Tag Archives: meals that can be frozen

Tips on How to Speed up Work Week Meals

More Easy Work Week Menus

I juggle working both inside and outside the home, not to mention transforming our property into the more self-sufficient homestead I crave. Many evenings, I’m looking for a quick and easy meal without reaching for the phone and take-out. Over the years, I’ve learned to cook extra portions of some dishes so I can freeze it for future meals. I’ve also learned to create multiple dishes from the same basic ingredient so I speed up meal preps.

MEATBALLS:

Meatballs are a great basic item to have on hand. When I make a batch of meatballs, I make a large batch, bake them off in the oven and then freeze them out on a cookie sheet before placing them in a zip lock type freezer bag. By freezing them before bagging them, you can grab just want you need without them sticking together. It’s good to have a mix of large and small meatballs for various meals like meatball grinders, pasta with meatballs and quick meatball soup or sliced meatballs to top pizzas.

PIZZA CRUST

You can buy pizza dough in the deli section of a lot of grocery stores. There are also great recipes out there if you like making your own. The trick to making it a quick meal is baking off the dough into a pizza crust ahead of time! I use those two-gallon freezer bags as a “template” and create and bake off a crust just smaller than the bag. I actually can fit two of those crusts into the bag and bake off two crusts while I’m in the kitchen. Once they cool, place them into the freezer bag and pop them into the freezer. Even my eleven year old can take out a crust, spread out sauce, cheese and pepperoni (try microwaving a few meatballs and slicing them for meatball pizza) to help me out. Having the crust pre-baked is a huge time saver!

CHICKEN

Our local butcher sells fantastic boneless, skinless chicken breasts at a great price when you buy them in 10 lb bags. When they hit a rock bottom price, I buy about fifty pounds at a time. When I get it home, I take the time to prepare the chicken in various ways that saves a lot of time later.
*Slice the chicken into thin slices and freeze them out on a cookie sheet like that before placing them into freezer bags. You’ll be able to grab out what you need for quick homemade chicken fingers (they defrost more quickly as thin slices, as well)

*You can carefully slice the chicken in half through the width of the breast to make a chicken cutlet. Flour, egg and breadcrumb the cutlets and then freeze them individually. You can pull them out of the freezer, bake or fry them and then top them with a bit of pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese for chicken parmesan. You can also bake the chicken breasts ahead of time; freeze them and then just microwave to reheat before topping with sauce and cheese.

*You can simmer several of the breasts in water with herbs, celery, carrot and onions (just rough chop the vegetables-you’ll discard them after they’ve given up all their goodness). When the breasts are cooked, you can cube the meat and freeze it out on a cookie sheet before bagging. You can grab cubed meat for quick and easy casseroles made with canned cream soup, egg noodles, a bag of peas and some chicken meat (some people make it with tuna). You can also save the broth you just made for chicken soup one night (cubed chicken, a bag of mixed vegetables and a few handfuls of eggs noodles served with crackers or grilled cheese).

One of the biggest things you can really do to speed up work week meals is to cook or prepare as much as possible before hand.  Chopping vegetables, having rice cooked, prepping meat and such ahead of time slashes minutes off the evening preparations and it all adds up.  Finding meals that freeze well and meals that can be thrown (almost literally) into a crockpot also saves you running for take-out and running up your food costs.

For more great recipes you create and freeze, check out this book!


Don’t Panic – Dinner’s in the Freezer: Great-Tasting Meals You Can Make Ahead

This article is by Tammy Paquin, owner and publisher of Frugal-Families.com.  It is available for reprint with an active link back to www.frugal-families.com.

Easy OAMC Recipes

These recipes are easy and fast and help you avoid those expensive store-bought frozen meals and those nights when you didn’t have anything ready (we all know how expensive those “take-out” nights are!)

FRENCH BREAD PIZZA:
Spread jarred spaghetti sauce/tomato sauce on french bread. Top with cheese/toppings. Wrap and freeze. To bake. Bake frozen at 400/425 for 20-30 minutes.

