Friday, January 28, 2011

Freezer Cooking Class!

Tonight I taught a freezer cooking class and it was so fun! I promised that I would update my blog with information and recipes so here we go:

To find my Mega Cooking tips click here and here

Here are some recipes that are already on my site:

You can go to this page for some other freezer cooking ideas on my site: Mega Cooking

Here is my recipe for Meatloaf and/or Meatballs


For every “meals worth” you want you need:

1 lb hamburger

1 pkg onion soup mix (about 3 TBS of the bulk kind)

1 egg

1 tsp or so of Worchestershire sauce

a squirt or two of ketchup

about 1/2 c of oatmeal or crushed saltine crackers

Moosh this all together and shape as desired. For meatloaf I make it into a really large doughnut shape. I freeze it in a gallon ziplock bag. Because I cook it from the frozen state, the hole in the middle helps it to cook evenly. It takes one hour to cook if it is thawed and about 1 hour and 10 minutes if it is frozen. I put it in a large pie pan or a square pan, this allows all the grease to drain away as it is cooking - I simply lift it up out of the pan when it is done and slice and serve.

If I am making meatballs, I shape all the balls and bake. Then I freeze all the cooked meatballs. I freeze them in ziplock bags. When I want to serve them they just need to be heated up. Here are some suggestions for how to use your meatballs:

with brown gravy over rice or mashed potatoes (super quick dinner)

as stew with a packet of stew seasonings and some potatoes and carrots

with BBQ sauce in rolls

with spaghetti and sauce

with sweet and sour sauce over rice

anyway that you already use meatballs

Obviously, this recipe is for one meal. Double or triple as you see fit. I usually make about 6 lbs worth at a time.

And lastly, just for Whitney, here is the recipe for King Ranch Chicken. I'm not sure why it's called that, but whatever.

King Ranch Chicken

Saute in vegetable oil a pan:

1 onion, chopped (or less if your family isn't onion friendly)

1 green bell pepper chopped

1 red bell pepper chopped (or you can use two reds or two greens)

Turn off the heat and add to pan:

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cream of mushroom soup

2 c. cooked, chopped chicken

1 can Rotel tomatoes (tomatoes with chili peppers - you can also use just canned tomatoes)

1-2 tsp cumin

grated cheese to taste (we like a lot but it does up the calorie count)

mix well and freeze in Ziplock bags. Also freeze a bag of about 12-15 corn tortillas.

To serve: defrost filling and tortillas. Spray a pyrex baking pan and layer in about a third of the filling. Top with a layer of tortillas. Repeat until you have used up the filling and tortillas. Top with more cheese if desired and bake at 350 degrees until it is bubbly and hot in the center (about 15 - 20 minutes). Serve and enjoy.

I will try to post a few more recipes in the next few days.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Yes, I'm alive.

Thanks to all the people who have asked where the heck I've been. The truth is, life got a little overwhelming and something had to give. The blog was the easiest thing to let go. After all, the kids still have to eat and work still has to get done.

However, I'm off work until September (the joys of working for a school) and I'm going to have more time to post stuff. I've come across some great recipes in my time off and I'm going to be sharing those with you in the coming weeks. I've got a huge garden in and I'll be posting recipes using veggies from my garden. Yum - can hardly wait until the tomatoes are ripe!!

So to kick off my return to blogging I'm posting my Menu Plan for this week. Because we are all home (five here during the day), I'm posting some breakfast and lunch ideas. This will be just ideas because I don't cook full meals every day, most of the time they are on their own with my well stocked pantry.


  • toast with jam (we opened some plum jam I made a year or so ago and everyone is loving it)
  • bagels
  • cereal with strawberries from the garden
  • scrambled eggs with toast


  • Ramen with eggs
  • PB&J's
  • bagels with cream cheese and lunch meat
  • wagon wheel chili
  • leftovers

I'm also planning on doing some baking this week. I have a recipe for Cranberry Coffee Cake that we love but I know I can make it lower fat without sacrificing taste so I'm going to work on that. Plus we really need some granola around here - I've been way too busy to make any for weeks and weeks!

