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.

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.

Homemade Pizza-Best Pizza Ever!!!

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I make the bread dough in the bread machine.  If I am cooking pizza on a day that I am at work then I set the bread machine to delay start so the dough will be ready when I get home.  Eat one, freeze one!!!

Pizza Dough for 2 pizzas or 1-13×9 inch pizza
In the bread machine place:
1 cup water
3 cups flour
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons yeast
Put on Dough setting.

Here is an easy no cook recipe for the Pizza Sauce. This is enough sauce for 2 pizzas or 1-13×9 inch pizza.
15 oz. tomato sauce
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
4 tablespoons tomato paste
Mix and spread over pizza. Top with cheese, pepperoni and mushrooms (or your favorite toppings). Cook at 425 for 25 minutes.

Make Ahead Breakfast Casserole

Perfect for Christmas morning served with some biscuits and orange juice.

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This recipe serves 12 people, however if you have hungry boys it will probably serve 6.  

6 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers (or shredded Cheddar cheese)
2 cups diced cooked ham or Canadian bacon
1/2 cup sliced green onions
8 large beaten eggs (or 2 cups egg substitute)
Two 12 ounce cans (3 cups total) evaporated milk or evaporated skim milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Grease a 3 quart rectangular baking dish. Arrange potatoes evenly in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with cheese, ham, and green onion. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over potato mixture in dish. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate until ready to bake (several hours or overnight). When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F. Bake, uncovered, for 45-55 minutes or until center appears set. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. If baking after casserole has been chilled, you will need to increase baking time to 55 to 60 minutes.

We topped ours with some picante sauce. Would also be good with a dollop of sour cream on top too.

Cranberry Cream Cheese Mold

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This is one of my favorite recipes to serve at Christmas.  I know it is one of those old fashioned jello mold things but it looks just like a red wreath to me.  I also just love cranberries and I have to sneak it in somehow.

Cranberry Cream Cheese Mold

1 1/2 cups boiling water
8 oz. package of Jello Cranberry (I can’t find cranberry anymore so I use black cherry instead.)
1 1/2 cups cold water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 medium apple, chopped
1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce (I just pour the whole can in.)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened

Stir boiling water into jello in large bowl 2 minutes or until completely dissolved. Stir in cold water and cinnamon. Pour 2 cups of the gelatin into a medium bowl. Refrigerate about 1 1/2 hours or until thickened (spoon drawn through leaves definite impression). Reserve remaining 1 cup jello at room temperature. Stir apple and cranberry sauce into thickened jello. Spoon into 6 cup mold. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set but not firm (should stick to finger when touched and should mound.) Stir reserved 1 cup jello gradually into cream cheese in small bowl with wire whisk until smooth. Put over jello layer in mold. Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm. Unmold.

Bread Machine Dinner Rolls

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These rolls are so easy to make because the bread machine does most of the work.  They taste wonderful too.  These can be made ahead of time and frozen if needed.

Here is the recipe for a 1 1/2 pound bread maker.  It makes about 1 1/2 dozen rolls.

½ c. milk
¼ c. water
3 rounded tbsp. butter
1 large egg
2 rounded tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 c. bread flour
2 ½ tsp. bread machine yeast

Egg Glaze
Lightly beat 1 egg with 1 tbsp. water

Select recipe size recommended by the manufacturer of your bread machine. Add all ingredients except Egg glaze into bread machine pan in the order suggested by manufacturer. Process in dough/manual cycle. When cycle is complete, remove dough to lightly floured surface. If necessary, knead in enough flour to make dough easy to handle. Divide dough into 8 (12) greased 2 ½ inch muffin pan cups. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes. Brush Egg Glaze on rolls. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, or until done. Remove from cups; cool on wire rack.

Easy Overnight Tuna Casserole

2 cups rainbow rotini, uncooked
2 cup frozen mixed veggies
2 cans soup, (cream of anything)
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup milk
1 can solid white tuna, water pack and flaked
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup bread crumbs, unseasoned and dry

In 2 quart casserole, combine all ingredients except butter and bread crumbs. Cover and refrigerate 12 hours or overnight. In small mixing bowl, microwave butter on Hi for 30 seconds until melted. Add bread crumbs and toss to coat. Set aside. Microwave casserole at HI covered for 12-15 minutes or until mixture is hot, stirring three times. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Microwave at Hi uncovered for 2 minutes or until not. Note: Can bake in oven at 350 degrees. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake uncovered 55 minutes to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until not and bubbly.

Make Ahead Cheese and Hamburger Casserole

1 pound ground round
1 cup onion, chopped
3 crushed garlic cloves
1 (8 oz) package sliced mushrooms
6 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1/3 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup (4 oz) crumbled feta
3/4 cup (3 oz) shredded mozzarella
4 cups penne pasta, uncooked
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large non-stick skillet; cook over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Add mushrooms. Cook 5 minutes until tender. Add tomato paste and next 5 ingredients; stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered 20 minutes. Set aside. Place flour in a saucepan, gradually add milk, stirring with whisk. Place over medium heat and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Stir in cheeses, cook 3 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring constantly. Reserve 1/2 cup cheese sauce. Pour remaining cheese sauce, beef mixture and pasta into 13×9 inch baking dish and stir gently. Drizzle reserved cheese sauce over pasta mixture. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes until thoroughly heated and pasta is tender.