Assemble and Freeze Meal Plan for August 1-7, 2016

freezer meals

Long time no post!  I have been busy, what can I say?  So busy that I have changed how I cook now.  There is only the two of us now.  Most recipes serve 4 or more, so I have been using the freezer more to freeze the extra servings.  I have finally cleaned out all the freezers and defrosted them.  It was a dreaded chore but I got it done.  Now I have more room to freeze the servings we can’t eat so we can eat it at a later time.

I am also gluten free now. I use all gluten free products in the recipes below. It is easy to find gluten free pasta now. I do use more rice in recipes than pasta however, just because it is easier and cheaper. For the garlic bread I use gluten free bread and spread butter and diced garlic or garlic powder on top and toast it in the oven on the broiler setting.

I have been doing the grocery shopping on Saturday or Sunday. (Or if I want to avoid crowds I will grocery shop early Friday morning.)  I try to have everything ready to go by Monday.  Monday is my meal prep day.  I basically assemble all the meals for the week on Monday.  If you work, this could be done on Sunday afternoon.  I assemble all the meals for the week and freeze them.  So nice to have ready to go.  I don’t like cooking in the kitchen very long this time of year because it is so hot.  This is one way I spend the least amount of time in the kitchen and can work on other projects. All of these recipes except for the breakfast, make more than one meal for us to be eaten at a later time. This is also a great way to stock the freezer before school starts.  It seems I am always needing a dish to bring somewhere or have ready quickly if my children decide to visit at the last minute.  This menu plan made 12 meals for 2 people with leftovers.  This will last us about 2 weeks.

Menu
Monday-Tater Tot Casserole, salad
Tater Tot Casserole
Tuesday-Garlic Tomato Butter Chicken, Rice, Broccoli
Tomato Garlic Butter Chicken
Wednesday-Breakfast for Dinner
Thursday-Cavatini, Salad, Garlic Bread
Cavatini
Friday-Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff, rice, salad
Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff
Saturday-Ham and Pineapple Fried Rice
Ham and Pineapple Fried Rice
Sunday-Creamy Cheesy Chicken with Noodles, Peas, Salad
Creamy Cheesy Chicken with Noodles

Grocery List: (side dishes and breakfast meal not included here)
Meat:
3 lbs (5-6 pieces) of chicken breasts plus 4 Boneless, Skinless, Chicken Breasts
½ cups dice Ham, Fully Cooked
1 pound cubed beef stew meat
2 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. pepperoni

Can goods:
2 cans of cream of chicken soup
1 can of cheesy soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can condensed golden mushroom soup
1 can crushed pineapple
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 can pizza sauce
1 small can of mushrooms
1 cup of tomato sauce

Frozen goods:
1 cup Mixed Vegetables
16 oz. mixed vegetables
28 oz. package frozen tater tots

Produce:
5 cloves garlic
2 onions

Dairy:
3 sticks of butter
2 eggs
4 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. mozzarella
1/4 cup milk

Pasta and rice:
1 bag of egg noodles
1 cup rice
16 oz. rotini

Seasonings/Oils:
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbs dried minced onion
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Teriyaki Sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha Sauce
2 teaspoons Sesame Oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Cooking spray

Equipment: Be sure to have plenty of gallon and quart freezer bags on hand, materials for labels, two 9×13 pans (I use 8×8 pans to freeze smaller portions so that would equal out to four 8×8 pans) and foil.

