Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Family Meal Plan (3-14-11) and Freezer Cooking

I am a FREEZER Cooking girl! I just LOVE the feeling of having meals in the freezer at all times. So, much so that I once owned a restaurant/meal prep business called Dinners Ready (for those familiar with Dream Dinners, same kind of business). My restaurant business was short-lived because of circumstances beyond my control (and yes, I do MISS it very much). But the "freezer technique" of prepping and cooking has never died. And believe me, I froze meals long before owning a Dinners Ready store and I am sure I will be doing it long after too. The feeling of having so many meals stored in my freezer and able to use at a seconds notice is an unbelievable feeling of relief.

A few weekends ago I did an all-day cooking adventure with hamburger meat and this weekend I will be stocking up on chicken meals for the freezer. Now, this is not the pre-cooked, throw in the freezer for left-over type of meals (many of them are rarely ever cooked first), these are fresh meat, easy to throw together meals that just happen to be 100% ready (but stored in the freezer). I also want to point out, that you do NOT have to do an all-day cooking extravaganza to get your freezer stocked up. I also make DOUBLE meals on many other days in the middle of the week, we eat one and freeze one. This is the QUICKEST and EASIEST way to get your freezer stocked up (without cooking all day). Tonight if you are making spaghetti, then I encourage you to DOUBLE the batch, eat half and put the other half away in a ziploc bag to freeze for another day, if you are making a pan of Lasagna (make two), if you are cooking up soup (a double batch is a MUST). This is also how my freezer STAYS full all month long. As one meal comes out, I know in a day or two another one of my DOUBLE meals will land it's way back into the freezer the same week.

Here is what I am making & freezing this weekend (recipes coming soon... as soon as I can cook them all and get some good pictures for you to enjoy): Honey Chicken, Cream of Chicken Enchilada's, Pesto-Balsamic Chicken, Chicken Chili Rellenos, Chicken Artichoke and Parmesan Chicken

And here is another list of MANY recipes that are on my blog, that can be prepared and frozen for later:
Applesauce Meatballs: pre-make and cook, then freeze
BBQ Chicken (Crock-Pot): Cook in crock-pot, shred and then freeze for tacos
Chicken Crescent Rolls: I will freeze just the chicken mixture of this recipe
Cream of Broccoli Soup (GLUTEN-FREE & DAIRY-FREE)
(G'ma) Goulash: This recipe must be fully made before you can freeze
Grandma's Homemade Rolls: I try and ALWAYS have a batch of these in my freezer
Hamburger Pie : This is a PERFECT meal for the freezer
Hummus Mushroom & Potato Soup
Lasagna: I have never ever made just one pan of Lasagna at a time, I make at least 3 or 4 & freeze
Marinated Steak: I marinate ALL steak before I freeze, the marinate soaks in the whole time it's freezing and un-thawing
Pizza Sauce: we always have too much pizza sauce, we use half and freeze half
Salsa Chicken
Shepherd's Pie
(G'ma) Simple Spaghetti Sauce
Sloppy Joes
Ultimate Patty Melt: premake patties, but do not cook, just freeze

I also freeze ALL cookies and ALL muffins. A muffin for breakfast or a dessert anytime (you can defrost them, add them to kids lunches and/or pop in the microwave for 30 seconds and have a nice HOT, FRESH homemade cookie anytime day or night):
Apple Cinnamon Muffins
Bananaberry Muffins
Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Butter Cookies
Chocolatey Pumpkin Cookies
Magic Sweet Potato Muffins
Red Velvet Cake Balls
Reese's Peanut Butter Cookies
Snickerdoodle Cookies
Sour Cream Blueberry-Blackberry Muffins

I also want to give you a few helpful hints on freezing meals in hopes that a few of you busy moms will try this (especially if you have never done it before, I PROMISE you will LOVE IT!) I have done this not only for myself on a regular bases, but I have used this when a big event is going on, a baby is about to arrive or a surgery is planned, if I have family in town for a long period of time and want all the meals ready to defrost and cook, I use this for camping in our motorhome too (then I never have to worry about bringing ALL the spices needed for each meal), there are so many reasons to use Freezer Cooking. I really hope you give it a try, and if you have any questions feel free to ask away and I will do my best to answer them.

