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Old 07-12-2004, 11:50 AM   #1
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Default Make ahead meals or once a week cooking ideas

Good Monday morning everyone,

I tend to do the once a week cooking around my house. I'm basically lazy and the idea of coming home from work to fix dinner before I eat would drive me crazy and I'd wind up eating all through fixing the meal and wind up eating more calories then I should. And I'm cooking 2 suppers, one for me and one for hubby "I don't need to lose any weight. Why do I have to suffer?"

Previously before SB, I was a big OAWC, but those recipes have a lot of cream soups in them, for the sauces and I don't know how to adopt them to SBD. Or they are heavy on tomato sauce, which my dh hates. He'll eat tomatoes but once they are cooked, he won't touch it.

Has any one else frozen any of the sb recipes? Which ones freeze well?
Do you have any recipes that you have frozen?

I've had good luck freezing cooked beans, soups, lemon chicken and chili so far.

I do my shopping on Saturday, find the sales, then figure out what I'm going to make. I chop all the vegetables up at the same time, start the longer cooking items first. After each dish is done and cool, I decide if it will be something that dh would eat or not. Then it either goes into a single serving bowl or an entree bowl in the freezer. On weekdays, I can pull out my lunch and throw it in my bag without worrying if my lunch is going to leak all over the place again.

"Once a Week Cooking
Serving wholesome, nutritious meals is a challenge for today's family on the go. Of course restaurants, fast food establishments, convenience foods and whole meal options abound. However, for most families, these options remain more the exception rather than the rule. So the challenge remains - where to find time in busy schedules to make nutritious meals? One option is to cook the main course dishes for a week, at one time. With careful planning, this can save time in the kitchen and grocery store. It can also save money because more items can be purchased in bulk, and fewer shopping trips are required.

Many main course dishes can be cooked and assembled entirely in advance. Others can be partially prepared. Both are then put into sealed containers and stored in the freezer. When you are ready to serve a particular meal, thaw and heat the entree, or possibly combine the ingredients and finish cooking it. The advantage is that you do all the time-consuming shopping and preparation at one time.

One-dish recipes are ideal, but even foods like quiche and enchiladas can be prepared ahead of time and frozen. Because you will likely be working on more than one recipe at a time, use recipe cards or make photocopies of your recipes and spread them out or stick them onto the fridge door, for ease of reading.

Write up a plan for cooking day. Entrees that require longer cooking time should be prepared first, and then simmered at the back of the stove or in a slow cooker while working on the next recipe."
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Old 07-12-2004, 12:11 PM   #2
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Good idea for a thread, Sarah! If we get enough responses, we'll move it to the recipe section!
I am a runner!

"Wouldn't it be wonderful to take all the evil people and put them over there, then we wouldn't have to deal with them. And all of us good people would stay right here. The problem is that the line separating good and evil cuts right through the human heart." Alexander Solzenitzen
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Old 07-12-2004, 01:05 PM   #3
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What about the Taco Bake or the Mexican Lasagna? I end up freezing portions of leftovers and they make great lunches so I would bet they would work.
Barbara - Started South Beach 5/22/4 Restarting 8/15/16
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Old 07-12-2004, 01:30 PM   #4
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Good idea. I am leaving for vacation this week, but will start to cook once for the week, rather than every day.

I can understand the dilemma that you face with DH eating differently than you are eating. I face the same problem - DH is sooooo skinny and can eat anything that he chooses. When cooking, rather than thinking that I must cook one meal for him and another for me, I prepare the basic things that I can eat as the family meal, then add a few extra things like potatoes, or rice, etc. for him and the kids (if and when they are home). However, I only make enough for him/them so that I am not tempted to even take a taste.

I find that has been a good compromise for us rather than cooking different things all the time.
Never be afraid to try something new.
Remember.... Amateurs built the ark,
Professionals built the Titanic.

HW 194
WW 186/125.75/120 May 2002
SBD 170/127.0/130 May - Nov. 2004
SBD 188/179/130 May 2012

May Goal: 10 pounds
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Old 07-12-2004, 01:31 PM   #5
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All I have to say is WOW. You are one organized chick. What a great idea. I think I may try doing that.

"The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for."
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Old 07-12-2004, 02:01 PM   #6
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You would not believe how much time it saves through the week. Plus it works out well when something is on sale and I buy it in bulk. Like ground chicken/turkey. I try to get the 10% fat or less when it's on sale.