Procedure (I do all of this on Monday morning or this could be done Sunday afternoon)
1. Grease four 8×8 pans (or two 9×13 pans for larger portions)
2. Chop one onion plus chop 1/2 cup.
3. Dice 5 cloves of garlic. (save 1 teaspoon for fried rice)
4. Brown 1 pound of beef with 1 chopped onion and drain. Set aside. Brown another pound (no onion) and drain. Set aside. (Side note on this: I use my frozen ground beef mix for this so this is already to go for me in the freezer. All I have to do is thaw it. I buy ground beef in bulk. If you don’t have cooked ground beef in the freezer then you will need to cook 2 pounds for the recipes.)
5. Cook 1 pound of rotini pasta and drain. (Can keep pasta in pan so can mix other ingredients in with it.)
6. Shred 8 ounces mozzarella.
7. Cook 1 cup uncooked rice.
8. (Tater Tot Casserole) Mix 1 pound beef/onion mixture with 1 can chicken soup, 1 can of mushroom soup, 1/4 cup milk, 16 ounces frozen mixed veggies. Pour into two greased 8×8 pans or one greased 9×13 pan. Top with 28 ounces package of tater tots. Label and freeze. Use within 3 months.
9. (Garlic Tomato Butter Chicken) Place 4 chicken breasts in two ziplock freezer bags or for a larger portion place all 4 breast in one large ziplock freezer bag. Melt 2 sticks of butter in a saucepan. Saute 4 cloves of garlic in butter. Add 1 cup of tomato sauce to the butter/garlic mixture. Heat to boiling and stir to combine. Pour over chicken in bags, dividing mixture if have two freezer bags. (May need to let liquid sauce cool some before adding sauce to freezer bags especially if using frozen chicken.) Label and freeze. Use within 3 months.
10. (Creamy Chicken with Noodles) Place 6 chicken breasts in a large ziplock freezer bag or put 2 chicken breasts in 3 ziplock freezer bags. In a large bowl add the following: 1 cut up stick of butter, 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 1 can of cheddar cheese condensed soup, 4 chicken bouillon cubes, 4 cups of hot water, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder and 1 tablespoon dried minced onion. Stir until butter and bouillon cubes are dissolved. Pour over chicken in ziplock bags, dividing mixture among the number of bags evenly, if necessary. Label and freeze. Use within 3 months.
11. (Ham and Pineapple Fried Rice) Cook 2 eggs in 2 teaspoons of sesame oil. Add the following to the eggs: 1 teaspoon diced garlic, 1/2 cup diced ham, 1 cup frozen mixed veggies, 1/2 cup drained crushed pineapple, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce. Add the cooked rice. Stir. Label and freeze. Use within 3 months.
12. (Cavatini) Mix in a large bowl: 1 pound cooked ground beef, 16 ounces cooked rotini, 1 jar spaghetti sauce, 1 can pizza sauce, 1 package pepperoni, and 1 can sliced drained mushrooms. Pour into two greased 8×8 pans or one greased 13×9 pan. Top with 8 ounces of shredded mozzarella. Label and freeze.
13. (Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff) In a freezer bag combine 1 pound stew meat, 1 can golden mushroom soup, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire, 1/4 cup water. Squish bag to mix ingredients.  (I love this part!)  Label and freeze. Use within 3 months.

On serving day:
1. Tater Tot Casserole-Thaw in fridge. Bake at 375 for 1 hour or until potatoes are golden brown and filling is heated through. To crisp up tots, broil for 5 minutes.
2. Garlic Tomato Butter Chicken-Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Pour into crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours or bake in oven at 400 for 45 minutes. Serve over rice.
3. Cavatini-Completely thaw in refrigerator. Cover loosely with tented foil (if using foil lid, bend lid so that melted cheese will not stick to lid). Bake at 375 for 1 hour, or until heated through. Remove cover and broil for 3-4 min. or until cheese is slightly browned.
4. Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff-Thaw completely and cook in slow cooker on Low for 8 hours or on High for 5 hours . Stir in 4 oz. cream cheese just before serving. Serve over pasta or rice.
5. Ham and Pineapple Fried Rice-No need to thaw this ahead of time. I just pour this in a microwaveable dish and zap it until it is warmed up. I am not posting how long because each microwave varies. Just check on it as it is warming up and stir it once in a while. Can also warm this up in the oven.
6. Creamy Cheesy Chicken with Noodles-No need to thaw this ahead of time. Empty items into the crock pot set on low and come back 6.5-7 hours later. Stir in a bag of egg noodles (if cooking all 6 chicken breasts at once or one handful of egg noodles if cooking 2 chicken breasts) for the last 30 minutes.

You can find more menus and ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

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Slow Cooker Veggie Lasagna

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Oh my goodness! This is so good and so easy. We didn’t even miss the meat! It did make a lot of lasagna but it does freeze well. And of course it is even better the next day!

Slow Cooker Veggie Lasagna

1 (12 oz.) bag Bird’s Eye Recipe Ready Primavera Blend frozen veggies, defrosted
1 (10 oz.) bag frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and extra liquid squeezed out
2 (24 oz.) jars marinara sauce
1 (24 oz.) container cottage cheese
1 1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups Italian blend cheese, shredded
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 (16 oz.) pkg. regular lasagna noodles, uncooked
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup water

In a large mixing bowl, combine the veggies, cottage cheese, water, garlic powder, salt, pepper, eggs and 3/4 cup each of the cheeses and mix well. Cover the bottom of a 6 or 7 quart slow cooker with 1 1/2 cups or so of marinara sauce. Top with lasagna noodles. Add cheese and veggie mixture. Cover with sauce again. Add a layer of lasagna noodles. Then a layer of cheese and veggie mixture and repeat until ingredients are gone ending with sauce over the noodles. Cover with lid. Cook on low 5-6 hours or until liquid is absorbed. Shut off slow cooker and top with the remaining Mozzarella and Italian blend cheeses and cover to melt, maybe 15 minutes. Cut and serve with a fresh salad and garlic bread.

