Food I Keep in My Fridge and Freezer to Make the School Year Easier

Simple as some of the items on the following lists are, I thought it was worth sharing the basic food I keep in my fridge and freezer to make the school year easier.

Food I Keep in my Fridge and Freezer to Make Meals During the School Year Easier

Some of these require work (as in, I actually have to mix something or cook something). But many of these only require that I purchase them and sock them away to use as needed. Either way, having these foods ready to grab at all times (if possible!) means I can relax more when feeding my family during busy school days.

If you haven’t already downloaded our free Master Lunch, Breakfast, and Snack Ideas and Recipes Lists, go grab those here. Those lists are helping keep my planning to a minimum!

Master List of 100 Simple Snack Ideas

And now, the big list of food I like to keep on hand to make many of those lunches, breakfasts, and snacks!

Food/Ingredients I Keep in my Freezer

Freshly Ground Flour

Here you’ll find all the posts I’ve ever written about grinding grain in a mill. I’ve been grinding all of our flour for almost 12 years now! It’s easy, saves money, and doing this makes our baked goods taste so much better. It’s also great for our health!

If possible, I try to keep a bucket of ground Hard White Wheat (for yeast recipes) and a bucket of Soft White Wheat (for non-yeast muffins and pastries) in my freezer so I can grab it out and bake as needed!

Pastry Flour 3

Pizza Crust

I’ve recently mentioned that I’ve been buying some premade crusts from Azure Standard to keep in the freezer for quick pizza meals. My Homemade Pizza Crust is also freezable. And if you want, you can even make your own Frozen Pizza!

Make Your Own Frozen Pizza

Frozen Cookie Dough 

My boys would say that having cookie dough in the freezer is a necessity for a happy school year. I say this is great to have on hand when people come over last minute so we can bake cookies without making a big mess. Sometimes we mix up cookie dough, roll it into a tube with parchment paper and freeze it until we need it. More often, we scoop the dough onto a baking sheet and freeze the dough balls to make very quick cookies!

How to Make Refrigerator Cookie Dough

july_freezer_cooking_2

Breakfast Cookie Dough Balls

Along the same lines as the cookies I just mentioned, having these Giant Breakfast Cookie Balls in the freezer ready to pull out and bake in the morning is a huge time saver! I used to bake a double batch and freeze them as a ready-to-eat breakfast. But we’ve since learned that it’s fun to pull out a few frozen dough balls and bake them fresh as needed. It doesn’t get much better than a fresh-from-the-oven Breakfast Cookie with coffee in the morning!

Breakfast Cookies for the Freezer

Cooked Bacon

Pre-cooking bacon to store in the freezer has been awesome! I pull out a few slices to cook for each person a couple times a week, and I can have it on the table in about thirty seconds. I love this time-saving method!

how-to-cook-bacon-in-the-oven-and-freeze-it-for-quick-reheating

Hashbrowns

If I have time, the boys and I make hashbrowns to keep in the freezer. This task hasn’t been making it onto our to-do list lately though, so I was glad to find the Mr. Dell’s brand of frozen hashbrowns at our local Walmart, which contains one ingredient: Potatoes. I love having these in the freezer so I can throw together Egg and Cheese Hashbrown Waffles, Bacon Ranch Hashbrown Casserole, and Simple Hashbrown Casserole. Oh yeah. And hashbrowns. :)

hashbrowns3sm

Ground Beef

I feel like as long as we have hamburger meat in the freezer, we will never go hungry. There are so many meals a person can make with ground beef! And now that I’ve learned how to cook frozen hamburger in bulk in my Instant Pot, life just got even easier! :)

instant pot hamburger8

Boneless Chicken Thighs

Almost as versatile as hamburger meat is boneless chicken pieces! I have learned to love boneless thighs much more than boneless breasts, and as it turns out, thighs always cost less per pound! I watch for the natural brand at my store to be marked down, buy all I can, and throw them into my freezer to use in all our Simple Recipes!

ranch chicken salad1

Homemade Poptarts

No one will starve if we don’t have poptarts in our freezer, but these sure do make a fantastic and fun breakfast. My favorite way to make these is to put together a double batch but leave them unbaked in the freezer. Then I pull them out and bake just a few at a time so we can eat them hot. They are the best! I made a bunch of these before school started this year, and they’ve made mornings just a little bit simpler. :)

homemade-poptarts-for-the-freezer

Muffin Batter

This little tip is fantastic to fill your mornings with freshly baked muffins without having to get out a mixing bowl. I love having several different kinds of muffin batter in my freezer, pulling out a few of each, and baking up an assortment without going to any trouble!

