7 Freezer Meals for New Parents! (Part 1)

Yaaaaaaaaay!!! In one week, Baby S is coming!!! The Ryan and I can’t wait to meet her (and neither can her parents)!! Daddy S is so excited, he is posting a countdown on his Facebook every day. Like the true friend I am, I posted the Final Countdown by Europe on his page. Because let’s be honest, who wouldn’t?

Go Go 80s Hair Music!! 😀

Anyway, since this is the first baby for both Mommy and Daddy S, a few friends of mine and myself are rotating freezer meals for them. I am off this week – field school ended last week and my first class of Summer Session II is tonight, so I took the week off before going back to work to get things done and acclimate to the new class routine. In the mean time, I volunteered to be the first rotation of food for the new parents since I have some time! We figured hey, the last thing Mommy and Daddy S are going to be thinking about is dinner, right? So why not help out?

I spent the day yesterday compiling a list of recipes to make and scouting out Sam’s Club and the local Wallyworld and supermarkets for the best deals. I came up with 7 or so recipes to make for Mommy and Daddy S that should last them 2-3 meals each. 🙂 That should hold them over for a while, and the yield *should* be hopefully 21-25 meals or so, depending on how big of portions they take and whether they eat them for lunch too. 😛

The menu is as follows:

Baked Penne with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Chicken

MawMaw’s Spaghetti

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken and Artichoke Pasta Bake

Turkey Burgers (my own recipe that I made up, you’ll see it below).

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken and Beef Enchiladas, in both Red and Green Sauces (again, no actual recipes for these, just using the canned sauces and some extra oomph of my own to taste).

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Since Sam’s Club has no form of actual payment that I can use (why don’t they take Visa? Soooooo dumb!) and I refuse to get a Master Card or Discover card specifically to shop there, I had to wait until the Ryan came home before I could buy things there. While I waited, I headed over to Walmart because they have the best prices on canned goods and they were having a sale on cheese. After I left there, I went to shoppers because they have the best deal on produce and noodles. Yeah, it’s kind of sad how I know those things..<_<

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Not a bad haul, though, yeah? That is all the non-meat product I needed for this recipe list. Yeah, I write notes to my Pookie on the whiteboard, don’t judge me. =P

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While I was waiting for the Ryan to get home, I cooked the noodles I would need for the penne and rotini pasta dishes. Then I put them in a Seal-A-Meal bag and stuck them in the fridge to cool down and dry out.

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After our trip to Sam’s Club, the Ryan and I came home pretty darn happy. We picked up these trays, meat, and flour tortillas (2 bags of 10 for $3.93, just fyi). In case anyone cares, you can get 30 of those trays with the lids for less than $12 at Sam’s. Given that they’re like…$5 for 2 trays at the grocery store and most don’t come with lids, I feel like this is a really good thing to know.

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We hit a special at Sam’s Club on chicken tenders, 6 lbs for $9, yes please! I brought them home and cooked them in the crock pot overnight in some chicken broth, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper and this morning I got up and the chicken was basically pull apart shreddable. 🙂

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I didn’t know until yesterday, but apparently the packs of turkey at Sam’s Club are 5 lbs not 2.5 as I had anticipated, so now I have a bunch of extra for the Ryan and I and will be making us patties for turkey burgers and reserving some for chili as well. 😀 The ground beef was from Giant cuz they had the best price (and I had to run down there for milk once I got home and realized the penne recipe called for 6 cups and my measly half pint of milk just wouldn’t do).

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I had the ingredients on hand for spaghetti sauce, and since I didn’t need meat, I also made this while the Ryan was at work. Funny story, I bought what I thought was red wine for the sauce. Turns out it was red wine VINEGAR. Can you say ruined? Yeah, this was my second attempt. >.< Derp! But that’s done and in the freezer.

The first recipe I made this morning was the Penne with Chicken and Sun Dried Tomatoes.

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I didn’t take many pictures while prepping, as you can see, I was still working on my coffee and was tired. Since I had the penne and chicken on hand already, I added them to one of the trays and mixed them together after seasoning them with salt and pepper.

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There you go, a prep shot. After reading some of the reviews on the site for this particular recipe, I decided to add some extra seasonings and saute the mushrooms before adding them to the sauce. I made sure I had everything standing by for the sauce. 🙂 Look at those burners go!

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Here is the finished product of the sauce: per the reviews, I added salt and pepper, some paprika, a little dash of cayenne, some basil, parsley, and vermouth. And a small handful more of cheese. Because everyone loves cheese. I also used the entire jar of sun dried tomatoes. I tasted the sauce and it was good. I might have to make this for myself and the Ryan sometime after we’re off our wedding diets. 🙂

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I added the sauce to the waiting dish and stirred it together….

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Added just a little more cheese on top…

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And wrote the directions….and yes, I do have to remind them to set the timer. They’re not too good at that without a baby. xD Meal two (I’m counting the spaghetti as 1): complete!

I then moved on to the Turkey and Artichoke pasta bake since I had those noodles standing by as well. This dish took considerably less time to make as everything was already standing by. PS – Time goes by much faster if you’re dancing around your kitchen singing to iTunes. Just a thought.

