Wednesday, May 9, 2012

4 Week Meal Plan- Freezer Meals

Last week and this week mark my first expedition into the world of the magical 4 week meal plan... I usually only plan for 2 weeks, but my loving husband asked that I attempt the whole month in an attempt to thwart us eating out when I'm tired (and we've been doing that more than I'd like to admit.)  We usually eat out for pretty cheap, but the reality is that no matter where you're eating out, you can never eat out for as cheaply as you can make it at home, and it will always be healthier to eat at home.

I love to cook. It makes me sad that this pregnancy has basically left me exhausted (well, this pregnancy coupled with keeping up with a 6 month old who has no problem with being the princess and demanding all of my free time.) It makes me sad because I know that there is nothing more satisfying for me than being in the kitchen.

So... I'm getting back into it, and purposely planned a lot of freezer crock pot meals so that all I have to do is pull out a gallon ziplock from the fridge the night before I need it and plop it into the crock pot the next morning.   We haven't had our shopping trip yet (we don't get paid until tomorrow) but I'm hoping that the tips I've found online to help economize will make things cheaper...and the beauty is that except for a run for milk and possibly cereal here and there, all our shopping will be done for the month...which means we will save money because we won't be running to the store for random things at random times.

I made it a point to plan 1 vegetarian meal for each week. Obviously, if you're not eating meat, you're not paying for it.  To be honest, these are the nights I'm most excited for. I'm back on a veggie kick (likely pregnancy cravings, but I will be honest and say that I go through periods where I just don't crave meat at fact, the summer before I married Jeff, with the exception of a few meals I was completely a vegetarian- not for any social reasons, just because I really didn't want meat. The honest to goodness truth- I will eat a really good black bean burger over a hamburger any day)

I also used a lot of "cheaper" meats like chicken (which is around $2.28 a pound at the grocery store we usually shop at, but, as always, I will be checking ads to see if its on sale cheaper somewhere else) and ground beef.  

I'm going to go ahead and post the 4 weeks of meals, but for right now, I'm only going to post how to put together the freezer meals (as I spent the majority of the afternoon planning my prep day and took the time to write them all out....) I will post the other recipes as we use them if they're any good...mostly because when I cook I always find something I want to tweak or some way I want to change the recipe to make my tastebuds happy.... are 4 weeks worth of meals (I plan on mixing it up...I tried to vary what we were eating in this particular list, but let's face it, sometimes you just aren't in the mood for what was planned for that particular evening.) I will put an asterisk next to the freezer meals that I am posting the recipes for.

1. Crock Pot Chicken and Wild Rice *
2. Skillet Garlic Meatball Dinner
3. Parmesan Dijon Chicken
4. Spaghetti Squash and Vegetable Marinara
5. Texas Goulash
6. Ham and Ranch Potatoes (a crock pot meal, but as potatoes don't really freeze well, it will be prepped day of.)
7. Honey Catalina Chicken *

1. Penne Pasta Zuppa *
2. Country Bean Casserole
3. Crock Pot Philly Cheesesteak *
4. Chicken Pesto Pasta
5. Skillet Shepherds Pie
6. Cream Cheese Stroganoff *
7. Bacon, Chicken, and Cheese Quesadillas

1. Slow Cooker 7 Up Chicken and Rice *
2. Baked Ranch Chicken
3. Crock Pot Stuffed Peppers *
4. Crock Pot Ratatouille *
5. Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo
6. Slow Cooker Meat Loaf *
7. Chicken Cacciatore *

1. Crock Pot Sloppy Joes *
2. Basil Chicken *
3. Swiss Steak with Onion and Mushroom *
4. Calzones
5. Bacon Stuffed Hamburger Patties
6. Teriyaki Chicken *
7. Crock Pot Lemon Chicken *

Freezer Recipes:  Just take it out the night before so it will be thawed enough to go in the crock pot. (Bear in mind that these are adjusted for 2 people; however, many of them would serve 4 with a single serving or 2 adults and some small children. :)  Adjust accordingly.) 

Chicken Recipes:

Crock Pot Chicken and Rice- Mix 1 can cream of chicken soup with 1 package of onion soup mix, 1/2 TBS of Parsley, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper. Pour over 2 diced boneless skinless chicken breasts in a Gallon freezer bag. Label should say: Place 1 small box wild rice mix in bottom of crock pot,  and pour  contents over the top. Cook on Low 8 hours 

Honey Catalina Chicken- Pour 1/2 bottle of Honey Catalina dressing over 2 chicken breasts in a gallon freezer bag. Label: Cook on Low 8 hours

7 up Chicken and Rice- Mix one 12 oz can of 7 up (or generic knock off....)with 1 can cream of chicken soup. Pour over 2 diced chicken breasts  in a bag.  Label: Cook 3 hours on low, add 1 cup rice and 1/4 cup chicken broth. Cook 3-4 more hours on low.

