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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Frozen Meals

Since bringing our 3rd little bundle of joy into the world a few months ago, we are doing everything possible to stay organized and prepare as best we can.  I think our biggest struggle is having a decent dinner on the table every night.  I'm not saying we eat junk, but my day is just so much better when I know I don't have to prepare dinner.  Cooking dinner is my least favorite part of the day.  I'd much rather be playing!!!  My husband and I try to prepare as many meals as we can on his days off.

I thought I would start a thread on frozen meals.  I am not sure how I am going to organize this on the blog yet but I will figure something out.  In the meantime I am going to pin the meals on Pinterest.  

"Rules:"

1.  Please only give us meals that can be frozen
2.  Email your recipe to pahmmeals@gmail.com  **Please do not comment on post**
3.  Your recipe can also be a link if it's something off the internet
4.  Only send recipes that you LOVE and had tried yourself. 
5.  If your recipe is taken from somewhere, please source it
6.  When emailing your recipe write it in a form we can easily copy and paste into a blog post.

Submitted Recipes can be seen here PAHM MEALS

I hope this helps you spend less time in the kitchen and more time playing!!  

I will start with the first recipe.... my mom's stuffed shells.  Yum!  

RL  


STUFFED SHELLS

INGREDIENTS:

1 PACKAGE OF JUMBO SHELLS

MIXTURE:

1 CONTAINER OF RICOTTA CHEESE (32oz whole milk)
1 CUP GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE
2 EGGS
6 TABLESPOONS OF PARSLEY
1 1/2 CUPS MOZZARELLA
DASH OF PEPPER
¼ TEASPOON NUTMEG
6 TABLESPOONS SUGAR



YOU ALSO NEED AN ADDITIONAL ½ CUP MOZZARELLA FOR SPRINKLING ON TOP.

SAUCE


DIRECTIONS:

1.     COOK SHELLS (AL DENTE… THEY WILL FINISH COOKING IN THE OVEN). 
2.     COMBINE MIXTURE INGREDIENTS
3.     FILL SHELLS
4.     SPREAD SAUCE ON THE BOTTOM OF 9 X 13 PAN (YOU CAN REALLY USE ANYTHING… SOMETIMES WE USE 2 SMALLER PANS AND USE THIS FOR 2 MEALS.  IT MAKES A LOT OF SHELLS.  3-4 SHELLS IS PLENTY FOR 1 PERSON.)
5.     COVER WITH TINFOIL AND FREEZE
6.     TAKE SHELLS OUT THE NIGHT BEFORE
7.     COVER WITH SAUCE AND BAKE COVERED AT 350 FOR 45 MIN
8.     TOP WITH MOZZARELLA AND BAKE AN ADDITIONAL 15 MINUTES UNCOVERED. 

17 comments:

  1. When we had our first daughter I did a few weekends worth of mass cooking and ended up with the following in my freezer! It was great just to add fresh salad or vegies to meals! Easy peasy!
    - Pumpkin Soup
    - Carrot & Lentil Soup
    - Pumpkin Scones
    - Spaghetti Bolognese
    - Vegetable Lasagne
    - Beef Lasagne
    - Chicken Koftas

    We also froze some portions of uncooked cookie dough and this easy chocolate slice ... ready for guests. Along with a batch of plain scones!

    I'm sure we had other bits and pieces but yes, the freezer was our best friend. Along with great friends who brang meals! :) I hope I'm that organised this time with #2 due in June!! :)

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  2. My strategy is soup ;) You can make it during naptime and leave it bubbling away on the stove till dinner. I always make a double batch and freeze the rest.

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  3. I think that this froze great for me - http://shewearsmanyhats.com/2011/10/roasted-mushroom-soup/

    I like to boil chickens and pick the meat off and freeze the shredded cooked chicken and the stock.

    I don't really need entire meals (we like fresh veggies) but I need to prep all my food the day we bring it in - like wash cut and bag fresh broccoli, ends off beans, corn husked and cut in half for my girls, meat in marinade.

    I also hard boil a dozen eggs, make some healthy sugar free muffins, bags of frozen smoothie ingredients (frozen yogurt cubes and fruit), energy bites, homemade salad dressing, and cut veggies for my girls for snacks - that gets me through the week for snacks and breakfasts - and keeps us out of the processed snacks a all week. Just a little 'prep' and I don't have a problem actually cooking some pasta or meat as long as its about half done.