Freeze Your Muffin Batter 3

Frozen Veggies

I have big bag of frozen peas and frozen green beans in my freezer at all times. This way, even if I haven’t made it to the store to restock our fresh veggies, we always have something green to serve with our meals. These steam up quickly, and I always add a good fat to them, which makes them healthier and tastier!

grilled chicken3

Frozen Fruit

If I have peaches, strawberries, blueberries, and/or pineapple in the freezer, I can make smoothies, slushies, or fruit cobblers very quickly. Typically I stock up on these during the summer because they are less expensive when then are in season. I don’t always buy them pre-frozen. I often buy them fresh and freeze them myself if they are a better price this way!

pineapple_mango_smoothie

Butter

But, of course. For all of the delicious, buttery reasons, I keep butter in my freezer at all times. Beef and butter, beef and butter…

beef_and_butter

Food I Keep in my Fridge

Shredded Cheese

I buy 4-pound chunks of Colby jack cheese, and sometimes mozzarella too. I have my boys shred it by running it through our food processor, which makes the job super fast! We store the shredded cheese in pyrex bowls with lids in our fridge and pull it out to use in any casserole, quesadilla, taco, scrambled egg, or anything else which calls for shredded cheese. This is, for sure, a refrigerator staple.

grating cheese2

grating cheese3

Mixed Greens

I buy a one-pound tub of these mixed greens every week so we can always have salads without any effort! Bonus: At our local Walmart, the organic greens are less expensive than the conventional!

mixed greens

Peanut Butter

I buy 5-pound bags of peanuts from Azure Standard every month and make the entire bag into about 6 pint-sized jars of peanut butter. I figure I might as well make one mess to produce 6 jars of peanut butter to have on hand, instead of making only one or two jars at a time every single week. We go through all 6 jars in a month. This homemade peanut butter is super delicious!

Super Creamy Peanut Butter

Cookie Bites

Having these No-Bake Cookie Bites, in one form or the other, in the fridge is great when any of us need a quick snack with protein and fiber. These are super low in sugar and naturally grain free. Yum, they taste good!

No-Bake Cookie Bites - Easy Recipes!

Fat Bombs

Just like the Cookie Bites, these Fat Bombs provide us with energy from good protein and fat. My husband and I like the Stevia Sweetened Fat Bombs. Our kids prefer the Honey Sweetened Fat Bombs.

fat-bombs-easy-and-delicious

Ranch Dressing

I always have a quart of Homemade Ranch Dressing in the fridge. It’s is our favorite dressing, it is easy to make, and we eat salads almost every day!

Ranch Dressing and Dip Mix

Cold Water for Javita Drinks

We almost always drink Javita coffee and tea hot, but for all of the others, I like to keep a jar of water in the fridge so that at any time, we can mix up whichever drink we need. The boys make a Rush drink for themselves before a workout. Matt drinks Flex before a hard day’s work to help with shoulder pain. All the boys and I drink Defend for an immune system boost. I drink Fiber every day to help with digestion, and surprisingly, it has helped keep me from needing to eat so often!

javita products snapshot2

Eggs

I cringe a little if we start getting low on eggs! We go through several dozen each week when we scramble or fry them for breakfast, and when we are baking. Of course, now that I have an Instant Pot, I’ve been boiling them quickly too.

eggs

Butter

Oh wait. Did I already mention butter in the freezer section of this post? Well, can I help it that I always have a nice supply in both my freezer and my fridge? This ingredient is very necessary. Very. :)

butter

What are your fridge and freezer staples?

Freezer Cooking During the Week of the Chicken

If you had any doubts that this truly was the Week of the Chicken, after this post, you will know for sure and for certain that I have encountered chicken madness at my house. I kind of had a hard time letting go of the fact that the chicken was such a good price at the store. Thus I kind of had a hard time not going back to the store multiple times to buy more chicken. Which means that I kind of had a big chicken party in my kitchen for several days in a row, working up some chicken recipes for the freezer.

In the meantime, we’ve been eating a lot of chicken too. So chicken crazed have I been, that when for lunch one day this week I actually fed my family something with leftover hamburger meat in it, my husband – supportive guy that he is – paused before taking a bite and said, “Wait! It’s the Week of the Chicken! Are you sure we’re allowed to eat beef this week?”

