I work full time (outside the home) and have four children (7yrs, 5yrs, and the twins are 14 months). What I need (besides in house help) is meals that I can fix and freeze. I found a few sites, but the recipes are a bit bland and or higher $$ cuts of meat. Any help would be a lifesaver! Thanks all!
Amy from OH
Some ideas are: chili, lasagna, beans and ham with cornbread, sweet potatoes, tuna noodle casserole, vegetable soup, meat loaf, mashed potatoes & gravy. You can freeze bread and it will remain fresh as long as it's covered well and make sandwiches in advance, You can fry your hamburgers up in a multiple supply and place them in a Ziploc baggie to store. When ready to use, let water run over them and heat up in a microwave covered with a damp paper towel. The burgers are not dry and still tasty. This applies to left over meats too. Make egg salad or tuna salad for sandwiches with soup. Have you considered baked potatoes? You could bake them in advance and add some frozen broccoli, bacon bits, butter, salt and pepper and cheese over it while the potato is being warmed up. With a microwave, it takes little time to prepare potatoes. We enjoy breakfast foods for our supper at times and I've made pancakes up in advance and they freeze well. Put wax paper between each one and they'll separate better. Make up some hard boiled eggs to go with the pancakes in advance. Hope this helps you.
Here's an idea I've used:
When you do cook, make a double batch and freeze one to eat later. Slow-cookers (crock pots) are ideal too. Put the meal in the pot in the morning, by evening, it's ready to go. There are many 30-minute menu ideas on the internet too. Rachel Ray has a few cookbooks out there. You can find information about converting a regular recipe to a slow-cooker one on the internet also. I hope this helps some. Good luck to you.
One of my favorite cook books is:
Make-Ahead Meals by Jean Pare
It sounds like exactly what you are looking for. The book has a multitude of recipes that tell how to make the recipe, what you can do to prepare ahead and how to freeze/reheat. Most of the recipes make very large batches although you could adjust the recipes to your needs and amount of freezer storage. There is also a portion that tells you how to assemble a starter (browned ground beef and onions, marinated chicken or beef, etc.)and use in a variety of recipes. One of my favorites in the book is a meatball recipe where you bake a large batch of meatballs, flash freeze, and thaw and reheat for meals. I use it in spaghetti, sweet and sour meatballs, bbq meatballs, and meatball subs. Another recipe I want to try is a biscuit recipe where you assemble about 40 or so at a time and flash freeze. You can then bake as many as you need from a frozen state.
Crock pots are also wonderful and safe. Could there be a freak fire? Yes but I have never heard of that happening. Also crock pots heat up to a high temp quickly so there is no concern about bacteria or other food concerns. Obviously you would be able to tell if your food was not cooked properly by sight, smell, and internal temp. Just make sure your crock pot is in working order!
You could have packages of browned ground beef in the freezer. then this recipe would go very fast when you get home.
Ground Beef Stew
Brown 1 # ground beef in skillet
Add 1# sliced potatoes, (3 cups)
1 med onion, sliced
4-5 sliced carrots
1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp thyme
1 beef bouillon cube and 1 1/2 cup boiling water.
Cover and cook 15 minutes.
Add 1/4 cup catchup, and cook 10 minutes.
Combine 2 TBLS flour with 1/4 cup water and add to thicken, cook about 5 mins.* I don't always add the flour because it is already thick enough.
Fix, Freeze and Feast, by Neville and Tkacsik (great cookbook!) from Barnes and Noble. I spent one Saturday making chili, 2 pans of lasagne, manicotti, chicken parmesan, tequila-lime chicken each, two full Greek/Mediterranean chickens and pork chops. I've tried all the recipes and so far, so delicious. Totally saved time and money as I shopped at our neighborhood Woodman's market. There are shopping lists in the book and all kinds of handy tips to assist in the art of pre-freezing your meals. Good luck!
Hi, you do have your hands full. I like to use two crockpots. There are two or more Fit-It-and- Forget-It cookbooks that I like plus plenty of crockpot recipes on the net. If you can find the time check the cookbooks out of the library and see if you like them enough to buy them. Some recipes are as easy as placing chicken or other meat in the crockpot and pouring sauce over the meat. Let it cook all day while you're at work and supper will be done when you get home. Just add a salad and some fresh fruit. You can fix a roast and add potatoes and carrots for another quick meal. You could fix enough for two meals, eat one today and freeze the other half for another night. Take care, Annie.
Thank you all soooo much for the wonderful suggestions!! Happy Weekend!
I agree with 'Darlene' the Crock Pot may be your best friend.
I raised a family while also working full/overtime at my own business. Using a multitude of 'crock pot recipes' I could make
large meals with inexpensive meats and have leftovers to freeze for later.
Ham and Potatoe soup( use ham hocks or Ham butt), Mac and REAL cheese, Chicken 100 different ways, beef stew , soup, or chili. Really I have several sizes so I could do a pasta/potato dish in one while I cooked the main dish in the other.
Now many years later when the kids come home to visit they often request some of those old family favorites.
Amazing how good they are using real ingredients and not some packaged overpriced takeoff.