Cinco De Mayo Enchiladas

Tomorrow is Cinco De Mayo or May 5. Here in Texas it is an excuse to eat MORE delicious Mexican food. So in honor of Cinco De Mayo I made up a pan of my enchiladas.

enchiladas

Here it is:
1 pound of meat (I use leftover roast and shred it)
1/2 pound monterrey jack cheese, shredded
1/2 onion, chopped (if your family doesn’t like onions then leave it out)
18 corn tortillas
3 cans hot enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour a little enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 13x9x2 inch pan. Warm up the corn tortillas in the microwave. Take some shredded meat, a little chopped onion and a little cheese and put it in the center of the tortilla. Carefully roll tortilla up putting it seam side down in the pan. Keep doing that until the pan is filled up. Then pour more enchilada sauce over the top of the rolled up enchiladas. Sprinkle top with any remaining cheese. Cover the enchiladas with foil and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes.

Note: The recipe is extremely versatile. The meat I used in these enchiladas is leftover from our Easter pork loin. I had frozen the leftovers and thought I would do something with them later. I didn’t have quite enough meat for the enchiladas so I thaw out some venison roast that was leftover too. I combined the two meats together with a little enchilada sauce. These enchiladas turned out wonderful. This is a good way to use up any leftover meat.

Pressure Cooker Pizza Soup

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Our family has been hit hard with some kind of respiratory virus.  I have had a horrible cough for weeks and needless to say, I have not been wanting to cook much.  We haven’t had much of an appetite either.  It seems like soup is about the only thing that we feel like eating for the moment.  Luckily, after Thanksgiving last year I made up a big batch of Turkey Soup and froze it.  It has been great to just get that out of the freezer and heat up.  However, we have been wanting to eat something a little different but is still light enough to eat.  I decided to cook up a batch of this pizza soup.  It really hit the spot and was so quick to cook up in the pressure cooker as I don’t feel like standing around the kitchen much these days.  I served this up with a loaf of Italian bread. (Oh, and I cooked this up in my little 4 quart pressure cooker.)

1 can petite diced tomatoes (28 oz.)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced (or use 4 teaspoons of chopped garlic from a jar)
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon of dried oregano (I like oregano so I added about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1 pound Italian sausage, cooked and drained
5 oz. mini-pepperoni (or cut up the regular size pepperoni, but I think the minis look cute)
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 cup dry elbow pasta (or any similar type pasta that you have on hand)
Shredded mozzerella for garnish

Brown the Italian sausage in the pressure cooker on the brown setting. If you do not have a brown setting then use a skillet. After the sausage is cooked drain off the fat. Add the chopped onion, garlic, green pepper and pepperoni. Continue to cook until the vegetables are soft. Add the chicken broth and can of diced tomatoes to the sausage mixture. Stir. Add the salt, ground pepper, oregano and dry pasta. Secure the lid on your pressure cooker and cook at high pressure for 8 minutes. Do a quick release and your soup is done!  Top with some shredded mozzerella cheese if you want!  Delicious! (Note: this can be cooked on the stovetop but will take longer to cook.  It could also probably be cooked in the slow cooker on low for about 6 hours.)

Slow Cooker Sochi (Russian) Chicken

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The television seems filled with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi this year.  I am not a big fan of watching but I have tuned in a few times this year which is unusual for me.  As I was doing the menu planning this week I came across Russian Chicken.  It has been a long time since I have had Russian Chicken and since the Winter Olympics are in Russia this year I thought it would be an appropriate dish to make this week.

The dish has chopped onions in it and my family doesn’t like onions, at all.  So I sliced the onions in big slices so the onions can be easily picked out for the picky eaters.  If your family likes onions then chop them.

Slow Cooker Russian Chicken

4-6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 small onion, chopped (or sliced)
1/2 cup chunky apricot preserves
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used Hellmann’s mayonnaise)
1/3 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken in slow cooker. Spread chopped or sliced onion on top. Combine mayonnaise, ketchup, and red wine vinegar in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the apricot preserves to the mayonnaise mixture. Stir to combine and pour over the chicken. Cover and cook on Low for 3 or 4 hours. Serve over rice.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dressing

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4 chicken breasts (thawed)

1 box of Stove Top Stuffing mix
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1/4 cup water

Put chicken in slow cooker. Pour in stuffing. Mix sour cream, soup and water. Pour in and cook on low for 4 hours.
Note: The dressing turned out somewhat dry. I might try making the dressing instead of pouring it in dry.

