Hello thrifty readers. Sorry it has been so long since I have posted. Being a teacher, mom, and wife limits my time. I still try to save money wherever I can and so when Harris Teeter had pork roast on sale last week, I snagged one for for freezer cooking.
Yesterday I cooked the pork roast in the crock pot for about eight hours. Normally I would season it with cumin, garlic, onions, and other yummy Mexican flavorings, but I plan to use this one for sandwiches, burritos, and egg rolls. I only seasoned this roast with salt and pepper.
Last night I removed the pork from the crock pot. It was so tender that it came apart in pieces. I let it cool for a little while and then pulled the pork apart. As you can see, there was enough to fill a 9×13 dish.
I separated the pork into three freezer safe containers. I probably could have stretched it a little further for four meals, but my kids are growing and eating like crazy! They are eating like little adults right now. Plus, I like to have leftovers for work lunches.
Cooking this pork was so easy to do. It didn’t take long at all. Let me tell you though, it will save so much time on weeknights. It will be nice to put a container of this in the refrigerator to thaw and then come home with some of the work already done. I’m looking forward to dinners of burritos, pork sandwiches, and egg rolls. Yummy!
This morning I decided to stay home from church. Anyone that knows me, knows that I normally don’t do this. I started feeling a little yucky yesterday from what I’m sure is seasonal allergies. I LOVE fall but am not particularly thrilled with the allergy issues that come with each season change. I took two Benadryl last night and I think I had a little bit of a Benadryl hangover this morning. I was grouchy and sensitive to noise. When I got up in the middle of the night to potty (yes, I am a teacher so I use the word potty), I ran into the wall in my bedroom. Ahem . . . Stop laughing! Ok, go ahead. haha. My nose is still a little sore.
After my family left I decided to enjoy some quiet time on the couch. I’m all snug with my afghan and sole custody of the remote. 🙂 As I was lying here and trying to enjoy the thought of nothing to do except nap, I had the dreaded feeling that I needed to have a meal ready for my family when they returned home this afternoon.
What could I cook that is fast and most importantly EASY so that I can get back to the couch? I suddenly remembered that I have precooked hamburger in the freezer. When ground beef goes on sale, I like to buy some extra and precook it to freeze. It comes in very handy for chili, spaghetti, Manwich, and other meals. It sure helps speed up the cooking process on weeknights.
Below are pictures of what I used. There are two pictures since I forgot a few things in the first picture.
To make things as low cost as possible, I use the stockpile method. This is where I stock up on things my family uses when they are at rock bottom prices. If I remember correctly, the beans were 2/$1 at Harris Teeter and the corn was 2/$1 at Piggly Wiggly. I usually buy a large container of minced garlic from Sams Club or Walmart. The large container of taco seasoning was purchased at Sams. The frozen green chilis were a close out clearance item from Harris Teeter. I was excited to get these. Green chilis are normally $1-1.40 per can. I got this large container for only $1. I purchased two of them for my freezer. I used about 2 tbsp. of green chilis and a quart jar of my canned tomatoes in place of using Rotel tomatoes. As mentioned above, the ground beef was purchased on sale, cooked, and frozen. Years ago when I was staying at home, I might already have precooked beans in the freezer. This is definitely a money saver, but as Sweet Brown says, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”.
I don’t remember the exact cost of everything pictured, but I would estimate it to be around $6-7 for a large crockpot full of taco chili. This will probably be enough for two meals or one meal and some lunches this week. Of course, we’ll top it with sour cream and cheese and serve it with tortilla chips. This will put our cost right around $5 per meal, which is a nice target price. This chili also freezes well.
For more instructions on making this chili, click on the recipe for taco soup/taco chili. I call it whichever comes to mind first. This is not an exact recipe. I use different kinds of beans sometimes. Feel free to modify it to your liking.
The beginning of school is exhausting! It is the busiest time of the year for me. Even experienced teachers that have been teaching the same grade level for many years are at school late each night. This is my second consecutive year in first grade. Although it is a bit easier this year, there is still lots to do!
Last week I came home from work and had a prepattied meatloaf waiting for me in the refrigerator. This was something I had made during the summer when I had a little more time on my hands. I only had to prepare mashed potatoes and green beans while the meatloaf cooked in the oven.
