Friday, January 27, 2012

Building Blocks to Freezer to YUM

I cannot believe it's already Friday again!  This week has gone by very quickly.  Before the weekend arrives, I wanted to finish up my posting of the 5 building blocks.  If you need a refresher, read this and then this.

I felt good about the prep I completed on Day #1 - now I was prepared to finish the last two building blocks and freeze it all.

The first building block I tackled was the pulled pork.  The pork in my picture doesn't look as good as Rachael's but I'm not afraid to tell you this was the first time I've ever cooked pork this way so I really had no idea what I was doing - if I was cutting the chunks correctly or not.  It was clearly an experiment for me on many levels.  In retrospect, I would have longer cuts of the meat but Simms didn't care.  He loved the smell and taste and I caught him a few times snitching some bites as he passed through the kitchen.  Even if I don't utilize these recipes again, I will definitely consider preparing pork in this manner and freezing it for future recipes.  I'll do the same with the chicken as well.

Pulled Pork...tasted great just like this!

Finally I was ready to complete the last building block - the rice pilaf.  Again, I wasn't sure about this either. There are so many different versions of rice pilaf and I was hoping this was one that I would like.  Good news - I love it!  And once again, even if I didn't do all of these building blocks, I would consider paring this recipe down for an evening meal.  Truly delicious.  This was the one that I taste tested a couple of times myself.
Final building block - rice pilaf
Once everything was cooled, it was time to freeze it.  The instructions on how to do this (portions put in the sandwich bags for each recipe) can be found on the links provided.  Essentially, you break the portions down and store them in regular sandwich bags - that zip.  Close the bags and keep as much air out of them as possible.  Then, all of the little bags are placed into one big 2 gallon freezer bag.  So many positives from this - a few I've experienced are the lack of freezer burn and this can fit in ANY freezer.  Even if you aren't crazy and have a full stand up freezer in your garage, you can store the means for 20 meals in your freezer.  Not sure about that?  I took pictures of my freezer to show you.

The first is a picture of the portion of my top shelf.  The bags are lying on top of one another horizontally.  Later I moved them to vertical once everything was clearly frozen flat.  It was easier for me to access what I needed that way.  To the left you see the containers with the tomato sauce.

And to show you just how little space it took up, I took a larger picture of my freezer.  Everything for those meals is in the upper left portion of it.  

So now you have the building blocks.  Where do you begin?  That's really up to you...and your family.  At first I thought I would start with Meal #1 and work my way through to Meal #20.  Good plan.  Just didn't work for us and Jeter's low tolerance to butternut squash.  

Some of the meals have been a "don't lose that recipe Mom, it was really good" and others were "okay, we got through that but please don't make us do that again".  Honestly, I have enjoyed everything so far but I too, have my favorites.

This is also a great way to get your "feet wet" so to speak if you are venturing into preparing more meals for your family on your own.  Stop reaching for the Hot Pockets or frozen pizzas.  These meals really are simple, time savers that are healthy and delicious. here are some of our favorites:

Spanish Rice with Shrimp - everyone enjoyed it but the boys didn't go for the leftovers.  Too spicy for them.  That was okay though because Poppy and Grammie gobbled it up.

Mango, Pork and Watercress Salad - I did change the greens up a bit and added romaine to it.  The boys had a no thank you helping but Simms and I really enjoyed this.  It is definitely a "make it again" meal.

Fusilli with Chicken and Tomato Sauce - sooooooo quick and easy to make - tasty too!  If your kiddos can get past the fact that the pasta is a different shape from spaghetti then they'll LOVE it.  My boys favorite pasta is angel hair.  I could just make it with that but I am determined to broaden them so I used rotini which is a lot like fusilli.

Pulled Pork-and-Slaw Sandwiches - YUM!  Modifications were made on the addition of the slaw.  It was optional in our home.  I'm already stretching them a lot.  Give me a break!  There was enough left over for sandwiches the next day.  Jeter really liked this a lot.

Pork Fried Rice - this is the one meal where there were not any leftovers.  All the boys went back for seconds.  Wow!  Simms commented that it was better than any he's had at a restaurant and he would rather have this at home.  

Cheesy Spinach-and-Pepper Calzones - another one that I adapted a bit.  I made two calzones according to the recipe and then I made two without the veggies (peppers that is - the spinach was still there) - one included pepperoni and the other ham (leftovers from a baked ham).  YUM!  And now I know how to make my own calzones.  

I could go on and on but the point is to peak your interest so that you too can enjoy these meals with your family.  Hopefully that has been accomplished.

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