Don’t Panic Dinners in the Freezer: 34 meals and 12 bags of spagetti sauce


New Years resolutions:

Goals :

1. cut grocery bill by half ie 100 dollars a month-stock up on items and fill my pantry in my basement with in the year

2. buy according to sales

3. cook and freeze meals-so that we have those ready every month in case we do not feel like cooking that night.

I use post its over and over again. 🙂 I do not like to waste things. A post it on the side means I need to make the recipe. If the post it is in the corner is the bookmark for the recipe I am currently making in the kitchen. if the post it is at the top of the page then I have finished that recipe, and I need to blog about it. I know its a little nutty but it keeps me organized, and I am able to find things easier.

I achieved my 2nd and 3rd goal, but I was unable to reach my 1st goal because we had no coupons because we could not sign up for the Sunday paper. We tried subscribing to the Sunday Newspaper which is done online. They could not find our address. It would show up on the computer screen but there was no way to click it.  So, my husband sent them an email stating we wanted to start a new subscription to the Sunday paper, and that when we tried to sign up we couldn’t. The person emailed us back and said I can see your address. What do you want to do?” *headdesk* um Yes we can see our address also, the problem is we can not click on our address so that we can sign up for a subscription to the newspaper!

Freezer Meals :

I was able to find a lot of the stuff on sale at the store. So far I have made it to 32 frozen meals and 12 bags of spaghetti sauce! I thought I was going to be able to cook everything in one day. Well that did not happen! I was able to get the 32 meals, and 12 bags of sauce done in 2 days. Tomorrow, I plan on making 8 servings of Spinach Lasagna which equals 4 meals. On Friday, I plan on making Spinach and cheese ravioli. I must admit it might be better to do one freezer meal a day if you want to do a months worth of meals.

One thing to consider is how much space in your freezer you can set aside for the meals. I have a large freezer in my basement that I can stuff full, and another one with my refrigerator. I did not plan for the space and had issues with fitting everything in the upstairs freezer. I had to move things around, and transfer some things to the freezer down stairs. Once I give two people their Christmas treats I will have one more shelf free for my last set of meals! Note: Anything in italics next to an ingredient, or next to a direction in a recipe are my own notes, thoughts, or tips to make it easier. Before you do anything you need to Plan plan plan .

1 have all your ingredients in a table: this way when you go to the store you know you need X amt of Cheese , X amt of Spinach, X amt of flour etc. This will save you the trouble of not having enough or too much of an item.

Ingredient,original amt, doubled amt, Tripled amt , Final list(all ingredients in a list form ie milk, spinach),Total Amt

2. Buy all your ingredients. Try to buy them when there is a sale and if you use coupons to save more do so 🙂

3. Plan on making 1-2 meals every other day.

ie. Sunday : Honey Pork Chops, London Broil

Tuesday: BBQ Pizzas and Chicken Alfredo Pizzas

Wednesday: Spinach Lasagna

Friday: Spinach and Cheese Ravioli

4. Clear out enough space to freeze them and store them. (You will freeze everything in bags , on a baking sheet before storing them.)

5. Have enough Freezer zip lock bags, jars *if you can soups etc*, and cling wrap.

6. Put all your ingredients for the meal you are making on the counter. I always put meat on one side and vegetables /fruit on the other. That way I do not cross contaminate. I also use my dinning room table to put my ingredients on since I have a tiny kitchen.

7. Pull out all your measuring spoons, cups, bowls, and wrap the baking sheet you are going to freeze on with aluminum foil.

8. Cook up a storm and freeze your meals !

I listened to different CDs for each meal:

What I listened to : Avril Lavigne ‘Let Go’

How the cooking went: I used my mini food processor and it did an excellent job whipping up the marinade! This recipe went by so fast that you could probably triple or quadruple it and it would not take much more time. I filled each zip lock 1 qt bag with 2 pork chops, and 1/3 of the marinade. With the original recipe for 2 people it makes three meals. I only make meals for 2 people since it is just Brian and I. If you get the book “Don’t Panic Dinners in the freezer” it has all the recipes in the original amounts, X3, X6, and X9 etc. So there is no guess work. That is one of my favorite things about the book!

Ease of preparation and freezing: Easy

How did it taste?: We waited a few days before eating these. Remember how I did not particularly like this recipe the first time I made it? Well I like this one now! My hubby broiled the pork and glazed it rather than cooking it in the oven. Maybe it was the fact that I was not cooking all day, and since Brian made the dinner instead of me that I enjoyed the meal.

