I love to cook, however every mom knows how challenging this can be once kids enter the picture. Because of this, I have learned to be intentional and use my freezer to my advantage. If I don’t do this, I can quickly get in a rut of not knowing what to cook, we’ll eat sandwiches for a week straight, or I’ll start to pick up drive thru a little too frequently. These food prep ideas are actually extremely helpful in the long run.
Here are three things you will always find in my freezer:
- Diced vegetables: I buy a bag of onions and chop them all up at one time and store in either a large freezer bag or tupperware. Do you ever buy an onion for a recipe that calls for ½ cup chopped onion, then the other half of your onion goes bad before you find anything to use it for? It saves so much time to easily pinch out your desired amount. I also do this for green pepper, zucchini, carrots, and celery — think stir frys, omelettes, soups, etc. You are so much more likely to eat and incorporate more vegetables into your meals when they are already prepared in your freezer. Plus you are less likely to waste food.
- Ground sausage and beef: I fry up a pound of both and keep them stored in my freezer at all times. Want to make a lasagna? Great, you already have the meat.
- Cookie dough: If I am making homemade cookies of any kind, I always double the recipe. I roll the extra dough into a cylinder shape and wrap it in saran wrap, then tin foil and freeze. This has come in handy more times than I can count. When you need cookies, slice it like a roll of frozen dough from the store and bake. Voilà — you have homemade cookies!
When I set out to find a classic or staple recipe, I try several different recipes and tweak them to our liking. The first winter I was married, I did this with chili and probably tried close to 10 recipes. I know my husband was absolutely sick of eating chili. Below you’ll find the recipe we liked best.
Here are my top three favorite classic soup recipes for fall:
1 large can stewed tomatoes
28oz chicken broth
2 cans Cannellini beans
½ cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic
2oz pasta (I like rotini)
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp basil (fresh if possible, though the tubes in the refrigerated section are just as good as fresh)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
Top w/ Parmesan cheese
Directions: Put all of the ingredients in your stockpot and bring to a boil. Then, turn down to medium for about an hour, stirring occasionally (or, if in the crockpot, on low for 4 hours).
This is so good and I virtually have no prepping to do because so many ingredients I already have on hand from the freezer. I don’t have exact amounts of vegetables for this recipe. This is pretty hard to mess up, so I would just add the veggies and spices to your liking!
1 ½ lb ground beef
1 can diced tomatoes
1 diced onion
1 ½ tbsp chili powder
1 ½ tsp cumin
32 oz tomato juice
1 can Brooks hot chili beans (yes, Brooks brand is the best)
2 tsp sugar
2 oz spaghetti noodles (if the noodles measure the diameter of a quarter, you have approximately 2 oz.)
Directions: Boil noodles and set aside. Cook ground beef (unless you have it prepared from the freezer). Put the rest of the ingredients in your stockpot and cook for one hour, stirring occasionally, on medium heat. Add noodles when ready to serve.
3. Beef Stew
1 lb Beef stew meat
McCormick’s beef stew seasoning packet
1 ½ cup water
32 oz beef broth
Directions: Cut beef stew meat into bite-sized pieces, then toss in a colander in flour. This step is key into ensuring beef is tender when cooked. Brown meat in olive oil and salt and pepper. In the SAME pot in which you browned the beef, add beef broth and bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer for 30 minutes. This step adds more flavor to the dish. Then add vegetables, water, and the beef stew seasoning packet. Cook on medium/low for another 45 minutes, stirring to ensure the seasoning is distributed evenly.