**Don’t miss our current giveaway for vinyl house numbers…CLICK HERE TO ENTER**
A few weeks ago my dear friend Amanda and I decided to get together for something I like to call “The Big Cook”. I am not sure why I choose that title as there was more prepping than actual cooking but that is the name that stuck. Amanda and I are both expecting our third baby and knew we needed to create an inventory of healthy and wholesome family meals that could easily be reheated or simply cooked in a crock pot. Knowing what lies ahead (sleepless nights and the demands of 3 hungry children!) we planned out six healthy and EASY recipes that will feed our families over the next few months. Amanda has since welcomed a beautiful baby girl- congratulations to her and her wonderful family!
1. Enchilada Chicken (No Pre-Cooking Required)
This was a new recipe that I took a gamble on and it sure paid off. I am not one to typically use canned/processed sauces but I gave it a try for this recipe. The key was to keep things simple and easy since we were trying to accomplish so much in one afternoon. It is a fantastic recipe although I do hope to come up with an alternative unprocessed sauce for my next “big cook”.
I bought a large sleeve of chicken and made this meal x 4. It took very little time to prep the vegetables and assemble.
- 3 boneless chicken breasts
- 1 can enchilada sauce
- 1 sliced onion
- 1 sliced bell pepper
- 1 can of black beans
- 3/4 cup cheddar cheese
Freezer Meal Directions:
- Place all ingredients in a gallon zip lock freeze bag.
- Thaw freeze meal
- Place in crock pot and cook on high for 4-6 hours until chicken is falling apart.
- Shred chicken with a fork and serve with your favorite fixings.
- Fixing Ideas: corn tortillas, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, avocado, rice (fixing of your choice)
2. Cincinnati Chili (makes 3 freezer meals)
Don’t be afraid of the cinnamon or chocolate as this recipe is fantastic and it is a staple in my home. My husband and my oldest son love Cincinnati Chili. You can make it as spicy or mild as you and your family prefers. Typically, this chili is served over pasta however I usually eat mine over spaghetti squash or simply in a bowl. Sour cream, raw onions, cheddar cheese, oyster crackers and/or Fritos are popular toppings for this savory chili.
- 1 1/2 LB ground beef
- 2 TBSP butter, coconut oil or bacon grease
- 1 large onion diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 TBSP chili powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 3 TBSP cocoa powder (you can add more to your taste preference)
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 3 TBSP Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 4 cups chicken or beef stock
- 2 TBSP cider vinegar
- 2 tsp dark brown sugar (can be omitted if you don’t like to add sugar)
- 1 can kidney beans (can be omitted or substituted for other beans)
- Salt to taste
Freezer Meal Directions:
- In a large dutch oven heat your butter/oil. Add in onions until soft. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. I usually use a potato masher to ensure the ground beef is broken up.
- Stir in all the spices and combine until fragrant.
- Stir in the tomato sauce, broth and beans. Stir to combine.
- Laddle chili into 3 freezer bags and freeze.
- Take chili out of freeze and defrost.
- Place contents into crock pot on high for 2 hours or stove stop for 1 hour.
- Accompaniments: Spaghetti/pasta, cheddar cheese, sour cream, Fritos, oyster crackers, chopped raw onion
3. Slow Cooker Shredded Beef (this made 2 meals and does not require pre-cooking although I chose to do so)
I have made this 3-4 times over the past month as it is simply tender and delicious comfort food at its finest. I don’t know why it has taken me so long to figure out the right way to cook a pot roast but it was worth the trial and error. There is no turning back now, this is by far my favorite comfort meal.
- 3lb chuck roast/pot roast
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1 packet of Lipton onion soup mix
- 2 tsp black pepper
- Beef Broth (optional)
Freezer Directions: I usually follow the cooking instructions below because it takes a long time to cook. That way, I can simply defrost and reheat for a quick and easy supper.
- Pour soy sauce, onion soup mix and black pepper into freezer bag. Mix the ingredients together until combined.
- Place roast inside bag and freeze.
- Defrost Meat and place in crock pot.
- Add water or beef stock until roast is almost covered, approx 1/2 inch from top of roast.
- Cover and cook for up to 22 hours on LOW. Yes, I does say 22 hours but I have never had to cook it for that long. I typically put it in the crock pot at night and by mid morning it is done (12-15 hours or cooking). I do this the time is necessary as it will make the roast fall apart deliciously and it give the liquid time to adsorb and concentrate into the meat.
4. Oven Baked Shredded Pork Shoulder:
This is another long roasting recipe that really pays off to have to in your freezer. I typically place the roast on low in my oven overnight and wake up to tender and delicious shredded pork. I make a variety of dinners with the shredded meat like: pulled pork sandwiches, pork carnitas and sometimes a pork & sweet potato frittata. It quickly reheats for a fast and tasty dinner.
- Large pork shoulder or boston butt pork roast
- Salt and pepper
- preheat over 225
- Liberally cover the pork shoulder/roast with salt and pepper
- Place in oven on middle rack and allow it to cook from 8-16 hours.
- You cannot mess this up, leave it and allow it to just gently roast.
- Remove pork roast from oven and allow it to cool so you are able to handle it.
- Shred pork and separate into 3-4 zip lock freezer bags
- Freeze until needed
- Defrost when ready to use, place in crock pot on low with desired flavorings/sauces to reheat.
5. Muffin Tin Meatloaf (No Pre-Cooking Require)
I love to use muffin tins when making and freezing meatloaf as it is so easy grab the exact amount you need for a quick and easy family dinner.
The recipe below says that it serves 8 although I got almost 24 muffin sized meatloaves. If you prefer to keep your meatloaf to one pan, you probably will get 2 medium sized loaves from the recipe below. I cooked my muffin tin meatloaves and then froze them. I simply pull them from the freezer and reheat when needed.
- 3 lb ground lean beef
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 small green pepper (chop finely)
- 1 small onion (chop finely)
- 1 cup dry breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp hot sauce
- 1 1/2 cup tomato sauce, divided
Cooking & Freezing Directions:
- Combine first 9 ingredients in large bowl, stir in 1 cup tomato sauce.
- Shape mixture into 2 loaves or place in prepared muffin tin. Wrap loaves tightly and freeze for 1 month.
- Remove from freezer and let thaw overnight in fridge.
- Heat oven to 350. Place meat loaf on cookie sheet pan. Pour 1/2 cup tomato sauce on top. Place 4 bacon slices on each loaf. Bake for 1 hr and let stand for 10 mins before serving.
6. Cheddar Corn Chowder
- 5 large baking potatoes
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cups frozen yellow corn
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 qt half and half
- 3 cups milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/8 ground white pepper
- Prick each potato several times with fork. Place in microwave for 20 mins until soft.
- Peel potatoes and cut and mash.
- Melt butter in dutch oven on medium heat. Add onions and corn and sauté until tender. Add flour, stirring till smooth. Place in potatoes, half and half, and all remaining ingredients.
- Cook for 15 mins-30 on medium/low heat until all ingredients are well combined. Soup should be thick due to the “smashed” potatoes.
- Top and garnish with cheese, bacon, crushed and green onions.
- Cool the soup and divide evenly into freezer bags. Freeze until needed.
- Pull from freezer, thaw and reheat on stove top for a wonderful & creamy soup.