It isn't wise to use a crockpot and leave it unattended. Putting food in a crockpot and going to work or cooking the food overnight in a crockpot is absolutely hazardous. It is a fire hazard if the unit shorts out. It is a food poisoning hazard, if the electric power goes off while the crockpot is unattended. You could get food poisoning from the food not cooking for a couple of hours. Something to think about.
Hi Amy, cooking for children can be difficult, especially if they are at all picky or like different things. I like to use my crock pots as often as possible and in fact, fixed a pork roast in mine last night. A larger roast will yield leftovers to morph into something else another day. I like to shred it up and turn into pork BBQ.
Chili, sloppy joe, spaghetti sauce, soups can be made in large batches and frozen.
Anyway, I've been using crockpots for over 30 years and never had any problem with them nor gotten food poisoning.
I agree with Darlene on this one. Whenever I cook a "big" meal (weekends, normally), I prepare two and freeze one. I do this for lasagne mainly. Instead of having one huge one, eat it for a few days then freeze, I make several smaller pans. Glad makes a plastic pan that you can freeze and cook in...they are great, they stack in the freezer and are relatively cheap. When I go to make one of the frozen ones, I take it out in the morning before work, pop it in the fridge and then cook it when I get home. Add a few slices of Texas toast and you have a great meal!
Spaghetti is a favorite of mine to freeze.
Brown ground beef, or Italian sausage, drain, add green peppers, mushrooms,etc. Pour jarred sauce and let simmer, any leftovers freeze well, all you would need is pasta.
Probably leaving appliances on while unattended is not a "super" idea, but I do leave my Crockpot on while gone. There is probably something in the house that will tip you off that the power had been off so that you can determine how long and if the food is still safe to eat. I have even put a frozen roast on in the morning and it is perfect by supper time. No problem with it not being hot enough. One other thing I do when I don't feel like cooking or have little time, is fix spaghetti sauce with pasta. I freeze fresh hamburger in quart size freezer bags and mash them flat. When you take them out it takes so little time to prepare. Put the frozen chunk in a fry pan and cover. It will thaw in no time, chop, drain and add your jar of sauce. Cook spaghetti, prepare a salad or veggie and you are good to go.
The freezer cooking manual from 30 day gourmet : a month of meals made easy / Nanci Slagle
Try this one I found it at my library, it's great.
I just made homemade vegie soup. I planned for 2 weeks by using frozen vegies like corn, beans, and peas, using coupons (buying extra coupons) getting potatoes, cabbage, carrots, onions, and canned tomatoes, on sale. Waiting for a sirloin tip to go on sale for $1.79 lb. Using blenderized tomatoes frozen last fall. I cooked many things in different pots, even at the same time. It was all assembled in my 16 quart stainless pot. We ate it for 3 days then bagged it in freezer zip bags. I think we had 8 quart bags we froze.
This idea works for chili, I buy tomato products, Whole sirloin tip (ground free by the store,use all or part), canned chili beans, canned kidney beans, onions, on sale and when I can I make a big batch and freeze leftovers in freezer zip bags.
Another meal I make and freeze is Turkey roll ups. Make enough for 2-3 meals for your family. 2-4 lbs, sale delli turkey breast sliced ( like $1.99-$2.29 lb). Plus stove type stuffing 1-3 boxes, made and cooled, Sit and roll them up then put your choice gravy (bullion gravy), cream of ??? any soup with milk or water mixed in then poured over the top. Be generous, Put foil over, bake till bubbly. Freeze leftovers
Another big batch -- I make is stuffed peppers, or stuffed cabbages. I use an electric roaster for these.
I also boil 5 lbs of potatoes at a time. I peel the big ones for other things and boil the small ones whole.
Boiled potatoes can be eaten with the skins on with butter, sour cream, salsa, broccoli,and any vegie,and bacon bits. Next day fry with onions, cream with parsley, potato salad, or any of a number of ways to use.
Hope this helps,
I just found a great meatball sub recipe for the crockpot. It's super easy!
Put 6 oz Italian tomato paste, 3/4c water & 1/4c brown sugar in crock pot & stir. Add 2 sweet onions that have been halved and sliced, then add 1 pck frozen Italian meatballs. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, spoon onto hard Hoagie rolls, sprinkle with shredded Mozz. cheese!
My husband has requested these for Superbowl Sunday!
Hi Amy, you could try the yahoo group frozen assets, they offer great info on preparing food on a budget to prefreeze! Hope that helps, Susan
One tip is to buy hamburger or ground turkey & brown it all at once & freeze in amounts you would need for your fanily. 1 mess to clean up. Great for any quick meal. Hope this helps.
Start with recipes that your families love. When you are making a meatloaf make 2 or 3 put in the freezer. Sloppy Joes do the same, casseroles do the same. Fix Mashed potatoes, twice baked potatoes, Mac and cheese. Also with cookies. Just double the batches. You'll soon have meals in your freezer. But if you have a day you can cook, and cook. You can do it all in one day. But I prefer the other. I'm not so tired. Happy Cooking.
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