Getting Ahead for the Holidays – New and Improved FREEBIE for Simple Meals Members!

You might remember that a couple of years ago I spent the entire month of November detailing how we get ahead for the holidays so that we can (wait for it…) actually enjoy the holidays.

Call me selfish, but I like to actually enjoy eating my turkey instead of sweating over it while guests are walking through my door. And you and I both know I can’t talk and cook at the same time. It’s perfectly ridiculous how bad I am at doing both tasks simultaneously.

Here’s more proof (as if you need any): A few weeks ago a college girl stood in my kitchen with me while I finished preparing the meal I was about to feed a crowd of students. Dreamily, she asked, “So tell me how you and Matt met!” And I was like, “Matt who?”

matt and laura3

Oh, that Matt. I remember now.

I try to be a delightful hostess, I do. And it’s ridiculous how much I love feeding people in my home. But why do people ask such difficult questions like “Where’s your bathroom?” and “Is that your youngest son?” when I am trying to remember if I salted the green beans? I don’t have a PhD. You know who has the answers to your difficult and practically impossible questions? Google. Or better yet, Jesus. Jesus is THE answer. Ask and it shall be given to you. Read your Bibles, people.

So once again, as we head into a Merry Thanksgiving and a Happy Christmas season, I encourage us all to alleviate holiday stress and to give ourselves the best chance at enjoying our wonderful guests by doing everything we can ahead of time. Maybe you are better than I am at synchronized talking and cooking. Even so, we’ll all be blessed to have our creamed whipped and our potatoes mashed and our stuffing stuffed ahead of time.

Getting Ahead for the Holidays

Getting Ahead for the Holidays Cover2

This is an absolutely free resource we’ve created to be new and improved – made available once again for all Simple Meals members! Here are a few of the sample pages in this downloadable packet:

Make Ahead Holiday Sample

And rest assured, we included links so you can access all the recipes and instructions for how to make all of these wonderful holiday dishes ahead of time!

I can think of no better time of year to join Simple Meals. You know why? Because you have turkeys to bake and presents to wrap and carols to sing. This is no time for you to have to figure out what to feed your family on a regular Tuesday or to calculate how much chicken to buy.

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Simple Meals does all your meal planning, grocery listing, and recipe finding for you. The meal ideas are all perfectly simple and fast, and of course, they are family friendly.

Read more details here, and sign up today. You’ll get a complete weekly planning packet every Thursday morning in your inbox. The hard work is done. Simple Meals saves the day, every day of the week, for only $1 a week. Score!

It comes with oodles of freebies, and for this week and next, it will include this one, the Getting Ahead for the Holidays resource packet! (Current members: watch for yours to come in your regular Thursday Planning Packet email!)

Bonus: Now through November 15, get $10 off your first year’s subscription! No coupon code needed. Simply click through to order and the $10 discount will be automatically applied! Offer expires Wednesday, November 15.

Simple Meals Yearly Subscription
Your yearly subscription equips you with a 52 week's worth of meal plans, grocery guide, recipes, and bonus tips, plus you get over $60 worth of bonus eBooks! Your Simple Meals plan will arrive in your inbox each Thursday morning.
Price: $52.00

49 Favorite Breakfast Freezer Foods

Bunches and bunches of our favorite breakfast freezer foods…coming up!

49 Breakfast Freezer Foods

First, some of my favorite breakfast tips (that my family supports 100%):

Biscuits and Gravy Made EasyYum

You know how Biscuits and Gravy is one of those breakfasts you save for special occasions because it takes quite a bit of effort to prepare? What if you could follow these Freezer Biscuit instructions and have Turkey Sausage made ahead of time so you can quickly put together Sausage Gravy while your effortless biscuits are in the oven? Then you can have Biscuits and Gravy on the table within just a few minutes without breaking a sweat. My family loves it when I do this! (More details here.)

Biscuits and Gravy

Breakfast Casserole Made Easy

And Breakfast Casserole. That sounds intense right? Except that it’s not intense when you use this recipe and make it ahead of time.

cinnamon_muffins_with_casserole

Cinnamon Rolls Made Easy

How about Cinnamon Rolls? Well now those are for special occasions. Yes, because of the sugar. But not because of the work. Try these No-Knead Cinnamon Rolls that you can make ahead of time and freeze!

cinnamon_rolls

Muffins Made Easy

We’re all in love with the fact that we can mix up muffin batter and freeze it in muffin cups for easy fresh muffin baking! If you haven’t tried this yet, get all the details here. You will LOVE IT!

