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Monday, July 23, 2012

MENU MONDAYS: 12 + Flavorful Freezer Meals in 60 min Sessions+Plans +Shopping Lists

I am not sure how much I will be able to handle after my extensive, major, abdominal surgery.
So I am planning to about as many meals in my freezer as I can:

  1. Afford
  2. Fit in the my freezer
  3. Physically & Mentally handling making*
~ One of those "little Interruptions"~!
*{ Note 6/11/2012: #3 is a new one for me, I never saw this as quite that taxing mentally or physically in the last 1,000 sessions or so I have done in the past 16 years!! Alas it has been 2 years since I have done a freezer session of this magnitude bc of health issues and time management issues [BTW , if you are thinking this- IT is NOT an exaggeration of sessions, it's actually quite modest. If you did a session a month for 16 years it would be 3,200 sessions] .

This post show cases how I typically plan my freezer meal sessions I: 

  • Brainstorm
  • List dishes my family really likes 
  • Recipes I haven't made in awhile
  • Recipes I have been wanting to try.
Sometimes budget constraints prevent me making all I want and planned on making because the main &/or important ingredients are NOT on sale at the time & simply too spendy to purchase in bulk otherwise.

Other times I plan on making something and the kids get sick, too many appointments that month & I just can't "swing it"... LIFE "happens"& these "interruptions" can change our best laid plans ... in that event I will freeze the protein in a 1-2 Lb increments and cook it later. 

There have been more times lately as I cover in another post, that all I do is: 
  • Buy proteins on sale in BULK!
  • Freeze in meal portions deciding later what I will do. 

This has worked for me lately quite well as I stock up dry goods constantly as they go sale, it is very easy to pull together a meal the night before or even in the morning with what I have on hand.

This has been a life changing concept for me, allowing more flexibility with my sessions has given me more freedom and keeps me from being so rigid & "Cranky" to my family when my plans do NOT go as I wanted them to.

This is 1/3 filled, still have about 75 more meals to go!
It is infinitely easier for me to make double or triple of a recipe, 
you get caught up in ingredients when you do too many recipes and it makes a better use of time for me to multiply the amounts of the recipes this way. 
I just mix it up and then divide the dishes and place into freezer container of choice or I open the freezer bags and dump ingredients as go.  

Freezer cooking this way allows me to  
crank  out 12 flavorful meals in less than 60 minutes time  
even if I am cooking portions of it before I freeze.

I also cook/assemble freezer sessions according to protein type to not only make it :
  • Safe so as to not cross contaminate meats, 
  • It makes it affordable [I only buy proteins on sale]  
  • "Doable" with 2 young kids needing constant attention- it breaks the sessions into mini sessions. (More here in this post)

List of terms used:
  • HEAT & EAT-{Heat meal in pan provided or dump into oven proof/stove top proof pan/skillet, reheat and eat}
  • SANe-{Some Assembly Needed, is partially cooked will need some finishing time in oven or stove top and might need various ingredients}
  • MEAL KITS- {Has all protein ingredients but at times might need cooked & might include starch, veggies, shredded cheeses &/or sauce in" kit"}
  • CROCK POT/MEAL KIT- {Thaw ingredients overnight and dump into crock pot and cook, might need to add starch but rest of ingredients are present in "kit"}
  • DUMP KIT- {Protein with marinade, all you do take protien dump in freezer bag size of choice & dump in marinade-FREEZE. Thaw in fridge overnight and grill, bake or crock pot cook} 
  • COLOR CODE SYSTEM- { I place same type dishes in same basket/crate [red meat in one, veggies in another and so no] and  I will also write the meals in specific colors so at a glance I can tell what kind of protein or dish type it is: 
Love the look of Luggage tags
RED= Red MeatBLUE= Poultry,  PURPLE = Pork, 
GREEN= vegetarian, YELLOW= Side Dishes,    
BLACK= Breakfasts,   BROWN= LunchORANGE=Desserts/Snacks
  • LUGGAGE TAGS- This is a new organizational element, TO ME anyway, I am going to use, I really like the way it looks and I will add this to my chest freezer and my fridge freezer.

