Saturday, August 25, 2012

"I don't know---What sounds good to you?"

This statement is repeated almost every. single. night. at our house! For some reason, I'm just not the type of wife/mom/homemaker that plans out my meals and gets my act together to have dinner cooking and ready when everyone gets home. When I'm in school, it's hard to think it up when I get home and I'm tired...Bob feels the same way when he gets home. When it's summer, I don't want to think about's hot, I eat later in the afternoon so I'm not hungry, whatever the excuse. Add to all that Sammi doesn't get home until 7:30ish so it's hard to figure out anything before that. I know...excuses, excuses, excuses. 

Over the summer, I've been on Pintrest more and more. I swore I wouldn't get addicted to it but DANG! There's some pretty sweet ideas on there! I'd seen recipes for freezer meals which are cooked in the crockpot and thought about doing some. Then earlier this week, Kenzi suggested we get together and make some and see how it works. SWEET IDEA!! Cooking with someone else and hopefully getting my act together before I head back to school on Monday. (I'm trying NOT to think about that part!)

Kenzi is an AMAZING "coupon-er" and saves so much money playing the game. One of the blogs she follows is created by a lady who was about to have a baby so stocked up on some freezer meals. We took her suggestion of six chicken meals and then added a Lasagna Rolls recipe I'd tweaked for dinner on Sunday (EVERYONE LOVED IT!). We decided if we were going to do this, we'd make four batches of each recipe: one for Zack & Kenzi, one for Mal & Tom (for tending Wyatt), two for me but we'd pull our some for Maddi to have "home-cooked meals." We went through our pantries and pulled what supplies we needed, created a list of what had then what we needed to buy, then Kenzi set about looking for deals and coupons. All in all, I'd say we spent about three hours in prepping for her to go shopping. I handed over the debit card and she went to the stores. 

When she got home, we spread out all the goods and I was SHOCKED to find out it only cost her about $53.00! I couldn't believe it! She got 15lbs of chicken for $15.00!! (We ended up using my 10lb bag from Sam's Club plus another 10 breasts from Sam's as took a TON of chicken!!)

All the details and credit go to the gal who runs the "Freebies 2 Deals" blog. I cannot believe the amount of time she puts into helping others save money!! You can find the details for organizing it all HERE...

Here's what we fixed (NOTE: We did four of each recipe then divided it up into Ziplocs for each family/household):

Teriyaki Chicken 
  • Bag of Baby Carrots
  • 1/2 Red Onion in Large Chunks
  • (1) 20oz can pineapple (undrained)
  • 1/2 or 1 Garlic Cloves Chopped
  • 2- 3 Chicken Breasts
  • 1/2 cup Teriyaki Sauce
*Add 1/4 cup Teriyaki Sauce to Mixture right before cooking. Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours. Serve over Rice.  (Thanks to Melissa Fallis Test Kitchen for this recipe)
Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • 1-2 Lbs Cooked Chicken Tenders (I used chicken breasts and did not cook them.  I am opting to shred the chicken when it is almost done cooking inside the crock pot instead.)
  • 2-3 Large Potatoes
  • 2 Cans Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1 Can Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 Cup Onion Chopped
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 Small Can Green Chilies
Cook on HIGH for 4-6 hours.