Freeze Your Muffin Batter 3

And now, from oatmeal cups to muffins to burritos, here are 49 great, real food recipes that can be made ahead of time and frozen.

49 Favorite Breakfast Freezer Foods

Time Saving Tip: These Ham and Egg Breakfast Bowls are tasty and wonderful, but they only save time if you make a bunch ahead and freeze them to warm up later. If you haven’t made them ahead and want ham and eggs for breakfast, I’d skip the cute bowl making step and just quickly scramble ham, eggs, and cheese together. :)

Easy Ham and Egg Breakfast Bowls

Did you see the 24 Favorite Main Dish Freezer Meals I shared last week?

Coming up during the next few days, I’ve got some great new freezer breakfast food tips!

How to Make Homemade Chicken Patties for Sandwiches (Freezable!)

You want to know one of my favorite convenience foods I miss the most since switching to real food? Processed chicken patties for chicken sandwiches. (Bet you never would have guessed that, since that’s what this post is about.)

chicken patties9

I grew up microwaving Schwan’s chicken patties and slapping them on white buns for a quick meal or snack after a sports practice. They were yummy and easy and while I couldn’t care less about many other processed convenience items (I gave up boxed pizza rolls several years ago and never looked back) – I do miss the taste and handiness of chicken patties.

So why it’s taken me this long to figure out a recipe that resembles the beloved frozen chicken patties, I do not know. But here I am, finally learning a way to make breaded chicken patties for sandwiches. The best news is that you can make these in bulk and freeze them for a fast, convenient, ready-made meal on a busy day.

Homemade Chicken Patties for SandwichesYum

How to Make Homemade Chicken Patties for Sandwiches (Freezable!)
 
Author:
Serves: 15-20 patties
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds ground chicken
  • 4 teaspoons onion powder, divided
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 cups whole grain flour (I used whole wheat, but if you need these to be gluten free, use your favorite flour choice)
  • Palm shortening or oil of choice
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl mix ground chicken, 2 teaspoons onion powder, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, and ½ teaspoon sea salt.
  2. Shape meat mixture into 15-20 patties (make them larger or smaller depending on your family's portion size needs)
  3. Beat eggs into a bowl.
  4. Pour milk into a separate bowl.
  5. In a third bowl, mix flour, 2 teaspoons onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and ½ teaspoon sea salt.
  6. Heat palm shortening or oil on a griddle.
  7. Dip prepared meat patties in egg, then flour mixture, then milk, then flour mixture again.
  8. Place battered chicken patty into oil on the griddle.
  9. Repeat process with each chicken patty.
  10. Cook for 7-10 minutes on each side, mashing down lightly as needed.
  11. Serve right away, or cool and freeze for future use, then rewarm in a 350 degree oven until heated through.

Are you ready to see some ugly chicken patty pictures? This isn’t pretty, friends. Raw meat pressed into patties – well there’s a reason we call stuff like this “processed food.” But take great comfort in the fact that this is all made from real food and wholesome ingredients and ignore the fact that naked ground chicken pressed into a patty really just ain’t purty.

chicken patties2

See the patty breading process? First the egg.

chicken patties3

Then the flour.

chicken patties4

Then the milk.

chicken patties5

Then the flour again.

chicken patties6

Then comes the part where we fry the patties in oil.

chicken patties7

We watch in amazement as they turn into beautiful chicken patties we can’t wait to put on a bun or between two big leaves of lettuce.

chicken patties8
Sure, it’s thicker than the patties we grew up eating. We like it that way. That means there’s double the meat.

Homemade Chicken Patties for Sandwiches - Freezable

One of the biggest perks is that you can form your chicken patties into any size you need for your family. Have small children? Make small patties. Have teenage boys? Make the patties nice and big. Have some big eaters and small eaters? Make a variety.

The biggest win is that if you make a bunch, you’ll have yummy chicken patties ready to warm up for sandwiches on a day you don’t have time to cook!

Did you grow up eating and loving processed chicken sandwiches? 

Getting Ahead for the Holidays ~ My Food Prep Timeline and Checklist

If I think about it too hard, I will realize that prepping for a holiday meal is an enormous amount of work to put into one forty-five minute eating session. Thankfully there will be fellowship, gratitude reflection, and best of all: leftovers. This work is all worth it because of the leftovers. (I mean fellowship. I only do this for the fellowship.)

Getting Ahead for the Holidays means that most of my hard work is complete by Thanksgiving morning. I can simply rewarm food, put together last minute dishes, and enjoy all my people. That’s the point, after all. Enjoying our people. Reveling in all God has given. Totally being thankful for leftovers. (I can’t help it.)

