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Friday, September 4, 2015

freezer meals

I work in a school, so every September when I'm back at work after having a few months off during the summer time, it's TOUGH to transition our family to leaving early and getting dressed and being focused and getting through long days. The last thing I want to do or have time for at the end of a busy work day is to cook meals. So the last few years I've tried making a few meals at the end of August that I can freeze and take out on busy September days.

I cooked for about 2 nights after the kids went to bed and ended up with about 8 meals. I was hoping for two per week through September, to get me through the first month. My plan is then in October to make a few more and keep doing this every month. It's a lot easier and healthier to do it this way when you're so busy!

So many moms asked me to post about these recipes, so here are a few ideas for you!


I usually make a list of which supplies I need, after reviewing some of my old standby favorite recipes that I have in a binder. I buy everything at once, including buying all fresh veggies at the local farm stand - best part about making freezer meals is having yummy ingredients later on in the year!

I buy the tins and aluminum foil pans at the grocery store or Dollar Tree, as those are easiest for me to cook with. I usually have Ziplock freezer bags for things like stews or soups. Those freeze well.

Then you need a Sharpie marker to write on the outside, and a large freezer, and you're good to go!

Don't forget when purchasing ingredients at the grocery store to buy spices in bulk, as you'll go through a lot when cooking several meals at once.


I do about three meals in one evening. Sometimes you can make so much that you can even use half of one of those meals that you're planning to freeze, for dinner that evening. It's a win-win!

I focus on one meal at a time though in the evening. I've tried before doing a few parts of various recipes at once.... doesn't work well.

(don't mind my messy kitchen and stove! I took these pictures mid-cooking mess... stuff everywhere!)


One of the easiest meals I make for freezing is Baked Ziti with Hamburger. It's nothing fancy. My Italian relatives would be ashamed of me lack of creativity... but I'm a busy working Mom, I need simple sometimes!

Baked Ziti with Hamburger

Cook a box of pasta. Drain the water.
Cook a pound of hamburger.
Add half a bottle of tomato sauce to the burger.
Mix pasta, burger, and the rest of sauce together.
Put into a casserole pan. Cover with Mozzarella cheese.

You'll bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes to reheat through later.

EASY.



Some other favorite recipes include:

Sweet Potato Shephard's Pie

Cook about 4 sweet potatoes. Mash. Add some brown sugar to taste. Mix.
Steam a bag of mixed vegetables.
Cook a pound of turkey burger. Add a jar of beef gravy to it. Stir.

Put the burger into a casserole pan. Add the mixed veggies to the top. Then add the sweet potatoes, layering.

Top with shredded cheddar cheese.

You will bake this later at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes to melt the cheese and heat through.

SO YUMMY. This is my sister Amanda's recipe!

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Ree Drummond's Chicken Spaghetti 

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/chicken-spaghetti-recipe.html

This recipe is amazing. So easy and yummy. Sounds random, but it's delicious.

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Rachael Ray's Chili Chicken and Vegetable Soup

http://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipes/rachael-ray-magazine-recipe-search/soup-recipes/chili-chicken-and-vegetable-soup

I love this soup! So easy to make, yet tasty and good for fall nights!

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Rachael Ray's Mexican Lasagna

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/mexican-lasagna-recipe.html

SUPER yummy!


Stuffed Peppers

Take the insides out of 6 large green peppers. Put in water on the stove until comes to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes.
Brown one pound of beef burger.
Add 2 tablespoons chopped onion to the burger, cook about 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in 1 cup brown rice, cooked, along with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 clove garlic, and 1 cup of tomato sauce.
Stuff the peppers with the mixture.
Top each pepper with some tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Cook later at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, covered. Then uncover and cook about 15 minutes.

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Minestrone Soup - from Hannaford Fresh magazine

In a large pot with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, cook cut up 2 large carrots, 1 small onion, 1 clove garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Cook about 5 minutes.

Add more olive oil. Add 2 medium zucchinis, cut into chunks. Cook 8 to 10 minutes until veggies are tender.

Add 1 32 oz carton chicken broth, 1 15 oz can tomato sauce, and 1 15 oz can cannelloni white beans. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Put into large Ziplock bags to freeze. I always double them.

Note: You will cook a box of pasta when you are ready to make this soup, but I never freeze the pasta with the soup because the broth makes the pasta mushy that way.

YUMMY!


Mexican Stuffed Shells

My friend at work gave me this recipe and it's become our FAVORITE! So easy to make, the kids LOVE it. We call it TACO PASTA :)

Cook a box of shells al dente.
Ground 1 lb beef or turkey burger (I use turkey, it tastes the same!)
Add 1 pack of taco seasoning (I use a half cup of my homemade taco seasoning)
Add 1 block of cream cheese
Simmer

Cover the bottom of a casserole pan with most of 1 whole jar of salsa.

Fill shells with the burger mixture. Place in pan open side up.

Pour more salsa over top of shells.

Cover with shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese.

Later, bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

SO GOOD!

TACO SEASONING

Here is my homemade taco seasoning recipe that I follow. LOVE this! I put them in Mason jars.
www.tastesoflizzyt.com/2013/05/02/homemade-taco-seasoning/


Happy cooking and freezing! I hope this helps you make your fall a little less busy, with yummy meals to keep your family happy! 

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