I make meat loaf, meat balls, lasagna and what ever else I have a recipe for on the same day. Throw it in the freezer, then through out the month (so we don't get bored with the same thing) I have a variety of things to eat.

When I cook, I always make a double batch of what ever and freeze the second. That way we always have a variety to choose from. Drives my dh crazy, that was our excuse for eating out-"nothing is ready at home" Now, I say, "it's in the freezer, what do you want?"

The wonderful semi disposable ziplock or glad boxes are great for this. Sometimes, if a item isn't too liquidy, I'll throw it into a freezer bag instead to save some room in the freezer. I've frozen a lot of the chinese recipes I use for dh, but many of them are not sb friendly.
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Old 07-12-2004, 02:12 PM   #7
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Every Sunday I go to a local farmer's market near my house and load up on veggies & fruit. I have two rabbits at home that I feed fresh produce to every night, so I shop for both my bunnies and the humans! I literally buy a full shopping cart full of produce each week. I bring the produce home and clean, chop, and prepare it all for the week. Our dinners are focused around fresh produce. Protein and carbs are side dishes at our house. By cleaning and preparing the veggies in advance, it makes dinner prep very easy.
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Old 07-12-2004, 02:43 PM   #8
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We are bouncing a bunch of bunny lovers into SBD! How cool! Genesis, I'd love a PM all about your furkids! :

I love this thread idea and the great info you are all sharing! Wish I could be that organized...it takes me a couple hours just to choose recipes for the week and prepare a shopping list!

I agree with Peggy...make one meal and have add ons for your DH. If possible, make the add ons ones that you would not like or crave--if you hate garlic, make him garlic bread, etc. I do this with my DH who is super skinny, but thankfully supportive enough to eat whatever I make. I'll make the Taco bake and have one tortilla, he'll have three. I'll eat chicken salad on lettuce, he'll make a sandwich with two slices of bread, etc.

Have you tried making a veggie lasagna? You can even add some ground turkey you cook with italian seasoning. You can use WW lasagna noodles, and since DH hates red sauce, why not use Pesto? You can even buy Pesto premade to save time. That would be delish! There is a veggie lasagna recipe in the SBD cookbook, and if I'm not crazy, there are even directions for freezing it, I think. There is also a great eggplant lasagna recipe in the SBD book, I think, and that would freeze very easily and be really good. The Taco bake would freeze well, I think, as would the stuffed chicken breasts. You can assemble many of the salads (bean salad, etc.) ahead of time and they'll last in the fridge for several days.

I love the Broccoli Cheese soup, and I bet your DH will have no idea that it is SBD friendly. It is so decadent and yummy! (check the recipe forum for it under Phase 2 soup). There are a lot of soups posted that you can make and freeze.

I'm looking forward to seeing what others post!
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Old 07-12-2004, 06:16 PM   #9
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Some interesting tips here. I grocery shop fortnightly, get my fruit and vegies each week from one of the local fruit and vegie shops (much cheaper) and go to the butcher about once a week and stock up on whatever is on special. I repack most meat into individual serves and we generally eat the same basic meal at night but I cook some rice/pasta/potato or serve it with bread for the rest of the family. We have been eating lots of boneless chicken breast or lean rump steak with salad but its winter here now so I am starting to make soups and stews/casseroles which I hope to freeze. Last night I made a beef pot roast type thing with loads of vegies in it and I will reheat leftovers for tonight. I will cook some extra vegies to go with it. I make up a big pot of vegetarian chilli and freeze leftovers so that I can have a quick meal on hand and have a few individual mini pizzas or meat pies and frozen vegies in the freezer for my daughter when sports and things don't fit in with meal times.

I find lunch the hardest meal. I am starting to enjoy my eggs for breakfast and have some type of meat and vegie combo for dinner, drink water, eat low fat snacks (low fat cheese/yogurt or nuts) but I often don't feel like making a special meal for lunch. I think frozen meals are going to be my best option for lunch so I am interested to see what others post here to get some ideas. I was having a main course salad with feta or tuna or low fat deli meats but salad vegies are out of season so really expensive and its too cold anyway.
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Old 07-13-2004, 12:37 PM   #10
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Can I Freeze It?
From Southern Living 2001 Annual Recipes
The number one set of questions from cooks everywhere is, "Can I freeze it? Do I cook, then freeze or freeze, then cook?" Stick to these general rules for the best texture and flavor.
• Cook and freeze stews, casseroles sauces, and pastries up to three months.
• Fully cooked dishes will loose moisture when frozen, so slightly under cook casseroles such as lasagna or macaroni and cheese. Do not thaw these before reheating.
• You can also steam frozen vegetables without thawing them.
• Baked cake layers, breads and cookies freeze very well; keep these goodies in the freezer for two to three months.
• Remember, all foods need to be frozen in air-tight containers to prevent freezer burn.