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Does anyone else think of the final scene of Cruel Intentions whenever this comes on? As Reese Witherspoon’s character drives off in Ryan Philippe’s convertible after he died…*cry* Gahd, that movie!!

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I got out one of the 2.5 lb packages of ground turkey and split it exactly in half (thanks to my handy dandy food scale). I dumped the rotini into a big mixing bowl and browned the turkey in a skillet, with a plate full of paper towels waiting for it to drain. Yes, I also made corn on the cob for lunch. Who doesn’t love it in summer? (Besides the Ryan :()

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Meanwhile, I added the other half of the turkey to a bowl with one egg, some panko bread crumbs (let’s face it, they’re the best kind of crumb), worcestershire sauce, Lawry’s seasoned salt, pepper, paprika, and onion flakes. I mixed them all together for patties. No, I have no idea how much I put in there. I eyeball it…=\

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I weighed each patty to be 4 oz and then formed them.

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Since my cookie sheet has taken a walk to some mysterious place, I lined one of the tray tops with parchment paper and popped the patties into the freezer for an hour to firm up.

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While the patties were in the freezer firming up, I added one can of regular diced tomatoes (not drained), one can of fire roasted tomatoes (also not drained), two jars of artichoke hearts (drained) and that whole jar of pesto to the sauce. Let me tell you what – the pesto smelled really good, so I grabbed a piece of herb & garlic focaccia that the Ryan picked up from the bakery and spooned a little of it onto the bread….O.M.G.!! I thought I had died and gone to heaven. No, for real. The pesto was kind of pricy, but I didn’t want to give my friends shitty pesto (really? who wants to eat shitty pesto?), so I paid for it. Worth every penny. And randomly found at Walmart, go figure! It was so good I honestly think that if I have time I might drive back over there to get a jar so we can warm the foccacia and dip the pesto tonight. /drool. It was soooo delicious.

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I mixed everything together in the big bowl along with a serious helping of Italian seasoning and about a teaspoon of extra salt to bring out the flavors (I tasted as I went), and poured it all into the dish.

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I mixed a small portion of provolone/mozzarella cheese into the noodles/turkey mixture and then sprinkled a generous helping on top. And voila! Meal #3 all done.

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I guessed on these instructions. Mommy S is really good with cooking, so I am hoping that these instructions are either good, or she monitors the food and adjusts as necessary. The website I got the recipe from didn’t really have freezer instructions. 😦

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And she may cry but her tears will dry when I hand her the keys to a shiny new Australiaaaaaaaaaaaa *sing* Don’t judge, I’m a Whedonverse fangirl. 😉 Also Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion! *swoon*

Moving on! To chicken pot pie.

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It starts with 2 frozen pie crusts. 🙂 Yes, this recipe makes 2 separate pies, yay!

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Meanwhile, I got some mixed veggies boiling in lower sodium chicken broth. It should be noted that every recipe where possible, I reduced sodium for Mommy S. 🙂

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Layered in the veg when they were done and strained. 😀

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And then poured in the sauce. The recipe calls for just plain sauce, but that’s boring. So I seasoned with some salt, pepper, paprika and herbs du provence. I am so sad, I am out of garlic powder. It’s a travesty. True story.

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I used pre-made Pillsbury pie crusts…not the frozen ones, the ones you’ll find in the refrigerator section of your grocery store. Meanwhile, all of the leftovers I trimmed off both pies are in a plastic bag and I’ll figure out what to do with them later. Maybe some sort of cinnamon sugar stick or something for the Ryan. Idk. I did make two pies, as you saw, but I kept one for myself. 🙂 Gotta feed the Ryan and I also, and my class starts at 6!

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Ta da! 😀 Chicken pot pie. I sprayed the pie crust with some Pam and wrapped with Saran wrap before wrapping with tin foil, hopefully to keep the crust from drying out in the freezer and from sticking to the wrap…that way it didn’t peel onto the foil and get grody and ruin the pie!

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All this cooking spins my head right round right round, baby! I’m telling you…iTunes makes the world better. Sadly, though, my playlist cycled. I had to turn on something else at that point, lol. There’s only so much Deadmau5 repeats one can take…unless it’s Ghosts N Stuff. I could listen to that on repeat all day.

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Finally! The burgers are ready! I prepped a freezer bag, sprayed them down with Pam to keep them from sticking to the wrap…and then got the brilliant idea to wrap them in parchment paper AND saran wrap. Derp!

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And this is why everyone needs a Seal A Meal machine. I’m telling you. Do it. You won’t regret it for a second.

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And that is where I stopped for the day. They didn’t want more than 3-4 trays, and I’m out of room! But, there are two giant pasta dishes, turkey burgers, a chicken pot pie, and two containers of spaghetti sauce in there for them. 🙂 All in all, I’d say successful! I will make more (and blog more) on Friday so I can take them the remaining dishes I don’t have room for in the freezer (already been cooked things can live in the fridge overnight).

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I weighed the remaining chicken, bagged it in a freezer bag and put it in the freezer as well. I’ll be cooking the ground beef and mixing up all of the spices for their enchilada filling and also making myself and the Ryan some turkey burger patties later this evening…but for now, to the store for garlic powder and pesto! And then class!……*grumble*

Stay tuned for Part 2!

 

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