Thursday, November 20, 2008

Frozen Assets – Part 5: Store It Up – Meals

We’re in the home stretch of our Frozen Assets series. I hope you are enjoying this series, and have learned some tips to put to work for your family. If you have, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear your feedback.
Today, we tackle freezer meals. As you know, the make-ahead meal business has taken off in the past few years. These days, families simply don’t have the time to cook from scratch every night, and the Diva family is no exception. While purchasing freezer meals from make-ahead meal businesses does save money over eating out, an even thriftier and personalized approach is to make the meals yourself.

For the Diva family, we do this two ways. The first way is by doubling recipes and freezing one for later. If you’re going to measure, chop, and assemble one dish, then why not two? The second way is by batch cooking on the weekend. I will buy everything needed for several family-favorite recipes with common ingredients (for instance, ground beef, rice, beans). Then I will brown the beef all at once, and use it to make several frozen dishes for later – enchiladas, taco bake, rice & bean stir-fry, etc.

Here are three tried-and-true recipes that freeze well. Each recipe uses sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, and either ground beef or chicken. Buy the large containers of soup and sour cream to save money. Take the meal out of the freezer the night before and thaw in the refrigerator before baking.

Diva Family Creamy Enchilada Bake
(I make this for friends as a quick meal to have on hand after having a baby.)
1 lb ground beef
1 can refried beans
1 onion
1 package taco seasoning
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz sour cream
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
Tortillas (Deal Diva Tip: Buy the large packs from Costco to save money.)
Tomatoes – chopped

Brown ground beef and onions. Mix in beans. In a separate bowl, mix sour cream and soup. Spoon half of sour cream mixture on the bottom of a baking pan. Fill tortillas with beef mixture, roll up, and arrange in baking pan. Spoon remaining half of sour cream mixture over the tortillas. Cover with shredded cheese. Sprinkle tomatoes on top. Freeze. Bake at 350° for 25 - 30 minutes or until cheese melts and tortillas are golden brown.

Here’s another simple and tasty make-ahead recipe that freezes well and takes mere minutes to throw together.

Creamy Chicken Bake
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream

Mix soup & sour cream. Spread half in pan. Add chicken. Spread remaining half of mixture on chicken. Freeze. Bake @ 375° for 30 minutes.

Finally, here’s another hearty dish great for a cold, winter night:

Daddy Diva’s Hamburger Hot Dish
1 lb Ground Beef
1 cup Elbow Macaroni
1 cup Frozen Corn
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
½ cup Sour Cream

Brown beef. Cook noodles. Drain. Mix all ingredients in a casserole dish. Freeze. Bake @ 375° for 30 minutes.

Up Next: We’ll wrap up the series with Part 6 – Meal Preps. I’ll show you how our family uses the freezer to store meal preparation items – such as cooked ground beef – to short-cut the cooking process for meals in a flash.


Sandi said...

Thank you! These recipes look so easy. I am waiting for deep freezes to go on sale so we can put one in our garage and stock up when food is priced low.

gretchen jxn, ms said...

thanks. i am definitely going to make the enchilada dish! warm hearty dishes are just what we are craving now that some cold weather has set in.