Are you living on a dime? Do you yearn to turn OFF the TV, turn ON mealtime conversation, in the quest to do your part toward saving dinner?
If you use SNAP or WIC’s EBT cards or food commodities, food pantry food or Angel Food Ministries food, you may find the following information helpful. Perhaps you are just plain old fashioned frugal; in any case-we hope to offer you ideas you can take to the bank!
Leanne Ely sent out a message earlier today that hit my hot button. I thought about it as I prepared our noon meal and with her ideas in mind here is what I did:
I sliced a couple of good sized onions and caramelized the thin rings in some oil. I sprinkled some salt and pepper over them as they cooked. Then I laid 4 thin slices of beef liver over the soft onions and drizzled chicken broth over the whole works . I covered the skillet and slid it into the oven, which was set at 300 degrees. That parked there for about 90 minutes and smelled divine!
While that did its thing I made a white sauce with a chunk of butter, a spoonful of corn starch and a splash of milk, adding water and more milk to get the consistency we like. When it began to bubble I added a frozen package of spinach I got ON SALE and allowed it to thaw right in the gravy. I seasoned it well.
As it cooked, I remembered the potatoes I had baked for Sunday dinner. I chopped two very small potatoes and dropped them into the gravy.
We could never eat that much food at one sitting-even a meal so tasty as that!-so I was delighted to put our leftovers into flat plastic freezer bags. We now have a very nutritious, really quick, super easy, PAID FOR meal, waiting in the freezer for us to reheat. Simple? You bet.
Leanne thinks along the same lines. Here is what she had to say this morning;
Secrets to Preparing Delicious Freezer Meals
by Leanne Ely, C.N.C
A few years ago (quite a few years ago, actually), a new cooking trend was born – Once A Month Cooking – OAMC for short. The whole idea was to spend a day cooking, freeze what you make, they reheat it as needed; sort of DIY Stouffers concept.
Great idea, soggy delivery. The proponents of this type of cooking said it only took a day to make a month’s worth of meals and you had “great” dinners that you could reheat anytime. The problem was that most of these dinners took on the watery characteristics of reheated casseroles and the flavor of the food was as lukewarm as their presentation. The other issue is time – a whole day for heaven’s sake! Who can literally take a day off from life to do this?
In the early 2000’s, a new version of OAMC was born and the result was dinner assembly franchises popping up like ground hogs in the spring. Everywhere you turned in suburbia you could find several types of these storefronts.
The idea of these places goes like this: come into their store, spend two hours or so assembling 12 to 15 meals from their already chopped veggies and pre-prepared ingredients, so all you have to do is put them together raw, label and freeze for cooking at a later day, thus removing the OAMC twice-baked casserole deal. The problem is it doesn’t come cheap.
So what’s a time stretched harried homemaker to do? Do it yourself, of course! There is a way to do this. Here’s how:
Find meals that can be assembled in their raw state, defrosted successfully, then cooked freshly. A good example of this is meatloaf. All you have to do is make your meatloaf mixture, shape it, then put it in a freezer zipper bag, mark the bag and date it, then on the day you want to use it, defrost it and bake it. You will never know that your meatloaf was previously frozen!
Here is a recipe that we have on our very first Twenty for the Freezer, a downloadable menu with 20 recipes that you assemble all at once, freeze and cook later as needed. When you have a freezer full of meals like this to choose from, you will say good-bye to the drive thru forever!
In a 1 gallon plastic freezer bag, mix and blend well together:
Mega Marvelous Meatloaf
2/3 cup dried stuffing mix
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 1/3 teaspoons garlic powder
2/3 teaspoon thyme
1/3 cup ketchup
2/3 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste
Seal the bag and blend the mixture together by squeezing and kneading the bag. Unseal the bag, starting at the bottom of the bag, roll the mixture to force out any air then seal the bag again. Insert this bag into a gallon sized plastic freezer bag and place a copy of the recipe into the 2nd bag as well and seal it. Place your label on the bag or write the name and date on the bag and place in the freezer. ~Leanne Ely, C. N. C”
In the interest of full disclosure, I ordered Leanne’s freezer meals menu. I am very pleased with it and it is full of wonderful recipes, ideas and tips for not a lot of money. Leanne and the Food Stamps Cooking Club share the philosophy of helping people eat well with little money.
Oh! I’d be remiss if I did not mention the CONTEST they are having at Saving Dinner. It’s all explained on their site in a video starring Leanne herself! And as you may have suspected, today’s blog post is sponsored by The Dinner Diva herself, Leanne Ely, whose mission in life is Saving Dinner!
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