This year, we will be hosting Thanksgiving with some dear friends, gathering as many into our home as can fit (and then some). I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks. I’ve already started cooking. Sharing the Getting Ahead for the Holidays series with you has helped with my own planning – so thank you! This has been fun!

Getting Ahead for the Holidays Food Prep Timeline and Checklist

Below, I’ve outlined my ideal plan for knocking out everything on my to-do list. Will it all happen exactly according to plan? It never does. At least the list helps keep all my thoughts in one place!

One Week Before Thanksgiving

Two Days Before Thanksgiving

One Day Before Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day

  • Enjoy a large cup of steamy coffee in my recliner for a very long time (because I can)
  • Everyone on their own for breakfast (probably cereal)
  • Mix dry ingredients together for Stir-and-Pour Rolls (for easy, no-brainer mixing about an hour before meal time)
  • Set out butter to soften for rolls
  • Plates, silverware, cups, and napkins set out

About 1 1/2 hours before serving time, I will bake or re-heat prepared foods. I will make gravy. I will bake the rolls. I will speak complete sentences and have actual conversations while doing this. I will. (Well, I’ll get back to you on that.)

Here are the quick links to all the recipes we covered in this series:

I would love to hear what all you are planning to prepare ahead this holiday season!

Getting Ahead for the Holidays

Getting Ahead for the Holidays – Join Us!

There is oodles of info out there about how to have a simple season and how to relax and enjoy the holidays. I am all for it. Why go overboard and make life complicated? Pinterest can keep its 14-step recipes and perfect looking hand-crafted gifts. I’ve gotta stick with the basics.

But still. Making a holiday special means that I’m going to do extra work on top of all my normal work. There’s no way around it. No matter how simple I keep our holiday festivities, the cookies don’t bake themselves. Packages don’t arrive if I don’t order them. The turkey stays frozen when not baked. I could go on.

Now, I can keep things simpler if I buy pre-made food and gift packages. Sometimes I do. Sometimes in the name of saving my sanity, I feel that it’s worth the extra money and the gross ingredients (don’t read the label, don’t real the label, what you don’t know can’t hurt you, do not turn that package over!). But overall, I want to save money and put delicious real food on the table. While keeping life simple. Is it even possible?

Thus, we begin a fun two-week series here called:

Getting Ahead for the Holidays

This is the best way I know to keep life simple during the holiday season. If I do everything last minute, I enjoy nothing. But if I do a little each day in advance, prepping food and gifts and decorations – I can actually enjoy myself. What a lovely idea. Food can be put on the table (the good kind) without me standing on my feet for hours at a time. I can save dozens (or maybe even hundreds?) of dollars. Food tastes better. Gifts are more meaningful. I can actually look at the people around me and maybe I can even smile.

Getting ahead saves my holiday. Want to join me?

Getting Ahead for the Holidays Invitation

Most of the posts I’ll share will involve food prep suggestions and recipes. This doesn’t surprise you, I’m sure. Decorating is not my gift. Food though? I  love it! Nothing will be fancy; everything will be tasty. It’s all real food.

Would you like a peek at the menu we’ll be working through?

holiday menu plan

All of this (with the exception of the Stir-and-Pour Dinner Rolls) can be made in advance. Some can be made many days in advance. Some should be made the day before. All of the recipes are simple. I’ll walk you through the entire process of methods I use to make these foods efficiently so I can enjoy time with family and guests!

Make plans to join us here. If you want, subscribe so you won’t miss a post:

Daily Newsletter

Weekly Newsletter

There will be recipes, printables…and I’m thinking there should be prizes. What do you think? Should there be prizes? Yes. Let there be prizes.

Every time you see this banner on a post:

Getting Ahead for the Holidays

Leave a comment on that post.

There will be many posts in the coming days where you’ll spot that banner. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win! What will you win?

How about we give away three $25 Gift Certificates good toward any of our eCourses or downloadable items in the Heavenly Homemakers Shop? Three! Sound good?

Let’s get the comments rolling with this question:

Which of the recipes in the Holiday Menu above are you most excited to see first?

Busy Morning Breakfasts That Can Be Made Ahead of Time

I am so messed up on breakfasts right now. Our second son started taking a college class on MWF and he has to be on campus at 8:00. Color me late to this “get your kids out the door for school on time” game, but well, that’s exactly what I am. We work from home and we’ve home-schooled forever, so getting out the door to church with combed hair on Sundays has been our only morning schedule struggle. On school days, we usually eat while beginning our Bible time and school time in our jammies a few minutes after we wake the kids. Now, if you can possibly imagine, I must actually be dressed and have breakfast on the table by 7:20.