    ALSO! one night we do a pizza with leftover meat and veggies and I buy the dough at publix (also trader joes) and then just roll it out and my three year old 'makes it' she is really good at putting the toppings on! Maybe one of the highlights of her week is making pizza for the family.

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  4. Here is my absolute favorite meal! It makes a large quantity so we have dinner the night I make it, and then 2 additional portions to freeze that will each feed my family (2 adults and 1 toddler). Required toppings in my house are Fritos and shredded cheddar cheese. A dutch oven is just a (large!) pot that is safe to put in the oven. Super easy, super delicious!

    Dutch Oven Chicken Soup
    Ingredients:
    1 (28 oz) can Crushed Tomatoes
    10 oz your favorite Green Salsa
    1 med onion, chopped
    1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
    1 can corn
    1 can pinto beans
    1 can black beans
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    4 cans (56 oz) chicken broth
    1 tsp cumin
    1 tsp chili powder
    1 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp black pepper
    3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (thawed or can be frozen)

    Directions:
    Place ingredients dutch oven in order listed.
    Place dutch oven in 225 degree oven for 8-10 hrs.
    Remove chicken and shred with forks.
    Replace chicken to pot and serve with toppings suggested.

    Toppings:
    shredded cheese
    corn chips
    sour cream
    salsa
    diced tomatoes
    guacamole

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great topic idea! I just made pasta shells the other night and froze some. Instead of just a cheese filling, though, I added cooked spinach (along with the cheese mixture) to some and canned pumpkin (and cheese mix) to others. My husband loves the spinach and I love the pumpkin, and my son will eat them both!

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  6. I have been doing freezer cooking for almost 9 years! I started shortly after having our first child. Here are some of my favorites.

    Chicken Pot Pie/Chicken Soup/Chicken and Dumplings Base (I make 4-5 Gallons of this at a time)

    Cook chicken in water until done. Cube or shred chicken setting aside to add back in later. Into resulting broth add frozen or fresh chopped veggies of your choice (onions, carrots, corn, green beans, etc.)and cook until boiling. Thicken the sauce to pot pie consistency with either cornstarch or flour paste. Season to taste. I use salt, pepper, thyme, sage, garlic powder. Add chicken back in and mix well. Allow to cool and then bag into freezer bags and label. By using freezer bags they can be stacked neatly after frozen.
    To Use: For Chicken and Veggie Soup - add some broth and thin down to your preferred thinness for soups, heat and serve.
    For Chicken and Dumplings - add some broth and heat to boiling. Add in your dumplings (either biscuit style or noodle style), cover and cook until done. This takes 15-20 minutes for biscuit style.
    For Chicken Pot Pie - Make your crusts, thaw and heat (I use the microwave) the filling until hot throughout. Put into crust, top with another crust and bake at 425 degrees until golden brown.

    Meatloaf/Meatballs (The following ideas originated with www.30daygourmet.com - a WONDERFUL resource! I highly recommend their books. After years of doing this I have adapted their recipes to suit myself and you will do the same once you are comfortable with it.)

    Use the recipe your family likes. Mine consists of ground beef, raw egg, breadcrumbs, fine diced onions, salt, pepper, garlic powder.
    Personally, if you normally put tomato sauce in your meatloaf but not in your meatballs don't put it in until cooking time.
    Mix everything together well. Put into freezer bags (1 quart bags filled full are enough for a meal of meatloaf or meatballs for my family of 5 with a serving or two leftover). Label and freeze.
    To Use: Thaw meat mix. For Meatloaf - Put into pan and shape for a loaf and bake at 350 until done, 45min.-1hour. If desired top with sauce of your choice 15 minutes before done.
    For Meatballs - Shape balls and saute or bake until done. Serve with spaghetti or use for meatball subs.

    Lasagna - Again use your favorite recipe! Layer everything in a pan as you normally would but do not cook the noodles (they can turn to mush after cooking, freezing and cooking again). Cover the very top of the lasagna with a piece of wax paper then cover very well with heavy aluminum foil. Label and freeze.
    Tip 1: Don't stack these until they are frozen solid!
    Tip 2: Put these in disposable foil pans and they are ready to bake and take to that family with a new baby or an illness or after a loss of a loved one.
    Thaw, remove wax paper and foil and bake for 1 hour or until done. This can be baked from frozen but plan on 2 hours of baking time minimum.

