Freezer Meals

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This is not a list of make-ahead meals to store in the freezer, much as I appreciate those. Instead, this list grew out of my recent freezer (and pantry) inventory and reflects the meals I can make right now (more or less) using ingredients I have on hand. It’s long and it’s not an actual meal plan, as such. It only includes food I have on hand right now, too. And that will probably change as I plan to pick up some stew meat over the weekend (good sale). And I did include a couple of things that aren’t meals, but reminders of what I can or want to do with other items in my freezer!

Freezer Meals

Parmesan Tilapia

  • Freezer: tilapia
  • Pantry: breadcrumbs, Italian spices
  • Fridge/Fresh: Parmesan cheese, mayo

Horseradish Tilapia

  • Freezer: tilapia
  • Pantry: breadcrumbs
  • Fridge, Fresh: horseradish, mayo, Dijon mustard

White Fish & Veggie Casserole

  • Freezer: white fish
  • Pantry: canned tomatoes, dill, onions, oil
  • Fridge, Fresh: mayo, carrots, celery

Balsamic Tilapia & Spinach Salad

  • Freezer: tilapia
  • Pantry: oil, balsamic vinegar, herbs & spices
  • Fridge, Fresh: spinach, carrots, tomatoes

Maple Soy Glazed Salmon

  • Freezer: salmon
  • Pantry: soy sauce, maple syrup, oil, garlic
  • Fridge, Fresh: ginger root

Broiled Salmon w/Tomato & Onion Pan Sauce

  • Freezer: salmon
  • Pantry: canned tomatoes, onion, oil
  • Fridge, Fresh: basil or parsley

Shrimp Fra Diavalo

  • Freezer: shrimp
  • Pantry: tomatoes, chili flakes, oil, white wine, oregano
  • Fridge, Fresh: basil, parsley

Buffalo Wings

  • Freezer: chicken wings, butter
  • Pantry: franks red hot sauce, herbs and spices
  • Fridge, Fresh: blue cheese dressing

Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos

  • Freezer: chicken
  • Pantry: black beans, herbs and spices
  • Fridge, Fresh: lime juice, cilantro

Southwest Chicken Stew

  • Freezer: chicken, corn
  • Pantry: canned tomatoes or salsa, black beans
  • Fridge, Fresh: cream cheese

Chicken and Dumplings

  • Freezer: chicken, peas, corn, broth, butter
  • Pantry: flour, bouillon, onions
  • Fridge, Fresh: carrots, potatoes, egg

Chicken Pot Pie

  • Freezer: chicken, peas, corn, broth, butter
  • Pantry: flour, bouillon, onions
  • Fridge, Fresh: carrots, potatoes

Oven Fajitas

  • Freezer: chicken strips
  • Pantry: spices, oil, onion
  • Fridge, Fresh: peppers, tortillas

Chicken w/Peppers and Olives

  • Freezer: chicken strips
  • Pantry: oil, couscous, onions
  • Fridge, Fresh: peppers, olives, capers

Chicken Parmesan

  • Freezer: chicken cutlets, red sauce
  • Pantry: breadcrumbs, flour, seasoning, oil, pasta
  • Fridge, Fresh: egg, Parmesan

Chicken w/Pan Sauce

  • Freezer: chicken cutlets, butter
  • Pantry: seasoning, oil, wine
  • Fridge, Fresh: capers, dijon

Chicken Kafta Kebabs

  • Freezer: ground chicken
  • Pantry: roasted red peppers, seasonings, oil
  • Fridge, Fresh: egg, parsley

Chicken Burgers

  • Freezer: ground chicken
  • Pantry: seasoning
  • Fridge, Fresh: egg, condiments

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

  • Freezer: ground chicken
  • Pantry: Franks red hot sauce, seasonings
  • Fridge, Fresh: egg, blue cheese dressing

Korean Beef

  • Freezer: ground beef
  • Pantry: soy sauce, sesame oil
  • Fridge, Fresh: romaine lettuce, mushrooms, ginger, garlic

Beef Empanadas

  • Freezer: ground beef, discos
  • Pantry: oil, olives, raisins, seasonings
  • Fridge, Fresh: sofrito

Tacos

  • Freezer: ground beef
  • Pantry: taco seasonings, onion, beans, rice
  • Fridge, Fresh: salsa, cheese, avocado

Meatballs

  • Freezer: ground beef
  • Pantry: breadcrumbs, herbs and spices
  • Fridge, Fresh: egg, Parmesan

Burgers

  • Freezer: ground beef
  • Pantry: seasonings
  • Fridge, Fresh: cheese, condiments

Pumpkin Chile

  • Freezer: ground beef or turkey
  • Pantry: pumpkin, tomatoes onion, seasonings
  • Fridge, Fresh: green onions

