Once A Month Cooking Class Taught by K’Lea Kelley Freezer Meals
Once-a-Month Cooking See book by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg for recipes and ideas Create your own meal prep plan and grocery list with your family’s favorite recipes then use it month after month. (In time, you will become so efficient you’ll amaze yourself and your neighbors too!!!)
Groundwork Start with your family’s favorite recipes. Pick simple recipes, and have a variety. Make sure they fit your budget. Divide recipes into groups such as chicken, beef, meatless, fish, casseroles, miscellaneous You can simplify and have fun with a friend by combining efforts with someone else.
Some Foods Do Not Freeze Well Raw salad vegetables Hard Cooked Eggs Gelatin desserts Icing made with egg whites or boiled frostings Instant Rice (it becomes mushy). Regular rice works fine Custard, cream or pies with meringue. Gravies and sauces thickened with flour or cornstarch. (Sauces made from cream soups work better)
Menu Calendar Reproduce a blank calendar Record monthly menu in pencil in case you need to move them around Check your family’s schedule for the month to coordinate meals with activities and busy days Choose menus for company and special days first. Also, plan easy meals for days when parents will be away Pencil in menus for remaining days
Shopping Lists Use recipes to compile a shopping list Don’t forget to list the containers or freezer bags you need Glass Pyrex casserole pans with lids work well if you don’t want to purchase disposable aluminum cooking pans Use a running tally to keep track of Pounds of meat Canned goods Produce Dairy products
Menu Ideas (from K’Lea’s class) Marinated Flank Steak (freeze ahead) Baked Potatoes Salad Bread Baked Potatoes Chili Topping and Grated Cheese (Freeze ahead) Salad Fruit Cobbler Lasagna (freeze ahead) Salad French Bread Farmer’s Casserole (hash browns, ham, cheese, eggs, onion) Banana Sauce Muffins Fresh Fruit Muffins and casserole can be made ahead. Cook muffins and freeze, prepare casserole and freeze before baking Herbed Chicken Rice Steamed Broccoli Each item can be placed in a freezer bag – then place all freezer bags into a gallon freezer bag to have all ingredients together Chicken Cacciatore (Freeze ahead) Noodles Green Beans Bread
More Menu Ideas (Tammy’s favorites) Mexican Meatballs Spanish Rice Strawberry Lemonade Chips/Salsa Chicken Enchiladas Refried Beans Spanish Rice Chips/Salsa Meatloaf Baked Potatoes Steamed Vegetables Country Chicken Vegetable Casserole Fruit Cup Sweet and Sour Meatballs Rice Green Beans Fruit Cup Swedish Meatballs Mashed Potatoes Steamed Vegetables
Create Your Own Meal Plans! FAMILIAR RECIPES THAT CAN EASILY BE CONVERTED INTO A FREEZER MEAL Chicken Stir Fry over Rice Marinated Chicken Breasts Seasoned Hamburger Patties (mix and shape into patties – freeze between sheets of wax paper) Sloppy Joes Chopped BBQ Beef or Pork with Sauce Oriental Beef and Broccoli with Rice Chicken and Broccoli with Cheesy Rice Breakfast Burritos Beef Stew Stuffed Pasta Shells or Ravioli with Marinara sauce
Assembly Copy recipes onto large index cards or place in plastic page protectors Spread recipes on table and create an order of assembly that will flow well Group recipes that use similar ingredients, especially meats One the recipes are in order, go through each one, tallying the amounts of food you need to prepare: how many onions to chop Garlic cloves to press Ground beef to brown Chicken breasts to cook
Make a Plan Determine order of assembly Recipes that require longer cooking times should be started first early in the day Allow time between groups of recipes so you can take a break
Write or type up your plan to use month after month
Whenever possible, combine steps for several dishes: Cook the rice for all dishes Sauté onions, vegetables, etc. Brown hamburger for all meals Cook chicken cubes for all meals
Day before: Prep Work Plan for items that can be done the day before cooking/assembly such as: Soaking beans Cooking meats Chopping vegetables
Cooking with Meat Frozen Meats must be cooked before refreezing Use fresh (unfrozen) meats for marinated cuts, meatballs or meatloaf. Large amounts of hamburger can be easily browned in a steamer Large amounts of cooked chicken cubes can be made by baking several boneless, skinless chicken breasts for 30 minutes at 350 F. (Cover pan with foil to retain moisture). Cut into cubes after baking. Ham can be purchased at the Deli in extra thick slices. These can be easily cubed for different recipes.
