Monday, May 9, 2011

Making Freezer Meals!



I decided earlier in the week to make Saturday a freezer meal's day. It is so nice when there are meals in the freezer that you can pull out at the end of a homeschooling day. While it is a lot of work, with some planning it can go fairly smoothly.

I made up a list of what I was going to fix Thursday night. Friday was Family Fellowship at our church, but it was a mom's night off so only the dad's and children went. I took that time to go shopping! I went to Costco, our local health food store (for herbs), and Walmart. When I came home it was pretty late and I was exhausted. The only prep work I did that night was put my pinto beans in a pan of water to soak overnight.

When I woke up Saturday morning, my kitchen was a mess, but I just jumped in and started working around everything. The children eventually came and swept the floors, and my Mother In Law stopped by and stayed for several hours to help. She made one of the meals, and kept the dishes under control, which was really helpful.



Here is a list of what I made:

Refried Beans -these work out to be a lot cheaper than what I can buy them in the store for! Plus, if you do a big batch at once it really doesn't take a lot of time.

Homemade Bread - I finally found a recipe I really like, and I'll share it below!

Burritos - I made four pans of burritos. I loosely followed this recipe but I used beef instead of chicken. I also wanted some sort of sauce in them, so I made the pioneer woman's enchilada sauce recipe. Yummy! Her recipe calls for a can of enchilada sauce to begin with, and I did not have that. So I first made a basic enchilada sauce recipe I found, then I made the pioneer woman's recipe. :)

Quiche- I made three quiche's (or rather my mother in law did!). I'll share the recipe below. They freeze really well!

Two big bags of breakfast burritos- I cooked up some hamburger I had and tried to season it like breakfast sausage. I scrambled eggs, cooked some diced potatoes, then mixed it all together. I put a big spoonful in a tortilla shell, then topped it with cheese, folded it up and placed in a bag. I'll just pull them out and warm them up in the oven for breakfast. We really like this recipe for homemade hot pockets but they take a lot more time to make.

I made three different chicken recipes, which are top secret and I can't share what they are! Jessica from Life As Mom blog is writing a freezer meal's cookbook right now and I offered to test three recipes for her. Let me just say, I definitely plan on getting this cookbook when it is published. The recipes I made look fantastic! Here are a few other chicken recipes from her good (cheap) eats blog that can also be frozen:


I was planning on making this fantastic looking Chicken Pot Pie recipe, but I ran out of time. It's on my list to make this week.

I figured it up and everything pictured above cost me around $40 to make. That's not bad for 12 dinner meals, plus breakfast and bread! I did buy the aluminium pans at Costco, making each pan cost .21 cents each. I like to have enough glass or stainless steel pans to use, but at this point I just don't have enough. A friend just gave me a tip that she lines her pans with aluminum foil, and freezes her food in her pans. When they are frozen she lifts the food out with the foil, and places it in a big freezer bag. That way her pans are available again! I think that's a great idea!

Here is the bread recipe.

Whole Wheat Bread

5 cups warm water
2/3 cup oil
2/3 cup honey (I have put sugar in when I'm all out of honey and it worked fine)
1/4 cup wheat gluten
1/4 cup lecithin
1 egg
4 cups whole wheat flour (hard wheat, preferably Bronze Chief flour)
2 TBSP Instant yeast (preferably SAF yeast)
8 cups whole wheat flour (soft wheat, preferably Prairie Gold flour)
4 tsp salt

Instructions: Add the first 6 ingredients to mixer and mix until smooth (I use my Bosch for making bread). While continuing to mix add 1/2 of your soft wheat flour. Once that is mixed in, mix in your salt and mix for one minute. Turn mixer to medium and add remaining flour. Let this mix for 7 min. Let dough rise in mixer covering for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in size. Do not let it over rise. Turn dough onto a lightly oiled counter and knead down gently. Divide dough into equal portions. Roll out and shape dough and place in oiled pans. Let rise again for 30 min. to 1 hour or until doubled in size. Bake in the middle of your preheated oven on 350* for five minutes then turn oven to 325* and bake 20-25 minutes. Remove loaves from pans and place on cooling rack. When completely cooled place in bag and seal.

Choose-a-Flavor Quiche

Pastry for single crust pie
3 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sliced green onions (2)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Dash ground nutmeg
3/4 cup chopped cooked ham, chicken, or crabmeat (I always use chicken)
1/2 cups shredded swiss, cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Harvarti cheese
1 TBSP all purpose flour

Prepare pastry and line pie plate as directed. Line unpricked pastry shell with a double thickness of heavy duty foil. Bake in a 450* oven for 5 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes more or until pastry is nearly done. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 325*.
Meanwhile, in a bowl stir together eggs, milk, green onions, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in meat of choice. Toss together the cheese and flour. Add to egg mixture; mix well. Pour egg mixture into hot pastry shell. To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of crust with foil. Bake in the 325* oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

To freeze: Cool completely, cover well with foil and and place in freezer. I normally just place it straight from the freezer into my oven, and bake for around 30 minutes or until done.

Here are a few freezer meals cookbooks.






Do you ever do freezer meal cooking? I'd love to see what your favorite recipes are!


Labels:

18 Comments:

At May 9, 2011 at 8:36 AM , Blogger nikki said...

Sounds great! I couldn't see the sites you posted for freezer meals cookbooks, probably because I have adblock. A place you might like (if it isn't listed) is http://savingdinner.com/

 
At May 9, 2011 at 8:53 AM , Blogger FishMama said...

FUN! Can't wait to get back to "normal" freezer cooking. :)

 
At May 9, 2011 at 10:00 AM , Blogger Crystal said...