EASY STIR FRY:
Divide a large bag of mixed frozen veggies among freezer bags. Among those freezer bags, divide a bag of frozen shrimp or cooked chicken breast. Freeze. Just throw in a wok in the frozen state and add soy sauce or stir fry sauce while it cooks.

PASTA SALAD:
Boil pasta, drain. Add a bottle of salad dressing, jar of olives, can of artichokes, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Optional : add cooked diced ham or chicken. Bag and freeze. Just thaw and eat.

CHICKEN MANICOTTI:
Uncooked manicotti, uncooked chicken breast (sliced into strips). Stuff a piece of chicken into the uncooked manicotti shell. Continue until all are filled. Place 1/3 sauce in freezable baking pan. Place stuffed manicotti in pan, top with the rest of the sauce mixed with 1 cup water. Top with cheese. Wrap and freeze. Bake from the freezer at 350 for 1 – 1 1/2 hours. Watch the pasta after a while if it looks dry add a little more water to the baking dish.

TACO RICE: (this has minimal cooking)
1 lb cooked ground beef or turkey, 1 chopped onion, 1 taco seasoning packet (or homemade), 1 can diced tomatoes, 2 cups cooked rice. Mix all ingredients together in a pan. Bring to simmer, simmer for 20 minutes until thick. Bag and freeze. Makes a good taco, taco salad, burritos or on top of tortilla chips for nachos. Can be doubled/tripled.

QUICK TURKEY ROLL UPS

1lb deli turkey meat ( I always seem to find turkey end slices in the markdowns at the deli)

3 cups prepared stuffing (either homemade or boxed)

1 can cream of chicken soup mixed with 3/4 cup water or about 2 cups homemade chicken flavored white sauce

Place a spoonful of stuffing on the end of one turkey slice. Roll up. Continue to fill and roll until all the turkey is used. Place rolls in a foil baking pan or freezable baking dish. Pour white sauce or cream soup over the top of the turkey rolls. Top with cheese if desired. Cover dish, freeze. Either thaw and bake or bake from the frozen state.

QUICHE IN A BAG

1 cup cooked sausage or diced ham (Optional)
10 oz. frozen package chopped spinach or broccoli, thawed a little and broken up.
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 small onion chopped
2 cups milk
4 eggs
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder

Mix eggs, milk, flour and baking powder with a wisk or mixer until well incorporated. Add meat, veggies, cheese and onion. Pour into a freezer bag. Freeze. To cook, thaw bag, squish the bag well a few times to incorporate the ingredients. Pour into a pie plate sprayed with non stick spray. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes until set.

I vary the meat and veggies all the time. Right now in my freezer I have a few asparagus and mushroom quiches and a few sausage and spinach ones. They’re great to have on hand for Sunday breakfast. But we also eat for dinner with a salad and rolls. Great way to use eggs on sale.

CROCKPOT REFRIED BEANS

I don’t really have a recipe. This is what I do. Soak some dried pinto beans in water overnight. In the morning dump in the crockpot with more water to cover. Add a chopped onion and garlic. Let cook all day. If you need to, drain some of the liquid when they are done cooking. To the cooked beans, add cumin, corriander, salt and pepper to taste. Then mash with a potato masher. I like to leave mine a little chunky. Then just cool, bag and freeze. They freeze very well.

FRUIT CRISP MIXTURE

6 cups oats
3 cups nuts (optional)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups butter or margarine , melted
2 tsp cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Divide among 6 freezer bags. Store in freezer. To make fruit crisp, place fresh, frozen or canned fruit in bottom of baking dish. Sprinkle fruit crisp mixture on top. Bake at 375 for about 25-30 minutes.

20 PIE CRUSTS FOR THE FREEZER (This recipe is great! Dough will last up to 1 year in the freezer)

3 lb can shortening
5 lb bag flour
3 cups ice water
2 Tbsp salt

In a large bowl, dump flour and salt. With your hands, cut in the shortening adding ice water to form a dough. Shape into 20 disks. Wrap individually in Saran Wrap then place in freezer bags. Freeze. Thaw in fridge or on counter for 30 minutes when needed.