Chicken Freezer Meal Workshop

Chicken Freezer Meal Plan on Whisktogether.wordpress

Book Update:  An update on what I learned from “Salt, Sugar, Fat”:  The department of Agriculture receives a $146 billion budget.  Yes, billion.  The nutrition center for our Dept. of Agriculture receives .0046% of the budget.  Ouch.  I learned Lunchables were invented to save slumping bologna sales.  Kool-Aid Koolbursts were invented to get kids to like kool-aid again due to their previous slumping sales as well.  They state they have “real fruit juice” in them which accounts for less than 1/2 tablespoon of fruit juice per bottle.

Freezer Chicken Meals_2

Recipe Update:  

Here is the list of the recipes!  There are 9 of them and the downloads are here and at the bottom of the post.

Recipes:

Cranberry Chicken
Pineapple Chicken
Italian Chicken Tenders
Tomato and Mozzerella Chicken
Fajita Chicken Soup*
Lemon Pepper Chicken
Honey Sesame Chicken
Maple Glazed Chicken
Hickory Grilled Chicken

Chicken Freezer Meal Shopping List
Chicken Freezer Meals Inventory

*The Fajita soup is spicy!!  Like medium-hot to hot spicy.  If you are like me and don’t like spicy, substitute the following for Wildtree’s Fajita seasoning blend:

1-½ teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
½ teaspoons Garlic Powder
½ teaspoons Salt

Print the Inventory on sticker paper and you can use it for making labels, too!

Every 3 months or less, our local grocery store has boneless, skinless chicken breast for sale for $1.79 or $1.99 per pound.  No where in St. Louis can I find a less expensive price.  Well, at least not 1 and 1/2 miles down the road.

Instead of developing another workshop around a variety of meats that can be purchased at normal price, I created my own chicken workshop based solely on the chicken breast on sale.  You could also do this with bone-in  chicken breast which goes on sale for 99 cents/lb. once in a while as well.  Therefore, I bought 5 packages of chicken that weighed 3-4 pounds each.  It takes about 2 lbs. to equal 4 chicken breast which equals one meal for our family of 4  (plus leftovers for lunches because the kids won’t eat an entire chicken breast on their own).  This gives me 9 meals of chicken.  If we eat a chicken meal once a week, I will be through my 9 meals in 3 months and the chicken will be on sale again to make more meals.

Plus, it’s healthy!

Here are my general comments regarding the chicken freezer meal plan:

1.  I have noticed that Ziplock does a better freezer job than the generic brands.  This round of freezing was not great and the reason is my use of the cheaper generic bags.  I am going to go back to Ziplock because they leak a lot less.  The extra 5 cents will be worth it in the long run to not have to throw away a $10 dinner.

2.  When stacking your foil pans in the freezer, do not stack them like normal up and down.  Instead, stack them staggered.  Have the bottom going longways and the one going on top turned 90 degrees like in the photo.  This will keep the food from falling into the other pan before it has the time to freezer all of the way through.

3.  Add salt and pepper at your discretion.  I like to keep the ingredients low-sodium until the very end in order to add salt as I see fit.  I normally use low sodium broths and low sodium soy sauce.

4.  If I list “chicken breast”, then just assume it is skinless and boneless.  Although many of these recipes – unless the chicken is chopped –  could be used with either boneless or bone-in.

5.  This took 2 hours to assemble and an extra 30 minutes to cut my own meat.  I should have had the butcher do it – try to have your butcher do it!  Saves a lot of trouble and washing cutting boards at home, too.

6.  Foil Pans:  I love to use foil pans.  Yes, it costs a little more.  Costco sells these  aluminum pans for $5 for 30 of them.  Uh huh.  30 of them.  I know – you go to Walmart and they cost $1-2 each!  Amazon and restaurant supply stores also carry foil pans in bulk.

