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Making Meal Preparation Easy

Posted by on Mar 13, 2013 in Freezer Cooking, Recipes, Tips | 2 comments

I have a few friends who are expecting babies in the next couple of months. It’s really exciting to be pregnant at the same time as my friends. After talking to one of my sweet friends over the weekend, it got me thinking about meal preparation and things to have on hand when sweet babies arrive.

Those first few weeks are quite exhausting and typically cooking isn’t high on the priority list but filling our tired, recovering bodies with foods that are not as nourishing (i.e. fast food and processed foods) can delay recovery and not provide us with the energy we desperately need. So, I’ve complied some of my favorite recipes on my blog and from around the web to share with you all.

Whether you are having a baby soon or want to simplify some areas in your cooking routine, then this is post is written just for you! Having a few on hand items in the freezer will make meal prep easier.

Freezer Chicken

Chicken 

Having cooked diced or shredded chicken on hand helps you prepare lots of meals in no time. Add fresh vegetables for essential vitamins and beans for added protein. Protein is an essential nutrient for repairing our bodies, so gobble it up! Here is a list of my favorites recipes and meal ideas for diced or shredded chicken.

Chicken Broth

If you roast a chicken, used the carcass of the chicken and make homemade broth, its really easy. I often make mine in the crock pot. I throw in all the ingredients add water, seasonings and 4 hours later: broth! Store in ball glass jars and freeze. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator or in a large bowl with warm water for 3o to 45 minutes. Having homemade broth on hand, not only saves you money but you’ll have tasty soups without any additives or preservatives. Here are a few recipes we love:

ground beef

Ground Beef

We love having a little meat in our meals. Having cooked ground beef on hand allows me to make up casseroles, pizza, pasta, salads, and mexican dishes in no time.  Just to name a few! You can read how I make it here. Once again, more fabulous recipes listed below:

Homemade Refried Beans

Beans

One way of saving money on beans is to make them yourself. It takes very little effort and making them this way is simple and easy.

Beans are great for  tacos, casseroles, salads, wraps, sandwiches, dips and more! Oh and you can make your own refried beans! If you want to decrease the amount of meat in a meal, adding beans to the dish deliver a protein packed punch and help keep you within your grocery budget.

Blueberry Breakfast Sandwich

Breakfast

I could honestly eat breakfast for all meals of the day.  Here are some of my favorite freezer and quick breakfast recipes! Enjoy

Honey Corn Bread Mix Simplymykitchen.com

Baking Mix

Laura at Heavenly Homemakers (one of my favorite blogs) has a fantastic baking mix. She has quite a few recipes to share too! I highly recommend checking it out! This recipe is going in our freezer!

Freezer Cookies

Dessert

Every household needs dessert in the freezer, right? Well here is a couple cookie recipes for you. Enjoy

And there you have it, some of my favorite make ahead and freezer cooking recipes. I hope that this assortment of recipes help you prepare ahead for your family!

Have a lovely day!

What quick, easy or freezer meals do you have to share? I’d love to hear!

 

 

 

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October Freezer Cooking Session in Less Then 2 hours

Posted by on Oct 8, 2012 in Freezer Cooking, Tips | Comments Off

Freezer cooking or make ahead sessions is something I enjoy doing.  I started making meals this way a little over a year ago.  I find that spending as little as an hour a week, I can accomplish quite a bit. It’s motivating to set the time for an hour or two and see how much I can get done. Sometimes I don’t get everything done on my list before my little guy wakes up from his nap, but the majority is done and I’m always trilled to have a stocked freezer.  I like to clean as I go, using only 2 to 3 bowls at a time to minimize the amount of cleaning afterward.

Last week, I had a few things I wanted to make and this is how it went. Friday, I spent five minutes writing out the list of recipes I wanted to do.  I picked recipes that required little prep time and required very few ingredients. Next, I set up a little work station of my cookbooks, baking supplies and set the timer to 1 hour and 30 minutes.

I forgot to take a picture of this step so this is an older picture but the first thing I started out with was making seasoned ground beef and hamburgers.  In the 20 minutes that the ground beef was cooking I was able to prepare a batch of artisan bread, cornbread and pumpkin muffins.