I have been on the lookout for some easy weeknight meals that are also inexpensive. While at Sam’s Club I noticed that they had a 2 lb. roll of Jimmy Dean sausage for only $5. I decided to pick some up so that I could premake sausage balls for the freezer.
I simply mixed 2 lbs. of sausage with 2 cups of baking mix such a Bisquick, and 1 pound of shredded cheddar cheese. Mix the sausage and baking mix together first until well mixed and then add the cheese and mix together. If you are only using 1 pound of sausage, use 1 cup of baking mix and 8 oz of cheese. Some recipes call for 3 cups of baking mix per pound of sausage. I found this to be way too bready for our family’s taste. Make these however you choose; the recipe is very adaptable.
After mixing up the ingredients, I rolled up the mixture in small balls. Normally I would put them on a cookie sheet and bake them. Since I was freezing them, I put them on parchment paper. I popped them in the freezer for 30 minutes or so and then put them in a Ziploc freezer bag and into the freezer for later use.
Quick freezing the sausage balls is not necessary. Some people simply put them into Ziploc bags. I chose to freeze them first so that they wouldn’t stick together.
When you’re ready for the sausage balls, put as many as you need into the refrigerator to thaw. You could probably cook them from frozen. I’ve never done it though.
Spray your pan with cooking span and bake them at 350F for 20 minutes or so, or until brown. I like mine a little crispy.
Sausage balls can be eaten hot or cold. I have taken them out on a boat ride for an easy on-the-go lunch. You can serve them as appetizers, at a baby or bridal shower, or as part of a meal. I also put them in my children’s lunches to give them some variety. They are very versatile.
What is your favorite freezer friendly meal?
I had six brown bananas sitting on the counter in the fruit bowl. That is not a normal occurrence in our home but last week was busy. We had a weekend marriage conference at church and my parents had the kids. Hubby and I enjoyed some date time and so no one was here to eat the bananas.
I try to never let bananas go to waste. I usually make banana bread with them.
This weekend I saw Christy’s banana bread recipe on her website, Southern Plate. I have no trouble trying something new so I decided to do so.
I used the six bananas to make a double batch of muffins. I ended up freezing 28 muffins for later use. These will come in handy for breakfasts or snacks.
Please overlook this horrible picture. I was in a hurry to put these into the freezer and did not realize how bad the picture looked until later. And why does the meatloaf look yellow? I have no idea.
My family enjoys eating meatloaf but there is a part of it that I do not like — I do not like touching the raw meat. It is so cold and when you mix all of those ingredients together it feels slimy. Yuck!
A few years ago when ground beef went on sale, I decided that I would premix some meatloaf and put it into freezer containers. If I remember correctly, I premixed five meatloaves. A few days before I needed one I simply placed the container in the refrigerator to thaw. Then I slid the meatloaf from the freezer container into my meatloaf pan. It made such a huge difference in meal time preparation.
Unfortunately, my summer is almost over. Soon I will be busy working late, grading papers, working on lesson plans, etc and taking care of my family.
Recently, I remembered how easy it was to have the meatloaf premixed and so I have been looking for a good deal on ground beef. Food Lion had their ground chuck on sale this week for $2.49/lb so I picked up about 8 pounds.
Due to an unexpected eye doctor’s appointment today (there was a cancellation and we got a call to fill in) I wasn’t able to patty up all of the meatloaves but I did two of them. I have a usual meatloaf recipe that I use but decided I would search the internet for a different once. I decided to try Paula Deen’s barbeque meatloaf recipe. I ended up using a little over 2 lbs of meat so I just kind of guesstimated how much of each ingredient to use. Most of the recipes I make are just to use as a guide anyway.
I have some more ground beef in the refrigerator that needs to be used this evening so I will probably patty up a few more tonight.
It is nice knowing that I have banana muffins and meatloaf prepared in the freezer. I hope to prepare a few more freezer meals before school starts back.
What is your favorite freezer meal to prepare?
We’ve been having some pretty warm weather in North Carolina but today was a little bit cooler. I decided to take the opportunity to make some taco soup/chili today. The recipe makes a big pot full so I always try to freeze half of it..
