Since I’ve started my Adventures in Freezer Cooking, I have realized some things about my life that effect how I use Freezer Cooking to best suit my life.
When I first started my Adventures in Freezer Cooking, I thought having a pre-made meal waiting in the freezer to just be warmed in the oven would be great. However, I have found that it’s not the best thing for me. The main reason why is you have to pull the meal out of the freezer the night before to defrost it.
This doesn’t work for me because most of the time I don’t know the night before if the next evening is going to be crazy or not. That’s because the dinner time craziness is usually based on how much time I have to spend with the kids helping them with homework and studying.
That does not mean I have scrapped freezer cooking totally. I have actually found several aspects to be very helpful.
- Crockpot Meals in a Bag – On days I use the crockpot it’s often because we do have plans in the evening so I know to pull my freezer meal out the day before. In addition to being a time saver in the morning, I also like this idea to preserve fresh vegetables that would go bad otherwise or use an ingredient that I might have run out of when I go to make the meal. One item this happens a lot with is orange juice since I only buy it when it’s on sale, and my kids love to drink it.
- Freezing Lunch Items – such as this Chick Pea Quinoa Salad and Egg Muffins or the other day I made up some meatball sandwiches from leftovers. My 8 year old daughter is loving these each day. I just pull them out of the freezer and place them in her lunchbox.
- Homemade Babyfood – My freezer is actually packed with this. One of the little one’s favorite items is Squash with Wheat CousCous.
- Ready to Use Items such as Browned Ground Beef and Poached Chicken. I think this is my favorite use off Freezer Cooking. It makes putting a meal together, even on a crazy homework night, quick and easy and I can use these items without defrosting them for a whole day.
Today’s Adventure in Freezer Cooking post deals with items number 2 and 4. Recently, I picked up 6 pounds of Ground Chuck and 10 pounds of potatoes at Bottom Dollar for a great deal. Instead of just throwing the Ground Chuck into the freezer, I took 5 pounds and added a bit of Minced Garlic and browned it all.
It’s not pictured here, but I took 3 pounds of the browned ground beef and placed it in two Ziploc bags to be frozen for future use. The other two pounds were used with some of the potatoes for that nights meal and to make up lunch items.
My husband’s family is originally from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where Pasties are very popular. When we lived in Michigan, stores like Gordon Foods, carried ready made Pasties, but they are not to be found in Pittsburgh, and my husband misses them. I was looking through my cookbooks for a meal using ground beef and potatoes. One of the books I looked in was a cookbook of my husband’s Grandma’s recipes and guess what I found -A Pasties recipe. Figuring I would make some for dinner and some to freeze, I doubled the recipe. Here’s the original Pasties recipe that should make 6 pasties.
1 1/4 lbs Ground Steak
4-5 medium potatoes – peeled and chopped
2 medium onions – chopped
1/4 cup rutabaga, finely chopped – I left this out because my husband doesn’t like Rutabaga and I didn’t have any.
15 baby carrots sliced
salt and pepper to taste
You see the potatoes, carrots and onions in the pan with the hamburger here, but I didn’t cook them at all. I just used the pan as a place to stir all the ingredient together in.
Pasties are the above mixture served in a Pastry Crust. I didn’t make up Grandma’s pastry recipe because I didn’t have any beef suet that it called for. I did have some Bisquick that I got for a great deal so I googled Pasties Crust with Bisquick and tried the recipe I found.
I found out quickly why I don’t do a lot of pastry work. First off, I couldn’t find my rolling pin and used a empty stainless steel water bottle instead to roll out the dough. Secondly, my pasties didn’t turn out very pretty and I soon got frustrated. I only actually put together one pastie with the Bisquick dough. It’s the small one on the upper right of the cookie sheet. I realized that this recipe wouldn’t make up six pasties, so I improvised and pulled out a pie tin. Placed the meat mixture in it and covered it with the remaining Bisquick dough.
That left me with a lot of meat mixture and I did want some Pasties I could freeze for lunches. So once again I went to Google. This time I found a basic flour, oil and milk recipe. I changed it up a bit by changing putting 1/2 cup wheat flour in it.
My Pasties still weren’t as pretty, but they did turn out tasty. With the rest of the meat, I put it in a pie tin and covered it with foil. I placed all 3 in a 350 degree oven for 55 minutes. I served up my husband one of the actual pasties and the kids had the pie covered pasties meat. They all ate theirs with ketchup.
I wrapped up the other two pasties and will serve them up for lunch. Plus I still have the two bags of Ready to Use Ground Round in the freezer for some easy meals.
Do you Freezer Cook? Do you prefer Whole meals, Ready to Use Items, or a Mix of Both?