Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Freezer Meals Part 2

These freezer meals have been a life saver! I love just being able to grab something and dump it in the crockpot. It will be even better when we move into a new house and can have a second freezer to store them. You can see part 1 of my freezer meal adventure here. I labeled each bag with the recipe name and the instructions for cooking prior to filling the bags. I did 2 bags for each recipe. I promised to post the recipes that I used for my freezer meals so here they are: 


Teriyaki Chicken from Ring around the Rosies
Medium – Large bag of carrots
Red Onion into Large Chunks  2 large cans pineapple (undrained)
4 Garlic Cloves  8 Chicken Breasts  1 cup teriyaki sauce

Follow the directions above and split everything into two gallon freezer bags. Shake it up, seal, and put in the frezer.
Instructions for Bag: Add 1/4 cup terriyaki sauce to crock pot. Cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours. Serve over hot rice. 

Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken from Mama and Baby Love
3 medium unpeeled  sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, about 2 cups.
2 cups chopped onion.
2 tablespoon quick cooking tapioca (or flour, or some other thickening agent).
8 chicken breasts (4 per bag)
2 15-ounce can of tomato sauce.
4 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoon ground yellow mustard.
2 clove garlic, finely minced, about 2 tablespoons.
1 teaspoon salt

Divide everything into two, one gallon freezer bags, shake it up, seal, and put in the freezer.
Instructions for Bag: Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low 6-8 hours. 

Divine Chicken
8 chicken breasts
4 cups baby carrots
4 cups fresh broccoli (chopped)
2 onions
salt/pepper to taste
2 cartons of cream of chicken soup (add 1 each at cook time)
2 cup milk (add 1 each at cook time)

Split everything  into two containers. shake it up, seal, and put in the freezer.
Instructions for Bag: Add 1 cream of chicken soup and 1 cup of milk, cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours

Beef Stew (My own recipe)
2 Packages Beef for stewing
6 bullion cubs (3 per bag)
Potatoes (chopped)
Baby carrots
2 packages onion soup mix (1 per bag)

Split everything into two bags. Shake it up, seal, and put in the freezer. 
Instructions for bag: Add 2 cups of brown gravy to crockpot. Cook on low 8 hours. Serve over hot rice.

Honey Brown Sugar Chicken (My own recipe)
8 chicken breast
½ cup brown sugar
2/3 cup honey
8 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp olive oil

Split everything into two bags. Shake it up, seal, and put in the freezer. 
Instructions for bag: Cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours

Taco Soup (My own recipe)
3 lbs ground beef (browned)
2 pkg taco seasoning
2 pkg ranch dressing mix
2 cans pinto beans
2 cans chili beans
2 cans tomato sauce
2 cans corn
Mrs. Dash seasoning
Natures seasoning
Minced dried onions

Split everything into two bags. Shake it up, seal, and put in the freezer. 
Instructions for bag: Add Mrs Dash, Natures seasoning and minced dried onion seasoning to crockpot. Cook on low for 8 hrs or high for 4 hrs.

Savory Vegetable Beef Soup from The Test Kitchen of Melissa Fallis
2 lbs Brown ground beef in pan as usual- once cool divide mixture between bags
2 whole carrots chopped per bag
3 Red Potatoes chopped per bag
1 can v8 split between bags
1 28oz can diced tomatoes SPLIT between bags
1 cup frozen green beans in each bag
1/2 tbsp Worcestershire per bag
1/2 cup Beef Broth per bag
1 tbsp Parsley per bag
1 tsp Basil per bag
1/2 tsp Thyme per bag
1/2 tsp salt per bag
1/2 tsp pepper per bag
1 tbsp Sugar per bag

Instructions for Bag: Add 1.5 cups of water and 15 oz Beef Broth. Cook on LOW 8 Hours.

Each recipe makes 2 bags and each bag gives me and my husband two dinners and at least one lunch. So from seven recipes we get 28 dinners. As I said in part 1, I only spend $95 on all the groceries for all 28 dinners (except honey, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce as I already had those) as well as an additional 4 lbs of hamburger meat. I split those into 1lb each and froze that as we use it in spaghetti, hamburger helper, and other recipes. 

So far we have really been enjoying having all these meals already prepared. 

The other thing I have to add is that I love using the Reynolds slow cooker liners.They make clean up super fast. They have been tested and are perfectly safe for cooking food at high temperatures. These have a permanent place on my pantry shelf and are essential to this whole freezer meal idea working successfully (because as much as I love my crockpot, I HATE cleaning it). This saves so much time!

I hope if you use my recipes and blog about it you will give me credit as I have done for those whose recipes I used. 

As for this experience, I will definitely be doing freezer meals on a regular basis and look forward to finding new recipes to try out. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Food Glorious Food! Freezer Meals Part 1

Just a picture of food to tantalize your senses!
For a couple of months I have been reading about this thing called: freezer meals. It was all over Pinterest. The idea is that you spend one day cooking/ assembling meals for a month, then you put them in your freezer. When you need it, all you have to do is pull it out of the freezer and put it into the refrigerator the night before (or the morning of depending on the meal) and cook it or heat it up. All of the instructions for what the meal needs to be finished are written on the packaging so you don't have to think at all. I loved this idea. Mostly because when it comes down to making dinner, I am either tired, lazy, or just don't have any creative ideas. We have been eating a lot of pasta and hamburger helper the past month or so. Plus the women that have done this all say that they save a lot of money doing meals this way. We live on a fairly tight budget, so I am all about saving some money in the grocery department.

Finally, I decided it was time to try it for myself. So on June 5, I went through my pinterest board and found all of the pins on freezer meals and followed them to the blogs of those that had written about this process. I read the pros and cons and the different variations on how to do these. Some did a lot of actually cooking on the prep day. They cooked all the meat and assembled everything. A couple of other bloggers said that they tried doing it that way but it was so exhausting and took all day. Instead, they just did all of the prep work and chose to do all meals that can be cooked in the crockpot. This meant almost no cooking during prep and all you have to do is thaw and then dump.

Now, I have to say that I absolutely LOVE my crockpot. It is probably my favorite appliance that is in my kitchen. I love being able to throw stuff in there in the morning and by the end of the day we have a delicious dinner. So I decided that the crockpot freezer meals were the way I needed to go.

So I went through my recipe box and through all of the recipes that those who had done freezer meals before me had assembled and pulled together seven recipes that I wanted to try for my first go around. (I will post all the recipes in the next post). I figured out what I had in my pantry and what I needed to buy. I made my grocery list and went shopping.

I spent $170 at the grocery store, but we had been out of a lot of staples. I went through my receipt and figured out that for everything that I bought for the freezer meals I only spent $95! Less than $100 for a months worth of food (which is what I ended up with...)?? I'll take it! Other than buying milk, I don't anticipate needing much else for the rest of the month! I organized everything so it was ready to go for prep day, which I was going to do the next day (June 6). I was a little tired from planning and shopping, plus I still had a lot to do around the house since we had just gotten back from a trip.

Next post I will:
1) Post the recipes I used (giving credit where credit is due of course)
2) Post pictures of my finished product