The taco soup is really easy to make and I always try to keep the supplies on hand. We like to top ours with cheese, sour cream, and serve it with tortilla chips. This will definitely make meal time easier and less stressful after a long day at work. Freezer meals save time and money.
What meals do you like to freeze?
Last year when I went back to work full-time I decided that freezer cooking would save me a lot of time. I have done a little freezer cooking before with freezing leftovers and such but now I try to be more intentional about it.
Sometimes freezer cooking depends on my level of energy or time that I have but many times it depends on sales. Whenever I see a good deal on ground beef I know that I can precook and preseason the meat for quick dinners. The same goes with chicken.
Last week Harris Teeter had their whole chickens for only $.59/lb. I went on Monday before the sale ended and purchased two chickens. I boiled the chickens, picked off the meat, and put the torn chicken into meal portioned containers. Here’s the fruit of the labor:
I ended up with enough chicken for at least four dinners. With this chicken I can make chicken casserole, chicken pot pie, chicken and dumplings, chicken enchilada chili, chicken stew, and many other dishes.
Cooking with sale items saves time and money. Do you cook for the freezer?
Every now and then I look through my old recipes or read through some of my old article archives and think, Oh yeah. I haven’t made that in a while. That would be good! Today is one of those days. I started googling my name and found an old recipe on the web. I think it’s been about two years since I’ve made this. I still remember how good this taco recipe was so I need to make it sometime soon. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture for you. If I make it this week I’ll be sure to take a picture for you.
Slow Cooker Tex Mex Chicken Taco Recipe
With the rising price of groceries, we all could use some inexpensive recipes for our families. This is a slow-cooker recipe and it is great because it is easy, tasty, healthy, and inexpensive!
*Be sure to purchase the chicken breasts on sale as this is the most expensive part of the meal.
- chicken (I used 4 boneless breasts) – $2.00
- 1 can diced tomatoes (I used the ones with green chilies) – $.50
- 1 cup green salsa (such as the kind made by Herdez) – $.40
- 3 cloves minced garlic – $.15
- 1 cup sliced onions – $.25
- sliced bell peppers – $.75
- salt and pepper (I used Goya Adobo seasoning, which is one of our faves!)
- 14 oz can of kernel corn, drained – .50
- 15 oz can of black beans, drained and chopped or mashed – $.59
In a crock pot, put in your chicken, tomatoes, about 3/4-1 cup of green salsa, about 1 cup of sliced onions, some sliced bell peppers (if you wish), about 3 cloves minced garlic (I used the bottled minced) and salt and pepper (or Goya Adobo seasoning). Cook the chicken on high for about 3-4 hours, until tender.
Take the chicken out of the crock pot and set it on a plate or cutting board to let it cool some. Drain the juice out of the vegetables, reserving some of the liquid. Put the vegetables back into the crock pot. Add the can of drained corn and drained black beans. Cut up or shred the chicken and put it back into the crock pot. Add a little more of the green salsa (about 1/4 cup) and some of the liquid from the vegetables that you drained (about 1 cup). Stir all this together and allow it to cook for another 15-20 minutes.
Use the chicken in tacos, burritos, or quesadillas. Yummy!
We had enough of this chicken to feed our family of four and then some to freeze for another meal. I also served this recipe with Spanish rice. We topped our tacos with cheese and sour cream and a bit of fresh pico de gallo. Sorry, I wish I had a picture to share.
If you’re like me, then several of your recipes are simply inspirations from things you have read or from other recipes. Such is the case with this chicken enchilada chili. Last week, I was visiting 5 Dollar Dinners and came across Erin’s recipe for this dish. It sounded good and definitely worth trying. I decided to modify it according to my family’s taste. Also, my husband and I enjoy having leftover chili and soups to use for lunches so I wanted to make the recipe go further.
