I’ve Been Cheating – Freezer Meals Kind Of Rock!

I start out the new year with a promise to be more diligent and find more stuff to share and here I am not keeping that so well! Ah, as with resolutions everywhere and every year – I am going to be branching out with some variety and added content….just not maybe every single day 😉 I am such a free spirit, a schedule honestly makes me sweat and think panic mode.

But what have we been eating you ask? A friend of mine and I decided we were going to try one of those marathon day cooking projects that would net us a month’s (to split for the first run) worth of meals made and frozen for easy and little effort meals. The ‘plan’ we went with was from The Shabby Creek Cottage and was an entire method of attack, shopping list and recipes to guide us in  this adventure! The Shabby Creek Cottage “A month of freezer meals + shopping list” post was so lovingly printed out with an added touch of  awesome in the form of individual recipe pages and the shopping list, by my hubby – a copy for both friend and I in hand!

We started out thinking we were going to be super organized and it would be no sweat. The post figured four hours worth of kitchen time – and I think we were a little slow. 🙂 Seven hours later we were loaded up with meals and really had a good day of cooking and visiting; and an added bonus – she brought her two kiddos and the house, while pretty loud was filled with laughter and good times. The kids actually kept themselves very occupied and didn’t tear a single thing up! BONUS 😀

Other than taking a whole lot of time, we really had few ‘tips’ or ‘necessary changes’, but there were a few. First, look at her tips – seriously, wear comfortable shoes! LOL, I constantly run bare or sock footed (is that a word?), but I was hurting after doing it for the cook-off. Overall the recipes were pretty simple – HUGE note, if you do not own a scale that does pounds, then pay attention to your meat. You are cooking large amounts all at once for timing sake, but remember you have to measure out a certain number of pounds or individual chicken breasts – be mindful, this oversight ended in us not having the extra shredded chicken in small bags (but probably really meaty dishes!) Also, same thing applies to the rice (and a total afterthought on my half – if you have a partner and can manage 1 person working on beef meals and one working on chicken meals – the process would probably be much quicker). The only other real issue we came across, was with the ingredients “a HUGE (like double the size regular) jar of marinara and the biggest tub of ricotta you can find” being the directions. We talked about exactly how big her quantities were, because we had zero leftover marinara and had to send hubby on an emergency store run to procure more ricotta.

The day left us ladies (and even hubby – because he was invaluable) feeling pretty accomplished and at least us beyond excited to try the meals! And as of this post, our family has had the chili (this was another one we didn’t end up with extra of and can’t figure out where we ran short on this one) – both as fantastically awesome chili dogs with cheese and also as a bowl of hearty goodness. We also used the mild beans when making it, as with my stomach issues the spicy just isn’t an option for me. But a nice big double thumbs up on the chili.

We also had the Chicken and Dressing — and holy guacamole is it sinfully delicious! We put it on top of plain long grain white rice with butter and creamed spinach and were so happy with that dinner and the taste of the sage dressing was intense! Another double thumbs up on that one too. I am probably going to make a couple more full batches of this one to keep on hand.

Tonight we had the Broccoli Cheddar Pasta Bake and this is the first one we weren’t crazy about. The taste was overall really decent, but the noodles just didn’t cook up the way I would have liked. Some were a little tough, but it reminded me of a Grandma Ruby attempt at tuna casserole. (I know, that is a reference that probably bears explanation, but let’s leave it at she made everything she tried to cook with love; sometimes that’s all that matters.) Now, I say this, knowing full well that there may have erroneously been a mistake made during the prep phase and by that alone, the recipe bears repeating – as I said, the flavor was decent. UPDATE to this – I just knew that I had probably made an oversight of sorts and I did. YES, you cook and drain the noodles (which didn’t pop out at me until I had probably read through the packet of stuff at LEAST a dozen times or more!)

I didn’t manage to do pics for this one (though, I am just about positive hubby snapped at least one of us girls – who knows, that may be in the dark vaults of Warehouse 13 (sci-fi geekdom reference) but that is just the way it goes sometimes. 🙂 Overall, the idea of mass making food that you can pop in the freezer and just pop into the oven for an hour, with effort only for sides – winner! I will add updates as I try the rest of the meals! Stay Tuned!

Has anyone else tried this? Any good recipes you can share, any more tips? Does this make you at least want to give this a try? If you have tried it, which recipes did you like? Hate? What size jars or tubs did you go with?

Back to the nuthouse for now….

I took a couple of photos, we decided to try the TexMex Chicken Casserole and yup, that one is pretty awesome too! Just wish they made more! Lol, maybe I need to cook one for dinner and one for leftovers the next day! For this one we had tortilla rounds with a mixed together salsa and sour cream dip and fresh strawberries. As an appetizer, we made another chip/dip snack of wheat thins and a spicy and delicious sauce called Besito Caliente (my mother in law gets it in New Mexico for us) mixed with regular cream cheese. YUM!

This is what the sauce we made the dip with cream cheese looks like. I would seriously consider selling my kidneys on the black market for this stuff! LOL Lucky I have an awesome mother in law willing to send it!

This is what the sauce we made the dip with cream cheese looks like. I would seriously consider selling my kidneys on the black market for this stuff! LOL Lucky I have an awesome mother in law willing to send it!

If you look closely, you can see the specks of chilis in the dip. Simple - a couple teaspoons of cream cheese and add the chili sauce to taste. I typically microwave my cream cheese about 8 seconds or so to soften.

If you look closely, you can see the specks of chilis in the dip. Simple – a couple teaspoons of cream cheese and add the chili sauce to taste. I typically microwave my cream cheese about 8 seconds or so to soften.

The Texmex Chicken Casserole turned out really tasty!

The Texmex Chicken Casserole turned out really tasty!

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