Monday, February 13, 2012

Menu Plan 2/13- 2/19/12

This week is a fairly simple week. I am not making any trips to the grocery store (we just bought a half a side of beef this weekend... yay! Fresh beef!!!!) unless I come across some really good sales that I want to take advantage of. I am planning on making a trip to Target tomorrow since my hubby has a dentist appointment out of town, but other than that, I am just planning on working on my goals for the month ;-) I am also working on my garden plan for the year. I am so ready to get fresh veggies from the garden again. Frozen is good but nothing like fresh from the garden. Plus, I can't stand the so called "fresh" tomatoes from the store so I am feeling a bit tomato deprived (even if I do go through a bunch of cans of tomatoes each week, it is just not the same!)... LOL.

Monday: beef stroganoff
Tuesday: crockpot stew beef
Wednesday: lasagna
Thursday: chicken enchiladas
Friday: pizza soup (still haven't gotten to try this!)
Saturday: turkey burgers & sweet potato fries
Sunday: meatloaf

Have a great week!!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Crockpot Chicken for the Freezer

A lot of the time when chicken goes on sale, it is sold in the family size packages. Because of this, I like to cook the entire package of chicken instead of just dividing the chicken to put it in the freezer so that I can just grab it and put it in whatever we are having for dinner instead of thawing it and cooking it first. So, because I have a very close relationship with my crockpot, I grab it out, put the whole package of chicken in and add one cup of water. Then I put it on low for 4-6 hours and let it do its thing. If I don't have time to cook the chicken right away, I sometimes freeze the whole package then cook it (from frozen) in the crockpot the same way at a later time. Amazingly, it doesn't take any longer to cook it from frozen than it does from thawed and it tastes the same. I don't season my chicken while cooking this way because I prefer to do so when I am using it for whatever I am using it for. But, if you prefer, feel free to season with salt and pepper before placing in the crockpot. You don't get a lot of chicken stock with this method, but I still end up with a little stock (usually around 2 cups. The cup of water "grows" with the juices from the chicken) for the freezer. When I am in need of more stock, I will take the time out to cook my chicken in a stock pot on the stove instead, but truthfully I save enough here and there that I rarely need to do this.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Menu Plan 2/6-2/12/12

My hubby had to have all his teeth pulled last Monday, (the unfortunate aftermath of a battle with Type 1 Diabetes last year that God thankfully brought us through!) so we have been eating mostly soup or soft foods for the past week. It will still be a couple of weeks until he is able to get fitted for dentures and so forth so we will be continuing to eat this way for a bit longer. I am actually really excited (okay, not because he had to have his teeth pulled) because this gives me the opportunity to try out about a gazillion soup recipes that I have saved over the years (we love soup!). Here's what I have planned for the week:
Monday: Free Pizza! (Thanks to Papa John's Coin Toss Event!!!)
Tuesday: Chili's Chicken Enchilada Soup (Very easy and yummy recipe. I don't use Velveeta for this myself, but instead use cheddar cheese)
Wednesday: Shepard's Pie
Thursday: Breakfast for dinner
Friday: Pizza Soup (ok, we did have pizza Monday but I have been wanting to try this recipe for a few weeks)
Saturday: Our Valentine's Day Getaway ;-)
Sunday: Swedish Meatballs

I am going to be making some pancake mix this week for the pantry and I am going to make some of these baked beans as well. I didn't get a chance to get breakfasts done for the freezer this weekend so I am working on this today. I am going to be making some of these breakfast bowls as well as some of the things I posted about last week.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Freezer Cooking: Breakfast

Because mornings can get really hectic, I love having breakfast items that we can grab quickly, heat up, and serve. We do not eat much cereal (I only buy it when there is a really good sale on cereals that I can actually feel good about my kids eating, like Mom's Best. Which, btw, is on sale at King Soopers/City Market for 99 cents when you buy 10 items in the sale. You can sign up for their newsletter and you get a $1 off 2 boxes coupon so that makes it only 50 cents a box). Since I have been working on getting my freezer organized, I have actually found some room for some more breakfast burritos and pancakes, and since February just happens to be "National Hot Breakfast Month" I was totally psyched to find some more freezer friendly breakfast recipes on one of my fave blogs this morning. I am going to work on whipping up a few of these this weekend so that they are ready to go first thing Monday morning ;-) Oh, and on a very happy note, my chickens are finally starting to lay eggs again, somewhat regularly anyway! YAY!!! Just in time for my breakfast mission!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Thinking Outside the Can...

One of the ways that I cut costs on food is by determining the absolute best price for items we buy often, such as tomato sauce, and then I figure out how I can stockpile that item at the best price. A while back, I started buying the big cans of tomato sauce (that cost less than $3 and are organic) at Costco instead of the individual cans. I then take the tomato sauce from the big can, repackage it into freezer bags (2 cups per bag) and then freeze it so that I have individual portions (I get six 2 cup portions) that I can grab when I need it. I usually do not take the time out to thaw the sauce before I need it unless I actually think to do so, but I have found that once I stick it in a pot with the other ingredients, it thaws fairly quickly. If I am using it to make pizza sauce and have forgotten to thaw it, I will do so either in a small pot on the stove or in the microwave. You can also thaw it by placing the bag in cold water for a while.
I also buy most of our produce such as bell peppers and onions at Costco and when I chop up some for a meal, I chop up extra to put in the fridge or freezer for other meals. If I have extra time, I will chop up a big batch in the food processor for the freezer. When there are sales on these items, or if I find them on the discount rack, I will buy extra for the freezer.
For meat, I always buy a bunch of whatever has a really good price and then I repackage it if needed and stick it straight in the freezer (unless I am going to use it for dinner that night or the next night). I do not buy meat every week because I save my money up for the good sales instead. I always have enough meat available in the freezer so if there isn't anything good on sale, I will just use what I already have on hand. I also make sure that I use the older items from my freezer before the new stuff I put in. Throwing out food because I left it in the freezer too long is a very sad thing in my house and I try not to let it happen as much as absolutely possible (yes, I do slip up sometimes and things are forgotten about until it is too late). To save time, I try to cook up extra meat and put half in the meal and half in the freezer (or in a second meal, etc.). For instance, tonight I am trying out this Beef Cabbage Soup recipe (I am using navy beans instead of kidney because that's what I have and I didn't add the sugar. I am planning on tasting it at the end to see if this is necessary or not. May spice this up a bit with some cayenne pepper) and I cooked up the ground meat (I used a 1.25 lb. pkg of turkey instead of a lb. of beef) with the onion and bell pepper. Then I put half (3/4 lb. each) in the recipe and half in a bag for the freezer. This will be great for all sorts of things, from tacos to shepards pie, to soups.
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