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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Instead of Eating Out....
Make freezer meals!
Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President,
recently said:
"Meals prepared and eaten at home generally cost less, are healthier, and contribute to stronger family relationships."
That's an appealing promise!
One way for busy families to eat at home is to have homemade, pre-prepared meals in the freezer. You can make several meals at once, or double every recipe you make and freeze half for later. Making several meals at once means you can do one big grocery store run, chop all of the ingredients at once, enlist help from family members, and make a total mess of your kitchen just once. Let's talk about a few ways to make freezer meals:

Ziploc bag method
This method works for most meals, and is especially good for meals that don't need to be layered in a pan. The advantage of this method is that it's faster, takes less space in your freezer, and can be quickly warmed in the microwave. Pick a recipe, prepare it to the point of the final "bake", and put it in a bag labeled with the date, recipe name, and cooking temp and time. It will look something like this:
To cook, place in refrigerate overnight, transfer to baking dish and cook according to directions. Or defrost or cook in microwave.
Aluminum Foil Pan Method
This method works well for recipes that are "layered".

Begin by place a double layer of aluminum foil in a baking pan

Baked Spaghetti


1 (16 oz) package spaghetti

2 eggs

1 pound ground beef

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 medium onion, chopped

5 tablespoons butter, melted

1 (26 oz) jar meatless spaghetti sauce
2 cups small curd cottage cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook beef and onion
over med heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the spaghetti sauce and seasoned salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, Parmesan cheese and butter. Drain spaghetti; add to egg mixture and toss to coat.
Place half of the spaghetti mixture in a greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Top with half of the cottage cheese, meat sauce and mozzarella cheese. repeat layers.
Wrap well and place in freezer overnight or until completely frozen. Remove the foil-wrapped food from the pan. Label with date, description, and cooking directions, return foil part to freezer.

When you are ready to use this meal, place back in pan and thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Uncover; bake 20-24 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.


Spaghetti: $.92 seasoned salt $.02

meat: $ 2.88 Parmesan cheese $. 34

onion $.43 butter $ .35

spaghetti sauce $1.12 cottage cheese $1.46

2 eggs $.23 mozzarella $2.09

Total cost: $9.84 for 8 servings or $1.23 a serving
Now you have a nice, inexpensive meal and your pan is free until you need it for thawing and baking. In the meantime, you can use the pan for more important things like this:

Rocky Road Brownies


1 1/4 cup flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 large eggs (lightly beaten)

3/4 cup butter

2 cups miniature marshmallow

6 oz unsweetened chocolate

1 1/2 cups assorted nuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 13 x 9 metal baking pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a 3 quart saucepan, heat butter and chocolate over med-low heat until melted, stirring frequently. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs; stir until well mixed. Stir flour mixture just until blended. Spread batter in pan.

Bake brownie 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from edge comes out clean. Sprinkle top of brownie evenly with marshmallow; top with nuts. Bake 5 minutes longer or until marshmallows melt slightly. Cool in pan on wire rack.

Cost: priceless!

Some things to remember when freezing meals: Potatoes don't freeze well. Spices can get stronger over time. Slightly under cook pasta to prevent sogginess. Bread-based toppings like crackers or chips get soggy when frozen with the meal. Freeze these in a separate bag and add just before baking. Some recipes freeze better than others--experiment with your family favorites.

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