Me, A Mom

3 kids and a dog

Archive for the tag “make ahead”

surviving the busy years…

So here goes I’m not perfect and I definitely don’t fit the “Stepford wife” role not in a million years….

however over the last few years as my kids have gotten older and more involved I have found some ways to make busy days easier   now if you look you can find books about cooking for a month over one weekend and then freezing everything I DON’T GO TO THAT EXTREME However I do try to several times a school year give myself a helping hand by doing the following

–   First Get yourself some meat!

buy about 6- 8 pounds of ground meat usually in the following proportions:

  • 2.5 – 3# ground beef(we prefer ground round or ground sirloin all the other stuff is too high in fat and isn’t worth it)
  • 1 # ground pork
  • 1# ground turkey or chicken breast

mix it all together and season accordingly for this mixture I typically add in

  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper

of course you could add other spices to your tastes my middle doesn’t like seeing onion otherwise I would add chopped onion and garlic then spray 1 -2 meat loaf pans(I buy enough to make 2) and pat in the meat then bake at 350 till internal temp of 165 is reached (yes I just use meat in my loafs usually…sometimes I add bread crumbs but it’s not necessary) (and sometimes I top it with bbq sauce or ketchup before baking) then with whatever ground meat mixture is left(again I make a huge amount) I fry it up in a pan (think dutch oven size) then drain the oil let it cool(for food safety reasons spread it out onto a sheet pan that is sitting on ice packs)(government food safety info on chilling food) then package into recipe size containers(or baggies) I always double bag making sure to get as much air out as possible.  then label with the date the meat was cooked and if necessary how much is the package,

-Next get yourself some pasta

in a large volume pan with a strainer insert (think large stock pot)

  • I bring 8-10 quarts of water to a boil
  • leaving the strainer insert in the pan
  • I add one package of pasta
  • stir it around
  • turn off the heat
  • let it sit for 9 minutes
  • the I drain it
  • rinse in cold water
  • and package into a gallon size ziplock bag
  • then double bag and label it

turn the heat back on and … repeat I sometimes cook up as many as 8 or so boxes of pasta(this works with all types of  pasta from regular wheat to rice pasta) then freeze it!

– make a double batch!

If I am bothering to turn the oven on and using the energy to bake/cook I make double batches or fill up the oven space

  • boneless skinless chicken thighs are inexpensive I buy 6 packages pour on bbq sauce bake till it falls apart and then freeze half
  • beef roasts and tips, I buy 2 or enough for 2 main meals cook it all at once and freeze half
  • when freezing precooked meats its important to portion it out for the recipes you need
  • and get as much air out of around the product as possible
  • freeze in a flat short layer,  it will reheat faster
  • make sure always when reheating to heat to food safe temperatures

check out the governments food safe cooking temp chart if you are unsure   I am also lucky enough to have a small garden I make freezer pickles(they are very refreshing) and last long enough to get us to when cukes are once again growing in the garden! and I have relatives that  freeze and can  jams and jellies, soups and veggies, pickles and fruits   Regardless your situation think about the foods your family likes think about your schedule and know that even having a few extra meals in the fridge can help out if you are suddenly busy or if an emergency strikes and you are not able to cook you’ll have everything you need prepared ahead and if you’re like me and the kids have food allergies package a few meals for individuals that way if they are home with someone not familiar with cooking for allergies you’ll be comfortable knowing there is safe food available! happy cooking… and eating…     t

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