If you need more menu planning inspiration, head over to Organizing Junkie.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

One last week until Spring Break! I'm so excited. Since I work for a school, I get a whole week off, too. I'm looking forward to getting some projects done, going out to lunch with my sister, and sleeping!

During Spring Break I'm going to do some Mega Cooking, too. So this week I'll be planning what I want to cook, making lists, etc.

I also got a new cook book. Well, it is not new, I've checked it out of the library several times. Enough times that it was time to buy it. So I strolled myself over to and bought myself one for $4.89. It arrived yesterday and I'm so excited. The book is Saving Dinner by Leanne Ely. I have reviewed the book before but I'll tell you again - this book is great. Now, it isn't gourmet by any means (well, a several of the recipes flirt with the gourmet label), but if you have a household with kids in it, (and you want no complaints at dinner time) this is the book for you. I'm trying two new recipes (and making one tried and true one from the book) this week. Yum!

  • Navajo tacos (left over from last week, seems like there's always at least one recipe left over!)
  • Chicken and dumplings
  • Lime Garlic Chicken (from Saving Dinner - this is SO good!)
  • Polenta Pie (from Saving Dinner)
  • Pasta with Garlicky Greens and Beans (from Saving Dinner)
You'll notice that I do not have lunches listed. Here's the real reason. We don't actually plan lunches. Hubby and I grab leftovers and the kids do bits and pieces (ie, a yogurt, some carrots, a muffin, a cheese stick, whatever). So I'm not going to list lunches anymore. Now, for Spring Break, I might actually plan lunches because there will be five of us here to feed and it might be worth making something. But most of the time lunch is just whatever.

Hope you all have a great week. Check out Menu Plan Monday over at $5 Dinners for more menu ideas. While you are over at $5 Dinners, poke around her site - she's got some great ideas and recipes!!


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bread to Go With Your Soup

When I am serving soup for dinner I have to make sure that we have good stuff to go with it. My husband doesn't really consider soup a "meal," it's just a starter. I have had to work hard to convince him otherwise. I try to make sure that my soups are hearty and I always have good sides to go with it. Especially some yummy bread.

Homemade yeast bread is the best accompaniment to soup, especially my pan rolls. These big giant part-wheat rolls are perfect along side a big bowl of soup.

Slices of either white bread or honey whole-wheat bread are also great along side. And the leftovers can be used for toast or sandwiches later in the week. I just love planned leftovers.

Sometimes I just don't have time (or the energy) to make yeast bread. Yeast bread isn't hard, it just takes a long time to rise. Sometimes I don't think about it far enough in advance. In those instances I love my quickie biscuit recipe or the soft breadsticks.

Some days I can't even think that far in advance (or I just can't bring myself to turn on the oven). On those days, we have Parmesan cheese toast. Just take whatever bread you have around and spread it with butter or margarine. Top it with a good shake of Parmesan cheese (I usually use the canned stuff but if you have food-snob issues, you can use the real stuff and just grate it finely) and then toast it. That is it. I know it's not rocket science and probably lots of people do this.

If my life settles down a little bit tomorrow, I'll post my recipe for Papa Murphy's Style Bread Sticks. This is one of my families favorite recipes. It is really easy and really does taste a lot like those cheesy bread sticks you can get at Papa Murphy's.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Soup and Bread are Frugal!

One of the easiest and yummiest ways I save money is to serve soup and bread once a week. Broth based soups are relatively low-fat and can be incredibly cheap. I especially like bean and/or lentil soups so that we get our protein and the beans and lentils fill us up.

I especially like to pair our soup with some kind of homemade bread. It could be actual yeast bread (whole-wheat bread, French bread, pan rolls) or a quick bread (biscuits, soft bread sticks). Either way, what can be better than warm soup and fresh homemade bread?

