Friday, May 17, 2013

Freezer Cooking Session: Beef & Pork

I did another mini freezer session this morning. This past week has been great just pulling things from the freezer, so I wanted to continue my slacking off taking it easy for another week!

 I mentioned in the last freezer cooking session that I menu planned for two weeks, so this session was mostly about stocking the freezer a little more and adding some diversity in meat choices. I wanted to take advantage of some sales on meat, but I ended up finding some good deals on marked down meat.

I made:

BBQ Beef Roast - for sandwiches &  Dry Onion Mix Beef Roast - I will throw some frozen baby carrots into the crockpot, too

Megan's Pork Chops &  Ranch Pork Chops
This is the first time I've tried freezing both these recipes, but I'm thinking they will be OK in the crockpot.

The best way to mix up these recipes is to put the sauce ingredients into the bag first, squish it together to mix the sauce, then add the meat.

I also browned up 3 pounds of ground beef and spilt them up into 4 meal portions. It made the portions into less than 3/4 a pound, but most of my recipes are fine with a little less meat in them.

I was planning to throw in some onions and garlic into the ground beef, but I got distracted searing pork chops. Instead, I threw in some onion powder and garlic powder, plus salt and pepper. I use my big stock pot to cook up that much ground beef.

Here are some tips for making freezer cooking easier:

Use a canning funnel with a wide opening to portion food out into zip-top bags easier.

Using a rolling pin to flatten out food in the bags makes it easy to stack them later after they are frozen.

All this work took about an hour, almost an entire episode of Sesame Street. My two year old was very happy to watch Elmo while I busted around the kitchen!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Freezer Cooking Session: Back to Menu Planning

I had my first freezer cooking session in our new house today. I haven't been cooking much, or putting any effort into menu planning since we moved. This has resulted in us eating lots of c.r.a.p. and spending a ton of extra money eating out. It's been over a month in our new house, so I can't believe I let it go on this long!

This is also my first time doing a big freezer cooking session without my backup garage freezer. We sold it before we moved to Texas, so I am just using my freezer in my side-by-side refrigerator  That was a big adjustment figuring out how to get all the food in there! I think some Craigslist trolling is on my to-do list, but I can't decide between a small chest freezer or whole frig & freezer. Any thoughts?

I shopped and planned for two weeks, so for the first time I am trying freezing gallons of milk. I couldn't figure out a way to get them into our freezer standing up, so I just laid them down on their side. I poured out 2 cups of milk each (that was the amount of milk I needed for my Mac & Cheese recipe) out of the containers, that way there is room for expansion. The milks didn't leak, the only reason I put the towel down was because I was a Nervous Nelly and didn't want any spilled frozen milk puddles in the freezer. I will let you know how it goes!

One of the areas I struggle with is making lunch for our two boys. They are 5 and 2 now and are in a stage where they will actually eat a lot! Sadly, since I haven't been motivated to cook anything worthwhile, the boys have been eating alot of fast food for lunch. So I pledged to stay away from the fast food for awhile and to make it quick and easy, make some lunches for the freezer.

This afternoon, I cooked:

Freezer Mini Pizzas - we had half of these for lunch, then I froze the other half. The mini pepperoni were a big hit!

Homemade Mac and Cheese - double recipe: made two 8x8 pans and 12 individual "muffins"for quick lunches or dinners for my husband when he works late.

Spaghetti sauce with Italian Sausage - double recipe: I left out the olive and mushrooms, and have also found that this sauce combined with cooked elbow macaroni makes a pretty easy and quick Goulash that my kids will actually eat!

Peanut Chicken - double recipe: My kids LOVE this recipe. I leave out the red pepper flakes so I don't even bother to call it "Spicy" anymore.

French Cranberry Chicken - single recipe: I might throw this into the crockpot if I need to later in the week.

I prepped our dinner for tomorrow night, Catalina Taco Salad, by browning the ground beef and combining the kidney beans, beef and catalina dressing. All I have to do is pop open a bag of chips and cut up some lettuce, tomato and onion.

My other freezer work I did was spilt up a two pound bag of mozzarella cheese into 8 oz bags (perfect size for a pizza!), and split up a large package of chicken breast into bags of four each. I found some two pound bags of baby carrots marked down "Manager's Special", so I spilt those up into one pound each and froze them to use in a crockpot meal (maybe a big roast) down the road.

So there is my afternoon! I'm excited to take it easy the next two weeks!