Sunday, March 29, 2015

Freezer cooking

One of my favorite people in the world just had a baby. She texted me to ask what some of my favorite freezer meals are. I love freezer cooking. Its one of my favorite things to do/think about/talk about. I wish I'd gotten this post together BEFORE she gave birth but
1. Maddie came 3 weeks early and I don't really DO early very well. I barely do on time.
2. My fam has has strep, bladder infection, strep, bladder spasms, strep, and hay fever. Not in that order and not all the same person. But, seriously, if I never see the inside of a doctor's office again it'll be too soon. Wait....I'm a nurse.......

Since becoming a stay at home mom/sometimes working mom/working mom, I've found freezer cooking to be a crazy saver. Like, its saved me from going crazy several times. I've written a few blog posts about it, mostly in years past, where I did a HUGE cooking session and made a huge mess and came out with like 20 meals in a day.  I'd make tons of casseroles and have them stacked in the freezer and they were my prized possessions.  I'm going to be honest, that, although I liked the outcome of these days, I was never prepared enough (story of my life) and it is SOOOO messy and I was SPENT after those days. That being said, I MISS those days and ALL those premade dishes being in the freezer.

That was when I had only Rylan. I could either do it when he was sleeping, or on a day when I traded babysitting with someone. These things happen with one baby. When you have two kids, getting them both to nap at the same time is about as easy as winning the lottery and when you do it, if you are smart you either take a nap yourself or shower. You don't freezer cook. Then, my kids, one at at time went off dairy. Guess what went away when dairy went away? Casseroles.

I miss casseroles.

I miss cream of mushroom soup. A lot.

I'd love a slice of lasagna right about now.

So, freezer cooking went away for awhile.

About two year ago I started picking it back up. I learned that freezer cooking doesn't have to be an eight hour cooking session. Your end result does not have to be 30 meals.  What works for me is to do a little bit at a time.  And it doesn't have to be an entire meal to make it helpful to your dinner.

There are five ways to do this

1. Double or triple a meal, eat one the night you make it, save the other one or two for later.  I do this with lots of things. I almost always do it with homemade waffles or pancakes or muffins, they freeze wonderfully.I do it with soups like chili and minestrone. If you think right now "I don't want to eat the same thing again and again" the answer is YOU WON'T. If you consistently put stuff in the freezer, you won't be repeating meals very often at all. I've recently started trying out recipes from Pinterest.  You can also, carve an hour or so out of a day and put together a recipe. It might seem like you are only doing a little, but all these littles add up to a filled freezer if you do it weekly.

Pumpkin Donuts (I make them into mini muffins because I'm lazy)
Biscuit Pizzas
Skinnied Paula Deen Chili
Pizza Crust (recipe makes enough for 3 large pizzas or 6 small ones, Pizza dough is totally freezable)
Waffles (I double or triple this recipe, freeze it, then day of eating we take them out of freezer and cook at 350 for about 10 mins, from frozen)
Dairy free Pancakes (recipe is for blueberry, I've made them plain, with cinnamon, with blewbs its always good)
Banana Bread (I usually do muffins, as we tend to not overeat when they aren't in loaf form)
Brown Sugar Meatloaf
Turkey Burgers
World's Best Cornbread
BBQ Meatballs

2. Make the beginnings of a recipe: chop up onions and peppers and have them ready for a soup of casserole, put the dry ingredients of pancakes or homemade brownies in a ziplock bag, where only the eggs and oil need to be added later. When there is a sale on ground beef or turkey, buy a shiz ton and cook it, divide it into portions and have it ready for sloppy joes, lasagna, spaghetti, or chili. Put all the seasonings in some ground beef and put it into hamburger patty shape and flash freeze it, then all you have to do is thaw and grill. Easy peasy chicken squeezy. Pre-make noodles (cook them all dente) and freeze them, then when kids/husband/you are starving, you can warm up bottled marinara, throw in some ground beef that you've already cooked and heat up your precooked noodles. Little things like this will save you from calling for takeout so many times.

3. Dump recipes.These are recipes that you pour into a bag without doing much prep work, and they are ready to thaw and pour into a casserole pan or the crockpot. These are my current jam. I do this on Saturday or Sunday night, I triple the recipe, cook one at the time, and make two for the freezer.
Sausage and Peppers-cook in crockpot all day and put over pasta
Honey Pineapple Chicken
Paula Deen's Skinnied Chili
Salsa Chicken-1 pound chickn, 1 jar salsa, 1 can corn (drained), 1 can black beans. AND GO!
Spicy Lime and Honey Wings (I use this for chicken drumsticks mostly), just thaw, and put on cookie sheet, cook 45mins at 400.
Italian Chicken-2 pounds of chicken, 1bottle Italian dressing, dump in crockpot, cook, serve over rice.

4. Plain and simple leftovers. Ever have a meal that you don't want to eat again and again and again? Try to freeze the leftovers and see what happens. I love to make Calico Beans and Ham and Beans. Problem is, we eat half of it and then Rob and I have leftovers for 3 days and you can only eat beans for so many days in a row before friends and coworkers start complaining. Also, a full pack of hot dogs or a 20oz ground turkey package has 8 or so portions. We eat 5-6. A few extra grilled hot dogs and hamburgers are amazing for nights when you have sick littles, church to get to, or just do not want to cook.

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