This week’s freezer menu is super easy and has some very affordable options! Add some simple things to your freezer to make taco night a lot quicker and more fresh. Seasoned Pinto Beans, Houston Style Salsa Verde, and Kids’ Veggie Quesadillas will be added to our freezer. This week we will make 3 Family Menu Items, 1 Snack, and 1 Kids’ Meal. 14 containers will be frozen.
Easy Seasoned Pinto Beans: (1 c fresh, 2 cups for Kids’ Recipe, 3 c to freeze)
- 1 lb dry pinto beans
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 3 cloves minced garlic
Put all ingredients in your crock pot, cover with 3″ of water and cook on low for up to 6 hours. Add water if needed as the beans cook.
If you compare the price per ounce to canned beans you save a lot of money using dry beans! Plus, you cut back on sodium and added ingredients. Later I’ll share recipes to use the beans in but the night I made this pot of beans I used them to make “10 minute Green Tacos” and Kids’ Veggie Quesadillas, then I froze the rest of the beans. For “10 Minute Green Tacos”- I just heated the shells and served with limes, shredded spinach, salsa verde, cilantro, avocado and sour cream. I don’t get bored with tacos when I have different combinations to keep it fresh!
Kids’ Veggie Quesadillas (2 fresh, 5 to freeze)
- 2 cups of cooked pinto beans
- 1 handful of fresh spinach
- 1 avocado
Add all ingredients to the blender and mix until smooth, adding water or liquid from the crock pot if needed. Spread filling in between two tortillas then fry on medium heat until crispy. Store leftover filling in freezer bags, laying flat for easy storage and defrost. I had enough filling to make 2 quesadillas and freeze 5 snack bag sized portions.
To go along with my beans I made a Houston Style Salsa Verde. There’s nothing like the creamy green salsa that you find in TexMex restaurants in Houston. They have Green Salsa here in Colorado but it’s not the same! I make my own in large batches and freeze portions to go along with our taco dinners or just to munch on as a low sodium, preservative free snack.
Houston Style Salsa Verde: (2 fresh, 3 to freeze)
- 2 lbs fresh tomatillos
- 2-4 jalapeños
- 2 limes
- 2 avocados
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- 6 cloves of garlic
Peel husks off of tomatillos and place in a pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer about 5-10 minutes until tomatillos are tender when poked with a knife, but still bright green. Drain the pot and place tomatillos in the blender to cool before processing. Add chopped jalapeños, juice of two limes, chopped avocado, cilantro and minced garlic. Blend until smooth then package in small containers or freezer bags. Freeze in 8 oz. portions. When you’re ready for a taste of TexMex, defrost in the microwave with the lid removed for a minute or two, or defrost in the fridge the night before.
To fulfill my crazy meat craving I made my favorite Beef Stroganoff recipe from Martha Stewart. I love all of her recipes!
Beef Stroganoff (1 fresh, 3 to freeze)
I double this recipe and package in medium rectangle containers to freeze. When you’re ready to raid your stash you have an easy dinner waiting for you- defrost stroganoff, boil some pasta, and serve with a side salad for a 10 minute dinner!
My husband contributed to the freezer stock by adding Homemade Pizza Dough (1 fresh, 1 to freeze)
We use a bread machine to do all the sticky work. Friday Night Pizza has been a family tradition for many years. When you make the dough then freeze it you can simply put the dough in the fridge in the morning, roll out the dough on Friday evening, and top it with whatever sounds good! Comfort food without the additives and awesome for budgeting!
Here’s my schedule and how I pulled it off. *Priority Meals
- Saturday- Houston Style Salsa Verde during nap time.
- Monday- *Stroganoff Slow Cooker started in the morning.
- Wednesday- Seasoned Pinto Beans in the morning, *Kids’ Veggie Quesadillas at Dinnertime.
- Friday- Pizza Dough made by hubby in the evening.
If you just can’t swing the beans or salsa or pizza dough it’s ok! Just make the Kids’ Veggie Quesadillas with canned beans and make the one large double recipe of Stroganoff. No biggie! The point is taking the time to make food in larger batches and freeze for later. Order Pizza Hut or grab a frozen pizza if it’s too much! Freezer cooking is easy. You work it in to what you’re already doing and what I love is that it’s so easy on your budget! No tossing out food that got old in the fridge, because it just goes straight to the freezer.
Toddler Trail Mix is fun and easy to prepare with your little one! Shake up your on the go snacks by throwing together a mix of your child’s favorite munchies. The variety will provide some entertainment during long car rides and you can squeeze in some healthy snacks that they will love picking through while you’re out and about.
Anything goes with this recipe!
- Cheese crackers
- Dried or freeze dried fruits or vegetables
- Yogurt melts
- Fruit and veggie melts
- Graham crackers
- Fruit chews
- M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, Marshmallows or Chocolate Chips for a special treat
Check the baby food aisle for cookies that contain vegetables like pumpkin. There are lots of great dry, bite sized toddler snacks on the shelf by puffs, and freeze dried fruits and veggies are an awesome addition! Most of the freeze dried items are very healthy because the only ingredients are the fruits or vegetables. Freeze dried fruits and veggies have a puffy, airy texture compared to the dehydrated fruits like raisins which can be sticky or dry roasted edamame which can be quite crunchy if your toddler doesn’t have molars yet. Check your local health food store or Target for freeze dried fruits and veggies!
