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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Ground Beef Mix

I buy ground beef in bulk, 5 pounds at a time.  If I decide to buy some Zaycon beef, of course I have a lot more.  Usually with Zaycon beef I freeze it in 1 pound ziplock bags.  However, I cook 5 pounds at a time in the slow cooker.  I put 3 chopped onions, 3 chopped green peppers and 5 pounds of raw ground beef in the slow cooker.  I cook it for 4 hours on high, stirring every hour to break the beef up.  At the end of the 4 hours, I put the beef in a large sieve and rinse it with cold water.  This cools the beef mixture down and it also rinses the grease out.  I put about 3 cups of the mixture in each quart ziplock freezer bag.  There should end up being 5 quart bags.  Then I label and freeze the bags.  They are ready to go for dinner quickly.  This cuts the time I have to spend in the kitchen on Meal Prep Mondays!

For those of you who are interested, I do buy a lot of meat from Zaycon Fresh.  They offer bulk meat for less then what can usually be bought in the stores.  If you are interested, I have a referral link if you would like to try it out.  I have been very impressed with the beef and chicken.  I haven’t tried anything else but I probably will be ordering some other things soon!

Here is the referral:  Zaycon Fresh

I will be starting “assemble and freeze” weekly menus soon!  First one will be posted this week!  I used this ground beef mix a lot in those recipes and thought I would post this ahead of time.

Pressure Cooker Round Steak with Veggies and Gravy

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It was one of those days and I needed to get dinner on the table fast.  I didn’t want to have to go out in this cold to the grocery store so I used what I had on hand.  This recipe turned out wonderful and I am going to have to cook this one again!  The recipe below serves 2 people so if you need it to serve more then increase it accordingly.

1 pound of round steak, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 slices of turkey bacon
1 onion, sliced
1 package of baby carrots
4 small russet potatoes cut into fourths
1/2 cup cooking sherry (or dry red wine if you have it)
1 tablespoon dry parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Press the Brown button on your pressure cooker. If you don’t have a brown function then do this part in a skillet. Put 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in bottom of pressure cooker. When the oil melts put the round steak in. Brown the round steak and then place it on a plate. Put bacon in pressure cooker and brown the bacon. Add the cooking sherry and deglaze the pot. Turn the brown function off. Return the steak and collected juices to the cooker. Add the remaining ingredients except for the cornstarch. I added some a little extra water too, maybe 1/4 cup. Lock the lid in place and set to high pressure for 20 minutes. Let pressure release. Remove the lid. In a pyrex measuring cup place 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and some of the hot gravy in and stir it up. Pour it in the cooker and stir until the gravy gets thick.

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.

Halloween Casserole

Hello peeps!!  Long time, no write.  I have been continuing my dieting.  Got a long ways to go but I will get there.  Since it is Halloween I thought I would cook a Halloween Casserole.  I found some of the cutest pasta shapes so I decided to use it in a casserole.

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I measured 2 cups of pasta into a pan of boiling water.  I boiled it for 10 minutes, drained it and poured it into a greased baking dish.  Then I cooked 1 pound of ground beef, drained it and added it to the pasta.  You could add Italian sausage instead of ground beef.   Then I mixed in 2 cups of marinara sauce.  I had some homemade sauce in the freezer but the canned marinara sauce would work just as well.  I mixed everything up and put the baking dish in a 350 F oven for 30 minutes.  Then I put grated cheddar cheese on top and put it back in the oven for 5 minutes.  You could also use mozzarella cheese.

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It turned out really good.  Everyone seemed to like it.

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I served it up with a nice fresh green salad.  Oh and don’t forget to sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top too!  Happy Halloween!!

Hobo Casserole

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This dish is a family keeper. It is so quick and easy on busy weeknights. The ground beef isn’t even pre-cooked in this dish. It cooks right along with the casserole!

1 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion, sliced (if your family doesn’t like onions then leave it out)
2 medium potatoes, sliced (don’t peel them)
1 1/2 cups shredded Velveeta
1 (10 3/4 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1/8 cup milk
1 1/2 cups French-fried onions
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat ground beef into 8×8 pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. If using, slice onion on top of beef. Slice potatoes onto onion layer, salt and pepper. Layer with shredded Velveeta cheese. Mix soup and milk together and spread over the cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until potatoes are tender. Remove foil and top with french fried onions and brown for about 5 minutes.