Pork and Hominy Stew

  • Freezer: pork chops
  • Pantry: hominy, pinto beans, onion, seasonings, tomatoes (?)
  • Fridge, Fresh: carrots, celery, garlic

Pineapple Glazed Pork Chops

  • Freezer: pork chops
  • Pantry: pineapple, apricot jam
  • Fridge, Fresh:

Sausage, Kale and White Bean Soup

  • Freezer: Italian sausage
  • Pantry: oil, white beans, broth or bouillon, onion
  • Fridge, Fresh: kale, carrots, celery

Sausage and Cheese Pizza

  • Freezer: Italian sausage, pizza dough, red sauce
  • Pantry: oil, seasonings
  • Fridge, Fresh: mozzarella cheese

Ham Salad

  • Freezer: ham
  • Fridge, Fresh: mayo, pickles,

Ham and Cheese Pie

  • Freezer: ham, butter, eggs
  • Pantry: flour, salt
  • Fridge, Fresh: cheese, milk

Egg McMuffins

  • Freezer: eggs, ham
  • Pantry: roasted red peppers, seasonings, oil
  • Fridge, Fresh: egg, parsley

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

  • Freezer: roasted butternut squash
  • Pantry: curry powder, onion
  • Fridge, Fresh: apple, milk/cream

Hashbrown Casserole

  • Freezer: hashbrowns, ground meat or sausage
  • Pantry: seasonings, onion
  • Fridge, Fresh: eggs, cheese, milk

Granola w/Sliced Almonds

  • Freezer: sliced almonds
  • Pantry: rolled oats, oil, honey, spices, dried fruit

Spiced, Roasted Almonds

  • Freezer: whole almonds, butter (or)
  • Pantry: spices, sugar, oil (if not butter)
  • Fridge, Fresh: egg white

This manages to be both really long and not at all comprehensive. But I think between this list and my Pantry Meals list, I’ve got a very good starting point for making up a list of possible meals in March!

 

 

 

 

 

Will I Do It Again?

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Today I picked up my Zaycon Fresh chicken order. This is the first time I’ve ordered anything through this company and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Besides four 10 pound bags of boneless, skinless chicken breasts! In the end I have 33 bags of chicken in my freezer, some cut into strips for fajitas, some cut into cutlets and some in two breast portions for stews and crockpot meals. This should last us at least until the end of the year, maybe longer. The whole process of trimming and prepping the chicken took several hours. I’m really pleased, though, that I have it prepped for how I like to use it — I really should be able to just grab it out of the freezer and go. I was a little too tired to take a picture of everything once it was done, though. 🙂

Overall, the chicken was comparable to other low-priced chicken I’ve bought before (on sale at Aldi and Winn-Dixie, for example). They are double lobed, so you need to split them and there is also some fat and cartilage that needs to be trimmed. Again, while I’d not purchased double-lobed chicken breasts before, the amount of trimming was comparable to other chicken purchases. I’d seen a couple of reviews where people either had to trim quite a bit or didn’t expect to have to trim at all. To be fair, the photo of the chicken on their website is beautiful and ready to cook. I am a cynical person who grew up in and around farms, so my expectations were somewhat less…idealized, I suppose. It was not hard to process and I found that the mess was pretty minimal, even with 40 lbs of raw chicken on hand.

The thing that probably has me most questioning whether or not I’ll do this again is simply the quantity itself. I DO like buying in bulk and having a year’s worth of chicken stored makes me happy. But it did take quite a bit of time to process the chicken. And while the price was very good, I can frequently find sales on chicken here that bring the price on grocery store chicken down to a comparable rate. With that in mind, I will probably NOT order through Zaycon again, not because the quality is bad or I am unsatisfied with my purchase. Just because it might not be the best fit, overall, for us. But we’ll see. Perhaps the allure of not buying chicken for a year will sway me to reorder.

Caesar Salad Dressing

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This is such a simple recipe for a really, really good Caesar dressing. I’ve always found the original recipe a bit fiddly and…I’m not really into the raw egg and anchovy paste thing necessarily. I like it when others make it, but not enough to want to do it myself. So when my sister shared with me this easy recipe, I was sold. Actually she made us chicken Caesar salads when I was visiting in December, the dressing was awesome and then she told me that she made it! So I had to have the recipe. I am not sure where the original is from, and I think she’s made a few adaptations to it as well.

This isn’t a dressing you can shake in a jar, because of the mayo and Parmesan, but it still whips up very quickly and tastes very much like the creamy Caesar dressings you find in restaurants.

Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing 

Makes about 1 cup

  • 1/4 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  1. In a bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, Parmesan, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and garlic.
  2. When thoroughly combined, slowly whisk in olive oil until incorporated.

