Another reason I like freezer cooking is because it helps me stay within our grocery budget. If I buy all of the groceries for the month at one time, I can avoid those nightly trips to the store to grab sour cream (or Doritos...) that really start to add up. I can plan a few weeks or even a month's menu around one week's sales and curb our spending a bit.
Today's "menu" includes:
Cupcakes (for the birthday party on Saturday)
Shredded Chicken Breasts
Macaroni and Cheese
Chicken Ranch Casserole
As soon as I got up this morning I threw the frozen chicken breast in the crockpot. I've found this is the easiest way to cook it when I plan to shred it, because it just falls apart when I take it out. I've also found that I like using boneless chicken breasts -- because it's less work, and still cheaper than buying shredded chicken in a can.
After taking my son to the bus stop, I headed to the grocery store. I needed cake mix (because he requested chocolate), eggs, milk, and various things for the party. But, the cake needed to go in first so I didn't forget about it!
While the cupcakes were baking, I called my grandmother to ask for her peanut butter icing recipe. Of course, she is one who cooks without recipes most of the time, so she offered to just make it for me. She's going to "try" to write down what she does. :-) We'll see.
I stopped for a mid-morning snack :-) When I was pregnant with my son, I would "make" brownies, just so I could eat the batter. Chocolate chocolate chunk... yummm.
The pot roastI made on Thursday was a huge hit, so I decided to throw together another one to freeze. I needed to use up some onions and potatoes that have been in the cupboard for awhile, so this keeps me from wasting them.
We haven't tried this cheeseburger meatloaf, yet. But, judging from how delicious it looked when I mixed it up, I'm sure it won't stay in the freezer for long!
I boiled some rotini noodles for the macaroni and cheese. Then I stopped to take a baby-bump picture (25 wks)! Look, my flirty apronstill fits.. kind of. I also desperately need a hair cut...
When I freeze a casserole, or anything that goes in a specific dish, I first line the dish with foil, then plastic wrap. Then, after the food is frozen solid, I can take it out of the dish and use the dish for something else! These are two 1.5 qt casserole dishes that I use to make the macaroni and cheese.
The noodles are done! As you'll notice, I do not have "kitchen counters". I have a dishwasher (that does not work) with a butcher block on top that I use as a prep station, but my crockpot has to sit on top of my stove when I use it. Probably not the safest idea, but I am not typically using the stove-top when I have the crockpot out.
Another side note is that I LOVE these pots! Cleaning my plastic strainer was the bane of my existence, until my grandmother-in-law gave me these for Christmas. No more strainer!!
It took me a really long time to get the milk to thicken for the macaroni and cheese. I whisked and whisked and whisked -- and took a potty break because someone was kicking my bladder -- and whisked, and whisked, and whisked. Finally, I turned the heat up to medium-high, and it thickened right away. The cheese melted really easily, too.
The chicken ranch casserole is all wrapped up in the freezer. I have to figure out how to make this recipe without scorching milk on the bottom of my pots and pans. I made this with rotini this time, but last time I used choo-choo wheels. Food should be fun :-)
Next up was the Southwest Rollups from Moneysavingmom.com's Freezer Cooking eBook. These were really easy and folded up a lot more nicely than I thought they would. I only made half the recipe since we've never tried them before and I only had 8 tortillas.
The chicken in the crockpot took about 6 hours on low. I used four chicken breasts from Sam's Club. Usually the Sam's Club chicken is a lot bigger and juicy than the chicken from our local grocery stores. It shred very easily after being the the crockpot!
I only had tiny snack bags to bag the chicken, but I fit one cup in each bag. I got 6-1/2 cups of chicken and that's after I used 1-1/2 cups in the chicken ranch casserole and 1 cup in the Southwest Rollups. I eat these on salads and my husband likes to make chicken salad with crackers.
I didn't get to EVERYTHING on my list... but I think I did a pretty good job. The two chicken meals I skipped are simply marinade+chicken to be cooked in the crockpot. My son will be disappointed that I didn't get to the waffles!!
Now... if only the "dishwashing fairies" weren't already booked for today... This is actually my third sinkful of dishes. I try to use the same dishes all day long and just wash them over and over to stay on top of things. Maybe someday I'll invest in a functioning dishwasher!!
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