Wick Fowler Copycat Chili

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Today I rushed to the grocery store in hopes of getting all the chili fixings for dinner tonight.  Snow was starting to fall and I think everyone in town decides to rush to the grocery store so they can fix chili.  Needless to say, by the time I got there all of the Wick Fowler Chili Kits were sold out.  But it was a good thing that the last time I made Wick Fowler’s Chili that I measured everything that I put in it.  So we can still have Wick Fowler’s Chili, well sort of anyway.  Here is the recipe:

Brown 2 pounds of ground beef.  Drain off the grease.  Add 1-8 oz. can of tomato sauce and 2 cans of water.  Stir.  Add 6 1/2 to 7 tablespoons of chili powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano, 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cayenne depending on how hot you like your chili, 1 tablespoon dried minced onion, 1 teaspoon dried minced garlic.  Stir.  Add 1 large can of beans if you like beans in your chili.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Just before serving stir in 1 1/2 tablespoons of masa.

Yum….the family didn’t even notice the difference!

7 Meals in 2 hours including the shopping!!

I thought I would give this slow cooker recipes for the freezer a try.  You know the kind.  Dump some food in a freezer bag and freeze it.  Thaw it out and cook it in the slow cooker.  Sounded easy enough for me, so I thought I would give it a whirl.  First thing I did was surf the Internet for recipes and there sure are a lot of recipes.  I had to decided which recipes I would fix.  I decided to make 7 dinners.  It took me about 2 hours to put them together and that includes the shopping.

First meal was putting spare ribs and barbeque sauce in a freezer bag.  Squish it together and freeze it.  When you are ready to cook it, take it out of the freezer the night before and thaw it in the refrigerator.  The next morning put it in the slow cooker and cook it on Low for 8 hours.  Cheesy Hashbrown Potato Casserole would be good with the ribs.  It is a freezable dish.

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Second meal I cooked was Poppyseed Chicken.  I went ahead and started cooking that for dinner now and decided not to freeze it mainly because it has sour cream in it.  The recipe didn’t say this but lightly salt and pepper the chicken before placing in slow cooker.  I know the chicken isn’t salt and peppered in the picture but do as I say, not as I do.  Still this dish needs something else.  I think I might try a slice of bacon on top of the chicken next time and see if that adds to the flavor.  I don’t know maybe it’s just me but I thought this dish was a bit bland if cooked according to the recipe.

The third and fourth meals were Chicken Delicious.  I made two bags of that and put it in the freezer.

The last chicken meal I made was Dijon Chicken.

Then I made 2 more meals using ground beef, Casserole Spaghetti and Mexican Casserole.

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OK, so step 1:  I labeled all the freezer bags.

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Step 2:  I put all the meat in the bags.

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Step 3:  Poured barbeque sauce in with the spare ribs and froze the bag.  By the way, the Head Country Barbeque Sauce in the picture is the best sauce hands down, just sayin’.
Step 4:  Cut up all the green peppers and added it to the dishes.
Step 5:  Cut up all the onions and added it to the dishes.
Step 6:  Cut up the celery and added it to the dish.
Step 7:  Added any canned goods to the meals.
Step 8:  Added any seasoning to the meals.
Step 9:  Seal the bags, squish the bags and freeze!

And I was done, easy, easy, easy!  Now I hope my family likes them.  This will be great to have on hand for the busy holiday season that is coming up.

Here is a great article on 31 Things You Can Freeze.  I think I am going to get busy and start freezing!!  First thing may be making up a batch of waffles!  Yum!

Oh I forgot to add:  do not buy the frozen chicken breasts for slow cooker recipes.  Only buy fresh chicken breasts to use in the slow cooker recipes.  The frozen chicken usually has a layer of ice around it and it will produce too much liquid in your dish.  Your dishes will turn out too watery.

Korean Beef

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This was a real winner with the family.  Everyone liked it and it was quick to get on the table, which gives it even more appeal for the “mom” in me.

1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 – 1 teaspoon crushed red peppers (I used 1/2 teaspoon and it was hot enough for us Texans!)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch green onions, diced
1 egg for each serving (optional)

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown hamburger with garlic in the sesame oil. Drain most of the fat and add brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt, pepper and crushed red peppers. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors. Serve over steamed rice and top with green onions. Optional: Hubby wanted his meat cooked with an egg so I cracked an egg into the meat mixture and stirred it until it was cooked. Also could poach an egg and put it on top. I think next time I will try poaching eggs.