*author's note* I'm still trying to figure out blogger's coding. I apologize for the awkwardness of the way the text and images fit together. And, if you're viewing this using a feed - it's probably really messed up - sorry!*
One of the most annoying things to me about living alone is food. It’s hard to shop and cook for one without wasting food from leftovers or things spoiling before you get a chance to eat them. Plus, most of the fun in cooking for me is making food for someone else. When I come home from 11+ hours at work the last thing I want to do is spend an hour in the kitchen before dinner is ready. If I do decide to cook when I get home – I’m stuck with a dinner meant for a family that I’ll be eating for the next three days or risk wasting the food.
My solution is to spend a day once a month or so preparing a number of meals and freezing smaller portions of those meals.
The first step is of course the grocery shopping – and I mention that just so I can plug my cool shopping bags. I love them. They are made from recycled-cotton and were made under fair-wage/fair-labor practices. They have dual handles – longer straps for the shoulder and shorter ones for the hand. I own four of them and can typically fit all of my groceries into them. Because of the shoulder straps I can easily carry all of my groceries in one trip and still have my hands free to open the door/turn off the alarm/keep the cat from getting out. After all, there’s no one inside for me to call and say “Hey! Come help me lug these things inside! I fit all of the groceries for the meals below into my four grocery sacks. (Plus some other misc groceries) I bought my bags at http://www.reusablebags.com/. Go shopping!
Depending on the meal I either just do the prep work and freeze the uncooked food or I cook the entire meal and freeze the smaller portions that can be microwaved later. The food tastes better if you freeze it without cooking - - but then you run into the problem of freezing entire cooking entire casseroles still. If you’re cooking for a family – I’d definitely recommend that option.
Here is what I I cooked/prepped in my most recent cooking-day:
I had planned on making Meatloaf as well – but forgot to reserve the beef when I started browning it.
Also, after cooking the Feta Chicken I don’t think I will freeze it (we’ll just do an “eat it for three days” thing) – as I don’t think the Feta in the Freezer will do well.
I formed hamburger patties with about 1.5 lbs of ground beef. Placed them in a freezer bag and froze. When I want a hamburger – I can pull out one patty, defrost in the microwave, and then slap it on the George Foreman.
I browned about 3.5 lbs of ground beef. I divided the meat into 1 1-lb freezer bag and 3 .5lb freezer bags. The 1lb I’ll use to make tacos. I can just put the frozen meat in a skillet and it’ll de-thaw and I can add the taco seasoning. The smaller bags I can use to make sloppy joes, spaghetti sauce, or another recipe calling for browned ground beef. The remaining lb I left in the skillet - and added chili ingredients to make chili. I divided the chili up into small portions in freezer-safe bowls and those are now stacked in my freezer. I let the meals cool lightly covered in the fridge before sealing and transferring to the freezer.
I don’t really have recipes for any of those – they are just things I throw together.
The sloppy joes have ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar
The chili has beans, tomato sauce, onions, and chili pepper
I boiled two chicken breasts and let those cool over night for the Chicken Divan (it’s easier to cut when it’s cool) Then cooked the meal completely and froze individual portions.
Recipe: 3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 pks frozen brocc, cooked
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup mayo
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp lemon juice
Layer broccoli, then chicken in a casserole dish. Mix together mayo, soup, curry, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Spread over chicken. Top with shredded cheese. Bake 45 minutes at 350.
I prepared the Cranberry-Orange Chicken completely and froze individual portions.
Place four chicken breasts in a lightly greased casserole dish
In a small saucepan whisk together:
½ cup orange juice
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
¼ cup of honey
1 tbs cider vinegar
1 tbs soy sauce
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp Tabasco
Cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens (about 8 minutes) whisking often. Quickly dissolve 1 tsp cornstarch in 1 tbs water, whisk into cranberry mixture.
Pour over chicken and sprinkle with nuts (sliced almonds, chopped pecans or walnuts, etc. Bake 20—30 minutes at 450 until chicken is done.
This is sauce is rather sweet – so adjust accordingly if that’s going to bother you.
Again for each of those, divide into small freezer-safe containers, let cool lightly covered in fridge before sealing and transferring to the freezer.
The chicken-feta is really easy (though, again, I wouldn’t recommend freezing it)
Place chicken in a casserole dish. Drizzle with 1 tbs lemon juice. Salt and pepper chicken. Sprinkle with 4 oz. crumbled tomato-basil feta cheese. Drizzle with 1 Tbs lemon juice. Cook 30-40 minutes at 350 until chicken is done
This is my favorite breakfast food. You take the Pillsbury biscuit dough that comes in the four-can pack and cut the biscuit dough into strips. Wrap a strip of biscuit dough around a “lil’ smokie” sausage.
I put about 6-8 of these in a freezer bag and freeze. When I want pigs-in-a-blanket for breakfast I open the bag, defrost in the microwave for two minutes, and then put the sausages on a greased cookie sheet and cook for about 8-10 minutes at 350. (They don’t brown as easily when they’re frozen – so they don’t look as pretty but they still taste good!)
And, when you’re done – you have a number of meals ready to go or things ready to make a meal prep easier!