Yes, I’m sure most of you can possibly imagine, and many of you are thinking, “Really, girl? 7:20 am is practically mid-afternoon at our house.” God bless all of you early morning head-out-the-door-to-work-and-school friends. I have some recipes to share with you. We shall all eat well together…at whatever time each of us considers to be early.

Busy Morning Breakfasts That Can Be Made Ahead of Time

Busy Morning Breakfasts That Can Be Made Ahead of Time

My goal this week was to prep breakfast foods and put them into the freezer so that I’ll be perfectly organized and never have to think again. Scratch that. My goal this week is simply to prep some breakfast foods and put them in the freezer. I’ll never be perfectly organized and in typical mom-life fashion, I found myself having to think straight and answer difficult questions like “are my soccer socks clean?” just a few minutes ago.

Here are my favorite breakfast foods to put into the freezer. They save time, money, and brain – my favorite things to save.

1. Hashbrowns and Hashbrown Patties

I’ll be baking a few pounds of potatoes this week to shred and put into the freezer. Fry up some eggs with these, serve with fruit – done. Everyone loves these and thinks you’re wonderful when you make these. It is fun when everyone thinks you’re wonderful.

Homemade Hashbrown Patties

2. Muffin Batter

You knew I would say this one. I can’t help it. Making and freezing muffin batter saves so much time. Not to mention dirty dishes. Deliver me from dirty dishes.

frozen_muffins_3

3. Cooked Turkey Sausage and Prepared Biscuits

I can make biscuits and gravy sooooo fast when I do this. My family is always amazed. Let’s just let them keep thinking that I am incredible to pull this off. Add the above mentioned Hashbrowns to this meal and you can picture my kids breaking into a lively Mom is Our Favorite Person in the Whole World dance (not really).

Freezer Biscuit Tutorial

4. Oatmeal Cups

You wouldn’t think that this would save time, but it truly does. At least it saves brain. That’s worth a whole lot.

frozen oatmeal3

5. Giant Breakfast Cookies

Best thing to pull out of the freezer for breakfast…ever.

breakfast_cookies

6. Pancake Muffins

Yep. My newest favorite. I cannot get over how easy these are.

Easy Pancake Muffins

7. Quick Breads

Find our favorite quick bread recipes here. I usually double or triple a batch. If I allow them to cool completely, then wrap them well before freezing them, quick breads thaw and serve well. It is so very nice to pull a prepared loaf or two out of the freezer to go with breakfast in the morning.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

If you freeze nothing else to save yourself time, brain, and money (while also eating healthy, because you are just that awesome) – make and freeze some of these breakfast foods. It will make your morning routine so much easier. Pick the recipe that looks the easiest to you – then go for it!

What are your favorite breakfast foods to prep ahead? Have any new ideas for me? What time to you eat breakfast at your house?

30 Day Back-to-School Real Food Menu Plan

30-Day Back-to-School Real Food Menu Plan time!
30 Day Real Food Menu Plan

I’m excited to share that I’ve made a list of one entire month’s worth of real food meals – breakfast, lunch, and dinner/supper. Why? Because school is just about to begin (or already did for some of you).

I personally thought it would be valuable to avoid thinking about how to feed the hungry school children since I will, of course, be joyously reading for hours each day with my offspring about the adventures of Lewis and Clark and having fabulous discussions about planets, galaxies, and Ralph Moody. During the times I’m not joyously reading, I will be joyful at a soccer field or in a car dropping or picking up a kid from a music lesson. I will be way too joyful to think about meal planning.

Assuming you also have much joy during the back-to-school season – I thought maybe you’d like this resource too.

Don’t look now, but I’m absolutely not going to stick with these lists entirely. I’ll use it as a reference and guide. This is 30 days worth of real food meals at a quick glance to ease us all back into a school routine. Now that is JOY!

30-Day Back-to-School Real Food Menu Plan

We’ll begin with breakfast, head into lunch (for the homeschoolers among us), then land on dinner/supper. As much as possible, I plan to (or already) have foods prepped ahead and put into the freezer so that all I have to do is pull them out and thaw/cook/serve. Everything else will be easy to put together. Scrambling eggs takes no time at all. Right? Right.