Freezer Chicken Meals_1

When using Foil pans:  I always spray  them with cooking spray first before I add anything to them.  Sometimes, if there is a lot of space between the foil and the food (which is common with chicken tenders, cut up chicken, etc.), then I will press a piece of foil onto the food to eliminate air contact.  Then, I add a second piece of foil on top to cover the entire pan.  And third, you can wrap in plastic wrap if you want or not.  If I know it will be a few weeks before we make the meal, I will wrap it in plastic wrap over the foil.

Freezer Chicken Meals

6.  I am a Wildtree representative and love many of their products.  They help eliminate a lot of ingredients because their fajita seasoning is all in one jar.  Or, their garlic and herb blend is all in one jar.  You can purchase these products, or find something similar at your grocery store, or make your own.  I listed the ingredients that would be found if you had the product yourself.  I know I can make my own fajita seasoning, but sometimes it is just easier to have one jar instead of 5 when making meals.

Step One:

Here is the Grocery List and Recipes

Chicken Freezer Meal Shopping List

Step Two:

Here is the inventory I put on my door because otherwise I will forget what is in my freezer.

Chicken Freezer Meals Inventory

A Freezer Thanksgiving

Freezer ThanksgivingYes, you too can create Thanksgiving TODAY!  It is difficult to get food ready, the house ready and keep up with the normal day to day at the same time.  I can’t help clean your house (want to clean mine?  :-D), but I can help you have Thanksgiving dinner ready to go for that special day.

I created a “Freezer Thanksgiving” post last year, but since then I have added many more recipes.  Target has frozen turkey on sale this week for 79 cents per pound for their store brand and 99 cents for Butterball.  I buy the store brand because most of my recipes are for 12-14 pound turkeys.  The Butterball turkeys were around 20 pounds each.

One Month Before:

Make any bread recipes and fully bake them – maybe a little underdone even.  That way when they are heated up on Thanksgiving, you just need to pop them in the oven for a few minutes and have perfectly baked goods.

Pumpkin Biscuits_ on WT  Pumpkin Biscuits:  Not big on pumpkin taste, but great color for the table.

Honey Wheat Rolls Honey Wheat Rolls: Makes tons of these.  They go fast and are excellent for leftover turkey sandwiches!

Cranberry Orange Bread_3CR  Cranberry Orange Bread:  Pretty and delicious.

honey butterCR Honey Butter – Don’t forget to freeze and thaw out that honey butter.  Yum!

Maple Cornbread on Whisk Together  Maple Cornbread or a Corn Casserole

2-4 Weeks Before:  Put side dishes together in foil pans for easy clean-up and your pans will not be tied up in the freezer.  If you cannot get foil pans, simply place a piece of foil and plastic wrap into your dish about 2 times larger than the dish itself.  Fill the dish and wrap in plastic wrap and foil.  Freeze.  Pop out of the container once frozen.  To bake, simply remove from the freezer and remove the plastic wrap and foil.  Place the food back into its original dish.  Thaw if necessary.  Bake as directed.  **Most of these you cook some ingredients first and then pop in the oven to bake.  Do NOT bake – just freeze.  You can bake it from frozen on Thanksgiving and free yourself from side dishes **

sweet potato casseroleCR Sweet Potato Casserole and Low Fat Sweet Potato Casserole

Wildtree Mashed Potatoes on Whisk Together Mashed Potatoes – I like to add dill dip mix and garlic or roasted garlic

Cheesey Spaghetti Squash and Spinach on WT Cheesy Spaghetti Squash and Spinach

Roasted Broccoli Side Dish_1CR Roasted Cheddar Broccoli – Bag the broccoli and oil together.  Bag the crumb mixture topping together.  Put both bags in one large gallon freezer bag.  On Thanksgiving, just dump and roast!

(No Photo of Green Bean Casserole)  But you can freeze it!  Simply make the sauce and add the green beans.  I believe raw, fresh beans would yield the best results.  Wrap the casserole with foil and then plastic wrap.  Freeze.  Unwrap and cook from frozen.  Add fried onions.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with  Butter Pecan Glaze

pumpkin pieCR Pumpkin Pie – can’t have dinner without it.  This is my favorite.  To cut calories, I have even made it without any crust and 2% Evaporated Milk.

