Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Freezer Cooking

Life is getting a bit busy again so I decided it was time to fill the freezer with freezer meals. Ok, Elizabeth posted about the wonderful cooking session her freezer cooking group had and I got a wee bit motivated. I took Katie with me to the grocery store since we needed to get a new mattress for the upstairs bedrooms (yay for moving Seamus out of our room) and we stocked up on meat. I'd originally planned on just doing beef and pork but we found a case of boneless skinless chicken breast on sale for $1.55/lb. If you've never bought meat by the case, that was around 36 lbs of chicken. That I had not planned on. But I am not a fool or willing to pass up a price like that because have you seen how expensive conventional meat is lately? I was going to buy stew meat until I saw the price. No stinking way am I paying $4/lb for conventionally raised beef. We pay that much for our grass fed organic side of beef every year. Not spending that much on the conventionally raised stuff. Just not going to happen.

So we arrive home with all of that chicken (plus the 2 packages I'd picked up at Wegmans the night before), a large pork loin I had the butcher cut into chops, a bit over 10 lbs of ground beef, and 2 large packages of ravioli and got to work.

Some of my favorite freezer meals are often referred to as dump meals. With these meals you just put everything together in a container and then the day you plan to use it, just dump it all into a crockpot. Seriously simple. I also like to precook and shred some of the chicken breast for casseroles, soups, and using for making pizza. Two of our favorite pizzas are Buffalo chicken and BBQ chicken. Having precooked, shredded, portioned chicken in the freezer makes pizza night easier and keeps us from using the canned chicken breast. We also made several pans of pasta based meals and a large batch of meatballs. Pretty much every meal is going to need side dishes added to it but making those takes almost no time (plus I have lots of extra helpers who can easily handle that part alone) but having the main dish already prepped and planned means all I have to do is just pull something out of the freezer each morning. No real thinking or planning needed. Just what my life needs right now.

I have learned that with lots of folks helping with putting dinner together, it is helpful to label each meal not only with cooking directions but also with side dish suggestions or serving instructions. I may know we usually eat a certain meal over rice, but writing it on the bag means there are no chances of the meal making it to the table alone. For some reason that I can't understand, many of the cooking folks in this house seem to forget that side dishes are truly needed to round out a meal.

So here is the final tally since it was requested:

honey glazed chicken
maple dijon chicken
chicken cacciatore
baked beefy ravioli (a cheater version of lasagna) - 2 meals
chicken divan casserole
chicken parmesan casserole
sweet and sour pork
creamy ranch pork chops
cheesy chicken and stuffing casserole - 2 meals
baked rotini
sweet Asian chicken - 2 meals
salisbury meatballs - 2 meals
creamy salsa chicken - 2 meals
shredded chicken for pizza - 4 meals
shredded chicken for soup
shredded chicken for a casserole
24 beef and rice burritos
uncooked chicken portioned for a crockpot meal
uncooked chicken portioned for soup
chicken broccoli alfredo

I am planning next week to turn a few of our roasts in the freezer into a few extra meals and cooking up/seasoning some ground beef to have ready for tacos. Here's hoping having dinner already prepped for the next few months will allow us to focus on more important things the next few weeks.

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