Not Your Mama’s Meatloaf

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This is a basic recipe for meatloaf.    I dressed it up a little though.  I didn’t have 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef in the freezer but I did have 1 pound and I found 1/2 pound of ground veal.  Mixing two different meats together was really good.  A 1/2 pound of ground pork would be good too!  The thought of adding 1/2 pound of venison crossed my mind but I decided not to since I like to eat venison with spicier ingredients to hide that wild taste.  Some people probably wouldn’t mind it though.  I put everything else in the meatloaf as the recipe calls for except I had 1/2 of a green and red bell pepper leftover in the refrigerator that just seemed to be crying out to me.  So I chopped those up and put them in the meatloaf.  Most leftover veggies go well in meatloaf.  This recipe was enough for supper for hubby and I and then sandwiches for lunch the next day.  Half of the meatloaf was still leftover so I put that in the slow cooker spaghetti the following morning.  This meatloaf could easily feed a family of 4 with enough leftovers to make spaghetti the next day minus the sandwiches.  I served the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy and peas.  Yummy!

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 egg
1 onion, chopped
1 cup milk
1 cup dried bread crumbs or cracker crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/3 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the beef, egg, onion, milk, and bread or cracker crumbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste and place in a lightly greased 5×9 inch loaf pan, or form into a loaf and place in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish. In a separate small bowl, combine the brown sugar, mustard and ketchup. Mix well and pour over the meatloaf. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour.

Easy Does It Spaghetti

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I must admit, this is one of the best recipes for spaghetti that I have had. It is quick and easy and is ready when I get home from work.  It is the best ever.  Serve with some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top and some garlic bread.  This is so good to come home to after a long day at work!!

1 pound ground beef (I use leftover meatloaf in this so I don’t have to cook it.  I serve meatloaf the day before.)
1 tablespoon dry minced onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon each mace, allspice and pepper
1 (4 oz) can sliced mushrooms, drained
3 cups tomato juice
4 oz. dry spaghetti broken in 4 inch pieces

Brown ground beef well in skillet and place in slow cooker. Add all remaining ingredients except dry spaghetti and stir well. Cover and cook on Low for 6-8 hours. (High for 3 1/2 hours) Turn to High the last hour and stir in dry spaghetti.

Saucy Fish Bake

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This is another old recipe that I have used for years.  Having a fisherman in the family has caused me to collect lots of fish recipes.  I am not sure where I got this recipe from.  The whole family loves this recipe and it is quick and easy.

1 package (16 oz) fish fillets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 package (1 1/8 oz.) Hollandaise sauce mix
1 can (16 oz) whole green beans or 1 can asparagus
Paprika
1 can (2.8 oz) French fried onions
Thaw fillets.  Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.  Put in ungreased 11x7x1.5 inch pan leaving a space in center.  Dot with butter.  Cook uncovered 15 minutes at 375 degrees.  Prepare sauce mix as directed on package.  Remove fish from oven.  Place beans or asparagus in center.  Pour hollandaise sauce over vegetables; sprinkle with paprika.  Sprinkle onions over fish.  Cook until fish flakes easily; about 5-7 minutes.
Serves 4

Creamy Spinach & Sausage Pasta

This is a good quick skillet dinner to cook on those busy weeknights.  I have been coming home late from work and I can get this on the table pretty quick after I get home from a long day’s work.

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Creamy Spinach and Sausage Pasta

Serves 4

6 oz. smoked sausage, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with chilies
2 cups chicken broth
8 oz. pasta (any pasta, I used elbow macaroni)
3 cups fresh spinach
1 cup (4 oz) shredded monterey jack
1 whole green onion, sliced (optional)

Thinly slice smoked sausage and add to skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Saute sausage until brown. Drain fat. Dice onion and add to skillet. Saute until onion is soft. Add can of tomatoes with chilies and the chicken broth. Stir to combine and dissolve any brown bits off bottom of skillet. Add uncooked pasta and make sure it is submerged in liquid. Place lid on skillet. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer 10 minutes or until pasta is tender. Stir once or twice while cooking to prevent pasta from sticking. Stir in spinach, one cup at a time, until wilted. Keep heat on low. Sprinkle cheese on top. Heat until melted. Top with sliced green onion.