Chicken and Dumplings
  • 4 Chicken Breasts Halved
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Cans Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1 Onion Diced Finely
  • 2 Packages of Refrigerated Biscuit Dough torn into pieces (this is added after cooking- place in a separate baggie.)
Place everything in slow cooker (except the biscuit dough) and fill with enough water to cover. Cook HIGH 5-6 Hours.  30 Minutes before serving, place torn biscuit dough in slow cooker.  Cook until dough is no longer raw in center.
Shredded Buffalo Chicken (ADDED NOTE: Maddi cooked this's got some KICK to it!! BEWARE! I may add sour cream or cream cheese to tone it down and make it creamier. We'll see...)
  • 5-7 Chicken Breasts
  • 1/2 Cup Frank’s Wing Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Yellow Mustard
  • 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
Add all to crock pot.  Cook on HIGH for 5 hours.  With 20 minutes left, shred chicken inside the crock pot.  Then, finish cooking cycle.  Eat on Whole Wheat Buns, with lettuce, tomato and even cheese.
Salsa Chicken (this one smells GREAT going into the bag!)
  • 4 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Cup Salsa
  • 1 Package Taco Seasoning
  • 1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1/2 Cup Reduced Fat Sour Cream
Add everything to Crock Pot (except Sour Cream).  Cook on LOW for 6-8 Hours.  Stir in Sour Cream at the end and serve over rice.
Zesty BBQ Chicken (this one smells FABULOUS when putting the sauce together!!)
  • 5-6 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 12 oz Bottle BBQ Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Italian Salad Dressing
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
Put chicken in bag.  Stir all other ingredients together in a bowl then pour into the bag.  Cook HIGH 3-4 hours or LOW 6-8 hours.
Lasagna Rolls (Like I said, I took a couple of recipes from Pintrest and the box of lasagna noodles and created this one. We had it for our "whole family Sunday dinner" last week and it was a COMPLETE hit!! [NOTE: everyone was rolling their noses up at it while I was making it...HAHAHA!! Fooled them!! :) ])
  • 1 box lasagna noodles
  • 2 lbs extra lean hamburger
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Ricotta cheese, 15 oz carton
  • Mozzarella cheese, about 6 cups
  • Parmasean cheese, about 2 cups (I used the shredded kind from Sam's Club)
  • Parsley flakes, about 1 TBSP.
  • Marinara sauce
  • Alfredo sauce
Cook noodles according to package directions. Lay out individually on waxed paper after rinsing thoroughly.

Pour enough marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish to cover the bottom. (NOTE: When we did this for freezer meals, we put this portion of the sauce in a sandwich-size ziplock bag. We'll thaw it when we're ready to make them.)

Brown hamburger and onion together. Drain well. Add the rest of the marinara sauce to the hamburger mixture.

Beat eggs well then add the Ricotta, Parmasean, and 4 cups Mozzarella cheese along with the parsley flakes. Mix well!

Divide the hamburger mixture among the noodles and spread to cover don't need a ton! Next, spread the cheese mixture over the hamburger. (We ended up using our hands a lot on this was easier than using spoons!) Then, beginning at one end of each noodle, roll them up keeping all the mixture inside. (It's tricky at first but gets easier!) Place the "rolls" in the bottom of the baking dish on top of the marinara sauce. (NOTE: When we did these for the freezer meals, we actually put them on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer for a couple of hours to make it easier to put them in the Zip-locks. You may/may not need/want to do this...) When all rolls are in the baking dish, pour the Alfredo sauce over the top then sprinkle the remaining Mozzarella cheese over that. (NOTE: for the freezer meals, we put the sauce and cheese in separate sandwich-size Zip-lock then placed all three of those in the bag with the rolls.) Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly. Take off foil and let the cheese get a little golden brown. 

This makes at least 20 rolls if all the noodles come out in tact. We fed ten adults with leftovers for Sunday dinner. When we did the freezer meals, we made a little bigger batch (used more Ricotta and Mozzarella, another egg, and more noodles) and then divided it. I think we're going to need more marinara and/or Alfredo but we'll have to see when we bake it. Most of us have those on hand anyway so we should be fine.

This is a shot of the finished product! We figure we got 28 meals (7 different meals for 4 families consisting of 8 adults and a 1-year old) for about $100 (that includes what we purchased just for this and what Kenzi and I had in our pantries). It figures out to be $1.78 per person per meal! Of course, there will be minor additions like rice or hoagie buns but that's MINIMAL!! I can't wait to try it next week!!

BEST PART OF IT ALL...spending the day with Kenzi, Wyatt, Mal &; Drew!! We giggled, talked, the boys took naps...GREAT DAY!!!!!!!!!!!

1 comment:

Mallorie Forbes said...

I love this!! I made the zesty BBQ chicken last night and we had it over rice! It was amazing! My two picky eaters cleaned off their plates and was looking for more.
I am making the teriyaki chicken right now. These are such a great thing and I want to do a months worth so I don't run out. Ha ha