Ha! I love living with comedians.

Speaking of comedy…Why did the chicken cross the road?

I can’t even finish it. That joke is totally over-used and not at all funny. Oh, but my family made this one up a couple of years ago:  What do you get when you cross a brick with a chicken?

Bricken Nuggets!!!!

Okay, I’m done now.  I’m sure I’ve got you all completely worried that I’ve lost my head this week while cooking and prepping pounds and pounds of chicken for the freezer, but truly, you can relax. I’m fine. I promise. And also, I’m out of chicken. It’s all socked away in the freezer. Now I’m planning to move on to asparagus!

Yes, next week will be the Week of the Asparagus.

Except for not really. ;)

Okay…chicken. I’m here to tell you about my Week of the Chicken.

Right after getting back home with my first round of chicken packages, I made loads of Chicken Nuggets. I cooked some up for lunch…

But more importantly, I put together oodles of pre-made chicken nuggets for the freezer. See – here’s my chicken-nugget-assembly-line. I filled cookie sheets with nuggets, froze them, then baggied them up to pull out in the future.

The following isn’t very exciting, but the next day, I cut chicken into bites, cooked it in olive oil, and baggied it up for salads.

Day Three:  Chicken cooked in bbq sauce. That will be great for sandwiches next week.

I grabbed one more round of chicken from the store (about 9 more packages), and put together several pounds of Crunchy Ranch Chicken. This is probably our favorite way to eat chicken. The recipe is not featured here on the site, but it is in the What To Do With the Chicken in Your Kitchen ebook – which can still be purchased for $1.50 if you hurry.

I am now officially ready to chicken out. What I mean is…I’m tired of chicken. I don’t want to look at chicken again for a long time.

Or at least until tomorrow.

Hey, leave a comment on this post for another chance to win one of our Week of the Chicken $10 Heavenly Homemakers Gift Certificates!

Cooking Ahead for November

We had completely eaten our stash of frozen foods, so it feels good to have some healthy convenience foods back in the freezer again! I didn’t get everything made that was on my list, but shucks…I NEVER get everything done that is on my list. 

Can I tell you my biggest tip for making healthy convenience foods for your pantry and freezer? Don’t make freezer cooking difficult.  Just make extra food here and there as you are cooking and working in your kitchen. 

I have found that marathon freezer cooking doesn’t work for me. It wears me out and makes me feel behind in other areas. Instead, when I need to make Whole Wheat Tortillas, I’ll make a double or triple batch and freeze some for later. If I take the time once in a while to make a big bowl of Turkey Sausage and prep it for the freezer, then I’ve got Turkey Sausage ready for the next several weeks. If I am making one casserole, I’ll make three and freeze two. Cooking ahead really doesn’t have to be complicated.  I am always SO thankful for the healthy “go-to” foods in my freezer! 

Here are the extra foods that I’ve worked on during the past several days:

Applesauce Bread (x3)

Whole Wheat Waffles (x2)
We ate one batch for breakfast and I froze the rest. 

Whole Wheat Tortillas (x2)
Yeah, these are almost gone already. :)

Turkey Sausage (x6)
I froze sausage patties on parchment paper lined cookie sheets,
popped them off and put them into freezer bags for fast breakfasts and lunches.

Taco Seasoning, right there in my pantry next to a jar of Ranch Dressing Mix and Italian Dressing Mix
These mixes each take about five minutes to prepare, taste delicious, are SO much healthier and save a lot of money!!

Chicken Fried Steak Strips (x3)
Just like the turkey sausage, I prepped these, froze them on parchment paper lined cookie sheets
and put them into freezer bags for a quick lunch or dinner.

I am happy to report that the homemade, healthy poptarts I experimented with WORKED this time!!
I am sad to report that we ate them all already.
I am happy to report that I have the recipe written down and will type it out and share the EASY way to make these during the next week or two!!

Here are the items on my list that I just didn’t get around to making yet. Hopefully I will in the next few days…

  • Mini Apple Pies
  • Bean and Cheese Burritos
  • Whole Wheat Graham Crackers
  • Do you have anything yummy in your freezer, ready to pull out and fix quickly?

    Cooking Ahead for October

    Why does it always feel funny writing the phrase “cooking ahead…”? Have I just lived with boys for too long, or does it sound like I’m actually cooking-a-head? Yuck. I promise I’m not.