Pumpkin pieCR Pumpkin Pie #2 – In case you wanted variety.

Dutch Apple Pie_1 Dutch Apple Pie

cherry blueberry pie Cherry Blueberry Pie 

lemon mascarpone barsCR Lemon Mascarpone Blondies– something different, but very portable and delicious

One Week Before:

turkey

Thaw out that turkey!  Generally, this takes 4 hours per pound.  My 12 pound turkeys need at least 3-4 days.

The Day Before:

1.  Wrap any appetizer platters and place in the fridge or out  – depending on the dish.  Cheese and crackers.  Candy.  Nuts.  But have them on the dish you want them on.  Then, all that needs done is to take off the plastic wrap.

2.  Brine your turkey if you are brining.  I have used Alton Brown’s Turkey recipe which includes brining.

3.  Have ingredients out for dishes that you cannot or didn’t have time to freeze.  Deviled Eggs or Grandma’s potato salad from example.

4.  Cook Breakfast.  I know it sounds weird.  But, sometimes when I know we will have a hectic day I will make breakfast and freeze it the night before.  Just like laying out your clothes for the next day.  Some things I make are pancakes, waffles or egg casserole.

5.  Remove baked goods from freezer and place on counter to thaw.  Place any frozen flavored butters in the fridge or if you are a room temperature butter kind of person, leave the butter on the counter as well to thaw.

The Day Of:

1.  Depending on the time of your guests you can make the turkey the day before or the same day.  A guest here noted that she makes the turkey the day before, carves it and covers it with 1-2 cans of chicken broth and foil.  Reheat in the oven when needed.  Keep the carcass!  It’ll be good tomorrow for stock!

2.  Bake pies first.  They need time to cool.

3.  Bake casseroles and if you need time or room, put the contents into a slow cooker on low and add milk or chicken stock to keep moist.  Only up to 1-2 hours though.

4.  Warm rolls.

The Day After:

1.  Freeze any excess turkey leftovers.

2.  Throw the turkey carcass into a stockpot with some water and veggies for turkey stock.

Taco Meat and Sloppy Joes – 2 Meals from 1 Prep

Sloppy Joe_7 on Whisk Together

Book Update:

Recipe Update:  I have done this numerous times and thought I would share how easy it is to make two meals at once on the stove top.  Most of us probably have made double of the same thing.  Since there are only 2 adults and 2 children, we don’t eat typical 6 serving meals in one sitting and it just seemed simpler to cook two different meals at once.

I started doing this out of necessity as well.  You see, Costco sells their ground turkey in packages of 1.5 lbs.  Normally, my recipes and such call for only 1 lb.  So, instead I just split them up between tacos and/or sloppy joes and/or breakfast sausage.

The easy to find ingredients overlap for both of these meals and that is why I find it so easy to make them at the same time.  Plus, the meals cook at the same rate.  Also, if you have a child that is slightly low on iron especially when the doctor checks at age 1, cooking these in cast iron is a great way to get iron into their diet.  Spaghetti sauce cooked in cast iron increased the iron in the food by over 2,100%!  Now, I wouldn’t do that every day to a normal child of course.  But something to think about if putting acidic foods in cast iron every day.

I have underlined the ingredients that overlap between the two recipes.

Taco_2CR

Taco Meat
servings: 5-6

1 tsp. oil (canola, vegetable, olive, grapeseed, etc.)
1 onion, chopped fine
1 and 1/2 Tb. chili powder
3/4 tsp. coriander
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. dried oregano
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3/4 lbs ground turkey
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. light brown sugar
salt and pepper

1.  Heat your skillet over medium heat and add oil.  Once hot, add your onion and saute for a few minutes.
2.  Add in your spices, garlic and ground turkey.  Cook until no longer pink.
3.  Now, you can drain or not drain on paper towels.  Whichever you prefer.
4.  Back on the burner still on medium heat, add tomato sauce and broth.  Simmer that for about 10 minutes and it will thick like taco meat.
5.  Add the cider vinegar and brown sugar.  Salt and pepper to taste. Serve on taco shells, taco salad, tortillas, fritos, tortilla chips etc.

