Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Freezer Cooking pt. 1

Last summer I filled our freezer with ready to cook meals and I am so glad that I did.  I have cooked for the freezer for several  years now, but it has mostly been of the type of doubling one casserole or cooking an extra batch of taco meat.  This time I cooked on a larger scale.

We are out on spring break this week, and we are not going anywhere on vacation, so it is the perfect time to do some more batch cooking.  I did a few on fall break, but not any at Christmas, so our inventory is pretty low.

I try to cook three recipes at a time.  I divide my recipes into categories:  Mexican chicken, plain chicken, Mexican ground turkey, Italian ground turkey, plain ground turkey, breakfast, and desserts.  This way most of the three recipes have similar ingredients and I can cook a big pot of the meat and season it the same for all three recipes.  I cook my chicken in a crock pot, sometimes overnight if I want to get started early the next day.  I cook my ground turkey (we don't eat red meat) in a big electric skillet, three pounds at a time.  I have heard that some people cook their ground turkey/beef in a crock pot, but I haven't tried it.

Most Mexican dishes that my kids like are pretty much the same:  seasoned meat, a starch (tortilla wraps, noodles, rice, bread crust,) and cheese.  They usually don't go for much else.  Realistically, I could cook three batches of the same recipe, but I like a little bit of variety.  They don't seem to care, as long as there is sour cream available.

Here are the recipes that I used today:

Easy Taco Bake
Taco Pasta
Cheddar Beef Enchiladas (This was originally from Allrecipes, but I can't seem to find it now.  There are several others that you can use.)

If you are interested, here is my Freezer Meals pinterest board.  I haven't tried everything on the board, but there are some good ideas.

The Easy Taco Bake didn't make as much as I had hoped.  This was a new recipe for me.  I decided to cook it for supper tonight as a taste test.  My family of four can get by on half of a casserole (8 x 8 dish).  We are not a big fan of leftovers, and this seems to be just enough.  Sometimes I can get two small dishes from one recipe.  Other times I have to double the recipe.  I try to use disposable dishes.  I figure if I don't have a lot of time to cook dinner; I don't have a lot of time to clean the kitchen!

Another bonus to freezer cooking is that I have food on hand to take to families in need (financially, new baby, surgery, etc.)  Add a salad, bread, and a quick dessert and it is good to go.

See all of those dirty dishes?  Using this method, I only have to clean the kitchen once.  One electric skillet can cook three pounds of ground turkey as well as it can cook one pound.  I can cut up all of my onions at the same time and be left with only one dirty cutting board, and so forth.  I encourage you to give it a try!  It is not as hard as you might think.

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