Tuesday, October 21, 2014

31 Days of Dinner Day 21 -- Easy Crockpot Freezer Meals

Have you noticed that plans for putting together those freezer meals that you simply need to dump in your crockpot and cook are every where?  I love them.  They really are really simple to put together and cook.  Of course they do sometimes end up as a soupy mish mash of soft food -- in short what everyone who hates their crockpot hates about slow cooked food.  Here are a few rules of thumb that have worked for me.

1) Soup in the crockpot is great, but don't add broth until you're ready to cook
2) Too many packaged ingredients or mixes = gross
3) Frozen vegetables should not be allowed to thaw

Monday, October 20, 2014

31 Days of Dinner Day 20 -- Freezer Meals = Easy Meals

Here's a freezer session I had last year:

I started with:  6 pounds of grass fed ground beef + some chicken and cream cheese.  The ground beef was bought at half price using a groupon.

Here's what I made:
  • Stuffed peppers x 2
  • BBQ meatballs
  • Alfredo sauce, mixed with grilled chicken & veggies (We'll had it with pasta)
  • A ton of pinto beans

Sunday, October 19, 2014

31 Days of Dinner Day 19 -- Cheese Sauce For The Freezer

Just because I like to cook from scratch doesn't mean I like to start from scratch.  I've been using the Tightwad Gazette cream soup mix as a base for a yummy cheese sauce -- just add the amount of water recommended and heat it up on the stove.  When it starts to get thick, add a cup or so of cheddar cheese and stir until melted.  I cool the sauce and freeze it in ice cube trays.

It's quick to toss a few of these with hot cooked pasta to make mac n cheese -- and even easier than making the boxed stuff.  These also make a good sauce for steamed veggies when you're feeding reluctant eaters.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

31 Days of Dinner Day 18 -- Cooking Out With Kids

We have a few more camp outs and camp fires scheduled before the long winter comes.  This is my kids' go-to book for campfire food. Cooking On A Stick is a ton of fun!

Friday, October 17, 2014

31 Days of Dinner Day 17 -- Easy Meals From What I Keep On Hand

Yesterday I told you what I like to keep on hand.  Here are a few meal ideas using those items.

Chicken a la king (leave out the mushrooms, use peas instead of pimento, serve over rice)
Chicken and rice soup
Crockpot pork roast (sub frozen peppers if you don't have an onion)
Crockpot chicken cacciatore
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Chicken or pork stir fry topped with almonds
Fruity Pork Roast
Chicken salad with almonds

What are your go-to dinners?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

31 Days of Dinner Day 16 -- 7 Things I Keep On Hand

As much as I try to prepare, sometimes life catches me off guard and there is "nothing" for dinner. That's why I like to keep these seven things on hand for a quick meal:

1) Individually quick frozen chicken breasts
2) Frozen pepper strips
3) Frozen peas
4) Pork Loin
5) Sliced almonds
6) Bullion cubes
7) Rice

Tomorrow I'll tell you what I make with these.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

31 Days of Dinner Day 15 -- Worth Making From Scratch

Advertising will tell you that there are some things that are just too hard to make from scratch when really it doesn't take that much longer than starting with something you buy in a jar or a box.  That said, I have to be careful -- sometimes I get so wound up about cooking everything from scratch that I set impossibly high standards for myself and end up not cooking anything and getting Chinese carry out instead.  Here are a few foods I feel are most "worth it" in terms of time and money.
  1. Popcorn -- plain popcorn kernels are just as easy to pop in the microwave as the stuff from a box, and I can control what goes on them.  I use a Nordic Ware microwaver popcorn popper.
  2. Homemade vanilla pudding after lunch is such a treat.  Once you've tasted this you'll be spoiled for the shelf stable stuff.
  3. I love homemade soup for a lot of reasons, but the truth is we wouldn't eat it two times a week if it didn't taste good.
  4. I much prefer freezer jam over store bought -- mostly because it tastes like fruit.
  5. Store bought granola is just too sweet for me, so I always make my own.
Other things I like to make at home when I have the time are: salad dressings, pizza, croutons, bread, and applesauce.

What about you?