Chicken Cacciatore- 1/2 onion sliced, 3/4 c baby carrots, 4 mushrooms quartered, 2 chicken breasts diced, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1 pint of spaghetti sauce. Label: Cook on low 4-6 hours

Basil Garlic Chicken- 2 chicken breasts, 1 c baby carrots, 3 stalks celery diced, 1 onion sliced.  Label: Place 3-4 chopped red potatoes in the bottom of crock pot. Add contents of pack and 3/4 c chicken broth mixed with 1 tsp Garlic powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1 TBS basil. Cook on Low 8 hours.

Teriyaki Chicken- Mix 1/4 c soy sauce, 1 c water, 1/2 tsp ginger, 3 TBS Brown Sugar, 1 clove garlic chopped or minced, and 1 TBS cornstarch mixed in 1/4 c cold water. Set aside. Put 2 diced chicken breasts, 1 c baby carrots, 1/2 onion sliced, 2 chopped cloves of garlic, and 1 can of pineapple undrained into a bag. Pour sauce mix over the top.  Label: Cook on Low 8 hours, serve over rice

Crock Pot Lemon Chicken-  Mix 1/4 c Dijon Mustard, 1/2 c lemon juice, and 1/2 c chicken broth. Pour over 1 onion sliced, 3 cloves garlic chopped, 2 chicken breasts diced in a gallon bag.  Label: Cook on Low 8 hours, add 1/3 c half and half in the last half hour of cooking. Serve over noodles or rice.

Beef Freezer Meals: ( Some of these couldn't be adjusted for 2 people, so they will easily serve a family of 4-6 -or more- comfortably) 

Philly Cheesesteak- 2 steaks sliced thin, 1 onion sliced, 1 bell pepper sliced. Label: Add  1 TBS butter, 1/2 c Beef Stock mixed with 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1 TBS garlic powder. Cook on Low 6-8 hours. Serve over hoagie or Kaiser Rolls with provolone (or desired) cheese and mayo/miracle whip.

Cream Cheese Stroganoff- Cube 2 steaks, add 1/2 onion chopped, and 8 oz of cream cheese cubed. Mix 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 2 TBS worcestershire sauce, 1/4 c beef broth, and 1/4 tsp garlic salt. Pour over steak and onions in the bag.  Label: Cook on Low 6-8 hours.

Stuffed Peppers- Combine 1lbs raw ground beef with 1 cup rice, 1/2 onion chopped, 1 carrot shredded, 1/2 tsp salt, 1tsp worcestershire, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 can tomato sauce. This will stuff 6 peppers; however, if you don't need 6, you can stuff the number you want and store the rest. Stuff them 2/3 full so the rice will have room to expand.  Label: Top with 1 can tomato sauce. Cook on Low 6-8 hours.

Meatloaf- Combine 1 lbs raw ground beef with 1 egg, 1/2 c breadcrumbs, 8 oz tomato sauce, 3 TBS onion chopped, 3 TBS bell pepper chopped, 3 TBS celery chopped, 2 TBS seasoned salt,  3 tsp parsley.  Label: place in a greased crock pot shaped in loaf, not allowing it to touch the sides. Top with mixture of  1/2 c ketchup, 4 TBS Brown Sugar, 4 TBS vinegar, 1 TBS mustard powder.  Cook on high 1 hour then move to low for 6-8 hours.

Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes- Mix 1 lbs raw ground beef with 1/2 onion chopped, 2-3 stalks celery diced, 1/2 bell pepper diced, 1 can tomato sauce, 1/4 c ketchup, 1/4 c barbecue sauce, 1 TBS brown sugar, 1 tsp dry mustard, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 TBS worcestershire sauce, 1 TBS vinegar. Label: pour into greased crock pot, cook on low 4-6 hours stirring as needed to keep ingredients mixed.

Swiss Steak- 2 steaks, 4 mushrooms quartered, 1 onion sliced. Mix 3/4 c beef broth with 1 and 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/4 c apple juice, 2 TBS parsley.  Label: Cook 8-10 hours on low. Add 1/4 c half and half mixed with 1 TBS corn starch  20 minutes before end and stir in to thicken juices.

Vegetarian Freezer Meals:
Penne Pasta Zuppa- 1 can white beans or kidney beans, 2 diced yellow squash, 2 tomatoes diced, 1 onion diced, 3/4 c carrots diced, 1/2 bag frozen green beans, 2 cloves garlic chopped. Label: Add 4 c. chicken or beef broth mixed with 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper.  Cook 2 hours on high, then 6 hours on low. Add pasta and more water if necessary to cover during the last 30 minutes of cooking time or until pasta is tender.  Serve sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

Ratatouille- 1/2 onion chopped, 2 cloves garlic chopped, 1 small eggplant diced, 1/2 red pepper diced, 1/2 green pepper diced, 1 zuchinni diced, 1 small can tomato paste, 1 can chick peas, 1 can diced tomatoes undrained, 1 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper.  Label: Cook on Low 4-6 hours, serve over rice

Happy Eating! :)



Julie Harward said...

Holy crap! I'm so excited to try these! We (ok, ok, I) have had a tough time wanting to eat out all the time during this pregnancy as well. I am definitely giving these a try. Thanks for all the hard work that goes into preparing this!

Anonymous said...

This is a little off topic but my name is brittany too! And your recipes seem delicious.