- 1 cup of homemade or store bought beef broth (.25, super double coupon sale)
- 1 6 oz can of tomato paste (.39)
- 3 tbsp of taco seasoning (.15, on sale plus coupon)
- 1 tbsp of chili powder (.05)
- 1/2 diced onion (.10)
- 1 tbsp minced garlic (.10)
- 1 15 oz can of red kidney beans, drained (.69)
- 2 15 oz cans of black beans, drained (1.38)
- 1 12 can of tomatoes with green chilies (.35, one sale and used .50 coupon)
- 1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes (.55, stockpile price)
- 3-4 cups of cooked and shredded chicken from the freezer (.50, on sale for .19/lb)
- sour cream (.75)
- 1 cup shredded cheese (.20, buy 1 get 1 free plus coupon)
- tortilla chips (1.00)
- In a large 5 quart pot, wisk together the beef broth, tomato paste, and about 6 oz (one tomato paste can) of water. Add diced onions and minced garlic. Stir in taco seasoning and chili powder.
- Add 2 cans of black beans, 1 can of kidney beans, 1 can tomatoes with green chilies, and 1 can of crushed tomatoes (I just put my diced tomatoes in the food processor). Stir and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Add cooked chicken. Cover, and simmer for 15-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until warm throughout.
- Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips.
The total cost of this dish was around $6.50, but we ate it for a few days which helped us to save money on work lunches. This dish made about 9-10 bowls of chili.
When I make this dish again, I will probably add one can of drained corn.
You can use less chicken. I made ours with a lot of chicken and it was so good.
When I make this recipe again, I hope to freeze some into lunch portions.
We enjoyed this recipe and it will definitely go in my recipe book to use during these upcoming months.
Every now and then I like to do some batch cooking. I try to use things that I have found on sale and with coupons. This past week, Harris Teeter had chicken fryers on sale for $.57/lb.
I decided to try the chicken stew after seeing the recipe on Southern Plate this week. It reminded me of the Brunswick stew the women’s ministry at church would make for their winter fundraiser. I would purchase extra quarts of the stew and freeze them. I remember how good they tasted on a cold winter day.
Tonight I gave the stew a try and it was yummy and filling. I had a bowl for supper tonight and froze the rest for future lunches and dinners. I also froze the remaining chicken broth to use for later use. I feel a lot of satisfaction from batch cooking because I know it is saving our family time and money, plus it’s usually healthier foods. If we’ve had a long day and I don’t feel like cooking, I know that I can come home and grab something from the freezer. This avoids expensive and unhealthy meals from the drive-thru. I made this pot of chicken stew for about $5. 🙂
Do you enjoy batch cooking? What are your favorite freezer meals?
From time to time, it may seem as though The Thrifty Mommy is crossing over into homemaking but honestly, I believe it all goes hand in hand. One of the ways I save the most money is on my grocery bill. Cooking delicious meals at home is just one of the things that contributes to a low food budget.
Believe it or not, my husband does not enjoy pasta dishes. Every now and then I need some pasta and so I will make spaghetti or something like that for the kids and myself. Finally, I decided to make a no pasta lasagna for my husband. There are many different ways to do this and many other ingredients that you can add, but here’s what I did:
These are in order, with the bottom layer listed first.
- spaghetti sauce with meat (I included a lot of meat to his liking.)
- fresh steamed spinach (or you can use thawed frozen spinach)
- cottage cheese mixed with 2 eggs and minced garlic
- shredded cheddar cheese
- parmesan cheese
- crushed red pepper
- steamed cabbage
- spaghetti sauce
- shredded mozarella cheese
My husband does not like a traditional marinara sauce, so I bought the Bertolli Vodka sauce. You can find it in most grocery stores. I made a small lasagna for him and a regular lasagna for the kids and myself. lol I always make enough lasagna to freeze a little for lunches.
Feel free to change this recipe around. You can use ground turkey instead of ground beef, you can use low fat cheese, or you can add some ground sausage or pepperoni slices. There are so many ways to change this recipe to make it suitable for the Atkins diet, South Beach, etc.
I baked these on 350F until it was hot and bubbly (about 45 minutes). Let me know if you have any questions. Enjoy!
Edited August 1, 2012: I made this pasta free lasagna again this week. This time I layered it as: spaghetti sauce with meat (ground beef and Italian sausage), steamed cabbage (this took the place of the noodles), cottage cheese with egg mixed in, chopped spinach, Italian cheese mixture from Kraft (mozarella, parmesan, romano, etc), layer of pepperoni, layer of salami,spaghetti sauce, Italian cheese. My husband thanked me and said it was good! 🙂
Images (c) Karen Weideman.