Honey Pork Chops

6 Boneless Pork Chops

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/4 t ground ginger

1 clove garlic minced

2 T soy sauce

dash of pepper

Place all ingredients except pork chops in to blender and mix thoroughly. Place pork chops and blended mixture in freezer bag. Seal securely. Freeze, using freezer bag method. Cooking: Thaw completely. Place pork chops and marinade in baking dish. Bake at 350 for 1 1/4 hours, turning chops occasionally while baking.

What I listened to : Cindy Thomson ‘My World’

How the cooking went: This is another meal that went by really easy. I just whisked everything together and voila it was done. This made 2 meals for two people.

Ease of preparation and freezing: Easy

How did it taste?:  I remember this recipe tasting good the first time we made it a few weeks ago.

London Broil

1 1/4 IBs top round steak

1/3 cup cooking oil

1 t vinegar

1 small clove garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

Score steak on both sides . Place in freezer bag. Combine oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour over meat. Let meat mixture stand at room temp for 2 hours, then freeze, using freezer bag method. Cook: Thaw completely. Remove meat from marinade. Broil steaks in oven, 3 in from heat, for 3-4 min per side. Meat may also be grilled. Carve into thin slices across the grain and serve.

What I listened to : Sara Evans ‘Born to fly’

How the cooking went:  The meat balls went really fast and were super easy! The spaghetti sauce took some time, and was a pain to ladle in to 1 quart freezer bags. I kept getting a little bit of sauce on a few of the bags. I ladled around 3 scoops of sauce per 1 quart bag. I made 2 bags of meat balls with 14 in each bag. I ended up with 12 one quart bags of spaghetti sauce.

Ease of preparation and freezing: Meat balls : easy, Spaghetti sauce: Medium due to the trouble with getting it in to the 1 quart freezer bags. If you can can the sauce do so…I imagine it is a lot easier.

How did it taste?: I do not know yet :). We are going to have that for Wednesdays meal.

Meatball’s

1 1/2 IBS ground meat

1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

1/3 cup onion, chopped

1/4 cup milk

1 egg

1 T parsley flakes

1 t salt

1/8 t pepper

1 T Worcestershire sauce

Original recipe yields: 20 medium meatballs

Cooking day instructions: Combine all ingredients and mix together gently. Shape mixture into balls and arrange on jelly roll pan. Cover meatballs and flash freeze. Remove meatballs from pan and freeze using freezer bag method.

Serving Day instructions: Thaw meatballs completely and place in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool.

Spaghetti Sauce :

2 cups onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup oil

23 cups tomato , chopped

2 green peppers, chopped

4-12 oz cans tomato paste

2 T salt

1 T pepper

1 1/2 t oregano

4 bay leaves

Original recipe yields 6 quarts plus one pint

Cooking day instructions: In stockpot, cook onion and garlic in oil until tender but not brown. Puree chopped tomatoes and green peppers in blender. Add tomatoes, peppers and rest of ingredients to sauteed onion and garlic. Bring to simmer: cook 1 hour uncovered, stirring frequently. Remove bay leaves. Freeze in freezer bags or quart jars, leaving at least 1 inch head space for expansion.

Serving day instructions: if Frozen, thaw completely, the use as desired.

What I listened to :  Nickle Creek

How the cooking went: Pizza Dough: As long as I only did one batch of Pizza dough at a time everything came out perfectly. I only tried to prepare two at the same time once and I failed miserably. The first dough came out perfect. The second dough came out more like flat bread pizza dough than the soft dough I was attempting. I made 7 batches of dough. Each batch of dough made 4 personal pizzas. I made my own cardboard circles to put my pizza dough on. I covered the cardboard with plastic wrap so, I can use them multiple times.

BBQ chicken Pizza: I ended up having 12 BBQ pizzas total = 12 personal pizzas , or 6 meals for two people. The chicken was easy to prepare but difficult to shred. I ended up with some left over chicken which we plan to use for chicken wraps. The Gouda cheese was a pain to shred by hand. Once you have everything ready in your bowls you can assemble the pizzas easily. If you are going to make a lot of pizzas assemble them all, and then wrap them all in cling wrap. It makes it a lot easier to just do one thing instead of going between assembling and wrapping.