    Yes, I know you were all concerned about that.

    Now that we got all that cleared up, I’ll show you some pictures of the progress I’ve made over the past few days getting food made up to have on hand for this month. Like I mentioned here, we will have a lot of company this month. In an effort to ENJOY my company, I’ve got the majority of our main dishes and a few miscellaneous food items all made up and ready to pull out when needed. (More about hospitality and enjoying company in my new podcast Friday!)

    You are all aware that my house has been run over by an apple truck, right? About the time I think I’m finished making applesauce and apple pie filling…more apples fall from the sky. My fingers are all brown in their crevices. It’s attractive.  I went real nuts one day and made two pans of Mini Apple Pies, a big apple pie and some Apple Pie Pockets. Oh, these are SO well worth the effort!!

    I made a triple batch of Sloppy Joe Meat as Sloppy Joes are a wonderful quick meal to feed company. As long as I remember to get the dish out of the freezer to thaw, of course.

    Mmmm, fresh whole wheat tortillas. We ate half of these right off the skillet as tacos, then I put the rest in the fridge for a quick meal of quesadillas.

    There is something VERY not cute about the following picture. Raw meat in a pot…not so appetizing. However, I’m showing it to you anyway because you NEED to know how wonderful it is to make up a huge batch of Turkey Sausage to have on hand for breakfast casseroles or sausage-egg scrambles, or especially now for these Pancake-Sausage Muffins. The thing is, making this Turkey Sausage is a little tedious because you have to get out about 40 herbs and spices (give or take). If I’m going to do it in the first place, I’d rather do a bunch…and all the work of emptying and reloading my spice cabinet is worth it.

    There it is…all browned up. I did six pounds of Turkey Sausage, then froze it in ten different containers. TEN meals ALL ready to go. Oh yes, that was time well spent.

    I used some of the cooked turkey sausage to make a double batch of Pancake-Sausage Muffins. I think we may be addicted to these little treasures. Only a few of them actually made it into the freezer…

    I plan to serve several salads to my guests, so I made three jars of salad dressing:  Italian, Ranch and Thousand Island. Can I have three cheers for easy, healthy dressings that don’t contain any HFCS!!! But hey…what happened to all the  Italian?

    Because having cookies on hand when you have company is a must…or simply because I wanted one…I made a batch of Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies.

    I still have to finish putting together a lasagna. I have the meat browned, so all I have to do is layer it up and put it in the fridge. And I didn’t get Mudballs made like I had planned. I DID get a triple batch of BBQ Meatballs made, but the pictures turned out scary so I won’t post them.

    Now, I need to go vacuum my ceilings and walls.

    I wish I was kidding.

    Too Tired to Cook

    When I wrote this post suggesting that you eat out less as a simple step toward becoming more healthy, several of you asked, “So what do you do when you’re just too tired to cook?”

    Well, thankfully I never get tired so this isn’t an issue at our house.

    Just kidding.

    I adore cooking and consider it to be one of my favorite hobbies, but there are several times a week (whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner) that I really don’t feel like cooking. Or I don’t feel like messing up the kitchen. Or the kitchen is already messy and I don’t feel like cleaning it and then making it messy again. Or I’ve been in the kitchen all day making tomato sauce or salsa or applesauce, which makes me feel like I’ve been cooking but there’s still nothing for dinner…and I’m tired.

    Then my pitiful, starving children crawl into the kitchen clutching their empty bellies because it’s been like 28 minutes since they last put food in their mouths and they must…have…dinner…

    This is when I am so thankful that I have taken the time to prepare food ahead of time and put it in the freezer.

    So in answer to your questions about what I do when I don’t feel like cooking:  I make good use of the food I’ve prepared ahead of time and put in the freezer. Healthy freezer foods are a life saver for me. I HEART freezer foods!!!

    Now, some foods take longer to re-heat from a frozen state (like a lasagna casserole)…so hopefully I am aware ahead of time that I need to grab something pre-made out of the freezer for a meal. (A frozen lasagna casserole takes a good two hours (+) to thaw and cook.)  Otherwise, many items just go directly to the oven in their frozen state, taking just a few minutes to reheat (like these burritos).