    You can make fresh chicken strips or nuggets up to the breading point. After breading lay on cookie sheets that have been sprayed/greased and place in freezer. After frozen bag them up. To use just take them out and bake from frozen until done in a 400 degree oven. Easy! And a lot cheaper than ready-made chicken strips or nuggets.

    I will think of some more of my favorites and share them later.

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  7. New to the freezer game, what is the best way to freeze them? Ziploc bags?

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    Replies
    1. Depends on what you're freezing Sarah.
      I used a lot of chinese containers from Woolworths as they stack well and are a good portion size for lunches or single/double serve dinners.
      If you're going to snap freeze vegies or fruit freeze on a tray separately first then add to a freezer bag once frozen so they don't stick together.
      For cookie dough etc freeze in a few layers of cling wrap.
      I also freeze slices of Banana/walnut bread in double layers of cling wrap ready for lunches!

      Delete
  8. I need this! Soup is obvious, but I'm brain dead when it comes to other ideas.

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  9. I just posted some of my favorites:
    http://www.mystainedapron.com/2012/01/emergency.html

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  10. I regularly throw 3-5 pounds of chicken breast in the crockpot (put in a cup of liquid and some spices) and cook on low 9 hours. Take out of the liquid and shred. I keep a few breasts out for dinner, and a few for lunches the next couple of days, but freeze the rest to use in recipes that ask for cooked chicken, or to make enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, etc. I have some cooking at home right now in some diet coke, salsa, and a capful of Mrs Dash... interesting combo, but I think they'll taste wonderful!

    Another thing I recently started making is my own spaghetti sauce. Its amazing. Why I'd been buying jarred sauce for so many years is beyond me. I'll make a huge pot, and freeze over half of it (in dinner-size containers) so we can pull out sauce, boil some noodles, toss a salad, and have dinner!

    Here's my recipe:
    12oz italian sausage
    2 T extra virgin olive oil
    salt and pepper to taste
    1 small onion, chopped fine
    2-3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
    (here you can add whatever veggies you want. I will throw in green and red bell pepper, carrot, celery, broccoli, etc. into my food processor to chop super fine)
    2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
    1 can tomato paste
    1 bay leaf
    dried basil
    dried oregano

    Saute meat and veggies in the olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add tomatoes and spices. Either cook on the stove in a dutch oven on low 2 hours or in crockpot on low 6-8 hours. Amazing on pasta or on pizza.

    Weelicious.com has some great ideas too... most of the time she'll say if something freezes well.

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  11. we love homemade pizza too, so last night I parbaked a few crusts and froze them. Hope it will make for a quick dinner one night!

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  12. I've REALLY been in the market for some vegetarian freezer foods for the family...but with a 2 year old in mind...so if you have any of those to share I would be very happy!

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  13. I have to tell you about an amazing meal system we've done for over a year now. There's 5 of us moms and we call ourselves "Dinner Diva's".
    Once a month we each pick 3 recipes, usually one each of beef, chicken, and pork (but we've also done vegetarian, fish, turkey or themes like pizza, grill meals etc...) We make a grocery list using Google Docs, one person sorts/organizes the list, we meet and shop together. It takes about 2 hours and for 15 meals that feed 4 portions costs about $120 (or $2 per serving). We head to one moms house, sort the goods then return home to cook.
    The not so fun part comes now: cook each recipe to feed 5 families or 20 servings, package into ziplocks, tins etc then freeze. We meet about a week later and divvy up the frozen meals.
    The best part: my freezer is stocked with at least half a months worth of healthy dinners (and since there's just 3 in my little family we usually have lunch the next day). There's a ton of variety and I don't have to do it all. There are misses here and there but we went 6 months without a repeated meal! Some meals just need to thaw and heat, others are cooked from the freezer or thawed to bake/grill/pan fry.
    At Christmas we even adopted a local family in need and made an extra batch of meals. It was a wonderful way to truly extend the holiday spirit to a newly single mom with 3 children.
    Dinner Diva's allows us to focus on our other interests, like playing, baking together, playing, gardening, household tasks, and playing with friends.

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  14. I've had a receipe similar to this before. Taco stuffed pasta shells. They were GREAT and these sound just as great! Thanks for sharing!

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  15. That is really a useful information there. Thanks for posting this.

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    ReplyDelete

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