Wise Bread recently featured an article entitled Seven Money Saving Menu Strategies for Every Day of the Week. The idea for Sundays? Soup for Sunday! They focused on the idea that Sunday is a day where everyone wants to slow down and spend more time with their families. Soup is so easy (especially if you use your crock pot!)

There are tons of recipes for soup on the internet. You can also get soup cookbooks (I actually own one called Soup and Bread by Crescent Dragonwagon). I do have a few recipes that I really like, but most of the time I just make "soup." You know, "What are we having for dinner tonight?" "Oh, we're having soup."

There are some basic rules for making "soup" but it lends itself to infinite variations. You can make this as exciting or boring as you want. Here's how you do it:


Start by sautéing some chopped veggies. I always use onion and carrots and usually celery. After the onions are soft and wilty I usually add some garlic - have I mentioned that my family likes garlic?

Next you add your liquid. You can of course use plain old water but you soup will be plain and old. I add water and bouillon cubes or soup base. You can use canned broth or stock too. Depending on what you are adding later you can use veggie broth, chicken or beef broth or whatever you desire. I used half veggie and half miso the other night and it was fabulous. I try to add about a cup and a half per person. So for my family of 6 I use about 8 cups of stock or so, but I want to make sure I have leftovers.

After that, add a grain. If you are making a taco soup add some rice. A chicken soup? You could add noodles or rice. A beef soup is great with barley. I try to add something "whole" to the soup - brown rice, barley, or quinoa. Of course, if I'm making chicken noodle soup, I just use regular old noodles. Don't add too much of any of these as they soak up the liquid. A half a cup of rice or barley for 4 c. of stock is about right. Noodles for chicken noodle soup can be much more generous.

Add some veggies next. I usually add a can of tomatoes. I usually blend it so there aren't any chunks of tomato - my son wouldn't eat it otherwise. Then, depending on what I want the end to be I add peas or corn or green beans, mushrooms, cabbage, or chopped kale. You can add what your family likes. You just want to make sure you don't add something that will get super mushy too early in the cooking. You don't want broccoli mush in your vegetable beef soup. (Well, maybe you do but I don't!)

Then add a protein. You can add cooked beans, lentils, chopped chicken, cooked sausage, chopped ham, leftover roast beef, cooked ground beef or a combination of any of the above.
The lentils need to cook for 40 minutes but everything else is very flexible.

The last thing you want to add is a seasoning. You can add salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme. You can also add worchestershire sauce or anything else you want.

Then just let it simmer. Your crockpot is perfect for this. But you can do this on the stove if you forget in the morning. Just let it simmer until the grains and/or lentils are tender and the flavors have blended.

The best thing about soup is it is almost always better the next day. Make extra and save some for lunch the next day.

So there it is,

Sautéd aromatic veggies (onions, carrots, celery, garlic)
Liquid (stock, broth, miso)
Grain (rice, pasta, barley, quinoa)
Vegetables (tomatoes, peas, corn, etc)
Protein (chicken, beef, ham, beans, lentils, sausage)
Seasoning (salt, pepper, basil, thyme, etc)

So easy and so open to variations. Plus, soup is perfect when you don't have anything to make. Just scrounge around in the cupboards and you can find enough to make soup, I promise. And with grains, protein, vegetables, it is a complete meal in a bowl!

Schedule yourself a soup and bread night this week!

Tomorrow I'll share some bread ideas.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - Mar 8 - 14

It snowed here last night. I love snow. But I am sick of winter. Can spring please, please, please hurry up? I'm tired of being cold. I'm tired of being stuck inside. I'm tired of my chickens being up to their ankles in mud!

Sunny skies, warm breezes, the smell of flowers and fresh cut grass. These are the things I long for. I know that it is just a few weeks away - but I want it NOW!

This week on Frugal Feasting I'm going to be talking about Soup and Bread. We have a soup and bread meal at least once a week. Soup is (usually) so cheap and filling and good for you. Add a homemade bread of some kind and there you have it - comfort food for cheap! I'll post some recipes for bread and soup and talk about why having soup and bread once a week is such an easy way to watch your wallet.