I belong to a freezer cooking club with 3 of my closest girlfriends called Freezin' Hot Mamas. We meet on the 3rd Monday of each month and all cook together. Our kids play together while we cook, so we don't even need a babysitter, and we come away with 8 meals each after only 3 hours of cooking, and we have a ton of fun in the process! I'd die without that club!

 
At May 9, 2011 at 10:08 AM , Blogger Caroline said...

@ Crystal, that sounds really neat! I'd love to have a group of friends start a club like that!

 
At May 9, 2011 at 10:45 AM , Blogger Mama Chocolate said...

Crystal, that sounds amazing!
My mom and two sisters come and help me stock up on freezer meals before we have a new baby, and we've decided it should become a tradition in our family for everyone having babies to get that help! It is WONDERFUL when you have a new little one to have your freezer stuffed with ready-to-bake meals!
I blogged about doing it in my Nesting Post, but I'll be sharing the recipes, too...someday! :-)

 
At May 9, 2011 at 1:13 PM , Blogger Far Above Rubies said...

Caroline, love this! Fantastic idea.

 
At May 9, 2011 at 2:04 PM , Blogger gandlmomma said...

Yes, I do freezer cook! I call it Freezer Frenzy Cooking!

 
At May 9, 2011 at 4:10 PM , Blogger Gabe said...

I love to stock my freezer with meals for my family! Around Thanksgiving I purchase 6+ turkeys when they are on sale, then through out the year I cook them up. I'm always able to get a few meals out of one. Turkey tetrazzini, and enchiladas are two of our favorites though many chicken dishes will work just fine with turkey instead. I have one turkey left that I'll be cooking up in July before this baby (#7) is born and making into a few meals.

 
At May 10, 2011 at 12:10 AM , Anonymous Amy @ Raising Arrows said...

I am going to get lost in this post! Such wonderfulness here! Way to go, Mama!

 
At May 10, 2011 at 4:20 AM , Blogger Jo said...

I do occasionally, I work full-time so it would make things quicker in the evening when I get home. But with just my husband and I (my sons are grown up) it doesn't take me long to cook dinner anyway. I sometimes make a big casserole on Sunday for Monday and Tuesday.

 
At May 10, 2011 at 5:31 PM , Blogger Erin J said...

Thanks so much for the inspiration. I have to start my freezer meals cause I am getting on in my prenancy(31 weeks) and I need to have all lunches and dinners ready to go for after the baby when I know I am not going to be able to get things going. I am also trying to train my 7yr old on bread making. I want her to at least get the loaves down and maybe a muffin recipe. She already helps me out and knows the different settings on the bread maker. I just need to teach her how to form the loaves and do the oven part. I never think its to early to train. I can count on my husband to do pizza night on Friday's so that is one dinner down but I got to get the rest of the week covered. What is the easiest way to get started? Do you cook all of one thing a week or several things like in the pictures above? Do you do it like that all the time?

 
At May 10, 2011 at 6:10 PM , Blogger Caroline said...

When I do it I like to take a day, or afternoon and just tackle several different projects. I cooked and deboned two chickens, so I went with a lot of chicken dishes since that is what I had. I like to make a little bit of a variety, that way we are not groaning at the thought of eating our 8th meal of burritos in a row!

 
At May 10, 2011 at 10:25 PM , Blogger Amy said...

I just did my first freezer cooking day this past Sat. as well!!! I LOVE having dinner taken care of! I ended up with 22 dinner meals! I will probably use a couple for weekend lunches as well. Thank you for the recipes!

 
At May 11, 2011 at 8:55 AM , Blogger Tracey said...

Wow - you got so much accomplished!

I tend to do freezer cooking in small batches. I'll double a batch of muffins and freeze some, cook a whole bag of beans, using just two cups for that night's meal and freezing the rest, etc.

It's a wonderful feeling to have the freezer full of foods that are ready to go!

 
At May 11, 2011 at 4:29 PM , Blogger Lisa said...

I have two favorites. One being BBQ chicken pull apart...can be thawed and stuck in the crockpot and I always make mini cakes and keeep them individualy wrapped so when there is a last minute birthday, I can whip it outa the freezer and frost it {I also keep frosting on hand}! I just did it this morning and the cake took five minutes from out of the freezer until it was ready to gift! Grat post!

 
At May 18, 2011 at 10:07 AM , Blogger Beloved's Bride said...

I enjoy the end result of having freezer meals for the end of the day that I can pull out. I don't enjoy my feet screaming out at me for not wearing proper shoes on my kitchen floor. It is worth it but exhausting! ;)

 
At May 23, 2011 at 1:51 PM , Blogger One Ordinary Woman said...

My friend and I do this too--make things ahead of time and freeze them. Her husband and daughter are celiacs so everything is gluten-free and it makes food stretch farther if you can prepare it completely and then freeze it.

At our home, we are also gluten-free and cascein-free and HFCS free, and we also follow the Feingold diet. So we have to make things ahead because it would be ridiculous to make a lot of those meals fresh everytime.

The only issue is that if you have an undermethylator in your house (like a child with autism) you should not ever use aluminum for cooking. We use glass--mason jars, or pyrex glass containers--to store and serve food in. My son has had aluminum poisoning before, then we switched things around and chelated him, and now he is healthy!

 
At February 9, 2012 at 9:43 PM , Blogger Erin Slocum said...

I love doing freezer cooking! Makes things so much easier with big families(we have 8 kids). New follower and so glad I found your blog. I'd love it if you'd take a look at my new blog. www.forhimandmyfamily.blogspot.com

 

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