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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

School Days: Freezer Cooking

School has started again (as of last Tuesday). This means that my "busy" schedule has just become "crazy". Between raising a family, working a full-time job, having 2 boys in school (and all of their "extra activities"), and having a husband that travels a lot ... our busy life is not always conducive to having the time to prepare healthy meals for my family. As my goal is to give my children healthy, unprocessed meals, I rely on having meals prepared and ready in my freezer.

Once or twice a month, I will prepare anywhere from 4-8 meals to stock my freezer. These come in handy for those nights that I know I will not have the time (or possibly the energy) to prepare a meal for my family. I also like to have good lunch options that my boys can bring to school for their lunch boxes.

I was inspired to share this month's freezer cooking plan by some of my friends in a cooking group. I have linked the recipes I am using (except for the one that came from a cookbook).

September Freezer Meals:

Herb-Crusted Pork Loin: I will use this recipe, combining the ingredients and then rubbing it over the pork loin. After that, I will put the loin into a freezer bag and freeze it until I am ready to prepare it. Thaw before you use it and then prepare according to the directions in the linked recipe.

Slow Cooked Buffalo Chicken

Beefy Hash Brown Pizza

Rigatoni with Meat Sauce

Slow Cooker French Dip

• Beef Chimichangas (recipe from the cookbook, "Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer)

Beef Bourguignon

With the boys back at school, they are constantly asking to bring lunches from home. "Cold lunch" is such a treat for them ... but they prefer hot entrees in their lunch from home. To achieve this, I utilize a thermos. In order to do this effectively, I will put hot water in the thermos and put the lid on. While I am heating up the lunches for the boys, it gets my thermos nice and hot. I then dump out the water and add the heated left-overs or freezer lunch-time meal for the boys. They love getting a nice, hot meal from home as their "cold lunch". Typically the boys just get leftovers from the previous night's meal; however, I will make up a few special lunch-time recipes just for them each month. Here are the three I am making this month:
September Lunch Box Meals:

Home-made Spaghetti-O's and Meatballs I make this recipe and then put into individual freezer portions (freezer baggies). I then thaw them in the fridge overnight and reheat in a bowl the next morning before putting it in the prepared thermos.

Home-made Hamburger Helper

Taco Shells I freeze the shells after they have been cooked in individual servings. After I heat up the individual servings and put them in the thermos, I also include a snack-sized baggie with corn chips and cheese (which are the toppings my boys like with this meal).

I hope that you have found a few things to inspire you in your kitchens. I hope you and your families can enjoy these recipes as much as our family does!

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