  • Make a DOUBLE Batch of any freezable meal (each and every time you cook). Package it up and add it to your freezer for later.
  • I usually use foil disposable pans (but not always), sometimes I use my regular pans (as long as you can live without them for a few weeks), until you cook that meal. OR my favorite thing to use is large freezer ziploc bags (this was learned during my Dinners Ready meal prep days). We put EVERYTHING in a Ziploc, from meat to sauces, veggies and anything in between. It saves a TON of space in your freezer too.
  • I don't bother with fancy labels, I just have a Sharpie handy and write on the foil or ziploc (ex: Lasagna: Cook at 350 for 1 hour) and if you wish include the date too. Nothing stays in my freezer that long, so I never worry about the date.
  • Thawing out the meals is not a necessity (for most meals), but it does help. I never find the that I need the meals so last minute that I don't have time to thaw them out (If I am running that behind, we've usually already ran through a drive-thru.... sorry just keepin' it real). I usually wake up in the morning and say "Hey, How about a Meatloaf or a Lasagna tonight", I go to the freezer, grab a fresh HOMEMADE Lasagna, stick it in the refrigerator and by the time I get home from work at 3pm, I may leave it on the counter for an hour or so and then into the oven it goes and I feel like WOW... I could have slaved all day to make this, but I am otherwise just SOOOO happy I had one of these in the freezer ready and waiting for one of those rushed to busy to think about dinner days!
  • There you have it just a few simple steps to make FREEZER COOKING another added JOY to your life instead of a stressful situation!
That's our Family Meal Plan for this week. I'd love to hear if you have any short cuts, tricks or tips.

Check back and we will link the actual recipe!
(not all recipes will become reality so if there is not a link, we haven't made it yet)

Banana Smoothie (from Food Network Smoothie book this month)
Baked Egg Rolls
Crab Salad w/Lemon & Parsley
"Green" Pancakes
Mozzarella Chicken (my famous recipe)
Eggs on Toast
Lasagna (a freezer meal)
Magic Sweet Potato Muffins (muffins from the freezer)

I LOVE Linky Parties, what a great way to mix and mingle with lots of bloggers! Today, I am sharing my Menu Planning & My BUDGET Grocery Shopping with: I'm and Organizing Junkie: Meal Plan Monday, GCC Shopping Round Up, Frugal Friday, and Frugal Free Friday
And the recipe today will be shared with: It's a Blog Party Delicious Dishes, Hearth n' Soul Blog Hop, Made from Scratch TuesdayTuesday's Tasty TidbitsDr. Laura's Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday Parade of Foods, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Titus 2sday Linkup, Tuesday Night Supper Club, Get Your Craft On, Tip Junkie's Tip Me Tuesday, A Little Birdie Told Me and Tuesdays at the Table 

My 17-year old daughter has written a beautiful letter about one of her teachers and we would LOVE for you to CLICK-READ and VOTE for her to have a chance to win up to $3,000 for a College Scholarship. If just HALF of my daily readers CLICK and VOTE, she would make it to the TOP 10 TODAY!!!!

Also don't forget our weekly linky party
this week is "EVERYTHING Green for St. Patrick's Day"


  1. What a great post! Stopping by from Tasty Tuesday! I have book marked this page. I am always looking for meals that freeze well!

  2. Great! I love freezer meals; I'm actually planning a big freezer day with some friends. We are pulling resources and all our crockpots together or a massive make-and-freeze day! Thanks for sharing your tips :)

  3. I do a lot of double up meals, too. I have found that if I line my glass/metal pans with Press-n-Seal (from Glad), I can fill the pan, freeze it, and then pop it out and drop it in a ziplock bag. I have about a dozen meals in my freezer, labeled and stacked ... and ready to be unwrapped and popped back into the pan and oven. Love how it makes my life easier! :)

    I love the idea of having muffins ready to heat for breakfasts and treats ... I might have to double the recipe next time just to have some to freeze. Thanks for the tips!~

    Visiting from Rook 17 :)

  4. I love yogurt and this looks really yummy!

  5. I'm loving your blog! Thanks so much for the invite! I'm a followin' now!

  6. I'm a big fan of freezer cooking and should really do this a LOT more often.

    Great post and thanks for sharing at the hearth and soul hop last week.

  7. Tina, thank you so much for linking up to "A Little Birdie Told Me..." at Rook No. 17.

    We used to have a "Dinner's Ready" here in my town. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and expertise with all the wonderful tips and recipes to make meal planning and prepping easier!

    I love yogurt and granola, but have never tried adding banana and chocolate chips. Yum!!! Sounds wonderful, and I can't wait to try it.

    I'm on my way to give your daughter a vote.
    Wishing her lots of luck and success!


  8. Don't you consider putting up a restaurant again? There will always be moments when you will miss it. Well, I guess everything happens for a reason. Good thing you were still able to use the "freezer technique" you once used in your restaurant.


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