 I tried a new recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients. I made our first loaf last night and we really enjoyed it.  The master recipe worked very well for making garlic cheese bread. Yum!

After the ground beef was done cooking, I placed the cornbread into the oven. While the  cornbread was baking, I made up a double batch of bean and cheese burritos and boiled water for pasta. Once the pasta was al dente, I made three freezer pasta dishes using the lasagna cup recipe. I stored the pasta dishes in freezer safe containers.

Finally, the cornbread was done after 20 minutes and it was time to put the first 12 muffins into the oven. While they cooked for 14 minutes, I did a quick clean up of the kitchen and started packaging all the food into freezer bags.

Finally, after 1 hour and 30 minutes it was all done! I was able to accomplish: 1 batch of artisan bread, 24 muffins, 12 burritos, 6 oatmeal casserole mix, 4 packages of ground beef, hamburgers, 3 pasta dishes, 1 pan of cornbread, and marinade for chicken. I was also able to re-organized my freezer to accommodate all the food I prepared, just in time for my Little Buddy to wake up and join me for an afternoon snack of pumpkin muffins!

Freezer cooking and make ahead meals is one way I’m able to make quick dinners throughout the week, have instant lunches and sweet treats always available. With a little bit of prep and a designated time to freezer cook, you too could have yummy items waiting in your freezer. If you haven’t tried freezer cooking yet, I encourage you to try it with just 2 to 3 recipes and evaluate if its something you could do often.

Do you do any freezer cooking or make ahead meals? What are your favorite recipes you like to make? Do you have any tips for making freezer cooking a simple process? I would love to hear all about it in the comments! 

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Lasagna Cups – Freezer Cooking

Posted by on Oct 3, 2012 in Freezer Cooking, Recipes | Comments Off

Last week Crystal at Money Saving Mom finished her lunch box freezer cooking series but I wanted to share at least one more of the many recipes I tried over the past few weeks.

Lasagna cups are my new favorite freezer cooking recipe.  They are quick, easy and this batch never made it to the freezer last week!  So you know that they are good if they never make it to the freezer, right?! But I made some more yesterday and doubled the recipe so now the freezer is stocked with lasagna cups! :)

Heres is what you need and my cost for making this recipe. (Please note: that your cost may be different from mine depending on where you live. There are multiple money saving techniques for lowering the cost of this meal. The money saving techniques I used were: shopping my pantry first and buying items that were at a sale price I wanted to purchase them at to stay within my grocery budget.)

  • 1 pound of cooked seasoned ground beef – $2.99
  • 1 1/2 cup of marinara sauce – $0.75
  • 1 cup of cottage cheese – $1
  • 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese (divided)- $1.25
  • wonton wrappers – $0.50

Total price = $6.49 or $0.36 per serving (This recipe made 18 lasagna cups for me)

Place all the ingredients into a medium size bowl and mix together. Keeping a 1/4 cup of cheese reserved for topping each lasagna cup. 

 Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray and place wonton wrappers in each divide. Spoon in lasagna mixture into each cup. Sprinkle lightly with cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on counter. Once cooled, transfer lasagna cups to a freezer bag. Store in the freezer. For re-heating, thaw lasagna cups in the refrigerator over night or on the counter up to 2 hours. Warm in the microwave for 1- 2 minutes.

Yesterday, using a miniature muffin pan I made smaller lasagna cups that would be perfect as appetizers for a party. :)

I’ll definitely be making this recipe again. My whole family loved them!

Did you try any of the recipes from Money Saving Mom durning her series? If so which ones did you try? 

Sharing today at Money Saving Mom.

 

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Lunch Box Freezer Cooking – Peanut Butter and Jelly

Posted by on Sep 25, 2012 in Freezer Cooking | Comments Off

Today I was planning on making peanut butter and jelly sushi rolls for the freezer, but decided to keep it a bit more simple today instead.  This was yet again another quick and easy freezer cooking session that will be added to the, “Must do again list!”

