Saturday, February 12, 2011

Home Cooked Meals on a Busy Schedule

I have been lucky over the past 18 months to be able to stay home with our son while I go to school and take mostly online classes. This semester is my last of graduate school and I am away from the house so much more. For the first few weeks I struggled to find a balance between being gone and being too tired to cook. A friend gave me a great idea to start cooking several meals on the days I was home or on the weekends and then freezing them.Most of the time my menu consists of casseroles or soups, but I fix most anything that will freeze well. Here are just a few of the items I have done over the last few weeks.Poppy Seed Chicken, Vegetable Soup, Chili, Roast, Tacos, Mexican Chicken, Pulled Pork BBQ, Chicken Pot Pie, Lasagna, Barbecue Pork Chops and a layered pasta dish.

For the casseroles and soups you can put them together to freeze ahead of time. For the things like tacos and spaghetti it is better to make the filling or sauce, freeze that and then put it all together the night you are making it. Also, when I make chicken pot pie I freeze the filling and crusts separately. It is the same with the lasagna sauce and cottage/ricotta cheese mixture.

Stew that freezes well

Chicken Pot Pie Filling that has been frozen

For some of these things it is a little more work on the night of than others, but some things can just be popped into the oven and they are ready to go. You can always add a vegetable and bread to a dish to make it complete. It seemed like an exhausting task when I first decided to do this. I came to find out that it only took an hour or two on a free day and I could have meals for the rest of the week. I can cook all my chicken or hamburger meat together, and if I am making two or more Italian dishes I can make one pot of sauce and divide it out. A large pot of chili and vegetable soup easily makes enough for three meals for our family of three. I freeze everything in ziplock bags or plastic containers. You just have to figure out what works for the space you have available.

One thing I was the most worried about was having the meals become redundant. It took a few weeks, but I have several meals in our deep freeze that we will be eating in three or four weeks. Things that make a lot, like the soups can be stored for a few months and eaten down the road. I also found that I spend less on groceries when I have all the meals made because I am less likely to "run to the store" to grab extras. Also, I am not away from the house every day so it allows me to cook some things that aren't as easily frozen, but if you don't have that luxury, most meals can be altered in a way so that they freeze nicely.

What are some ways you have found to be busy and still cook great meals?

Amanda is a wife and mom of one. She is currently a candidate for a Master’s Degree in Family and Consumer Science at the University of Central Arkansas. She enjoys being a wife and mother, cooking and photography. She and her husband both love spending time with their son Jackson who is 18 months old and full of life. Another hobby she enjoys is blogging and feels that it is such a good way to connect with others and be creative. You can read more about her life at her blog,

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