Notes: Freshly ground pepper is a good addition as well. I don’t really measure, just eyeball it, so if this is you, keep an eye on the oil as you add it as it can thin out the dressing pretty quickly. I wanted something reasonably pour-able, but you might like a thicker dressing. Just be aware. 🙂

Freezer Inventory

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Like me, the polar bear is wondering how so much food managed to accumulate in her cold storage!

I finally inventoried my upright freezer this weekend. I’ve been meaning to do this really since I embarked on a pantry challenge in January, but definitely since I wrote up my pantry inventory the other week. There were some surprises for sure. I thought, for example, that I had at least one chuck roast still in the freezer but I do not. I found a lot of random items, which I expected. I pulled several things to use this week in meals, and need to get started on a freezer meal plan similar to the pantry meal plan I made earlier this month. I felt especially compelled to get this done today because I signed up for my first Zaycon Fresh order next week and will have 40lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breast that needs to fit in the freezer. I’m excited about this as chicken is probably what we like to eat the most, but I have been trying to eat up the others meats in our freezer the last couple of months. I’m looking forward to having plenty of chicken available!

I did have to throw out a few things, unfortunately. One package of marinated pork chops that was really freezer burned (it had been in the freezer for a looooooong time), one half pack of country sausage that was also freezer burned, and a small bag of pepperoni that had shriveled into itself and was just generally pretty gross. I also have some leftover bits and bops still in the freezer that may or may not have compromised quality — I’ll be assessing those as I pull them to possibly use.

Here are the meals I’m making this week:

  • Cabbage and noodles w/bacon (frozen cabbage, frozen bacon)
  • Sausage and pancakes w/applesauce (frozen sausage, frozen applesauce, pancakes are being made using a baking mix I had stored in the freezer)
  • Ham and white bean soup w/kale (frozen broth, frozen ham, frozen beans)
  • Tofu ramen bowls (frozen edamame)
  • Chicken Caesar salad (frozen chicken breasts)

And now, the actual inventory. One note — we have two ball pythons. We keep their food in the freezer, as it is cheaper to buy in bulk. But…I fully recognize that rats are an atypical item in most people’s freezer.

Pet Food

  • Rats, 8

Large Roasts (over 5lbs)

  • Ham
  • Young turkey
  • Pork should roast

Meat, Fish, Poultry

  • White Fish, 4lbs
  • Salmon, 1lb
  • Shrimp, 3/4lb bag
  • Chicken wings, 2lbs
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 3lbs
  • Ground chicken, 2lbs
  • NY strip steaks, 6 (about 4lbs, 3 packs of two steaks)
  • Ground beef, 3.5lbs
  • Pork sirloin chops, 6 (3 packs of two chops)
  • Sweet Italian sausage, 1lb
  • Ham slices, 2 packs (from a ham cooked in the fall — I couldn’t find this earlier in the month, glad they resurfaced)

Prepared Foods

  • Eggplant lasagna
  • Spinach & feta quiche
  • Fried rice frozen meal
  • Squash and sausage pilaf, 12 cups (3 qt containers)
  • Butternut squash soup, 2 cups
  • Roasted butternut squash, 10 cups
  • Black beans, 2 cups
  • Sausage & tomato sauce, 2 cups
  • Red sauce, 1 qt + 1 cup (small container for pizza)
  • Shredded hash browns, 1 bag
  • Vegetable soup, 1 qt
  • Assorted appetizers (heat & eat), 1/2 of three different boxes
  • Garlic bread, 1 box (2 loaves)
  • Cool Whip, 1 container
  • Strawberry freezer jam, 5 containers (4 half pints, 1 pint)

Beverages & Broth

  • Bottled water, 8
  • Apple cider, 1 gal
  • Apple cider, for glazes, 3 2 cup containers
  • Fruit juice, for punches, 10 2 cup containers
  • Turkey broth, 2 qts
  • Corn broth, 2 qts

Fruit, Veggies, Baking

  • Whole almonds, 8 cups
  • Sliced almonds, 8 cups
  • Flour, 25lbs (plus 5lbs I had to take out of the freezer because the bag split when I was moving it around)
  • Peas, 1lb
  • Corn, 1lb
  • Shelled edamame, 4lbs
  • Blueberries, half of a large bag from BJs
  • Egg whites, 4 pints
  • Egg yolks, whole eggs, 3 containers
  • Butter, 10lbs

This does not include the freezer over my fridge which also probably needs to be sorted through. It mostly contains yeast, bread crumbs, beer steins, frozen bananas, and open bags of peas and corn. But it’s stuffed, so clearly that is not ALL that is in there. Anyway, my idea to commence a pantry challenge in March is clearly a good idea!!