    I encourage you to look through all the posts in my Make Ahead Meals series for ideas, recipes and suggestions for freezer cooking. It isn’t hard to spend a few hours each month making extra food and putting it into the freezer. Just do a little bit every few days until you have a nice freezer stash. You will be so thankful you did! The few hours you spend cooking ahead will save you many hours later. Plus it will save you a load of money and help you eat healthier too!

    Here are the foods I’ve been making recently to have on hand:

    freezer_cooking_sept

    Banana Bread and Banana Muffins (Yes, that is tomato sauce in the background. 
    It’s always good to bake something while you’re in the kitchen waiting for tomato sauce to cook down.)

    freezer_cooking_sept_2

    Sloppy Cornbread Muffins – these can be warmed in the oven
    from their frozen state and ready in just a few minutes!

    freezer_cooking_3

    Two loaves of honey whole wheat bread and two loaves of
    cinnamon swirl bread. We discovered the other day that the
    cinnamon swirl bread makes wonderful french toast for breakfast!

    freezer_cooking_4

    Hamburger buns…and YES, I figured out how to make hotdog buns. 
    SO EASY! I’ll share the “how-to” soon!

    yogurt

    Yogurt – okay it’s not a freezer food –
    but I’m so happy to have a big half gallon jar of yogurt on hand for snacks or for soaking grains.

    chewy_granola_bars

    Chewy Granola Bars – also not a freezer food.  
    I made a triple batch of these so now we have a huge supply in the
    fridge ready for Matt or the boys to grab on the run!

    granola_bars_2

     I individually wrapped the granola bars and put them in a cute basket in the fridge.
      The men in my life don’t so much appreciate my cute basket, but you appreciate it don’t you? 
    They do appreciate the contents of the basket, of course.

    chicken_broth_14

    You already know that I had a big chicken party and made four huge containers of chicken broth

    chicken_broth_10

    And ten containers of cooked chicken.

    homemade_noodles_14

    I made and dehydrated a double batch of homemade noodles
    to go with that chicken and broth – perfect for these chilly fall evenings!

    homemade_poptarts

    Last but not least, I tried an idea I’ve been thinking about for a while – homemade poptarts!! They turned out so-so (read:  tasty but really sticky and messy), so I’ll be tweaking the recipe before I share it with you. But you can look forward to it coming sometime!

    A few other fall back meals I rely on when I don’t feel like cooking:

    • Salmon Patties with vegetables
    • Quesadillas (if I have tortillas on hand)
    • Pancakes and scrambled eggs (using this pancake recipe – skipping the soaking part)
    • Hamburger patties with vegetables
    • Fried eggs on toast with smoothies

    What meals do you make when you don’t feel like cooking, but you want to avoid eating out? Have you found that having frozen, premade meals in the freezer has been helpful to you?

    Cooking Ahead for August

    It’s coming…and I’m bracing myself. I’ve been doing everything I can to prepare and be organized so that I won’t be stressed and short tempered with my boys. Not that I would ever be short tempered with my boys. Ugh, I do try not to be short tempered with my precious angels who leave their stinky shoes in the middle of my kitchen floor so that I can stub my toe on them while I’m trying to cook and fill their constantly hungry bellies. I try.

    So what’s coming, you ask?  Just a very busy couple of months, that’s all. August and September are two months of very,very hard work while I do a lot of canning and preserving in the midst of beginning our school year and running to lots of soccer games. I absolutely love this time of year, but it can sometimes get hectic.

    As soon as I finished writing and putting together Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve Curriculum Kit, I saw that I had about three weeks before we were going to start our school year. (We like to start in early August at our house.)  I decided that during the last part of July, I would prepare a bunch of freezer foods, stock up on items like canned salmon and tuna for easy meals and order meat from our local farm source so that I’d have a full freezer and plenty of meal options. I even pulled out Do the Funky Kitchen and read it again so that I could get my kitchen organized an in order! Anything that I could do ahead of time to prepare for this busy season, I did. I think. I’m pretty sure I forgot a few things.

    Anyway, my pantry and freezers are well stocked so that putting meals on the table during the next few weeks will be easy and quick. I am excited now to begin a new school year with the boys! (More details on our school year coming soon.)