Yes, this is store bought bread.  The only loaf I’ve purchased this month.  The flu bug that lives in me currently made me do it! :) Anyways, I got out all the ingredients and supplies.

Next, we flattened the bread down because originally we were going to make PB & J sushi rolls.

Little Buddy helping. Don’t judge my outdated flooring. It’s a rental house. :)

The bread was lathered with PB&J, cut into 3 pieces and then folded over.  My 5 pieces of bread made 15 mini sandwiches. Perfect for my little toddler. I did start with 6 pieces of bread but you can guess who ate it and it wasn’t me! :)

As my Little Buddy would say “All done!”  These newest edition to the freezer are chilling with the burritos and lasagna cups. Well, at least until tomorrows lunch.

Have you done any freezer cooking lately? If so what have you made? 

Join Crystal at Money Saving Mom as she wraps up this series this week!

 More from this series:

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Lunch Box Freezer Cooking – Pumpkin Muffins

Posted by on Sep 17, 2012 in Breakfast, Freezer Cooking, Recipes | Comments Off

This week I’m continuing along with Money Saving Mom’s Lunch Box Freezer Cooking series. I invite you to check it out! And although I will not  be posting every day, I will share what I do accomplish from this series!

Sunday I was able to make the pumpkin muffins Crystal shared last week.  This recipe was unbelievably easy!

Here  is how my freezer cooking session went.

I Pre-heated the oven and got out the ingredients: white cake, canned pumpkin, chocolate chips, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla.

Everyone jumped into a medium size bowl and then hopped on over to the muffin pan.

20 minutes later they landed on the counter. There were 18 of these little bites but we had a few casualties.  No, they didn’t land on the floor – they went from the oven to the belly! ;) I’m not sure if they will make it to the freezer!

This super simple recipe will have you making them as long as you have cake mix and canned pumpkin in the house! These sweet bites welcome fall and having me running to the kitchen right now for one!

Lunch Box Freezer Cooking - Pumpkin Muffins
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This super simple recipe will have you making them as long as you have cake mix and canned pumpkin in the house.
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snack
Serves: 12-18
Ingredients
  • 1 Box of White Cake Mix
  • 1-15 oz Can of Pumpkin
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie seasoning
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the first 4 ingredients.
  3. Once well incorporated, fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Line muffin pan.
  5. Fill each muffin liner ¾ full.
  6. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick when placed in the center of the muffin comes out clean.
  7. Serve warm.
  8. Freezer Storage: Let muffins cool completely and then place in a freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible and then place in the freezer. Store in freezer up to 4 weeks.
  9. Serve from the freezer: Defrost over night in refrigerator or on counter for up to 2 hours. Place in microwave for 30-60 seconds.

Have you made any freezer meals lately. If so, what have you made? 

Be sure to join Crystal at Money Saving Mom for this great series!

More from this series:

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10 Minute Freezer Cooking Session

Posted by on Sep 12, 2012 in Freezer Cooking | 2 comments

Crystal at Money Saving Mom is doing a two week series on lunchbox freezer meals. If you want to join in head on over to her blog! She is great at freezer cooking!

When I saw her  post on todays challenge, I had to do join in. I had all the ingredients on hand: tortillas, salsa, refried beans and cheese.

I just completed this quick recipe in 10 minutes while prepping dinner for the oven this afternoon. :) Here is the break down of my cost:

  • 8 Whole Wheat Tortillas: $1
  • 1/2 cup cheese: $1
  • 1/4 cup Salsa: $0.25
  • 1 can Refried Beans: $0.50

My total cost was $2.75 or $0.34 per burrito. Here are just a few pictures from my 10 minute freezer cooking session.

Ingredients for burritos

Little Buddy helping me assemble the burritos. Actually he wanted to eat one! :)

And 10 Minutes later – 8 burritos ready for the freezer!

Thank you Crystal for this fabulous quick and easy recipe! I can’t wait for the rest of the recipes in this series!

Do you want to join in all the fun too? Hop on over to Money Saving Mom, you’ll love it! :)

Sharing tonight at Money Saving Mom.

To read the previous post on My 4 Week Bread Challenge click here. 

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