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars 12

30 Real Food Breakfast Ideas (always served with fruit and often served with some sort of additional protein)

  1. Fried eggs on toast
  2. Scrambled cheesy eggs
  3. Breakfast Burritos
  4. Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins
  5. Easy Breakfast Casserole
  6. Dark Chocolate Almond Granola
  7. Giant Breakfast Cookies
  8. Instant Oatmeal Packets
  9. Pancake and Sausage Muffins
  10. Whole Wheat Waffles
  11. Coconut Flour Muffins
  12. Quick Mix Pancakes
  13. Homemade Poptarts
  14. Raspberry Oatmeal Bars
  15. Peanut Butter Snack Bars
  16. Peanut Butter Breakfast Cake
  17. Coconut Fudge Bars
  18. Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins
  19. Quick Mix Biscuits
  20. Low Sugar Carrot Cake
  21. Lemon Bread
  22. Ham and Egg Breakfast Bowls
  23. Grape Nuts Cereal
  24. Crepes
  25. Breakfast Cake Muffins
  26. Honey Cinnamon Muffins
  27. Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
  28. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins
  29. Strawberry Cream Muffins
  30. Peanut Butter Pancakes

Muffin Tip: Make muffin batter ahead and put it into the freezer like this so that you can easily bake them fresh as needed in the mornings!

Tuna Melts on Spinach

30 Real Food Lunch Ideas (always served with 2-4 fruits and veggies. If I’m serving salad, I usually serve some sort of bread to fill my men)

  1. Tuna Salad
  2. Tuna Melts on Spinach
  3. Pasta Salad Bar
  4. Meat and Cheese Burritos
  5. Easy Noodle Stir Fry
  6. Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad
  7. Pizza Boats
  8. Baked Potatoes in the Crock Pot with whatever toppings we have available
  9. Homemade pizza (crusts already made – boys build/bake their own)
  10. Spanish Rice
  11. Taco Salad
  12. Easy Cheesy Bean Dip with chips
  13. Chicken Tacos
  14. Black Bean Chicken Nachos
  15. BLT Chopped Salad
  16. BLT Wraps
  17. Bacon, Egg, and Avocado Salad
  18. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (with turkey or ham if I have some)
  19. Scrambled Egg Sandwiches
  20. Creamy Mac and Cheese
  21. Healthier Cheese Dip with chips
  22. Real Food Meat and Velveeta Dip with chips
  23. Taco Quesadillas
  24. Tuna Casserole
  25. Chicken Burritos
  26. Plain Quesadillas
  27. Hamburger Patties
  28. Beef Summer Sausage with cheese and crackers
  29. Corn Dog Muffins
  30. Cheesy Salsa Burgers (from Eat Right Away: Beef Edition)

Grilled BBQ Chicken

Dinner/Supper (always served with 2-4 fruits and veggies)

  1. Cheesy Salsa Enchiladas
  2. Grilled Barbeque Chicken
  3. Italian Cream Cheese Chicken
  4. Mongolian Beef (from Eat Right Away: Slow Cooker Beef Edition)
  5. Quick Mix Pancakes with Scrambled Eggs and Bacon
  6. Barbecue Cranberry Chicken (from Eat Right Away: Slow Cooker Chicken Edition)
  7. Sloppy Joes
  8. Cheeseburger Macaroni
  9. Easy Apricot Chicken (from Eat Right Away: Chicken Edition)
  10. Turkey Sausage and Red Bean Stew
  11. Taco Potatoes
  12. Beefy Enchilada Bake
  13. Baked Ziti (from Eat Right Away: Beef Edition)
  14. Baked Three Cheese Chicken Pasta
  15. Garden Veggie Chicken Skillet
  16. Spaghetti
  17. Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole (from Make-Ahead Meals and Snacks)
  18. Popcorn Chicken
  19. Bacon-Wrapped Individual Meatloaves (from Eat Right Away: Beef Edition)
  20. Italian Pasta Bake
  21. Salmon Patties
  22. Teriyaki Chicken and Veggies
  23. Grilled Salmon
  24. Grilled Burgers
  25. Fiesta Chicken
  26. Sour Cream Enchiladas (from Make-Ahead Meals and Snacks)
  27. Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole
  28. Lamb Chops
  29. Hawaiian Beef and Rice (from Eat Right Away: Slow Cooker Beef Edition)
  30. Grilled Steak

30 Day Real Food Back-to-School Menu Plan

You can pin or bookmark this page for quick reference. Or better yet:

Learning Resources and Freebies Made Easy

Today you can download this FREE 30-Day Real Food Menu Plan Resource to keep handy during this busy time of year! Not only that, we’re always offering free printable learning resources you won’t want to miss!