Chicken Alfredo Pizza: This was by far the easiest to make and assemble. I tossed the onions with the chicken and bacon in one bowl, and I had my two cheese tossed together in their own bowl. This made it easy to assemble the pizzas.

Pizza Dough: It was easy to make and shape! See http://www.Annies-eats.com for her pizza dough tutorial it makes everything so easy!

Ease of preparation and freezing: I am going to give this a medium to freeze because I had trouble keeping them stacked in my freezer, I had a few fall over. Make sure you have the space for these pizzas, and freeze them completely before stacking them.

How did it taste?: Wow the BBQ pizzas were AMAZING! Chicken Alfredo Pizza : We have not tried them yet but the sauce tastes great. Pizza Crust: This is my first success with pizza dough / crust, and it is all thanks to Annie’s eats tutorial, a pizza stone, and my food scale. Also, I used one of my wider Rubbermaid containers to dissolve my yeast in, and I think it was easier than using a measuring cup. Pour your warm 110 water in to your wide container, then take pinch of yeast and sprinkle into the water, let it dissolve mostly then repeat till you have all of your yeast (2 1/4 t) in the container, and then let it stand for 5 minutes (ie till it is all dissolved and swells)

Basic Pizza Dough

Ingredients:

½ cup warm water (about 110°)

1 envelope (2 ¼ tsp.) instant yeast

1 ¼ cups water, at room temperature

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting

1 ½ tsp. salt

olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl

Directions:

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.  Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes.  Add the room temperature water and oil and stir to combine.

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed.  Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms.  Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook.  Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.  Press the dough to deflate it.

To bake, place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven.  Heat the oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Form both pieces of dough into smooth, round balls and cover with a damp cloth.  Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes.

Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other covered, shape the dough and transfer to a pizza peel or round of parchment dusted with semolina or cornmeal.  Top as desired.  Slide the dough onto the pizza stone.  Bake until the crust edges brown and cheese is golden brown in spots, about 8 to 12 minutes.  Repeat with remaining ball of dough or freeze for later use.

BBQ Pizzas:

3 cups boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 1/3 cups purchased BBQ sauce, divided

1 pizza crust

6 oz provolone cheese, grated

6 oz Gouda cheese, grated

1/2 medium red onion, peeled and thickly sliced

Serving Day: 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped:  Original recipe yields: one large or 2 small pizzas

Cooking Day Instructions: Marinate chicken in 2/3 cup BBQ sauce for 4 hours or up to overnight. Place chicken and marinade in small baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink. remove from oven. Roll out pizza dough to form crust; You may want to use a round cardboard covered with plastic wrap for this step. Spread remaining 2/3 cup BBQ sauce over crust. Sprinkle cheeses evenly over crust leaving 1/2 inch border. Shred chicken and arrange over cheese, top with onion. Freeze, covering pizza and cardboard with plastic wrap, followed by heavy duty foil.

Serving Day instructions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place frozen pizza on preheated pizza stone and bake 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Chicken Alfredo Pizza

Alfredo Sauce

1/4 cup butter

scant 1 cup heavy cream

2/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Pizza

1 Pizza crust

10 large fresh spinach leaves, rinced and dried

6 green onions, sliced diagonally, including tops

2 boneless,skinless chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded (boil the chicken to make it easier to shred by hand or use a food processor to shred the chicken.)

1/2 Ib bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, cooked until crisp (cook them before you cut them in to strips it is easier.)

1 cup grated Mozzarella cheese

1 cup grated Swiss cheese

Original recipe yields: one large or two small pizzas:

Cooking Day Instructions: For sauce : melt butter in large sauce pan. Add cream adn bring to a boil. Simer for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Add Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat.

For Pizza: roll out Pizza crust. Spread Alfredo sauce evenly over pizza crust. Arrange spinach leaves over sauce. Add green onions, shredded chicken, and bacon. Sprinkle cheeses over top. Freeze, covering pizza and cardboard with plastic wrap, followed by heavy-duty foil.

Serving day instructions: Place frozen pizza on pizza stone and thaw. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake 15 minutes or until bubbly. ( I would preheat the pizza stone while the oven is heating up…then place the frozen pizza on it…this will give it a nice crunchy sturdy crust.)

I hope that this post helps you to start preparing meals in advance!

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