot so that you can just add the other ingredients and only have 1 pot to clean).
Brown ground beef, drain fat and season with salt and pepper.
Add tomatoes, black beans, and browned beef to cooked rice. Stir until mixed well and heat through.

--We have this often without meat, if you're looking for a meatless option. It's also a good mix to put into stuff bell peppers. Also, Karis devours this meal...and it gives my little vegetarian some much needed protein.
-------------------------------------
Banana Bread
Ingredients: 
2 cups all-purpose flour (I always use whole wheat flour)
1 cup sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 cup (approximately 2) mashed bananas
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

Directions: 
Mix dry ingredients in bowl until well-incorporated. Add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Bake at 350 degrees - 20-25 minutes for muffins, 60 minutes for loaf.

4 comments:

  1. I would love to know how you make your own cream soups... or what you do to substitute! - Thanks! -Brooke (broperdavis@gmail.com)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yum! I will have to try the toddler muffins for my kids!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for sharing, I just pinned this to save for later. Lots of great ideas:)

    Julie
    www.thechirpingmoms.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Visiting from Kelly's Korner! Great recipes to try! Thanks for the links!

    Sarah @ http://lifewithleahy.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

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