    Here are some pictures of the food I prepared and froze during the last part of July:

    strawberry_bread

    Strawberry Bread – Pictured above is the unbaked version. Isn’t it a pretty pink?!

    mini_pizzas

    Mini Pizzas, using this Pizza Pockets recipe…
    I’ll be able to just pop a few of these into our toaster oven to bake up while we finish our morning school-work.

    freezer_cooking_august

    Whole Wheat Waffles – ready to be re-heated in our toaster oven for a quick breakfast or dinner.

    freezer_cooking_august_3

    Whole Wheat Sourdough Biscuits – I may use these for turkey/cheese melts…or I may grab some turkey sausage I have pre-made in the freezer to make some quick gravy to pour over them. NOBODY would complain if I made biscuits and gravy. :)

    freezer_cooking_august_4

    Sloppy Joes and Meat and Cheese Burritos

    freezer_food_august

    Whole Wheat and Honey Zucchini Bread

    In addition, I’ve got these items stashed in my freezer:

    I also started a new gallon sized batch of Homemade Vanilla, which as you can see, will be finished “extracting” in January! I didn’t get “carded” this time when I was buying my gallon of vodka. Sniff.  Do you think that means I look older than 21 now? ;)

    freezer_cooking_august_2

    Call me a nerd (go ahead – you know you want to), but I purchased a whole bunch of canning lids and put all of my canning supplies into a basket and put the basket on top of my fridge. That way, I know where everything is and I have it all ready to go each time I’m ready to can a new batch of something. I may be one of the only people who think that canning supplies in a basket is…cute.

    canning_supplies

    Okay, so food (lots and lots of food)? Check.  Schoolbooks? Check. Canning supplies? Check.

    Oh good grief…where are the soccer cleats?

    I knew I forgot something.

    How I Freeze Food

    I’ve had many requests to show you how I freeze food. Silly me. I tell you all about what foods I make and freeze. Perhaps I could also tell you how I freeze the food. That would be nice of me wouldn’t it?!

    I use these basic supplies:

    how_to_freeze

    how_to_freeze_two

    • Jars
      Are you surprised? Don’t I use jars for everything? Just be sure if you freeze food in jars, you only fill it 3/4 full, or it will expand in the freezer and crack the jar. Also, be sure the food in the jar has completely cooled before you put them into the freezer. Cracked jars are sad.  :(My favorite jars to use are wide mouth quart jars (for cooked rice and beans and hamburger meat) and half gallon jars (for broth and soup).
    • Seal-a-Meal

      One last thing I’ll tell you about is something I use A LOT this time of year while I’m freezing produce. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine bought me a Seal-a-Meal. I LOVE this thing. With the volume of strawberries, peaches, corn and green beans I freeze each year (usually a year’s supply of each), this Seal-a-Meal has been a wonderful way to make my freezer food last longer (cuts way down on freezer burn). Plus it is a HUGE space saver!! The Seal-a-Meal sucks all the air out of the bag so that I can get WAY more food in my freezer than I used to be able to when I just froze the food in freezer bags. 

    green_beans_seal_a_meal

     See how the air is all sucked out of the bags!?! So cool!! 
    I’ll try to do a video tutorial of this process sometime!

    I think that if you just do a small amount of freezing foods…a small hand-held vacuum sealer is a great option. (I think Ziplock has a $5 variety at Walmart!)  But if you do a large amount of freezer preserving like I do a Seal-a-Meal is the way to go! By the way, I buy rolls of bags and cut them to the size I need them. They are a bit pricey (again, worth it to me since I am able to freeze SO much food and keep it good in my freezer this way). Lately I’ve been using my Swagbuck earned Amazon cards to buy big rolls of bags!

    Hopefully, I have now answered many of your freezing questions…but did I forget anything?!

    Food I plan to freeze this month:

  • Soft Pretzels
  • Giant Breakfast Cookies
  • Lasagna Casserole
  • Bean and Cheese Burritos
  • Popcorn Chicken
  • Turkey Sausage
  • Hashbrowns
  • Freezer Cooking for May, Calling for Back-up

    It was bound to happen. With all the soccer games going on, and the musical, and the company, and the soccer games. Sorry, but there have been a LOT of soccer games. Oh, and the pollen count has been sky high.

    Anyway, I got completely worn out. Exhausted. I’m really not sure how I lasted as long as I did actually. When I started losing my voice last week, I thought it was from trying to yell and coach soccer games. But it didn’t take long for me to realize, “Um Laura? You’re sick.” 