Make Ahead Tips and Ideas
• Store meals in freezer bags, microwavable dishes or plastic storage containers. Bags and freezable foil are best for limited freezer space.
• To store things easier in your freezer, make sure you store freezer bags flat.
• When storing, spray freezable containers with cooking spray before you add the meal. This helps in cleanup on the other end. Or, if you reuse your containers at a faster rate, line your dish with tin foil and spray. Many dishes, such as burritos, can cook in the tinfoil - leaving your dish clean to fill again right away.
• When freezing soups, freeze individual segments rather than the whole cooked soup. Store broth and veggies separate and put together on the stove.

Time Cutters
• Use the 'make one and store one' theory: as you make casseroles or one of the recipes in this article, make enough for dinner that night and a second batch to freeze for a later date.
• For quick homemade breakfasts, freeze homemade pancakes and waffles to pop in the toaster instead of buying prepackaged ones.
• Ingredients that are time savers always keep on hand. Things such as broccoli, garlic, onions, peppers, cooked rice and tomato sauce can help make quick meals when your freezer is bare.

Important Tips
• Remember to label you meals, including date prepared. Have an inventory list attached to your freezer to remember what you have and to aid anyone else who is preparing dinner.

Cost Cutting Ideas
• Watching your budget? Freeze meals based on sales. When your local store has a sale on hamburger meat, make and freeze meals containing hamburger or freeze browned hamburger for quick meal add-ins.

Some quick ideas:
Brown hamburger and add different seasonings to different containers - taco seasoning for taco salad, Italian seasoning for spaghetti sauce, etc.

• Buy in bulk. Cook more chicken than is needed and keep it in the refrigerator for multiple meals in one week (chicken tacos, chicken stir fry, chicken pasta).

Freezing Is Pleasing
One of the nicest things about casseroles is that they're so easy to make ahead and freeze for an easy meal at a later date. Here are some helpful freezing tips:
• Recipes with a condensed-soup base usually freeze well.
• Cool foods before packing for the freezer
• Let the surface of the casserole freeze then wrap casserole tightly with heavy plastic wrap and/or foil to prevent freezer burn.
• Freeze casseroles unbaked or baked. Allow additional baking time for frozen casseroles. Use an instant read thermometer to check the center of the casserole at one hour. It should reach 160°F. (If not hot enough, continue to bake and check at 15-minute intervals.)
• Add sour cream after dish has been thawed and reheated.
• If a casserole recipe calls for cheese topping, freeze it without the cheese. Add the cheese during the last 10 to 20 minutes.
• Store frozen meals at 0°F or colder and use within three months for best quality. (Foods frozen longer remain safe but texture and flavor begin to deteriorate.)
• How will you thaw/reheat the frozen dish? Freeze in microwave-safe dishes if necessary.
• Label freezer packages with contents, date and cooking instructions.
• For quick, single-serving lunches, freeze foods in individual portions.
• Potatoes don't freeze well.

Stock the Pantry
Keep a selection of convenience products on hand for casserole creations:
• Canned soup, especially cream of mushroom, cream of celery and chicken broth
• Canned kidney beans, diced tomatoes or other vegetables
• Ready-to-use fresh vegetables from the produce aisle, such as coleslaw blend and peeled washed baby carrots
• International ingredients to jazz up ordinary casseroles, such as canned or jarred chile peppers, prepared salsa, cans of baby corn or water chestnuts

The above casserole tips were taken from Pillsbury Classic Cookbooks October 1998 and 2000 'Casseroles' edition.
1 cup onion, chopped
1-28 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1/2 can green chilies, chopped
2-16 oz. cans refried beans
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
10 flour tortillas
In a sauce pan, add all ingredients and mix until warm. Place
spoonfuls of beans in a tortilla. Sprinkle cheese on top. Roll up and
place in an ungreased pan or cookie sheet. Bake fresh at 350°F for 20 minutes.
Freezing: Wrap individual burritos in tin foil before baking.

