I tend to do WAY too much sometimes...like so many freezer meals that my freezers are having a difficult time closing (and yes, I did say PLURAL freezerS...)
But, hey!? That's alright this time of year! It's that season to build up and store up and prepare for the harsh winter months when you just never know if food will be available. Oh, wait, that's not the case anymore, is it? It's not the 18th century...I know. But, still I have to prepare...just in case!
So, here are some of my fav freezer meals complete with links to the recipes...
- Seafood Pasta Casserole (this one is soooo good - I threw in artichoke hearts instead of mushrooms and feta cheese for added flavour - soooo yummy!): http://www.momsbudget.com/freezerrecipes/seafoodpasta.html
- Sausage and Spinach Bake (David's fav!): http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/sausage-n-spinach-pasta-bake-10000001578358/
But, the reality is, I am NOT a recipe girl. I actually think this might be my "rebellious" side; like, I think, "Who are YOU to tell me how to cook!? If I'm going to cook, I'm going to do it the way I want to!" Yeah, apparently some dislike of authority issues coming out in this one ;) So, I also do MANY freezer meals just however I want. Here's an overview of more of my favs:
- Lasagna (don't have a specific recipe for this one - just do it however you like!)
- Beefy Cornbread (you don't even have to bake the cornbread before freezing - so cool): mix a bunch of cooked hamburger with taco seasoning, salsa, tomatoes and sauce, maybe some beans if you want, spinach, grated carrots...then top this casserole with jiffy corn muffin mix (prepared). When you bake it, there will be a whole layer of cooked yummy fluffy corn bread on top of the delightful hamburger spicy yumminess :)
- Stroganoff: my mom's classic is cooked hamburger with stroganoff seasoning mixed in, add cream of mushroom soup, sauteed mushrooms and sour cream and you're done! Freeze this one in a bag with our without egg noodles for a quick easy dinner.
- Butter Chicken: I cheat. I use a can. I add lots of random veggies that need to be finished up. I also throw this one in a bag with or without rice and it's ready to eat after defrosting and heating!
- "Grab n' Go Burritos" (I named these myself!): throw a big roast (I use beef, but am thinking I might try pork to save money sometime) onto the stove or in your crockpot with a box of beef broth and a couple packets of taco seasoning. Let it cook ALL DAY or about 6 hours until it falls apart and is super tender. Pull it apart with forks so it soaks up the flavours on the taco seasoning. Drain it and SAVE THE SAUCE FOR ENCHILADAS NEXT. Then, use this meat as the center of burritos. Mix the meat in HUGE bowls with small diced peppers, cheese, black beans, white beans, grated carrots, mushrooms, whatever you want in your burritos. Wrap the mix with a tortilla on top of a piece of tinfoil; then fit 7 in a bag. Grab them on your way to work, or microwave them when you need a quick 300 calorie protein packed lunch!
- Enchiladas: in the USA we can find DELICIOUS enchilada sauces in jars for uber cheap...not so in Canada :( So, I use the broth from the roast mentioned above as my base. On the stovetop add to the broth a block of cream cheese, cream of mushroom soup, and whatever tomato sauce you have. Add some salsa for more kick, and there's your enchilada sauce. The beauty of enchiladas is that you can really (again) put whatever you like in the tortilla - chicken and mushrooms, beef and beans, cheese and veggies, whatever. Mix just a LITTLE BIT of the sauce in with the filling, but reserve most of it for the top of the casserole. After wrapping the enchiladas, line them in baking pans and cover them in the sauce; top with cheddar and pepperjack grated cheeses...mmmmmmm!
Here are some of my tips for making freezer meals:
1. GO BIG OR GO HOME. Do NOT skimp on ingredients when you're at the store - when in doubt, buy MORE. I've literally watched myself plow through 36 tortillas or 4 boxes of broth or 10 cans of cream of mushroom soup and wondered, how'd that happen!?
2. REMEMBER NON FOOD ITEMS. Get lots of tinfoil, tons of gallon freezer bags, glass casserole dishes with plastic lids, press n' seal wrap, etc.
3. GET CHILDCARE. Trying to do freezer meals with Evalie at my feet not only irritates HER but it breaks my heart; I have to ignore her and focus on the projects at hand. So, it's only fair that freezer meal cooking happens when the kiddos have some entertainment.
4. DO LOTS AT THE SAME TIME. While the beef is roasting, sautee the mushrooms. While the chicken is cooking, chop the vegetables. While the noodles are boiling, put cheese through the food processor. NEVER waste a moment or you'll be standing there for DAYS!
5. DO NOT MEASURE OR BE PICKY. Seriously, it's going to taste fine. Do NOT be picky about details or specifics - just throw a little spice in there and it will work out. Pour an extra can or two of beans - who cares about proportions being the same as last time? It does NOT matter. It WILL taste good :)
6. USE UP EXTRAS. Have one more can of soup or broth or beans or tomatos or mushrooms or frozen spinach?? USE IT. Throw it in. Don't let your cupboards be filled with clutter when that food could be put to good use. And, especially don't let your FREEZER be filled with anything besides your completed meals...you'll need that room.
Have fun cooking!