I posted a few weeks ago about wanting to prepare some freezer meals to make things easier on myself and my family on busy nights. Well, friends, I’ve finally started.
I started Thursday by prepping some chicken breasts a la the Martha Stewart recipe listed in that post. FYI, an 8 ounce container of Panko breadcrumbs was perfect for 12 thin-sliced chicken breasts. I baked 6 that day for dinner and leftovers and froze the other 6 in 1-gallon freezer bags with parchment paper between each layer. I also froze 12 additional chicken breasts in the same fashion without the breading and seasoned 2 Eye O’ Round Roasts with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder before freezing them as well. On Friday, I received the phone call that my grandfather had passed. I spent the day moping around and being fairly useless. By Saturday, I had decided to completely turn myself around and be productive.
I started by defrosting about 5 lbs of ground beef. I used 2 lbs of that to make a double portion of baked ziti, which I then separated into 6-8.5x6x2″ aluminum foil containers and wrote the reheating instructions on the lid (pictured above). These containers are the perfect size for 2-3 people, or 1-2 people with some leftovers. My ziti recipe is listed below if you’d like to make it for yourself. The measurements are approximate because I’ve been making it for so long that I don’t measure anymore. I’m sorry in advance for that.
Next, I took the remaining ground beef and used it to make my homemade meatballs. This recipe is also listed below if you’d like it. One of my 1-lb bags of ground beef looked a little short, so when I say I used approximately 3 lbs of beef, that’s why. The recipe I use yielded me 64 meatballs. I put 24 meatballs each in 2 1-gallon freezer bags, one meatball jumped to it’s death and was given to the dog, and I put the remaining 15 in another freezer bag. These are perfect for nights when we don’t really feel like cooking and pasta is a quick option. Throw the meatballs in with the sauce for 30 minutes, and now you have a protein too. Peanut swears these are the best meatballs she’s ever had. At 6, she’s not exactly an expert, but I’ll take the compliment any day.
Because we were driving out to New Jersey for my grandfather’s services and it’s hard for me to be there for my grandmother when we live 6 hours away, I brought 2 containers of ziti and the bag of 15 meatballs. I want to make sure she’s eating well and I know how much it sucks to cook dinner for one. They won’t last forever, but they will last until the next time I visit. It’s a small thing to do, but it’s a way for me to be there for her even when I can’t be.
So, for anyone who’s keeping score, that’s 6 breaded chicken breasts, 12 unbreaded, 2 roasts, 4 containers of baked ziti, and 48 meatballs that I was able to prep in 2 days. Not too shabby if you ask me. And I’m just getting started. 🙂 Press the Read More tag for the recipes.
Until next time!
1 box Penne pasta
1 lb ground beef
1 1/2 jars tomato sauce of your choice
1 lg container ricotta cheese
1 lg bag of mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, cook ground beef on high, seasoned to taste with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions, removing from water 1-2 minutes early to ensure pasta is al dente. Drain ground beef and return to pan, add in sauce, and reduce heat to medium high. Drain pasta and add to beef/sauce mixture. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, half of the mozzarella cheese, sprinkle in Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning to taste. Fill the bottom half of an 8×10″ cake pan with half of the pasta mixture. Cover with the cheese mixture. Add remaining pasta mixture. Use remaining mozzarella cheese to cover the top of the dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30-45 minutes or until cheese is bubbling. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes.
1-lb ground beef
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Egg (room temperature)
3/4 c. water (room temperature)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Flatten ground beef on the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Add garlic, salt and pepper (to taste). Add egg. Top with water. *Keep in mind, everything is just being layered. Please DO NOT mix yet.* Cover water with Parmesan cheese. Top with bread crumbs. Fold mixture together from the outside in going around the bowl 1-2 times until completely mixed. Try to handle the mixture as little as possible.
Roll mixture into 1-in balls and place on baking sheet. Bake about 25-30 minutes or until browned. Freeze or cook in sauce for additional 30 minutes. Yields approximately 24 meatballs.