I am so grateful for tax money! With it we were able to purchase a Sam’s membership and with it a brand new freezer. Its nothing fancy. Just a box that holds extra frozen food in the garage. But it means that I can now embark on an adventure in freezer cooking.
This week I have been planning, and searching for recipes. I was looking for things that my family already eats that can be frozen, or things that it looked like my family would really enjoy.
After a shopping trip yesterday afternoon I began my adventure!
Here’s what I made:
1. Skinny Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese:
This delicious casserole was what we had for dinner tonight.
I substituted half of the cheese for pepper jack cheese and used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose. I didn’t have chicken broth so I used the low-sodium, organic vegetable broth that I did have on hand. I skipped spraying the pan with oil as there is plenty of oil in the dish already. I used unsalted sweet cream butter for half of the butter amount and then used a vegetable oil spread for the other half. I also made my own breadcrumbs from whole wheat bread, using minced garlic, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder to season them.
The results were fantastic! The only change that I would make is to add chunks of cheese in right before baking in order to make it a cheesier dish like the mac and cheese that I grew up with.
Fortunately I have two huge casserole pans (aluminum from the dollar store) of it in the freezer along with a few individual containers. So it will be something that we will be able to enjoy several more times in the next few months.
2. Shredded Chicken:
Next I cooked up some shredded chicken. This was kind of cheating since the crock pot did most of the work. Before I went to bed last night I put three (HUGE) chicken breasts into my crock pot along with the rest of the vegetable oil that I used in the macaroni and cheese. Then I let the crock pot do its thing on low all night.
This morning I woke up to some delicious smelling chicken that was ready to be cooled and shredded. Once it was cooled, and shredded, I separated into three 1/2 pound portions. I then put them in quart sized freezer bags with just a small portion of the broth and froze. Now I have shredded chicken on hand and ready for a variety of different recipes!
3. Homemade Frozen Pizza:
We love pizza! There is nothing more enjoyable then having a hot, cheesy slice of pizza on a long hard day. But I hate the fact that the majority of pizzas are horribly unhealthy. Plus, spending all that money on grease is just a shame.
I picked up 4 pizza pans at the dollar store. I went with the regular ones rather than the disposable because that way I can use them over and over again and not worry about them being too flimsy. And they were the same price!
Next I got myself some Fleischmann’s Pizza Crust Yeast. It wasn’t my original plan but I am glad I did because it was super easy to use!
I used half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose. Next time I buy all-purpose I will be buying the non-bleached kind so the dough will be even healthier and also much darker. But for now I went with what I have on hand.
For the tomato sauce I bought a can of Hunt’s spaghetti sauce and added my own seasonings, allowing it to simmer in a saucepan. I wanted to make it from scratch but found that it would actually cost me more. So I went for the lowest price, sauce with the least amount of ingredients.
The alfredo sauce is my favorite jarred sauce, and I didn’t do anything to it. The chicken I cut up, seasoned with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper, and cooked in my skillet until just cooked through.
Right now everything is cooling. But in a bit I will assemble the pizzas. I will have two that are chicken alfredo and then two that are half cheese and half pepperoni/mushroom (for my hubby).
Hopefully this will be a deliciously healthy alternative to either ordering pizza or buying frozen pizzas at the store.
4. Pinto Beans:
My crock pot is currently cooking a batch of pinto beans. I decided to use the left over chicken/vegetable broth (after I put some in the bags with the shredded chicken and froze some in star shaped ice cube trays) mixed with my seasonings and water. When it is done cooking I will freeze the beans in 2 cup portions so that I can quickly grab them from the freezer and make refried beans whenever I want.
This is a big deal for me. I hate spending the money on canned refried beans but there are days when I want beans and don’t think about it early enough to get them done in time for dinner. This way I can simply defrost the beans, puree, and reheat, adding in salsa, cheese, onions, and garlic as desired. Its an amazing time saver, far cheaper, and much healthier. Just be sure to freeze a bit of that bean broth with your beans to aid in the reheating process.
5. Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken:
Doesn’t this look delicious?
I’ll be honest. We haven’t tried it yet. But I figured it would be easy enough to go ahead and prepare it so that I can just throw it into the crock pot some morning without having to really think about it. (I intend to make up some rice to freeze in the next couple of days as well.)
I did make a mistake in my reading of the directions and added all the ingredients together in the plastic bag, but I doubt that it will make that much of a difference. I’ll try to remember to come back with my opinion once we try it. I’ve heard it is amazing though!
I still want to make up some packets of dry cookie mix, some breakfast foods (pancakes, muffins, quick breads, pb&j…) for those busy mornings, and some lasagna (chicken alfredo with broccoli and carrots, and meat/vegetable) once we get paid again. But I managed to create about 10 frozen meals without too much effort. It’ll definitely help on those busy nights or when I am just too tired to want to prepare a healthy meal.
Do you have any make ahead healthy recipes to share?