Thursday, September 4, 2008

freezer meals and simplifying cooking

I just mentioned under my the chicken viva post that I usually freeze half to eat later well I got the idea from this blog. Go HERE to get a few ideas on how to cut back on the amount of time you are cooking. She gives 10 recipes. A few of them I didn't really like but I loved the idea. So now I always look to cook less.

Here are some things I have started doing:

1.First of all I make an effort to plan a weekly menu. The menu in and of itself saves time and helps you make your shopping more cost effective. I don't always follow it exact but I use it as a reference.

2. I try to plan 1 or 2 meals a week that are going to be "double meals" Big meals like lasagna, enchiladas or other meals that make a lot. OR I plan to make extra of something quick and easy so that it can be a double meal.

3. THen I freeze leftover portions that are big enough to be a separate meal, like half my lasagna. I freeze them in a freezer bag(got the idea from Hilary's bag) saves space in the freezer and you can toss it. Small leftover portions are sent to work with Curt or eaten for lunch.

4. This one I am not very good at but it could also be considered a double meal where you use leftovers to create a totally separate meal. Chicken from the night before become salad the next night.

5. I try to always plan on several easy meals like sandwiches, french toast or catalina sweet and sour chicken(find under chicken).

6. We always try to cook our ground beef ahead of time(actually we use ground turkey because it is healthier and it tastes similar-better I think). When we get a big package of it we cook it with chopped onion and no spices then separate it into small ziplock sandwich bags. We put enough in each bag for a meal. Then when it comes time to use it all I have to do is pop it into the microwave for a minute and wow! what a time saver. And for big meals you use more than one bag-simple. Chicken is a little more complicated in cooking so I don't like to precook it but I have friends that do.

7. Sometimes I do "Meat weeks". I will buy a turkey or a large ham to have for sunday dinner and then create a week of meals around that meat. With the turkey for example, we take off all the meat we don't eat for sunday dinner and put it into little ziplock bags. Then the next two weeks we will eat turkey meals: turkey divan, turkey noodle soup, turkey tetrazinni, etc. I rotate other meals in there to add variety. and I do this several times throughout the year not just during holidays like Thanksgiving but especially when there is a good meat sale. Sometimes I do it with a pork/beef roast and make it into three meals. The best is the cafe rio pork; first night eat it with rice, 2nd night with tortillas, 3rd night salad. You can do something similar with the BBQ roast1st n-w/ rice, 2nd n-sandwiches and then I usually freeze the rest for later)But it is a good budget and menu technique.

8. One thing Meagan does at her house is a "free-for-all" night. Basically it is a leftover night once a week. Everybody has what they want. Whatever is in the fridge or in a can/ box in the cupboard is free to anyone who wants it. Clears out all the leftovers and makes dinner really laid back and easy.

So PLEASE share your dinner tricks and quick ideas! Dinner monotony is rough so I would love to have some new ideas and hopefully I shared something that will help you out.


The Riddoch's said...

wow shawna, i love, love love those ideas, thank you for posting that. i never thought of cooking meat first and putting it in the freezer and also never thought of subing ground turkey for beef. those are great ideas!
something i love that my mom does around this time of year, she plants a lot of green peppers and then as they are ready to pick she chops them up into desired pieces and puts them straight into the freezer, so easy to pull them out when needed and you could do that any time of year. i also buy large blocks of cheese and use my food processor to grate all of it then stick it in the freezer as well, saves so much time. i will try to post some of our quick recipes thanks for keeping me on the ball!

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