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Posts tagged ‘freezer cooking’

Freezer Cooking – The Short Version

I don’t usually do this “happy homemaker” stuff on my blog (simply because I don’t have much to teach in the way of housekeeping hints or original recipes) but I’ve commented about my freezer cooking days and a few people have asked so I thought I’d give a brief idea of a simple freezer cooking day.

A little back story – I am a mom of four and the older my kids got, the busier they got.  Add to that the fact that there were seasons of the year when I worked 3 part time jobs and one of those was a musical which tied up evenings.  Freezer meals made it easier on everyone!

Today’s plan was very simple (compared to other days where I’ve done a dozen entrees or side dishes).  If you are looking for good freezer cooking ideas you can find two of my favorite blogs here (love the taco soup recipe on this one!) and here (I’ll be sharing the marinade from this one a little later).

One tip – I’ve learned that LOTS of casseroles can be frozen for use later in the week.  Just prep them to the moment right before you would put it in the oven to bake and then freeze it instead.  You can use either freezer bags or casserole dishes.

First, it was off to the grocery store to do the grocery shopping.  TIP: I use Cozi.com for meal planning and I have the app downloaded to my phone so I don’t need a written grocery list.  I just use the app!  Hubby gets paid twice a month so when I shop for groceries, it’s for two weeks!

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When I freezer cook, I use the items shown in the picture.  The binder is a family cookbook and that plus the green cookbook are the ones I use most.  The laptop is used to access recipes I’ve pinned or websites I’ve “bookmarked” as well as providing some entertainment via Netflix!

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One of the things I did to start the day was to freeze some fresh green beans I picked up at Market on Central yesterday. Snipped the ends while I got the water boiling. I blanched them then spread them on a cookie sheet to “flash freeze” so them.  That way they wouldn’t freeze in one big lump when I put them in the freezer bag!

IMG_20130915_154743_645Then I started on some of the other recipes.  I got two skillets heated up and fried up two pounds of ground beef in each one.  The one on the left was turned into my mom’s homemade sloppy joes and the one on the left was simply fried up, cooled and frozen.  It would be used later for nachos.  I labeled freezer bags and when the content of each pan had sufficiently cooled, I bagged up the contents and put them in the freezer (I have a stand-up freezer in my basement since the one attached to my fridge is full of veggies and other things!

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I make a pretty mean chicken broccoli alfredo (with a homemade alfredo sauce) and I’ve discovered that I can speed up the process by prepping the chicken ahead of time.  Chop up two chicken breasts, salt and pepper them, heat some EVOO in the skillet and then fry up the meat!  Cool it, bag it, and freeze it.

I’ve also learned that I can freeze meat in sauces or marinades and they are super tasty – they just soak in the marinade before they freeze and soak some more as they are thawing.  The second link I shared above introduced my family to what has become our families favorite marinade.  It’s fairly easy – blend the ingredients then pour it over the meat which you have already placed in the freezer bag.  Thaw the meat then grill it and heat the sauce to use on the meat.  (Go to the link above and look for Steak Marinade near the bottom of the page).

IMG_20130915_170448_680Like I said – a simple day. I kept dishwater in the sink since I kept using the measuring cups, measuring spoons, and skillets.  I spent about an hour and got fresh veggies frozen and parts or all of four entrees.  Regardless of who is responsible to finish dinner, some of the most complicated (or messiest!) work has been done.

Looking to do more freezer cooking?  Go to Pinterest!  It’s a growing area of interest for many and I found some of my best ideas there!  You can find me – MaryJo – and check my “Freezer Meals” board to see the ideas I’ve saved or my “Did It!” board to find the ones I’ve used and liked!

Sheer Willpower = More Freezer Meals

Hubby’s pay day was yesterday which meant another round of grocery shopping today followed by another round prepping some freezer meals.  I didn’t want to just duplicate everything I did the last go round so I changed it up some.  Unfortunately, today didn’t run nearly as smoothly as last time around and it took every ounce of willpower I possessed to keep going!  Last time around I used all of the recipes but one from the same blog and her step-by-step directions were incredibly helpful!  (Side note – check out that particular blog entry here – The Test Kitchen of Melissa Fallis.  I didn’t do the BBQ recipe but made all the rest!  Believe me, I will repeat those recipes again!)

Every time I got close to saying “chuck it”, I remembered the complete lack of stress when it came to meal time this past week and I kept going.  As I type this, I have a batch of sloppy joe meat all cooked up – it’s my mom’s homemade concoction – that will get defrosted and reheated on Friday night since there is a home football game which means marching band responsibilities for my son and uniform responsibilities for mom!

I also have a double batch (translated: two casseroles) of cheeseburger and fries casserole frozen and ready.  The steak marinade from the Melissa Fallis blog was a HUGE hit last time around so I did that one again.

I have four more recipes that I will take a go at tomorrow, all of them new.  One of them will make individual servings of calzones, another will make a double batch of  Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-dried Tomatoes casserole, then there is Sausage and Spinach Pasta Bake as well as Upside Down Fettuccini Bake.  With the holiday on Monday, we are grilling out – burgers – and we are doing “breakfast for dinner” one night this week.  Still have two Chicken Pot Pies in my freezer and one of those will get pulled for supper on Wednesday.  Tomorrow’s dinner is a Marinated and Baked Pork Chop recipe from the blog I mentioned above.

I wasn’t planning to do any more twice baked potatoes but there was a sale at the store we couldn’t resist – $2.99 for a 15 lb. bag of potatoes.  No, that’s not a typo.  So I did two or three more meals worth of twice-baked potatoes (still had one of those in the freezer that we’re using for dinner tomorrow).  We’ll throw some fried potatoes on the menu with the burgers on Labor Day to use up another significant portion of the tatoes.

The butcher counter at our local grocery store does “meat bundles” and we purchased one of them this week – 100 servings of various meats for 100 dollars.  The box included pre-done burger patties (Labor Day cookout!), brats, pork chops, boneless pork chops, steaks, cube steaks, ribs, . . . lots of tasty stuff!  Between my freezer cooking and the meat bundle, we are well on our way to having most of the entrees for the month of September taken care of!

I’m absolutely exhausted and my feet hurt.  But I’m soooo glad I accomplished at least half of my freezer cooking today, especially since I didn’t get the grocery shopping started until after lunch!  Feeling very blessed that the freezer cooking thing (and the deal on potatoes and the meat bundle from the store) have stretched our grocery budget to crazy lengths!

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