Sign Up to Download the 30-Day Real Food Menu Plan Resource

 

Frozen Oatmeal Cups – for a Quick, Hearty Breakfast

Seriously, Frozen Oatmeal Cups. Check this out.

frozen oatmeal8

Making oatmeal has got to be the most difficult thing to do ever. It’s definitely the most tedious breakfast food there is – requiring time, energy, thought, and absolute sweat-dripping labor over a stove for five entire minutes (because oatmeal won’t cook properly unless someone is staring at it in expectation). Life is hard. We should probably settle for pop-tarts. It’s the only way.

Don’t worry, friends. I’ve found a way to avoid performing this grueling task (and eating pop-tarts) in the mornings – and I’m here to share. I think we can all agree that the more we can avoid the challenge of putting water in a pot to boil, the better. Gather ’round, everyone. This tip will shave at least 1.4 minutes off your morning meal prep, so listen closely. Every 1.4 minutes counts.

Here’s what you need to do: You need to cook up a double or triple batch of oatmeal (you can do it, we’re all in this together, persevere, I believe in you). Once the oatmeal is done, go ahead and feed some to your family. Here’s where it gets good: After your meal, freeze the leftovers in muffin cups, topped with whatever delicious toppings your family likes. Like this:

frozen oatmeal3

The result is easy-to-store cups of frozen oatmeal which are ready to pull out and re-heat at any given time – preferably on those mornings. You know the ones I’m talking about.

But seriously, in all seriousness, because I am always serious – this really is a lovely way to help your children help themselves on a busy morning, and it really does save a tiny bit of time because the cooking of the oatmeal has already been done.

Now, if you get a little bit burned out on oatmeal and you’re still struggling with the urge to buy a pre-made breakfast in a box that promises to save you time – I suggest you consider the possibility of frying an egg. If I can do it, you can do it. There are also apples – a brand new innovative idea for breakfast that I’ve heard are great to grab-and-go. Who knew?

Frozen Oatmeal Cups - a quick, hearty breakfast

The Specifics of Making Approximately 24 Frozen Oatmeal Cups

  1. Boil 6 cups of water.
  2. Stir in 3 cups of whole oats.
  3. Turn the heat down to simmer the oats/water for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat once the water has been absorbed and the oats are soft.
  5. Stir in 1-3 Tablespoons of butter and 1-4 Tablespoons of sweetener like honey or sucanat as desired.
  6. Scoop prepared oatmeal into muffin tins (no need to grease the tins).
  7. Top oatmeal cups with any variety of fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, etc.
  8. Place filled muffin pans in the freezer for 2-3 hours or until oatmeal is frozen solid.
  9. Pull frozen oatmeal out of the freezer and allow it to sit on the counter-top for about 10 minutes.
  10. Use a fork or spoon to gently pop the frozen oatmeal cups out of the tins.
  11. Place the frozen cups into a labeled freezer bag. Store in the freezer for up to three months.
  12. Re-heat by placing frozen oatmeal cup(s) in a small saucepan on medium heat until thawed and warm.

I love this idea (for so many reasons, as explained earlier) – but also because this allows for a variety of sizes of appetites. Little ones may just need one cup to fill them, whereas my sons would likely each pull out 2-4 to rewarm.

So now, go therefore and make yourself some frozen oatmeal cups. Your breakfast – and really, your entire life – is obviously going to be changed for the better because of this tip. Enjoy your extra 1.4 minutes of morning time. You are very, very welcome.

What do you think of this idea? I like the brainlessness of it. I like that the cooking is done so all that needs to be done is rewarm and serve. I love that my kids can do this themselves. Not every freezer meal is about saving time – sometimes it’s just about the comfort of having prepped food on hand for ease!

P.S. We also really love making Homemade Instant Oatmeal to have on hand.

Kudos to Cupcakes and Kale Chips where I first saw this fun idea!

35 Minutes ~ 6 Winner Winner Chicken Dinners

Hows that for a dumb title? Well, you too will feel like saying silly things and maybe even doing the chicken dance after you spend such a short amount of time creating so many delicious meals for your family. Plus, I just had a great cup of coffee so my typing fingers are under the influence of caffeine.

Last week – using ugly meat pictures – I showed you how I used my Eat Right Away: Beef Edition packet to make 6 Beef Meals in only 45 minutes. I promised you that I would do the same with the Chicken Edition. So here I am. But this time – I’m excited to report that it only took 35 minutes of work time to crank out 6 meals. We have big eaters at our house, so the only way I was able to turn 8 pounds of meat into only 6 meals for us is that I’ll be adding several fruit/veggie sides along with potatoes, tortillas, rice, or pasta to stretch that chicken. If your family is smaller than mine – you could do the same amount of work and end up with more than 6 meals!

