Daddy is working a lot, too. Since my hours started getting longer a few weeks ago, Dusty has had to take on more than half his share of our three jobs. In addition to working on his indie VR project, Dusty is handling all the laundry duties, wrangling the kids after school, making weeknight dinners, and keeping the house clean.*
I still do the bulk of the grocery shopping and weekend meals, so I try to make at least one weekend meal a Freezer Meal. That means I make a big ol' batch of something—mostly soups, stews, and sauces—so we have enough for dinner that evening and extra to freeze. Sometimes it takes me half a day to cook so much, but it's hard to beat an economy of scale that produces multiple meals.
|An inadvertent tableau that aptly depicts our life at the moment. |
I call it Both Parents Crunching.
|Pro Tip: Save large plastic containers with clear lids to store your meals.|
Make sure to label them clearly with the name and date of cooking.
1) Kalua Pork—Freeze the pork in containers big enough to hold however many servings you want per meal. If you put cabbage in your kalua pork, I recommend freezing the pork sans cabbage. Frozen cabbage gets all soggy and gross. You have to plan ahead a little to have these leftovers; the night before you want to have this dinner, put a container in the fridge to thaw overnight. Heat the pork on the stove or in the microwave until it's hot. If you want, you can blanch some cabbage to add to the kalua pork after it's heated. Make some rice and salad and you've got dinner.
2) Tinolang Manok (Pilipino chicken soup)—You don't even need to thaw it out before reheating. When you take the container out of the freezer, run it under a hot tap to loosen the sides. Then just wiggle the frozen block out of the container into a saucepan and heat it. Boil for two minutes to make sure the chicken broth is bacteria-free. Make some rice and you've got dinner.
3) Green Chile Soup—As with the Tinolang Manok, you can just chuck the frozen block o' soup into a saucepan and bring it to a boil to kill any nasties. Heat some tortillas and you've got dinner. If you're feeling extra fancy, you can cube up some avocado. Dot the soup with avocado chunks so you get a little creamy avocado bite with each spoonful. Yum!
4) Lamb and Lentil Stew—This may be our favorite freezer meal; it's delicious when it's fresh, but somehow the flavors just get better as it mellows out. Again, no need to thaw the stew beforehand; just heat up the frozen block in a saucepan. If it looks like it's too thick or you want to stretch the meal a little, add a cup or two of water as it is heating.
And now for our fifth and final Freezer Meal: "Bolognese" Sauce. The quotation marks there are because this is not a typical Bolognese ragu; this is:
I Kinda Made This Recipe Up and It's Slightly Different Every Time but It's Always Yummy "Bolognese" Sauce**
Prep Time: ~15 minutes
Cook Time: ~30 minutes
Makes 3-5 meals' worth of sauce
1 lb ground turkey
1 lb Italian sausage, out of the casing
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 C pesto OR 1 tsp each dried basil and dried oregano
2 15oz cans tomato sauce
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 lb veggies (frozen spinach, zucchini, kale, etc.***)
1-2 bay leaf
- Brown meat in a little olive oil, then take it out of the pan.
- Add onions to pan and sauté on medium heat until soft.
- Add garlic to pan and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add vegetables and sauté for 5 minutes or until soft.
- Add tomato sauce and 1 can of water.
- Using a hand blender, wazz up the vegetables and tomato sauce until veggies are nondescript tiny dots of green. If you don't have a hand blender, spoon out the sauce and veggies into a food processor or blender and wazz it up there.
- Add meat back into pan and stir.
- Add tomato paste and pesto, then 1-3 tomato sauce cans of water to desired consistency. If you don't have pesto, add basil and oregano.
- Add 1 bay leaf and simmer on low heat, uncovered, for about 30 minutes to thicken or until it has cooked down to your desired consistency.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Take out bay leaf.
- Serve over pasta (my girls like penne best) or spaghetti squash. You can also put it on rolls for sloppy joes.
There you go. I hope you eat a lot of yogurt like we do and that you saved all the containers. You have some cookin' and freezin' to do this weekend.
**Shoutout to Diana, who helped me type up this recipe.
***I keep a Ziploc bag in the freezer and chuck green veggies in there that I won't have time to cook before they go bad. When it's time to make sauce, I empty that bag into the pot. Waste not, want not.