Sloppy Joe_1 on Whisk Together

Sloppy Joes
servings for 5-6

1 tsp. oil (canola, vegetable, olive, grapeseed, etc.)
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 tsp. chili powder
3/4 lb. ground turkey
8 oz. (1 can or 1 cup) tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tb. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. brown sugar
salt and pepper

1.  Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat.  Add in the onion.  Cook for about 6-8 minutes.
2.  Add in the garlic and chili powder.  Stir 30 seconds.
3.  Add in the turkey.  Cook until no longer pink.
4.  Add in the tomato sauce, spices, ketchup, Worchestershire sauce, vinegar and sugar.
5.  Simmer that for about 5 minutes.  It will thicken a little bit.  Add your salt and pepper and you have yourself a meal!  Serve on hamburger buns.

10 Kid Friendly Meals in 2 Hours

Wildtree Everyday Freezer Meal Workshop_11 on Whisk Together

Several people have asked me for the workshop details for the Wildtree Kid Friendly Freezer Meal Workshop.  Now, most kids have different tastes, so I tried to provide a variety of basic foods kids might like.  Nobody eats fish?  Use chicken!  Nobody likes lemon rosemary blend?  Try lemon pepper!  You really can mix and match to your tastes.   Don’t want to do steak?  Combine them in ground beef to make burgers!  These are recipes I have put on this website or made in the past and simply adapted them to a freezer workshop.

We really did do this in less than two hours.  Good work girls!  It was one hour of prepping the food into the bags.  I timed the workshop and we took 65 minutes to assemble everything including eat snacks and talk.

Meals:

Easy Tacos
Ravioli Lasagna
Hickey Smoked Grilled Chicken
BBQ Pulled Pork
Mini Meatball Sandwiches
Agave BBQ Ribs
Lemon Rosemary Pork Tenderloin
Parmesan and Herb Crusted Tilapia
Rodeo Steaks
Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken

Ingredients we used from Wildtree:

Taco Seasoning
Hickory Smoked Grapeseed Oil
Lemon Rosemary Blend
Roasted Garlic Grapeseed Oil
Rodeo Rub
Hearty Spaghetti Blend
Cactus Pete’s Agave BBQ Sauce

**Extra Ingredients/Hostess Ingredients **   I have had a number of inquiries regarding this workshop with Wildtree.  When doing this workshop yourself, you simply purchase everything on the shopping list (or raid the pantry of course!).  When doing this workshop as a group, page 2 lists the regular shopping list AND the hostess/representative ingredients that they bring to the workshop for everyone to use.  They are pretty standard items like chicken broth, milk, salt and pepper, etc.

Wildtree Everyday Freezer Meal Workshop_9 on Whisk Together

Kid Freezer Workshop_1 on Whisk Together

**Please contact me, or your local Wildtree representative, for more documents for the friendly kid meals workshop.  Thank you so much!

Kid Freezer Workshop on Whisk Together

STEP TWO:  These are the recipes.  You have all your bags ready to go.  Simply add the few Wildtree ingredients you have to the bags.  Don’t have Wildtree?  You can make them or substitute what you have at home.

 

STEP THREE:  Once you have completed the recipe, you slap on one of these stickers.  Print this out on sticker paper (I used full sheet, but I’m sure it would work on the Avery labels as well) and slap it on the bag.  Try to keep the bag dry where you adhere the sticker.  Sometimes they wanted to come off when it was damp.

 

STEP FOUR: Hang this on your fridge!  You will know what is in your freezer and also know how long something will take to cook.  So, if you are short on time, then you could do easy tacos.  If you are really short on prep time, try the pulled pork.  If you have more time to prep, make the yummy meatball sandwiches!  I loved having this when I did freezer meals!!  Such a big time saver.

Mary Ellen Meals – Freezer List – Step FOUR

Kid Freezer Workshop_2 on Whisk Together

Some Tips for Freezing:

1.  Try to remove as much air as possible to avoid freezer burn.
2.  Lay everything flat in the freezer.  This will save space and also speed up the thawing process.