    I was finally able to take some time off on Tuesday and rest. And Wednesday. And Thursday. And Friday. Wow, I think I was more exhausted than I thought I was. I’m still not back to 100%. I’m getting there though. I’m focusing on eating nourishing foods (and lots of it), drinking water like crazy, getting a chiropractic adjustment every few days, taking  Congaplex to give my immune system some help (per my Chiropracter’s instruction) and resting. Ah, rest. Where have you been? I’ve missed you so.

    My husband has been a rock star and my boys have been learning from their daddy. They’ve kept the house from falling apart and they’ve done a great job helping to put meals on the table. 

    However, we’ve depleted all of the prepared food in the freezer and the healthy “convenience” foods I normally make to have on hand. We have no tortillas. No bread. No burritos. It’s starting to look scary in the freezer. (Well, we have a lot of frozen meat, but I wanted to give my boys something easier to make for lunch than say, fried chicken.)

    Knowing that I didn’t have the strength yet to pull off a freezer cooking day, but knowing that we HAD to have food on hand that would be simple to prepare…I enlisted the help of the boys on Saturday.

    I can not tell you how proud I am of my boys.

    I started them on these homemade frozen hashbrowns. I figured if we had a bunch of frozen hashbrowns ready to pull out…we could fry them up with some hamburger meat, or with some turkey sausage, or stir them into a breakfast casserole, or fry them and put cheese on top, or scramble them with eggs…

    There are so many possibilities with these hashbrowns. And so, my biggest boys set to work.

    They scrubbed, stabbed and baked TEN pounds of potatoes. All by themselves. I had them just throw the potatoes into my big roasting pan for baking:

    baked_potatoes

    They went and played for a few hours while the potatoes baked, then cooled. Then, they set to work peeling and shredding. All of them. Without my help.

    boys_making_hashbrowns

    There was a bit of a mess on the floor when they were done, but I didn’t care. (Well actually, I made them clean it up.)  Then they put the shredded potatoes into the freezer overnight. 

    hashbrowns_for_freezer

    We bagged them up (and ate some of them) the next day!

    While the big boys were working up the potatoes, Malachi helped me make a double batch of Whole Wheat Waffles. (Don’t worry, I sat down between rounds of pouring batter.)

    waffles_for_freezer

    Now, we can just pop these into our new toaster oven
    and heat them up for a quick and easy breakfast (or dinner).

    Today, I’m hoping the boys can help me make a couple of Pizza Casseroles and some Chewy Granola Bars. We’ll see how far we get though. They’d have to make some Peanut Butter before we can make the Granola Bars, but since making Peanut Butter is so easy (and because the boys like making lots of noise), they should be able to handle it.

    Have I mentioned lately how much I love my family?

    Freezer Cooking Diary of the Week

    I’m gonna just admit to you that I bit off more than I could chew this week (so pardon me while I type with my mouth full).

    This was not a good week for me to try to make extra food. This would have been a good week for me to HAVE extra food in my freezer ready to pull out and warm up quickly. But what did I do? I cooked extra food.  In the midst of running around like a funky chicken taking my kids to soccer and musical practices…putting the final touches on all of our LTC projects…preparing for a short trip…working on costumes…going on a field trip…sorting through spring/summer clothing…and doing school work.

    WHAT was I thinking?

    I think I was thinking that having extra food on hand in the coming weeks will be very handy, and I’m right…it will be very handy. But I’m whipped.

    I am NOT whining. No ma’am. I’m just saying that maybe next time I should make a better judgment call on when I should do extra cooking. 

    And also, I’m letting you know that every single room of my house looks like a bomb went off. There were apparently separate bombs for every room and some bombs were larger than others and had a flying clothing effect.  

    Ah, but at least I have lots of prepared food in my freezer now, eh?

    Here’s a run down of the week:

    Sunday night I started a pan of beans to soak and mixed up a double batch of tortillas to soak overnight.

    Monday morning before schooltime, I started cooking beans and rolling out tortillas. I put together the Bean and Cheese Burritos and got them into the freezer by noon.  I then mixed up a double batch of dough for Homemade Pizza Pockets and Beefy Enchilada Bake to soak. I also made a batch of Homemade Ice Cream for the Ice Cream Experiment. That was it for Monday.

    freezercookingapril1sm

     

    Tuesday was the biggest cooking day as the only extra thing we had going on was one soccer practice.

    I got five pounds of meat cooking before breakfast. Once I got the kids started on their math and other individual work, I mixed up a double batch of Corn Dog Muffins and got those into the oven.