~Ground Beef &/Or Ground Turkey Breast Mix:

Flash Frozen Salisbury Steak Patties

  1. Salisbury Steak Patties w/brown mushroom onion gravy (4 Meals)
  2. Romanian Grilled Minced Meat Rolls (MICI)
  3. Meatballs ( 3 Meals)
  4. Hamburgers (3 Meals 
  5. Taco Seasoned Ground Beef(4 meals)

Shopping List:
24 Lbs Ground Beef/turkey, Beef Bullion, Worcestershire sauce, 7 Onions, 14 cloves of Garlic, 2-3 boxes (6 Cups) Beef Stock, Gin, 6 eggs, Garlic and Onion Powder, Salt, Pepper, 24 oz Mushrooms, Bread Crumbs, Parsley, Parmesan Cheese
Grand Total: $60/15 meals=$4.00/$0.70/per serving+left overs!  Still have to add in starch and veggies but won't be over $9/meal by the time I add in those numbers for sure!! SO YAY!!

Taco Seasoned Ground Beef-Used Mixture of Wild Tree Seasoning & MYO
  1. Shepherd's Pie
  2. Cheeseburger Spaghetti
  3. Spaghetti Pie
  4. Mexican Macaroni
Shopping List:
15 LBs ground beef/turkey (1& 1/2 Lb each meal), 5 LBS Yukon Gold potatoes, 24 oz Tomato Puree, 32 Oz Salsa or diced tomatoes w/chilies and onions, 3 sticks butter, 4-5 jars Ragu Double Cheddar Sauce, 3 Lbs Macaroni, 6 Envelopes Taco Seasoning, 3 Lbs Spaghetti, 2 Lbs Frozen Corn, 8- oz frozen French Green Beans, [8 oz puree of peas and carrots for shepherd's pie- kids & I won't eat the peas or carrots cooked], 1 box Beef Stock, 3 cans Cream of Onion Soup, Dill Pickle Relish, 6 C Monterrey Jack Cheese, 24-oz mushrooms, 3/4 C Half & half, Worcestershire sauce, Dijion Mustard, dried parsley, 2 Lbs Ricotta Cheese, 3 Eggs, Parmesan Cheese, Italian Seasoning, Brown Sugar, baking Soda,

III. CROCK POT KITS: Roasts/Steaks/Cubes-
*6/21/2012 Note: I don't think I will get to this part of my plan as my time is getting near I and I need to focus on other projects b4 the surgery. Beef prices are not co-operating with me! So I will leave this intact and perhaps use this meal plan when roasts are cheaper!
  1. Mexican Beef
  2. Chili Con Carne
  3. Teriyaki Beef
  4. Creamy Pot Roast 
  5. Crock Pot Gyros
  6. Super Simple Slow Cooker Steak Pizzaiola 
Shopping List:
36LBs Top/Bottom Round Roast, 60 oz can diced tomatoes w/green chilies, 12 onions, 1 C Pepperoncini Peppers brine, 11 Cups Beef Stock, 3 Cans Black Beans, 96 oz Tomato Puree, 3-cans Mexican beans, Chili Powder, Chipotle Powder, Smoked paprika, 4 C Pineapple Juice, Soy Sauce, Mustard Powder, Ginger, 4 bulbs Garlic, 2 Cups oil, black pepper, 6 cans cream of mushroom soup, Beef Bullion, 3 T fresh Lemon Juice, 3/4 C EVOO, Dried Oregano, cumin, 64 oz tomato puree, Parmesan cheese, Italian herb mixture, 24 oz Mushrooms,  Kosher salt, pepper,
~ Chicken:
 I. Crock Pot Meal Kits
{ALL MEALS 3X'S EACH Will Need 18 Gallon sized ZIPLOCK Freezer Bags}
  1. Orange Chicken
  2. Chicken Paprikash
  3. Chicken Swarma
  4. Greek Chicken
  5. Chicken Tacos
  6. Brown Sugar Chicken

