Monday, August 10, 2015

Frozen Meal Day

School is just around the corner and every August I create delicious meals for my family to have in the freezer. I first came upon this idea from my Women's Day Cookbook. Over the years our family has some definite favorites and I have tweaked them to make them my own. Now that my daughters are out of the house and in college, I will be portioning these meals for the 2 of us. I now have in the freezer, 2 lasagnes, 3 meatloaves, 8 dinners of salisbury steak for 2 with gravy, spaghetti sauce, and 4 meals of chili. Just thaw and reheat. What could be simpler? One bonus is that every recipe incorporates vegetables. You will need 11 pounds of ground beef for this.

 I started out by chopping up in my food processor (fairly small, some pieces are tiny bits) 2 pounds each of onions, carrots, and zucchini. I cooked these in 1/4 C of oil for about 15 min.These cooked vegetables will be used in every recipe.

In another pot, I then made a plain meat sauce with 3 pounds ground beef ( I used 90% lean Angus because it was on sale), 1 Tb garlic and some salt and pepper. I browned this up and then added 6 C. of the cooked vegetables, 4- 28 oz. cans of tomato sauce (you could use crushed), 1- 15 oz can of tomato sauce and some salt. I brought it to a boil and simmered on low for about 20 min. This will be your meat sauce for your  chili, lasagne, and spaghetti sauce.

I seasoned 4 C. of this sauce with 1 TB minced garlic, Italian seasoning, basil and oregeno and made two, 8x8 pans of lasagne. I used 1 lb. of mozzarella cheese, 2 C ricotta mixed with 2 C cottage cheese, 1 egg, some parsley and a pinch of nutmeg. I boiled 12 lasagne noodles and then cut each in half. I used 4 halves per layer. I layered noodles, meat sauce, ricotta sauce, and shredded mozzarella for 3 layers, ending with mozzarella on top. Oh, I sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on each ricotta layer, too. Here they are assembled and ready for the freezer. Cover with plastic wrap, then foil. I always put a reminder on my label to remove the plastic wrap because I'm afraid I'll end up cooking it onto the lasagne! Oh my gosh, I can't wait to bake these. Don't they look delish? I can hardly wait for lasagne night with a small salad and some crusty garlic bread, Mmmm.

Then,  I used 6 C. of the meat sauce to make chili. I added 2 C of the cooked vegetables along with 3 cans of beans (2 kidney, 1 black bean), 1 1/2 C frozen corn, 1/3 C chili powder, 1 1/2 TB cumin, a few dashes of hot sauce ( I use Tapatio), and salt. I simmered it for about 1 hour, then cooled and put in freezer containers.This will be great with cornbread, or to top off baked potatoes. This actually turned out better tasting than I thought - it is quite tasty. It is one of those dishes that is better the next day after all the flavors have blended.

Next, I made meatloaf with 4 lbs. of ground beef, 2 C. of the cooked  vegetables, 4 eggs, 1/2 C ketchup, 2 envelopes of dry onion soup mix, 1/4 c milk, and 1 1/3 C oatmeal. I used oatmeal because I didn't have any bread crumbs on hand. The mixture filled 3- 8x4 foil pans. I baked them for 1 hour at 350 degrees. You can certainly use your own family favorite meatloaf recipe. This is just what I did. Here they are before the oven and after.

Meanwhile, I made salisbury steak with 4 lbs. of ground beef, 2 C oatmeal ( again, no bread crumbs on hand, and oatmeal is healthy), 1 box (2 oz.)dry onion soup mix, 2 egss, 1 TB garlic and 1/2 C water. Mix by hand and press into 2- 12x8 " foil pans. Put in oven with meatloaf and bake 25 min. Drain and let cool. Here they are cooling. Cut each into 8 pieces and layer with wax paper in a freezer bag. Label and freeze.

While those are in the oven, make the gravy for the salibury steak by either making 24 oz. gravy from a dry mix, or with 2-12 oz cans of gravy. To the gravy add 2 C. water and 2 C of the cooked vegetables. Don't worry, for some reason adding the extra water doesn't thin it out too much. Bring to a simmer for 5 min. Put in 1 or 2 C freezer containers (uh, where are those?), label and freeze. I will serve this gravy with the salisbury steaks and some mashed potatoes. This is definitely comfort food!
I have made these salisbury steaks and gravy many times just because it is sooo good!

To the leftover meat sauce, I made it into spaghetti sauce by adding Italian seasoning, oregeno, basil and some minced garlic. Put this in freezer containers to suit your needs. Except I don't have any!

I found out that I had almost 2 C of vegetables left over. Next time, I will use 1 1/2 pounds of each to make my cooked vegetables. Also, I forgot to get freezer containers in 1 C portions for the gravy, and I don't have enough containers for the chili and spaghetti sauce. So off to the store tomorrow to purchase those items. They will just have to chill in the fridge overnight in their pans.

While I was cooking everything, yes, right while everything is in the oven, my youngest daughter calls from Alaska to tell me that my oldest daughter was just in an accident with a semi truck. Are you kidding me? Their car was making a left hand turn and the truck driver goes to pass them and T-bones their car. She was a passenger with her roommate and her roommates younger brother. they are all OK and are being checked out at the hospital. No broken bones I don't think, but a couple of concussions, severe bruising and I don't know what else. They have not made it back home from the hospital yet, so I don't know everything. Sheesh, I was ready to throw everything in the fridge and drive the hour to where she lives, but looks like they are all OK. Oh, the truck driver got a ticket. Ok, back to my post.

Last week, I made enchiladas and made an extra pan for the freezer. Basically, anything I used to make in a 13x9" pan, I now make in 2- 8x8" pans and freeze one. Next week, I will make a chicken trio for the freezer. Now I won't have to cook until Christmas!

Here are a couple of sockeye salmon that I caught last week with my daughter and then smoked. Looks like the top one got a way from a hungry sea lion on her journey up the river and to the lake.


  1. Wow, this is really impressive.
    deb k

    1. Deb,
      I've been doing it for so many years and you can do it with your families favorite meals to make it your own.

  2. I love the way you incorporate vegetables in all recipes. Thanks for the ideas, especially cooking for 2.

    1. Getting the veggies in our children's diets was always easy, but this just made it even better!


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