Eat Right Away Chicken Edition 22

I’m really, really excited about this. One of my biggest goals here is to emphasize that it really doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming to feed your family healthy, real food meals. Here is the run-down of my 35 minute date with 8 pounds of chicken.

On Friday, I picked up my Bountiful Basket meat order (the first one to come to our town!). I got 24 pounds of nitrite-free bacon and 24 pounds of nicely raised boneless/skinless chicken. I put 8 pounds of chicken in the fridge to thaw.

erwchicken1

On Saturday, I got to work making four out of five of the recipes included in the Chicken Edition packet. (I didn’t make the Teriyaki Chicken and Veggie Kabobs because while I had plenty of chicken, the other ingredients needed were not on sale. No need to pay full price – I’ll make a triple batch of those another time!)

These are the recipes I worked on:

  • Easy Apricot Chicken
  • Sloppy Salsa Chicken
  • Mexi-Chicken Pasta
  • Chicken Tostadas

First I put 2 pounds of chicken into a pot with the Apricot Chicken ingredients, put a lid on the pot, and started it cooking on low. It was an exhausting five minutes. Thank you for your compassion.

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Next, I used kitchen shears (the best way to cut chicken, if you ask me) to cut 4 pounds of chicken into pieces for the Mexi-Chicken Pasta and Chicken Tostadas. Want to know what’s great? You use the same ingredients to cook the chicken for both of those recipes so this is super efficient!

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There it is. Seasoned and ready to cook. Prep took about 15 minutes. Onto the stove it went.

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I put the remaining 2 pounds of chicken into a third pot along with the Sloppy Salsa Chicken ingredients. Two minutes later, it was cooking on the stove. Are you grasping how easy this is? I burn complicated recipes in my fireplace. I like simple foods.

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While all three pots of chicken cooked, I ate lunch with my family. (Tuna casserole, green beans, and raspberries – thanks for asking.) I stirred the chicken from time to time while our older boys shared about their week at camp. (They’d just gotten home a couple hours before lunch.)

After lunch, the Mexi-Chicken Pasta and Chicken Tostada meat was finished – so I set it aside to cool.

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The Apricot Chicken was finished to I used a fork and knife to kind of shred it. I say kind of because it’s not completely shredded. I got to a point where I was like, eh good enough.

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Same thing on the Sloppy Salsa Chicken. I shredded it until it was at the “good enough” stage. It’ll pull apart more when we rewarm and serve.

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(I told you these chicken pictures were ugly. Good thing this stuff tastes so good.)

At this point, I let all three pots sit out to cool. Later, I filled five freezer bags: 2 with Sloppy Salsa Chicken, 2 with Apricot Chicken, and 1 with chicken for Mexi-Chicken Pasta. The remaining chicken was left in the pan to quickly rewarm after church Sunday for Tostadas. Lunch within five minutes of getting home from church? Yes please!

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Those five bags of food joined the 6 beef meals from last week.

I’m going with your suggestions on which packets to work on next – focusing on meatless and slow cooker recipes. It is too much fun and oh so helpful to learn these new recipes.

Learn more about the Eat Right Away Packets here. Or just grab them here:

Eat Right Away: Beef Edition
$2.00

Add to Cart

Eat Right Away: Chicken Edition
$2.00

Add to Cart

I love how easy it is now to pull out these prepared foods to serve to my family. Tuesday we put baked potatoes in the crock pot, set out a bag of frozen Apricot Chicken, then went to the swimming pool. We got home, warmed up the meat, cooked some green beans, cut up a cantaloupe, and had our meal. Crazy easy. Plus, all my men raved about how good the Apricot Chicken was. Bonus!

Have you tried any of the recipes in these packets yet? How’s it been going for you? Hope they are a blessing to you as they have been for us!

I Just Spent 45 Minutes in the Kitchen and Made 6 Meals! Boom!

I decided to give you an idea of how our Eat Right Away Packets work, so I thawed 6 pounds of hamburger and took some really bad pictures of raw meat. My life is glamorous.

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Knowing that your life is probably glamorous also – meaning you might have interruptions in the form of nursing babies, important phone calls, teenagers needing a ride, siblings who need to learn that nice words go a long way, or any other variety of real life stuff – we all know that 45 minutes can turn into an hour and an hour can turn into are you kidding me. So don’t set a timer on this. My 45 minutes of work began at 12:00 noon and didn’t end until 1:30 pm because someone stopped by to pick something up a few minutes after I started, my husband and 10 year old had some questions, and somewhere in there I realized I needed lunch because what was I thinking starting this project on an empty stomach?