    The meat was then finished browning, so I stirred up three pounds of Sloppy Joes and put them into jars for the freezer. The remaining two pounds of hamburger helped make up two big pans of Beefy Enchilada Bake.

    I then set about putting together Homemade Pizza Pockets and Mini Apple Pies. I had to take a break somewhere in there and feed us all lunch. Everyone was disappointed that we weren’t having pizza pockets and apple pie for lunch. (Ah, but what they didn’t know what that I had secretly stuck a big apple pie in the oven for later!)

    freezer_cooking_april_sm

    Here’s a look at a very adorable five year old, along with the finished
    Beefy Enchilada Bakes, Homemade Pizza Pockets, Corn Dog Muffins and Sloppy Joes.

    freezer_cooking_april_3_sm

    And here’s a closer-up picture of the food…but without the five year old..
    so this picture may not be as fun to look at.

    freezer_cooking_april_2_sm

    Finally, I got the Mini Apple Pies finished and put into the freezer. 
    Those will make a wonderful breakfast some morning soon!

    I finished Tuesday off by mixing up a double batch of Giant Breakfast Cookies to soak for the next day.

    Wednesday I spent the morning baking Giant Breakfast Cookies. While each round of cookies was in the oven baking, I’d go tackle some homework help or spring clothes sorting.

    freezercookingapril3sm

    I took some time to shake up some Ranch  Dressing Mix, Italian Dressing Mixand Taco Seasoning Mix. I LOVE having these mixes ready for when I need to make dressing or dip or tacos or…all the other things I use making these mixes.

    freezercookingapril4sm

    And there you go. I didn’t quite finish everything on my list, but that’s okay! I think we will be using many of these convenience foods next week while we CLEAN UP the war zone that is our house. 

    Has anyone seen my broom?

    March Freezer Cooking Report (aka My Baggies of Food Photo Album)

    Well now, there’s just something so satisfying about seeing a bunch of prepared food in baggies, isn’t there?  Or is it just me?  

    I knocked out everything on my list over the weekend. Would you care to take a look at my baggies of prepared food with me? (What, like I’m actually giving you a choice?)

    Here are 20 Breakfast Burritos frozen, ready and waiting in the freezer for a busy morning…

    breakfastburritos7smI practiced FishMama’s baggie-air-sucking-out technique…very cool!

    And here we have about 80 little Turkey Sausage Patties prepped and waiting to be cooked up for a breakfast or lunch…

    turkeysausagebaggedsm

    And here is a baggie of Whole Wheat Tortillas, waiting in the fridge to be made into Melting Snowflakes  or Tuna Wraps… 

    tortillabaggiesm

    And here are a bunch of Mini Apple Pies in baggies ready to be baked for a special breakfast sometime…

    miniapplepies8sm

    And even though it wasn’t on the list, I had a chance to make a big batch of Whole Wheat Waffles to freeze (and pop in the toaster another day!). Oh look, I put them in a baggie and took a picture for you…

    wafflebaggiesm

    Thank you for nodding and smiling and saying “oh very nice, Laura” and trying to stay awake while looking at my all of my baggies of food.

    I also made a batch of Homemade Peanut Butter and filled up a pint sized jar. Mmmmm! Um, here’s a picture in case you’d like to see it (and because I didn’t want the peanut butter to feel left out)…

    peanutbutterjar

    I think my most favorite part of my food preparation weekend was mixing together six pounds of Turkey Sausage!! When I make this sausage, I have to get twelve herbs and spices out of my cupboard. That’s kind of a lot of effort.  It was WONDERFUL to get out all of those ingredients one time, then make SIX batches of the sausage.

    I saved out one batch of sausage to make the Breakfast Burritos, but made the rest (five pounds worth!) into little frozen sausage patties. I am SO excited to have these convenient little sausage patties in my freezer!

    turkeysausagepattiessmI just froze them on parchment paper lined cookie sheets,
    then put them into two gallon sized freezer bags
    (shown above, because you know you want to go look at the baggies again).

    To cook them, I’ll thaw the desired number of patties on a plate overnight in the fridge, then cook them up at breakfast the next day!

    Wow, who knew 80 little sausage patties and all the other above pictured baggies of food could make me feel such a sense of accomplishment.

    If I feel this great after making food and putting it into baggies…just think how I will feel when I watch my children receive a high school diploma.
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    You’ll find more great monthly cooking tips at Moms in Need of Mercy.