 

A Freezer Thanksgiving Dinner

I love making Thanksgiving dinner any time.  It is a lot of work if you are making most of the meal, so here are some recipes that you can freeze ahead of time.  Just thaw and throw into the oven!  Or thaw on the counter and eat!

Honey Wheat Rolls – You can bake them and freeze in a ziplock bag up to one month.  Be sure to thaw at room temperature overnight before serving.  Or, you could make the dough (in the bread machine – so easy!) and then portion out the rolls, flash freeze, and place in ziplock bags.  You would have to thaw the frozen dough overnight and let rise for 30 minutes before putting in the oven for freshly made rolls that you still made yourself.

You could also accompany them with some yummy Cinnamon Honey Butter.  You can freeze that, too!

Cranberry Orange Bread – Bake and then allow to completely cool.  Wrap in saran wrap and place in a ziplock bag in the freezer up to one month.  Just thaw on the counter overnight and you have delicious cranberry orange bread.

Sweet Potato Casserole – Line your 9×13 casserole dish with foil (leave about a 2″ lip for easy lifting later).  Make the potato mixture, but don’t bake it.  Put the potato mixture in the lined pan and cover.  Freeze for about 2-4 hours.  Lift the casserole from the pan and wrap the top with foil and the entire thing in plastic wrap twice.  Freeze up to one month.  Make the topping and place this in a small baggie with the casserole and freeze as well.  The day before Thanksgiving, thaw in the fridge and then bake as instructed.

You could do this with regular mashed potatoes as well.

Pumpkin Pie – Pies like mincemeat and pumpkin freeze very well.  Most fruit pies will also freeze well though it is recommended to bake cherry before freezing.  As with most baked goods, they will taste best if consumed within 4 weeks.  To freeze your pie:  Assemble you pie and place on a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer.  Double wrap in plastic and/or foil and then place in a ziplock bag.  Most importantly – cook pies from frozen.  Do not thaw them.  It’s easier on you this way anyway!

Dutch Apple Pie – Another Thanksgiving Classic!

Cherry Blueberry Pie – This is my favorite.

Instead of a typical cranberry blob out of the can, here is a cranberry yogurt coffeecake.  Good for breakfast or a side/dessert.

And of course…. we can’t forget the Roast Turkey!

Recipe Updates

I found that adding a little more milk – about 1/8-1/4 cup – to the pancake batter with pumpkin puree really helped the pancakes stay tender, cook more thoroughly and seem less “wheat-y”.  You can find the improved recipe here.

I added only 4 Tb. of butter to the Sweet Potato Casserole instead of the whole 8 Tb. stick and didn’t really notice a difference!  Basically, a savings of 400 calories and 40 grams of fat!  Cool beans.  I desperately need to take a better photo of this.  That will be my task this Fall.  It really doesn’t do it justice.

Make Them a Meal Ideas

Like in most families and church families, we are asked to bring a meal to someone who just had a baby or sick or had a death in the family.  My first question is always, “What do I make???”  I have ideas and then nothing sounds good.  Or I will try to double a recipe so that we have something at home to eat here.  Sometimes, I just draw a blank!

Therefore, here is a list of ideas, links and photos to meal ideas that are “stock” meals for bringing to families in need.   I also tried to pick things that double easily because we know you have to eat, too!  I put “dessert” as a catchall on each one.  Cookies, cakes or bars, I’m sure it will be delicious!  And don’t forget breakfast.  Freeze some pancakes so the kids have something to eat in the morning.  Or include some homemade doughnuts for the morning.

Tip for travel:  It is hard sometimes to get pans back, or you don’t want to burden the recipient with returning the pan.  If your grocery store has a hot deli section, ask for Styrofoam take out containers.  I always offer to pay for them and most of the time I get them for free or for 10 cents.  There are the foil pans in the regular stores as well of course.  The dollar store sells a 3 pack of foil round pans for $1 with a lid!

