Benefits of meal planning
- shop with purpose
- saves time, money and gas
- be prepared for busy evenings
- put something in the crock pot instead of grabbing fast food
How to plan meals
- make a list of all the meals you know
- think of consistent schedule factors
- will your family eat leftovers?
- recommended: Meal Plan 101 series on Good Cheap Eats blog
- if you need inspiration, set up theme nights every week
Benefits of freezer cooking
- for when you don’t have time to cook, if mom gets sick, before a baby
- healthier than pre-packaged frozen dinners
- ministry: baby, surgery, illness, divorce
Ways to cook for the freezer
- individual ingredients: beans, stock, grilled or shredded chicken, peppers
- ready-to-cook foods: marinaded chicken, crock pot meals with raw items (thaw night before then throw in), cookie dough (flash freeze individual balls)
- fully cooked meals: meatball, casseroles, soups, muffins
How to get the cooking done
- with a friend – social and productive
- exchange – designate nights of the week for fresh meals or trade freezer meals
- cooking day – do several at once
- double dinner – make more of what you’re already cooking and stash it in the freezer
Rules of freezer cooking
- storage: air tight container, freezer bags, disposable pans
- chill food completely before freezing
- label: what, reheat/cooking instructions, date (2-3 months in regular freezer, 6 months in deep freeze)
- flash freezing: berries, cookie dough, tacos, jalapeños
Cooking with kids
- encourage eating
- learning time
- follow instructions
- eating veggies
Age-appropriate tasks in the kitchen for preschoolers
- one: put muffin papers in tins, dump ingredients in bowl
- two: put toppings on pizza, mix, cut soft things, count as you measure, beat eggs, knead dough, scrub potatoes
- three: fetch ingredients, assemble dinner
- four: chop, make sandwiches, thumbprint cookies
Chicken Verde Soup
- 4 cups cooked, chopped chicken (1 rotisserie chicken)
- 3 cans great northern beans
- 1 carton (32 oz) chicken stock
- 1 jar verde salsa (recommend Herdez or Trader Joe’s brands)
- 2 Tbs cumin
Combine all ingredients in soup pot and heat to simmer. Serve with cheese, crushed tortilla chips and/or sour cream to garnish.
- Scrambled eggs
- Other pre-cooked fillings: ham, potatoes, bacon, sausage
Combine eggs, salsa, cheese and optional extras. Fill tortilla and roll, then place seam-side down on cookie sheet. To flash freeze, place cookie sheet in freezer for about an hour. When tacos are frozen, remove and wrap individually in foil then store in freezer. To serve, remove foil, wrap in paper towel and heat in microwave, about 2 minutes.
Creamy Chicken Pockets
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 20 oz chopped up cooked chicken (or 2 10 oz canned chicken)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 T melted butter
- 2 T bread crumbs
- 2 8 oz cans crescent rolls
Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Open and drain canned chicken if using canned chicken.
Blend cream cheese, salt, and pepper, and chicken and mix well.
Separate each can of crescent rolls into 4 rectangles (pat severed part together).
Put a large spoonful of chicken mixture into each rectangle of dough.
Pull 4 corners of dough to top of center of chicken mixture.
Twist points to seal. Brush top with melted butter, sprinkle with sesame seeds or bread crumbs.
Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until brown and toasted on top.
- 3 cans of beans, any variety or combination
- 1 can pumpkin
- 1 jar salsa
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 2 Tbs. chili powder
- 1 Tbs. cumin
Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 8 hours.