2 cups cooked black beans, drained
1 tablespoon minced fresh onion
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
3 tablespoons finely chopped green bell pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon minced canned jalapeno's
salt and pepper to taste
Mash 1/2 cup of the beans. Put in a bowl with the rest of the beans.
Mix well. Add all the rest of the ingredients except breadcrumbs. Mix well. Add sufficient breadcrumbs to make a mixture that can be formed into patties that will hold together. Form into patties. Fry in a little oil until browned. These freeze well.

Freezer Sloppy Joes
1 pound bulk pork or Italian sausage-substitute turkey low fat sausage
1 pound ground chuck or round
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans tomato sauce (8 ounces each)
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
In a skillet, brown sausage, beef and onion. Remove from the heat and drain. Stir remaining ingredients into sausage mixture. Cool. Spit the mixture into containers, using the amount you would need for one meal. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and warm on the stovetop or in the microwave. May need to add a little water to stir in or more tomato sauce.
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Old 07-13-2004, 06:48 PM   #11
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For about the last 6 months my husband and I have been using our Foodsaver - best investment ever! - to help us with meals. We do monthly shopping at Costco for all the big stuff, meat and canned goods, and then usually go every other week to the regular store for fresh stuff. We have been cooking roasts, chicken breasts, stir fry etc all at once and plate it up on heavy duty paper plates and freeze it over night. Then we food save everything the next day. It works out pretty well for us. I also use it to freeze uncooked meat like hamburgers or turkey burgers, we make patties and season them and freeze either individually or two per packet with wax paper between them. It works out well, I can toss a frozen something in the fridge in the morning and cook it when i get off work or just toss a meal in the microwave for dinner. One horribly long day cooking is so much better than a whole month of evenings spent cooking!
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Old 07-13-2004, 08:41 PM   #12
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I do the same thing. It truly is a laziness issue for me, and if I cook Sunday or Monday, when I feel like it, I do better on my diet. I cook lots of chicken ahead of time, then use it in several dishes as mentioned above, salads, and hot meals for the family that I add rice to, etc., I'll also cook some chicken sausages that have feta or sundried tomatoes, those can go on salads with feta, or over spaghetti squash, and for the family, they like them with rice or with pasta and sauce. I'll also cook ground turkey breast in 100 different ways, but it's most versatile with taco seasoning, and I give the family the shells and dice up the fixin's while I'll have the fixin's in salad form, or then mix with egg sub, salsa and beans and they'll wrap with sour cream. The best make ahead thing that I do to stay on track is a big veggie soup. Unfortunately, I don't care for it after it's been frozen, as I like the veggies to be crisp-tender. But the soup itself really helps when I'm famished getting home, I nuke some, and can then proceed with life with a little perspective, and get a meal on the table without going overboard.

I'm terrible about the freezer, I cook all this stuff and keep it in the fridge and use it throughout the week. My freezer is packed all the time because all my meat is frozen, plus I don't purge often enough.

Great thread, and the sheer amount of TYPING you've put in is a service to us all! Thanks!
Thanks a bunch! Jezzzz
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Old 07-14-2004, 08:21 AM   #13
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Uhmmm, well...I can't really take the credit for the typing. Wish I could. I found all these all over the net. I tried to keep the source, but until I've posted...what is it? 50 times?...I can't include a link in any of my posts yet.
I save all the info and when I needed it somewhere I copy and paste.
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Old 07-16-2004, 02:49 PM   #14
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It's a little funny, I have been eating my frozen lunches I made last week all week. A coworker asked me yesterday what it was and how she didn't have anytime to do anything like that and she's only one so it's a hassle to cook for herself.

I started telling her about cooking for the week and she's excited. I sent her a couple links for recipes. She sent it to someone else who was excited.

We are going to have a cooking party at my house next week for all of us freezer cooking people. (She hasn't quite learned to cook yet, it's going to be cooking 101 with freezer foods thrown in for fun) I've got converts.
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Old 07-16-2004, 04:19 PM   #15
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[We are going to have a cooking party at my house next week for all of us freezer cooking people. (She hasn't quite learned to cook yet, it's going to be cooking 101 with freezer foods thrown in for fun) I've got converts. [/QUOTE]

I've got some friends that do that! They buy bulk meat so get it way cheaper and buy a whole load of vegies that are in season and get together for one whole day and make a whole pile of freezer meals. I get the feeling that they are raw meat, vegies and seasonings all bagged up (personally I would find precooking them faster at the other end) then they put the labelled bags of food in the freezer and it is just a matter of pulling them out of the freezer in the morning and putting them in the oven to bake or cooking on the stove top in one big pot when they get home at night.
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