Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Dinner's In the Freezer

It's almost that time of year again.  Can you feel it?  The temperatures are dropping a bit, school supplies are taking over the stores, and calendars are starting to fill up with events.  Yes, fall is coming and so is what I call "The Crazy Season."

A time when mom is pulled in a hundred, maybe a thousand, different directions and many evenings I just long for a quiet place to land and read good book.

But hold on, those people of mine want to E-A-T!  Can you even believe it?

Thankfully, during the busy seasons of life my slow cooker and my freezer have become my best friends.  With very little planning and even less effort, I can grab a baggie out of the freezer, pop it in my slow cooker in the morning right after breakfast, and there is a hot meal ready for dinner.  This is especially good for days that are crazy, days that we have "after school" events, or days that mom has reached her stopping point.  Yes, that about covers all days, right?!

There are countless ways to freezer cook and you can find many articles and recipes relating to that process.  What I want to share with you is not the process as much as just a few of our fast, easy, and no-frills meals.  We are not fancy around here.  I have four kids who have many distinct likes and dislikes.  I gave up trying to keep up with the Joneses and their menus years ago.  Simple is the name of the game here!

But blessings is the other name!  Freezing simple meals ahead of time that can be popped in a slow cooker, providing hours of yummy smells and at least ten minutes of yummy dinner time (does anyone have a fast eater???) has indeed blessed me.  It frequently takes the stress out of my day, saves me time in the kitchen, allows us to save money by avoiding those last minute "let's just order something in" panics, and provides a more nutritional choice for a meal.

Here we go!

Chicken Meals
  • Italian chicken- Just pop chicken breasts in a baggie, pour half of a bottle of Italian dressing in with a tablespoon of garlic salt.  Seal, shake and lay flat to freeze.  Pop it in the slow cooker on low for 8 hours and you are ready to go!
  • Chicken and Rice- Pop chicken breasts in a baggie with a can of cream of mushroom soup (or your own homemade) and a half cup of water. Lay flat to freeze! Cook on low for 8 hours, adding uncooked instant rice the last 20 minutes.
  • Shredded chicken- Spend a free day cooking chicken and then freeze in two cup portions for the following meals- Quesadillas, stuffed baked potatoes, tacos, enchiladas, and soups (add noodles or rice last 20-30 minutes)

Red Meat Ideas
  • Shape meatballs and freeze with your favorite sauce (b-b-q, teriyaki). Cook on low 8 hours.
  • Shape meatloaves and freeze.  Simply put in slow cooker and cook on low 8 hours.
  • Freeze spaghetti sauce and cook on low 8 hours!
  • Cook hamburger meat and freeze in two cup servings for the following meals- (you can add spices when you freeze or as you put your meat in the slow cooker) tacos, chili, taco salad or Sloppy Joes.

Pork Ideas
  • A large pork loin found at our local large food club can easily make three or four meals for us depending on how we use it.  Cut it into how ever many pieces is right for your size family and freeze with a marinade.  (We love Italian dressing, b-b-q, and teriyaki the best!)
  • You can then cook the pieces in the slow cooker for 8 hours and use the following ways- As the main meal, over rice, on baked potatoes, as sandwiches!

See?  I told you the ideas are endless!  For the most part, there are not many foods that do not freeze well, and even less that you cannot cook in a slow cooker.  No need to make it complicated, just make it and freeze it and watch your meal time stress melt away as you go about your busy day!


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