Meal 1:

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Garlic Bread
Salad
Dessert

Meal 2:

Apple Butter or BBQ Pulled Pork
Hamburger Buns or Thin Buns
Corn
Fruit Salad or Vegetable
Dessert

Meal 3:

Pizza Casserole
Broccoli
Salad
Dessert

Meal 4:

Roast Beef
carrots
mashed potatoes
dessert or applesauce

Meal 5:

Skillet Lasagna
Salad
Green Beans
Dessert

Meal 6:

Chicken Tenders
French Fries or Sweet Potato Fries
Cole Slaw
Dessert

Meal 7:

Sausage Penne Bake
Fruit Salad
Roasted Asparagus or Cauliflower
Dessert

Meal 8:

Easy Enchiladas
Spanish Rice
Refried Beans
Chips and Salsa
Dessert

Meal 9:

Cincinatti Chili
Cheddar Cheese
Chopped Onion
Cooked Spaghetti
Salad
Dessert

Meal 10:

Chili
Veggie and Fruit Tray
Cheddar Cheese, crackers, etc.
Dessert

Meal 11: 

Taco Soup
Tortilla Chips
veggie and fruit tray
Dessert

Fall Recipes at a Glance

Since I accidentally posted two recipes on Monday, I don’t have a new one for today.  However, here is a list of all the Fall recipes that we loved as a family from last year and hope you do as well.  I’m still making them over and over again!

Pumpkin Cake Pops, or just use the base recipe for a pumpkin cake.  Top with nothing and it is still delicious!  Or add cream cheese frosting, or whipped topping.

Apple Crisp

Pumpkin Pie – with a secret ingredient you have in your pantry!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars – these may be my favorite

Pumpkin Oatmeal – my favorite breakfast; you can double this recipe as well and it turns out great;  I cut the brown sugar in half one time.  I could tell, but it was still good, just not as sweet.

Apple Pancake – Original Pancake house copycat recipe

Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll – I hope to make a apple version soon

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Pumpkin Pancakes – get some Vitamin A and fiber into those kiddos!

We can’t have a Fall collection without apple pie!

Apple Butter BBQ Pulled Pork – fabulous freezer recipe as well

Last but not least – pumpkin bread!

Meal Plan and Home Organizers

Soooo… I’m back on the meal planning and organizing my chores thing.  I waver on this especially since my life was consumed by “South Pacific” for 2 months.
I used to plan each day of the week, but sometimes it doesn’t work out.  First, you want to use up a piece of produce that might be going bad.  Second, you feel like eating something else instead.  Or third, you don’t have time to make that item, but you do have time for another.  That is why each category is listed and not the dates.  Since I get my produce box on Tuesdays and the grocery store ad on Mondays, I do most of the planning on Wednesday by default.

I found quite a few home check lists through Money Saving Mom.  She has a 4 weeks to a More Organized Home list.  There  are several meal planners.  There is also a chore checklist that is pretty generic enough to work for me.

Here is my Freezer Meal Planner that I created to help plan and fix freezer meals or snacks.

Weekly Menu Planner

Breakfast
Individual Baked Oatmeal (from freezer)
Whole Wheat Pancakes
Cereal
Pancakes – microwave from frozen
Whole Wheat English Muffin with Scrambled Egg
Baked Apple French Toast

Lunch
Apple butter whole wheat sandwich, fruit, plain yogurt with honey
Greek  Yogurt, fruit and granola
Peanut butter whole wheat sandwich, fruit, celery
Whole grain chicken nuggets, fruit
Chick Fil A

Snacks
Lemon Blueberry Muffins
Triscuits with cheddar cheese
Popcorn
Trader Joe’s Fruit Bars
Fruit Smoothie
Apple dipped in Greek yogurt

Dinner
Baked Beef Ravioli, broccoli steamed, salad
Pork Tenderloin, roasted broccoli and russet potatoes
Homemade Pizza, broccoli steamed, fruit salad
Potato Gallette, Marinated chicken, green beans
Leftovers
O’Charleys- kids eat free

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