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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Sausage Alfredo

Long time no blog!  I am still here.  I haven’t been blogging because my computer crashed and I did not go out and buy a new computer for over a year.  I couldn’t decide if I wanted a laptop or a desktop.  I finally decided to get another laptop.  I like the portability of it.  Since I am back online I will be blogging more often now.  I also decided to give the blog a new look and changed the format.  I like the new simple look that it has.

Now that we are empty nesters my cooking has changed a lot.  I no longer cook large amounts of food.  I generally cook recipes that are freezable and quick.  If a recipe says it serves 4 people, I will serve half and freeze the other half.  This method has helped with portions and stocked my freezer for more busier nights.  I have been getting into dehydrating, canning and making my own quick mixes in order to make things easier too.  Below is a good quick skillet meal that we both like and is one of the recipes I go to when I have to get something on the table fast.  It is freezable and can be warmed up in the microwave.  I serve this with a nice big dinner salad.

Sausage Alfredo

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 15 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 package smoked sausage, sliced (I use Hillshire Farm)
  • 8 ounces pasta, cooked and drained (I use elbow macaroni)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasonings (I use Tony Chachere’s)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (fresh is always best!)

Prepare pasta. Cook and drain. Saute sausage for 5 minutes. Add cream and Cajun seasoning and boil. Reduce heat and simmer 3 to 4 minutes or until mixture thickens. Stir in Parmesan. Add pasta and toss.

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.

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.

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!!

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

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This is an excellent recipe. It can be frozen or prepared a day ahead of time and baked the next day. I did change the original recipe, mainly because I thought it was lacking in Italian seasonings. My changes will be in parenthesis next to the original ingredients.

9 lasagna noodles, cooked (I only cooked 8 because that was all I could reasonably fit into a 13×9 pan)
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained (I bought a bag of fresh baby spinach and sauteed it in a skillet with some olive oil)
15 oz. fat free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
Salt and Pepper to taste
32 oz. tomato sauce (I used 24 oz. of tomato sauce in this recipe but next time I am going to use Marinara sauce.)
3 oz. part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. (I think I will also add a little basil and oregano to this mixture.) Ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.

Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Ladle sauce over noodles in the baking dish and top each on with 1 tablespoon mozzarella cheese. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts.

To serve, ladle a little sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.

Mexican Skillet Spaghetti

1/2 tsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1/2 c onions — chopped
1/2 c bell peppers — chopped
15 ozs tomato sauce
4 c water
1 env taco seasoning mix
8 ozs spaghetti, thin — uncooked
1/2 c cheddar cheese — shredded

In a 12″ skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add beef, onions, and bell peppers. Cook until beef is no longer pink and vegetables are tender. Stir in tomato sauce, water, and seasoning mix. Bring to a boil. Add spaghetti. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, until spaghetti is tender, 25 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese.
Serves 6

Classic Lasagna

2 medium onions, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 (14.5 oz) can basil, garlic and oregano diced tomatoes
2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
1 (8 oz.) can basil, garlic and oregano tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
12 lasagna noodles, uncooked
8 cups boiling water
1 (16 oz.) carton ricotta
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 (6 oz) packages mozzarella slices
Garnish: chopped parsley

Saute onion in 1 tablespoon oil in skillet until tender. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add beef and cook, stir 10 minutes or until beef isn’t pink. Drain. Stir in diced tomatoes and next 4 ingredients, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf and set meat sauce aside. Place noodles in 13x9x2 inch pan. Carefully pour 8 cups boiling water and 1 tablespoon oil over noodles. Let stand 15 minutes. Stir together ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper until blended. Spoon 1/2 meat mixture in greased 13×9 inch pan. Shake excess water on noodles and put 6 over meat, then 1/2 ricotta mixture and 1 package sliced mozzarrella. Repeat layers once. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 55 minutes. Uncover and bake 10-15 more minutes until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes and garnish.

Chicken Tetrazzini

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16 oz package vermicelli
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
8 oz. carton sour cream
6 oz. jar sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded Cheddar

Cook vermicelli according to package directions; drain. Return to pot and toss with chicken broth. Stir together chicken and next 8 ingredients; add vermicelli and toss well. Spoon mixture into 2 lightly greased 11 x7 inch baking dishes. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake, covered at 350 for 30 minutes; uncover and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Can freeze before baking up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature and bake as directed.

North Carolina Shrimp Saute

1/4 cup butter
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 small green pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. linguine or spaghetti
1/2 cup grated Romano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Chopped fresh parsley
Lemon slices

In skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add shrimp, mushrooms, green pepper and garlic. Saute until shrimp turns pink about 3-5 minutes. Meanwhile cook pasta according to package directions; drain and place on a large serving platter. Top with shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with cheese, salt and pepper and parsley. Toss well; garnish with lemon. Serve immediately.