January 30, 2012

Easy Peasy

     I am so excited about this blog post. All because it is about cooking ahead of time, or otherwise known as freezer meals. I know that this is becoming a pretty big trend and I want to be a part of it. We are starting our debt stacking in February, so I decided it was high time to cut in the grocery section. I know that most normal people would never cut down their grocery budget, but I am not anywhere near normal.

   Therefore I took to pinterest and searched for any recipes in bulk and tips on cooking for freezing. I did do an oopsy daisy by not taking photos of my stash after cooking. No worries, cooking weekend is this coming Sunday.  Let me tell you not to be overwhelmed, be excited! It may seem like so much to do in one weekend, but honestly is not. It took me only 3 1/2 hours tops for all of our dinners. We did make a few breakfast items but not two weeks worth.

Here's a list of the dinners I made:

  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Lasagna ( From the spaghetti sauce)
  • Five variations of boiled chicken with sauces and veggies
  • Chicken Crescent Roll Ups
  • Ground beef ready to mix with anything. Already cut up onions & green peppers
  • Chicken Chimichangas
  • Chicken crescent burritos. 
  • Burgers
  We got exactly 14 dinners out of all of this, using a guestimation of servings sizes too. Since all the major things would be cooked already, we would just need to make the sides. In which case dinner is usually done in 10-15 minutes every night and we get to do other projects while it heats up. 

Here's some photos of the setup I had in the kitchen. Please excuse the blur, my lens is in need of a replacement!

My two main tools for mixing and cutting. The Kitchen Aid and the Ninja. It is basically a blender and food processor, I love it.

I actually had a total of 4 pounds of meat and about 5 chicken breasts. Along with so much cheesy goodness!

I use coconut oil to cook everything, look up the health benefits. You will be amazed. As well with my stock of other spices. I also decided to use up the rest of my free barbecue sauce from couponing.
Try this: put an onion in ice water for about 30 minutes before you cut it. This stops you from crying while cutting it!
The magic of the Ninja. I wanted to get the green pepper super small as well as the onions. That way I just added a small amount of each to the meat or chicken mixes.

I just used a small wooden spoon to measure out the amounts into each meal. Super easy!

   Next I browned  the burger, two pounds at a time. As well I had my hubs make me some patties from one pound of the meat. All you have to do is spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and then place the patties on it. Freeze the burgers until the middle if firm and pretty frozen. After that throw them into a freezer bag for ready to cook burgers that won't stick together. 

     After cooking the meat with the veggies added, I simply combined it with spaghetti sauce. To make my lasagna I covered my small bread loaf pan with foil, layers and layers of foil.  This keeps the food from sticking to the pans while it freezes and re-cooks. I used one lay of meat sauce, then a lay of whole wheat oven ready lasagna noodles. Topped with cheese and chopped baby spinach. I repeated those steps until it reached the top. At the very top I used just plain red sauce with some cheese and more baby spinach. Then I cooked it at 425 for 45 minutes. I wanted to go ahead and cook everything so when we want to eat it again we only have to throw it in the over for about 15-20 minutes instead. This fed us for two nights with pretty hefty servings each. 

     With the rest of the meat sauce and cooked beef I just put them in freezer bags for each meal. One tip I learned was to put all of the bags into a baking pan or cookie sheet to freeze initially. This makes them flatter and easier to store. Next on the list was the chicken dinners. I boiled all of the chicken breasts together for about 45 minutes. They were very tender and sure looked yummy! Then I cut 3 of them in half and threw them in bags with sauces and veggies. With two of breasts I made pulled chicken for the crescent roll ups and chimis.

The rolls ups basically consisted of cream cheese, cheddar cheese shredded, and pulled chicken. Along with any veggies you'd like. Then take little handfuls and roll them into a crescent roll and pinch the ends to close. I froze them on a pan first before throwing them in a bag together.

   I hope to put up a better post soon and with more ideas. As well I will have links to recipes etc. I helped one friend this weekend cook for her family, it was a lot of fun and felt great to help someone out. This has helped us tremendously since we have started school back. I hope this gets you on the bandwagon of awesome dinners too!

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