 II. "Heat & Eat" & "SANe MEALS"-
{Will Need 3 8X8 Foil pans with lids and 12 gallon sized ZIPLOCK Freezer bags}
  1. Chicken Enchiladas {H&E}
  2. Chicken Piccata {H&E}
  3. Chicken Scalapini {H&E}
  4. Chicken Scampi {H& E}
Shopping List:
{KEEP IN MIND THIS LIST IS A COMBINED LIST OF ALL CHICKEN DISHES, CROCK POT KITS AND HEAT AND EAT, & SANe MEALS. I did have some ingredients in my pantry and fridge so I didn't list those, if you are following this meal plan you will want to check each recipe, double check the shopping list with the ingredients listed  and triple what is needed where you find a missing item}
3 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup, 3 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chilies, 3 bunches green onions, chopped,divided, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder, 9 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded,divided, 3 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste, 56 Lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 2 liter 7-Up, 9 onion, apricot apricot preserves, Catalina dressing, 3-onion soup mix, 3Lb lemon, 4 boxes chix stock, 6- 8 oz  mushrooms, 12 C Panko style bread crumbs, capers, white wine, dried parsley, balsamic vinegar, 3 red onions, 3 bulbs fresh garlic, butter, dried Oregano, cumin-- non food items: large 2"x4" mailing labels, wax sandwich wrappers, large gallon and qt size freezer bags, 3 small foil rectangle containers with lids, sharpies in red, black, green, and blue.
Grand Total for chicken meals: $180.00 for 39 meals that will feed 4-6 ppl with left overs= $5.00/meal or $0.77person

Update: as of now: 6/10/12 { Didn't get to these 9 meals [WAS GOING TO MAKE 3 MEALS OF EACH RECIPE]-but did add on 3 different vegetarian meals I wasn't planning on}

Would need to purchase 12 more Lbs of FRESH LARGE boneless skinless Chicken Breasts*, 8 oz Cream Cheese, 12 oz Sundried Tomatoes in EVOO, 3- 14 oz frozen spinach, 6 C Chix stock, 3 Onions, 24 oz Mushrooms.
*Chicken Breasts I bought were very cheap, and they were filled with broth solution so once thawed they ended up being 1/4 less of the size and I ran out of chicken. Will ONLY used FRESH Boneless Skinless Chicken breasts! So needless to say I will have to purchase more to make these dishes though I did buy enough!!
SO AS OF NOW Grand Total IS: $180 for 33 meals that will feed 4-6 w/left overs= $5.50 or $0.92/person

 I. Vegetarian/Beans: 
{Want to make 12-18 patties each for several lunches or quick vegetarian suppers & 24 qt sized ZIPLOCK freezer bags}

Zucchini Patties
  1. Falafel (12 patties)
  2. Zucchini Patties-(12 Patties)
  3. Quinoa Black Bean Burgers-(15 Burgers)
  4. Refried Black Beans and Cheese Enchiladas (X2)
Quinoa & Black Bean Burgers
Shopping List:
4-5 Cans Chick Peas, 3 Cans Black Beans, 3 Zucchini, 3 Yellow Summer Squash, Carrots, 8 Eggs, Bread Crumbs, Parsley, Onions, 16 oz-Mushrooms, 1-Lb Quinoa, Garlic, Cumin, Fresh Cracked Pepper corns, Panko Bread Crumbs, EVOO
Grand Total: $14 for 11 meals= $1.27 or $0.03/serving!!