In other words, I did 45 minutes of kitchen work, but those minutes were broken up a bit by life and lunch.

The beauty of the Eat Right Away Packets is that they help you be efficient with your time, they help you make the most of your effort in the kitchen, and they help you turn out some pretty awesome meals with very little effort. But there’s no right or wrong way to go about putting these meals together. Case in point:

Here are the five beef recipes in the Eat Right Away: Beef Edition Packet ~

  • Cheesy Salsa Burgers
  • One Dish Cheesy Beef and Potatoes
  • Bacon-Wrapped Individual Meatloaves
  • Easy Hamburger Soup 
  • Baked Ziti 

But seeing as we’re not into soup this summer, and knowing I was low on time – I decided to skip the Easy Hamburger Soup and the One Dish Cheesy Beef and Potatoes. I went with the crazy easy Cheesy Salsa Burgers, the almost as crazy easy Bacon-Wrapped Individual Meatloaves, and the no-brainer Baked Ziti.

I doubled the Baked Ziti. Why not, right? So when all was said and done, I had spent 45 minutes of work time to make 6 meals. Sweet!

NOTE: If your family is smaller than mine or eats less – these Eat Right Away Packets are going to turn out way more than 5 meals for you. How’s that for a bonus return on your time investment?!

So here’s an ugly picture run-down of my Eat Right Away: Beef Edition meal prep…

I threw 2 pounds of meat into a pot to begin cooking (for the double batch of Baked Ziti).

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While it began cooking, I mushed up another two pounds of meat in a bowl, then stirred in the ingredients for Cheesy Salsa Burgers. Here and there, I stirred the meat cooking on the stove.

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Side Note: My dad and his wife got me this amazing meat squisher
(spoken like a true professional) for Christmas. I super love it.

Before shaping the patties, I put a pot of water on to boil. (Had I not taken the time to snap a picture, you all would surely be left in the dark as to what this step looks like. You are very, very welcome.)

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I shaped 18 Cheesy Salsa Burger patties – in a variety of sizes. See how great this is? You can make different sizes to accommodate different sized appetites. That, and you can just be a total non-perfectionist who really doesn’t care if all her patties are uniform in size. This may not work for you Type A’s. Shape your patties according to your personality type. We can all still be friends.

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Somewhere in there, my water hit boiling point. I poured in the pasta and continued shaping patties.

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The meat was finished cooking on the stove, so I added sauce ingredients.

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If you look at my Baked Ziti recipe in the beef packet, you’ll see that I didn’t follow my own instructions correctly. I blame it on the fact that I hadn’t eaten lunch.

And it was at this point that I stopped my work and ate some tuna salad and cole slaw.

Revived by food, I stirred in other Ziti sauce ingredients, then began to build the casseroles.

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Having this done, I went to work on the Bacon-Wrapped Individual Meatloaves. Two pounds of meat in a bowl, other ingredients dumped in (because life is too short to get out measuring spoons).

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Meatloaves were shaped and wrapped in bacon. Husband walked in and said some really nice things about my bacon. ;)

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I put the pans of Meatloaves and Salsa Patties into the freezer. Then, I loaded the dishwasher and hit “start.” While the meat froze and the dishes washed themselves, I took Malachi to meet some friends at the swimming pool because life is hard.

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So much glorious vitamin D later, I came home and put the frozen meat items into freezer bags. I labeled them and put them back in the freezer for a quick meal another day. YAY!!

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That night, I threw some of the Cheesy Salsa Burgers on the grill for our dinner (meal #1). In the freezer I have another meal of burgers (meal #2), two meals worth of bacon meat-loaves (meals #3 and #4) and two zitis (meals #5 and #6).

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You guys – this is not hard!! If you don’t love cooking, I believe you will really love this way of prepping ahead to make your kitchen life easier. These recipes are super simple, and once the work of preparing these foods is done (and cleaned up after, woot!) – all you have to do at meal time is pull something out of the freezer and cook it. You don’t even have to think at that point. (I’m not ashamed to say that the not thinking is my favorite part of this.)

I’ve got many pounds of chicken coming in a Bountiful Basket order Friday, so this weekend I’ll be pulling out my Chicken Edition and taking more bad pictures to show you how that one works.

Get all the details on these Eat Right Away Packets here. Ready to add them to your kitchen collection? Download them right away and get started!

Eat Right Away: Beef Edition
$2.00

Add to Cart

Eat Right Away: Chicken Edition
$2.00

Add to Cart

 

 

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