I'm doing some baking today with the intention of having some leftovers for snacks. Yeah, we'll see how that works. Seems like whenever I bake with the intention of leftovers, the family is famished and eats it all up. Maybe if I hide it?

  • Oatmeal muffins with blackberries
  • homemade oatmeal
  • cereal (great sale at Safeway!)
  • toast with jam or cinnamon sugar
  • leftover waffles from lunch today
  • leftovers
  • pasta salad with veggies and feta cheese
  • whatever else we come up with
That's all for me, I'm going to go back to lamenting my lack of spring. Guess what? It's supposed to snow again tonight. ARRRGGHH!! Make it stop!!

Check out more menu plan options over at Organizing Junkie! Lots of really organized women over there!


Friday, March 6, 2009

Homemade Refried Beans

One of my cheapest meals is my Navajo Tacos. You make some fry-bread, top it with refried beans, some cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. And then anything else you normally put on tacos (guacamole, salsa, sour cream, etc). Everything is pretty cheap, especially if you make the refried beans at home!

I was very intimidated by making refried beans at home. It seemed complex and mysterious. Until I was talking to a friend who said, "I used to buy canned beans until I became friends with a hispanic woman. She and her friends looked down on 'those crazy Americans' who bought canned beans. I decided to try it and was surprised how easy it is!"

I sat her down and forced her to tell me how to do it! Boy, was I feeling silly when I realized just how easy it really is! And something about making this recipe makes me feel so domestic.

Here's how you do it.

Soak some pinto beans over night. The next morning, pour out the soaking water and put the beans in a crockpot. Add a quartered onion and some garlic cloves that you have peeled and very roughly chopped. Cover with water - not too much, just enough to cover the beans.

Cook the beans all day long. They should be very, very soft and the onions should be almost melty. Ok, melty isn't a word, but you know what I mean.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat, add some fat of some kind. Either some oil, butter, bacon fat, or (traditionally) lard. If your skillet is non-stick enough and you are trying to watch your fat intake, you can do it without the fat. I usually use a TBS or so of margarine/butter. The flavor is good and the little bit of fat helps the beans to be smoother and creamier.

Put the beans in the skillet - but don't add the liquid yet. Here's what I do: I put the crockpot next to the skillet and transfer the beans with a slotted spoon. It drains off most of the liquid but saves it so I can use it later. Mash the beans with the back of the spoon or with a potato masher (I use my pastry cutter!). You of course want to be careful not to scratch your non-stick pan. I use my cast-iron skillet so I can be a little reckless. You can mash them extremely smooth or leave them a little chunky, your choice. You want to add the onions and the garlic, too, just mash them into the beans. They'll disappear into the beans but add tons of flavor.

If your beans are too dry, add a little of the cooking liquid, until you get the consistency you want. If the beans sit for awhile while you are getting other things ready, they will dry out a bit, just add some more liquid and stir.

To flavor the beans, I add cumin and salt. I usually add some garlic powder, too. We like garlic at our house. A lot! You could add cumin, chili powder, taco seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, whatever floats your boat. I like cumin because it is a very taco-type flavor. And you need salt, trust me. I can't tell you amounts because it really depends on how many beans you cooked, and what flavors you like. Add a little and if it is not enough, add some more!

That is is! Then you eat them. How easy is that? I usually make a big batch and freeze the leftovers. Thawing leftovers is even easier.

How much does it cost? Let's see: one pound pinto beans? About a dollar. One onion? About 30 cents (depending on how big it is), some garlic cloves are about 25 cents. Then some cumin and salt and maybe some butter or oil? Fifty cents, max. So you have $2 for about four meals worth of refried beans. That's fifty cents a meal for your protein. Plus, you know that there aren't any partially hydrogenated anything or artificial flavors or colors or added chemicals or preservatives.

This took longer to write than it does to cook! It takes about 5 minutes in the morning and and about 10 minutes in the evening when you are ready to eat. Really easy and so cheap!

This is my cheap recipe for the day. To check out more cheap, family favorites, check out the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.