Easy Freeze Entrees

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Easy, Fast, Budget Entrees

Most of the time if you go to the grocery store early enough chances are you will find meat that has been reduced. At my local grocery store, every morning they will reduce meat that goes out of date within a day or two. "Out of Date" simply means, they need to sell it because the expiration date on the package is about to expire and they can no longer have it on their shelf. I still pay close attention to the date, but I also will cook it either that day or the very next day for sure-and most of the time freeze whatever I cook!

Between purchasing meat that has been reduced and meat that is on sale, I have came up with a few different methods that can cut your cooking time in half, stock pile your freezer and yet make nutritional meals. I am going to share a few of my own methods and hopefully you will find them useful. I will also be sharing a few of my own recipes.

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Let's Start with Chicken

A few years ago I wrote a page called Chicken Recipes so I wanted to share the way I cook the chicken and things I do with it.

First and foremost, I NEVER purchase chicken that is NOT on sale. I also never purchase anything but boneless, skinless chicken breast-because of the way I plan things out. When chicken goes on sale I can purchase a family pack of boneless, skinless chicken breast for about $5-6 dollars. That gives me between five and six breast. This week the chicken I purchase is on sale and although my current stock is where I want it, I am still going to purchase at least one pack and make up a batch of Chicken Parmesan to freeze.

The first thing I do when I get home from the grocery store is clean and wash my chicken. I never throw any of it away because my little Yorkie only eats food I cook for him (and let me tell you, he loves chicken!) I either get out my large or small crock pot, place apple juice and apple cider vinegar in it. Again, it depends on how many packs of the chicken I purchased as what size crock pot I will use. Roughly speaking with one pack of chicken I will use 1 1/2 cups of apple juice and 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar. I will cook the chicken about 4-5 hours on low heat. I use the apple juice and vinegar because I like to cook down the fibers in the meat

After the chicken is cooked, I will take the chicken and place either one or two pieces into a freezer container, allow it to completely cool and freeze it. When I am planning a certain meal with chicken being one of the ingredients, I will take a container out of the freezer, boil it for a few minutes to defrost it, and it is ready.

I will create different meals with each container of chicken as an example: I will make a Couscous Dinner-with a lot of sauteed vegetables and a chicken breast-top it with Parmesan cheese and tomatoes and serve it with toasted bread.

A dinner that took very little time to make and is very nutritious. Sometimes when I am really lazy I will use a container of the chicken and make us BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with chips. I have made chili with the chicken, chicken fried rice, chicken grape salad (this is especially good in the warmer months) and I have made a fast chicken and egg noodle soup. Every recipe is healthy, easy and fast to cook because I already I had the meat cooked and frozen.


Here is one of my favorite recipes:

Chicken Parmesan

One can "No Salt" Organic Tomato Sauce (I purchase mine on sale with coupons)

Grate half of onion (it is important to grate the onion)

Chop Italian Parsley (to your liking)

Chop Thyme (to your liking)

Black Pepper (Pink Salt to taste)

Pinch of sugar

Pinch of oregano

Butterfly your chicken before you cook it in bulk in your crock pot. After 3 1/2 - 4 hours place the chicken in baking dish, top with sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Bake about 30 minutes on 350

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Bulk Cooking with Beef

I am not a huge Beef Eater but my husband likes it. However, once again I will only purchase lean ground beef when it is on sale (Mixed with Ground Turkey) and/or when it is reduced. The things you can do with beef is endless. Here are a few my favorite things and once again, I will divide the portions and freeze them in individual containers and from one pack beef, I am able to freeze several meals.

Sometimes, I am able to purchase the family packs of beef that have been reduced but needed to be use within a day or two. When I do this, I will divide the pack of meat in two and create two different kinds of entrees and after they are cooked I will freeze them. I may take one half of the meat and make a meatloaf (which my husband loves) and make meatballs with the other half and use them for meatball subs with melted cheese and/or spaghetti with meatballs.

Just this past weekend, I found a nice pack of lean ground beef that had been reduced so that night I made a large batch of hamburgers and froze them in a large container and from that one pack of beef I was able to get four meals. If you break that down, I paid a little less than $5.00 for the pack of beef. I was able to get 8 nice size hamburgers from the mixture (my husband says I make monster burgers) so actually each hamburger cost $0.63 cents each.

During Christmas I had company and wanted to cook roast, but have you PRICED roast beef lately? I found two really nice roast that had been reduced and I purchased them both! I paid less than $14.00 for both roast. I cooked both in my large crock pot and ended up feeding six people for dinner and was still able to freeze the leftovers (one meal including some leftover roasted vegetables and the other just the roast beef.) If I calculated it right, that averaged out to be about $1.75 per person for a Roast Beef Dinner.


Here is one of my favorite beef recipes:

Meatloaf

Mix together in a bowl:

1-egg

3/4 cup of bread crumbs

1-sauteed onion

ketchup and mustard

chopped Italian parsley

pepper (to taste)

Gently mix in 1/2 family pack lean ground beef (do not over work the mixture)

Place in a cooking dish lined with foil, top with some ketchup and bake for an hour on 375 degrees. After an hour crush some fried onions on top and cook additional 5 fives minutes or until the onions are nice and brown.

Place meatloaf on a cutting board and allow it set for a few minutes, than cut it. If you cut it before hand it is going to crumble and you will lose the juices.

From one meatloaf we will get two dinners and I will freeze two dinners so we get a total of four dinners altogether from one meatloaf.

You can take the remaining beef and make, a pot of chili which you can freeze part of, Sloppy Joe's (which is another one of my husband favorites) and it also freezes wonderfully.

See what I mean, the list is endless what you can do with a pack of beef and how many meals you can get from one pack.

Just remember when you are stock piling your freezer: be sure to rotate your containers and use the oldest first. If you can try to write the date on each thing you freeze just to make sure you are rotating your items correctly.



Do you purchase meats on sale, cook and freeze it for different meals?

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Curry Walnut Chicken

Do you cook and freeze your dinners ahead of time?

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Can't Pass Up a Sale

I believe the bottom line with low budget meals is catching sales, cooking the product and freezing it as soon as you can.

There is one store close by where I live and they have the best prices on their ground beef, not to mention it does not contain any chemicals to keep it red. So when I stop at this store I always walk out with ground beef.

When I purchase a pack of hamburger, I divide it up and will either freeze the separate sections or I will cook it. I usually get two meals with hamburgers and two soft taco meals plus a little extra. But these measurements are based for two of us, if you have a family of four or more, the measurements will be different but can be done none the less. Especially if you are making chili or meat sauce.

The key is finding the sale and stocking up when you can afford it.

© 2012 Eva Thomas

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Thank you for visiting 2 comments

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

You are a smart shopper and obviously also handy in the kitchen. People can definitely learn from you on how to stretch their dollars when purchasing and preparing food for their families. Only one of the stores where we occasionally shop offers reduced meats close to the expiration date. At all the others, I simply look for sale prices. Thanks for your ideas and recipes. Voted up and useful.


WhiteOak profile image

WhiteOak 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Thank you so much Peggy. Sales are wonderful to work with when planning meals. If someone sticks to their plan, you can easily stock your freezer from sale items. All stores will do a rotation on the stores meats. That is how I purchase my chicken breast-by watching the sales. I know they will put the chicken breast on sale every forth week.

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