Quick Tip: Freezing Meatballs

frozen meatballs

I’m a big advocate of Plan Ahead Cooking. When possible I like to make a double batch of whatever we’re having and freeze half of it.

After reading her Lady and the Tramp, Audrey insisted that we have spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. I went ahead and made a double batch and froze the extra.

 

STEP 1: Place the formed meatballs on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer (a level spot) for a couple of hours.

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 STEP 2: Transfer to a freezer bag labeled with the item, date and number of meatballs.
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Quick Tip: Homemade Frozen Waffles

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Frozen waffles (like Eggos) are super convenient for getting a hot breakfast on the table in the morning. But you don’t need to buy them. Just make them yourself.

The next time you decide to make waffles on the weekend make a double batch of batter. After everyone has had their fill cook the rest of the batter.

Place cooled waffles in zipper bags and label with the date. Pop them in the freezer.
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When you are ready to eat them remove the quantity you need from the bag and place in the toaster on a low setting. My toaster dial goes from 1 to 8 and I reheat the waffles on 4. Run through a second toast cycle on low if you like them extra crispy.
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They won’t be as perfectly uniform as store-bought waffles, but they taste better and you know exactly what they are made of.

Buy Meat in Bulk to Save Money

meats on saleLook at all the meat I bought at Savemart on Monday! With meal plan in hand I hit the store to do my shopping. What I planned to buy was on sale (which is why it was part of my meal plan) and several packages had discount stickers.

I purchased two value-packs of ground beef (each had $4 off stickers), two tri-tips (also $4 off each), two whole chickens at $0.88 per pound, and one pack of boneless skinless chicken breasts at $1.49 pet pound. All together I spent $56.66 dollars for 29 pounds of meat. Regular price would have been $82.93, a savings of $26.27!

If you are thinking that’s a lot of meat for a family of four you are right. There is no way we could eat it all before it goes bad.  When I get the meat home I divide and repackaged it for the freezer. Ground beef I divided into one pound sections and placed in quart size freezer bags. I separated the two chickens into their own gallon bags. And finally I trimmed the tri-tips and placed them in separate gallon zipper bags. In this case I will be using the chicken breast in the next day or two so that was not packed for the freezer.

I write the date on the bags with a permanent marker and toss it in the freezer.  If I was planning on storing these meats a long time I would have wrapped them in waxed paper before placing in the freezer bags. This meat will get used up in about a month to six weeks so it should be fine in the freezer bags.

Look at my meat all packaged up and ready for the freezer!

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Meat Lasagna

Here is a very easy recipe for lasagna.  There’s nothing fancy here, just good home-made taste!

Now that I am doing menu planning I like to cook a double batch of whatever I’m making and put it in the freezer for future use.

Things like enchiladas, chile verde and lasagna make great freezer meals. I wrap the meal well and label with the date. Then take it out a couple of days ahead to thaw. Great for those busy days when you just don’t feel like cooking at night – and everyone still gets a home cooked meal instead of take out!

This recipe is for two full size lasagnas ( 9″ x 13″ casserole pans). You could make just one, but why make one lasagna when you can make two with the same amount of effort. All you need is an extra pan. I like to use disposable foil pans for the freezer so my regular casserole dishes are available for other things.

This is an extra-meaty lasagna because I had thawed a large package of ground beef.  You could easily cut the beef down to 2 lbs and still have enough for two lasagnas.

Ingredients:

16 dry lasagna noodles (one package)

3 lbs ground beef

1 TBSP coarse ground garlic powder

1 TBSP Italian Seasoning

2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1 extra large container of spaghetti sauce (about 3 regular size jars)

2 15 oz containers of ricotta cheese

2 large eggs

1/2 cup grated parmesan or Roman cheese

2 TBSP dried parsley

6 cups grated mozzarella cheese

 

Here’s how to put it all together:

1. Brown the ground beef over medium heat. Add Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper. Drain excess fat.

2. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes.

Extra meaty sauce!

3. Meanwhile, boil water and cook noodles according to package instructions.

4. In a medium bowl mix ricotta, egg, parm or Romano and dried parsley

The ricotta cheese mix. Use fresh parsley if you have it on hand.

5. Drain noodles. Remove meat sauce from heat.

6. Begin layering by putting a small amount of sauce in the bottom of the pan. Just enough to keep the noodles from sticking.

7. Place 3-4 noodles in the bottom of the pan, overlapping a little is good. (Do each step for both pans if you are doing two lasagnas)

Smear a little sauce in the bottom of the pan (right) then layer noodles (left).

8. Spread a thin layer of ricotta cheese mix over the noodles.

Spreading the ricotta can be tricky–just go slowly.

9. Next a layer of meat sauce.

Layer with a generous amount of meat sauce.

10. Then a layer of mozzarella cheese.

Mozzarella on top. Then repeat layers.

11. Repeat steps 7-10 for second layer. Top with additional grated parm or Romano. Cook uncovered at 375° F for 30-40 minutes.

The extra lasagna should be wrapped tightly in foil before placing in the freezer. Be sure the label it with the date.

To use frozen lasagna remove from freezer one day prior to thaw and bake with foil loosely covered for 45 minutes, removing cover after 30 minutes. To bake from frozen cook at 375° for approximately an hour, or until center is heated to 160° when check with a food thermometer.