 I. Pork: 
{Will make 3 of each pork recipe and need 24 gallon sized freezer bags, ZIPLOCK BRAND!] 
  1. Carnitas
  2. Buttermilk & Mushroom Smothered Pork Chops
  3. Balsamic Tenderloins
  4. Barb-B-Q Pork
Shopping List:
24 Lbs Pork whatever is on sale, 24 oz Buttermilk, 3 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup, 48 oz Mushrooms, 3/4 White Wine 3/4 C Balsamic Vinegar, Dry rub for Pork{Brown Sugar, Cumin, Chili Powder, Chipotle Powder,  Kosher Salt, fresh cracked black Pepper,white pepper, Garlic & Onion Powder, Smoked Paprika, dry Mustard], 3 T butter, 6 T soy sauce, Check Freezer bags, need 24 ZIPLOCK gallon sized for this session
GRAND TOTAL: $58 for  12 meals =  $4.83/meal for 4-6 ppl with left overs for next day's lunch or meal or $0.81/person  {Most ingredients I had on hand and pork sirloin roasts & boneless sirloin chops both were on sale for $1.99/Lb, $48 was the pork, $10 was spent on pantry items I didn't have}

I. Fish:
Not doing any ahead, just having frozen fish fillets in freezer with meals in mind to cook later.

I. Lunches: 
  • Taco Cups
  • Mini Pizza
  • Ham & Cheese Hot Pockets
  • Meat Ball Sub Pockets
  • Calazones/Pizza Pockets
  • 2 loaves P.nut butter & Jelly sandwiches
Shopping List:
1/2 Lb Gr Beef, 2 envelopes of Taco seasoning, 1 LB Chip-Chopped Ham, 4 C Shredded Sharp Cheddar, Mini Meatballs, 10 oz Spaghetti Sauce, 16oz sliced Pepperoni, 4 C Mozzarella, 1LB Bologna, Mayo, Mustard, 1-pint Peanut Butter, 8 oz Jelly, 2 loaves of bread, 16 oz Ricotta, 1/3 C Prosciutto, Parmesan Cheese, eggs, Spinach, 1 Onion, 3 loaves of frozen bread dough, 1 Lb Frozen Spinach

I. Breakfasts:
  1. Breakfast Tortillas{30 Tortillas}
  2. Breakfast English Muffins{12 Sausage, Egg, & Cheddar Cheese w/Dijion Mustard Sauce}
  3. Breakfast Mini Cup{in biscuits {20 Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Mini Cups- 4 were snacked on by the boys as I made them}
Shopping List:
3 Pkg- 10" Tortillas, 3 dozen Eggs, 3 Lb Sausage, 1 LB O'Brian Potatoes, 3 C Shredded, Cheddar Cheese,  2 Pkg English Muffins or 2 loaves English Muffin Bread, Lg pre-formed Sausage patties, Spinach, Shredded Swiss cheese, 1 Lb Bacon
*"Mini Quiches{In Biscuits or crust-less}"-This was on my "list" but don't think I will get to it.
GRAND TOTAL $14.40/MEAL SERVING 1/PERSON = $0.23/breakfast sandwich!!
*I had a lot of grocery times left over from previous session so didn't need to purchase as much plus I got 10 tortillas//$0.79, English Muffins for $0.85 for 6...Cheaper and easier than hand making-right now I am can't do as much homemade as I would like, I hate that but I needed to make decisions for my sanity.

I. Desserts:
1.) Slice and bake Cookies {Tip: For perfectly round cookies, shape the dough into logs, wrap in plastic, and insert into empty paper towel tubes. Going to try this tip!}
       * Oatmeal
       * Chocolate Chip
       * Peanut Butter
2.) Peanut Butter No Bakes

Shopping List:
Flour, brown sugar, 1 dozen eggs, Rolled oats, Sugar, Vanilla, 2-24 Oz Peanut butter, 1 box Butter, Milk, Milk Chocolate Chips, Baking Soda and Powder, Butter Flavored Crisco

Personal Note: 6/21/2012: 
Phewww! This is taking much longer than I thought I am just exhausted trying to get all of these meals prepped, packaged and NEATLY stored. I detest looking into a haphazard freezer then you can't find what just just spent hours loving preparing, that is sooo FRUSTRATING to find it months later all freezer burned and inedible all because you didn't organize the freezer contents! 

So I don't know if I will be able to accomplish all that I planned on, I will cross of what I didn't get to and give you an accurate list when I eventually post this. (OR I might just let you know what I did get to and leave the shopping list and meal plans intact if someone what to use those meal ideas it will still be easier to read.)

Linked to Menu Mondays

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