Preparation Tips Lasagna – prepare sauce from scratch to get a thicker sauce, prepare with uncooked noodles – noodles will soften and cook while baking Save your butter wrappers in the freezer – they work great for greasing pans Overripe bananas can be frozen (leave in the peel) and microwave for 15 seconds to use in banana breads, muffins and smoothies Use frozen vegetables in casseroles (they have already been blanched and will store well in frozen meals)
Helpful Hints Date each meal so you know how long it has been in your freezer Use all meals with 4-6 weeks Allow hot foods to cool completely, then freeze Blanch and drain vegetables before freezing to keep them from becoming discolored or mushy.
Helpful Hints Wrap muffins in plastic wrap before placing in freezer bags If a recipe calls for cheese to be sprinkled on top, put grated cheese in a freezer bag and attach it to you entree before freezing Try to remove as much air as possible from the freezer bag or container to prevent freezer burn.
Packaging and Labeling Use Zip loc freezer bags, disposable aluminum pans, or glass Pyrex dishes with tight fitting lids Individual components of a freezer meal are each placed in a separate zip loc bag. All Bags are then placed in a large gallon size bag to keep meal together. Label your bags or containers with: Name of the recipe, Date of preparation, Cooking Instructions
Sample 7 Day Menu Plan 1. Marinated Flank Steak, Baked Potatoes, Salad, Bread 2. Chicken Cacciatore, Noodles, Green Beans, Bread 3. Meal-in-One Potatoes, Salad, Fruit Cobbler 4. Herbed Chicken, Rice, Steam Broccoli 5. Lasagna, Salad, French Bread 6. Farmer’s Casserole, Banana Sauce Muffins, Fresh Fruit 7. Leftover Night or Eating Out
Sample Grocery List for Menu Plan MEAT 1.5 Lbs. Flank Steak 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts 1 ½ lb. lean hamburger 2 Slices of Deli ham, Thick
28 oz can Italian Style crushed tomatoes 16 oz. can peeled tomatoes 12 oz. can tomato paste 1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup 1 Can Red kidney beans
DAIRY 8 oz. Shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar Cheese ½ C. Parmesan Cheese 12 oz. Sliced Mozzarella 2 12 oz cartons large curd low fat cottage cheese 6 eggs PRODUCE 2 Onions 1 lemon Bunch Green onions Bell pepper Small container fresh Mushrooms Garlic clove
Chili Sauce 8 oz. pkg. Lasagna noodles Basil (dried) Parsley (dried) Red WineVinegar 6C frozen hash browns 2 8x8 aluminumpans 1 9x13 aluminum pan Plastic wrap Aluminum foil
Mix marinade for Flank Steak. Put Flank Steak in freezer bag, pour marinade over it. Label freezer bag. Brown ground beef for Lasagna and Stuffed Potatoes. Place in 1 gallon freezer bag. Cook chicken for Chicken Cacciatore and Herbed Chicken. Place in 1 gallon freezer bag. Dice Ham for Farmer’s Casserole. Place in bowl. Cover. Chop onion, for Lasagna and Meal-In-One-Potatoes and bell pepper, mushrooms for Lasagna. Place in different prep bowls. Cover. Chop green onion for Farmer’s Casserole. Add to bowl with ham. Assembly Day… Start Lasagna sauce. Simmer for 30 minutes. Assemble Farmer’s Casserole. Freeze in 2 8x8 aluminum pans. Prepare Herbed Chicken. Freeze on 1 gallon freezer bag. Prepare and Bake Banana Sauce Muffins 15-18 minutes. Cool. Wrap in plastic wrap, put in 1 gallon freezer bag. Start Chicken Cacciatore sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes. Cool. Freeze in 1 gallon freezer bag. Cook Meal-in-One Potatoes sauce. Simmer 5 minutes. Cool. Freeze in 1 gallon freezer bag. Assemble Lasagna in 9x13 Aluminum pan. Cool. Freeze.