Saturday, February 9, 2013

My Take on Freezer Meals

In anticipation of being on bed rest, I decided to stock our freezer with meals.  I wish I would have taken a picture. It was pretty satisfying to see all of them neatly organized in there.  But, my doctor's appointment came and went and I'm still up and about so we've been eating the meals I had made.  I'm pretty sure it has changed my life.  Easy on the weekly budget and hardly any clean up each night?  Yes please.  I've hardly cooked over the last week and we've eaten well and only gone to the grocery store for a few things.  It's been great and I want to keep doing it.

I've had some friends asking which recipes I made.  I thought I'd share them on here and tell you which ones we liked. Here's how I went about it:

Some people take a whole day to assemble the meals.  I didn't want that much stress and I didn't want to break our weekly grocery budget, so instead, I planned out some meals for the week and doubled them (or one-and-a-halfed, or if it was a big recipe anyway, just made it as is.) Each night, I made dinner and depending on the recipe, either made another pan to freeze, or just froze the left-overs.  This was cost effective since I was buying the ingredients anyway and wasn't really any extra work.

I just used foil pans, with lids/saran wrap/foil or gallon ziplocks depending on the type of food and labeled them with the date I made them and directions for cooking.

Here are the recipes we've tried so far.

1. Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas - these are one of our all time favorite dishes and they're just as good after they're frozen. 
This recipe is everywhere, but this one includes instructions for freezing

2. Calzones - we loved this recipe.  I didn't think they were quite as good after being frozen, but my family still gobbled them up.
I used Pioneer Woman's recipe of ricotta/pepperoni mixture, but just used pizza dough instead of rhodes rolls.

And then I used Martha's ideas for freezing them. (I've heard her recipe is good too)

3.  French Dips - I will be making this recipe from now on.  We loved this one.  Since we have a small family, I froze the left overs instead of freezing a whole roast so we could get two meals out of one.  We did prefer to make our own au jus sauce out of the packet instead of the juices from the crockpot - it seemed oily, but maybe we had an extra fatty roast.  We really loved her tips on toasting the rolls and the addition of swiss cheese.  My rolls usually get soggy with the meat and juices, but they way she toasts it twice made it turn out amazing!

4. Enchilada Casserole - Another good one.  Matt was curious how it would be with corn tortillas so for the pan I froze, I did corn instead of flour.  We haven't eaten that one yet, though, so I can't tell you how it is. :)

5. Crock pot Beef Stroganoff - This one was good, but not our favorite.  I think I just needed to season mine better.  I've actually made this before and enjoyed it more.

6. Slow Cooker Black Bean and Corn Salsa - Another winner.  We enjoyed it much more served with tortilla chips - kind of like nachos with all of the toppings instead of rolled in tortillas.

7. Chicken and Spinach Stuffed Shells - the kids and I liked these.  Matt isn't really a fan of pasta, so we won't count his opinion on this one.  Go easy on the garlic.  There's a lot of flavor in these little shells.

8. Taco Soup - there are lots of recipes out there.  Ours has cooked ground beef, onion, kidney beans, canned tomatoes, vegetable beef soup, taco seasoning, water, etc. I just made it and froze the left overs. I'll buy the toppings (tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream) to have on hand when we eat the other half.

9. Tatertot casserole - I'm not really a fan of this one, but my kids and Matt love it.  Basically, just layer cooked ground beef (sauteed with onion), cream of mushroom soup (I make it from scratch when I want to be healthier), frozen veggies, shredded cheese and frozen tatertots on top.  Bake for 30 min at 350. They like to drizzle ketchup on it.  yeah...

10. Taco meat.  I just cooked up a double batch and froze half in a ziplock so I can quickly fry it up for tacos.

Phew!  That's it.  I hope that helps someone.  And I'm sure many of you are pros at this.  If you have any favorite freezable recipes, please share them.  I'd love to keep doing this, but we might get tired of these recipes, so It'd be nice to try some more.  Happy Freezing! :)



Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Snow Days

Last week was a big winter week. It started out with an ice storm and church was canceled.  Then there was a good snowstorm and school was canceled.  It was cold -  very cold.  Like negative numbers cold. Patients were few at the hospital, so Matt got off early.  We took the kids sledding, sat around the fireplace, had hot chocolate and enjoyed the cold snowy days.  This is what we were missing when we lived in San Diego. :)


video


Madeline was pretty hesitant at the beginning and then really liked it.  Charlie just ate it up.  Literally.  He face planted in the snow a few times and it didn't even faze him.  He cried when we had to leave, even though his little face was red with cold and wind burn.  These are the days...