If you can’t find super healthy freeze dried fruits or veggies at your local grocer, ask an employee to help you. Start where the raisins are and remember the package will feel light and puffy, not dense and sticky. I find mine at Super Target, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s You can also order on Amazon if you can’t find them in the store. Just Tomatoes Ect is a great brand!
If your baby is more baby than toddler I would start with the super soft, melty type snacks- puffs, yogurt melts, freeze dried peas and berries… As they get more experience and more teeth you can bump it up to crunchier, heartier snacks! Even add nuts, pretzels and maybe popcorn for kids! Of course, be careful that you can feel safe serving the snacks on the go before you hand over the trail mix in the car.Share it!
Last week I cooked dinner once but my family ate healthy, homemade meals every night. I LOVE Family Freezer Cooking! I am able to cook and clean once and get 3 or more meals out of it. It gives me more time with my family and less stress in the kitchen. I would love to help you learn how to get started with family freezer cooking. Once you get the hang of it you will never look back. No more take out, complicated recipes, or cooking and cleaning every night!
We just purchased a chest freezer for our garage and I will be stocking it with family meals. Cook along with me and over the next 4 weeks we will stock our freezers with:
- healthy toddler snacks
- kids’ lunches
- toddler dinners and sides
- 30 second kids’ breakfasts
- weekend family breakfasts
- family dinners, and
- healthy family snacks.
My plan is easy and stress free. To get started complete these simple tasks and be ready to get started this weekend.
- Stock Up & Clear Out Go through your plastic and glass food storage options and weed out anything without a matching lid. Stock up on Ziploc Bags (freezer quart sized, freezer gallon sized, and regular snack sized). I buy all generic brands for the bags to save money. If you don’t have enough storage containers with lids on hand pick up some small, medium and large storage containers. I use whatever is on sale, even store brand. I really like the Ziploc Twist and Lock round containers, but really anything will work. Clear out any old freezer burned food in the freezer to clear space for your new awesome meals!
- Grocery List & Weekly Menu Every week I sit down with the local ads and make a menu for the week. I plan 7 dinners and make sure I have something for breakfast, lunches and snacks. This week, you can plan to have BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Wild Rice Salad and Corn on the Cob, and Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches with a side salad. So just plan 5 more meals for the week.
My goal is to make two or three freezer dinners per week, which means we eat one serving the day it’s made and freeze the rest which is usually 3 servings, so I end up freezing about 3-6 dinner servings. This is my stock up mode. After the 4 weeks is over we will tone it down and do one freezer meal per week or less just to replenish what we use. Freezer cooking is going to come in so handy when baby #2 arrives in November! 😀
Week 1 Freezer Menu:
We will make 3 Family Menu Items, and 3 Toddler Menu Items. 17 containers will be frozen.
BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (1 fresh, 3 to freeze) Double the recipe from Pinterest! This is a family dinner that you can serve on toasted buns or in a wrap. It’s so good you could eat it on it’s own! I served this with the Wild Rice Salad and corn on the cob. I love seeing my husband’s face when he walks in the door and smells this cooking in the crock pot. His eyes light up like a Christmas Tree!
Wild Rice Salad (2 fresh, 3 to freeze) Do not double this recipe. It is huge! My friend Tracy shared this recipe with me and I love that it is packed full of nutritious veggies! It makes a great side for sandwiches or a quick picnic item. It’s a great family side and my toddler liked the edamame and chunks of sweet potato.We had one serving with dinner, one at lunch and froze the rest.
- 1 c wild rice
- 4 c water
- 2 oranges, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 c frozen edamame
- 1 c cubed sweet potato
- 1/4 c olive oil
- 1/4 c pomegranate balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 c toasted slivered almonds
- 1/2 dried cranberries
- 3 minced green onions
- black pepper to taste
Combine water and rice, bring to a boil and simmer until tender about 1 hour. Drain and return to pan, cover and let it rest about 10 minutes then transfer to a mixing bowl. Simmer sweet potatoes in water until tender but not mushy. Stir rice, oranges, edamame, sweet potatoes, almonds, cranberries and green onions. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar and pepper then pour over rice mixture. Chill before serving.
Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches (1 fresh, 2 to freeze) Double the recipe! I am really craving meat during this pregnancy and I needed something to satisfy my umami cravings. This hit the spot! We had it on toasted buns with provolone and a side spinach salad. This yummy family meal can be served without the bun for a tot, or maybe with a side of crackers or provolone cheese toast.
Sweet Potato- Apricot Oatmeal (1 fresh, 3 to freeze) When I make oatmeal for my daughter I never make one small portion. I make a batch using 1/2 cup of oats and fill it full of healthy fats, fruit, yogurt, and maybe even some sweet veggies.
- 1 c unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 c oats
- 4 dried apricots, diced
- 1/4 c of mashed baked sweet potato
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- Dash of cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons of full fat plain greek yogurt
Mix almond milk, oats, apricots and sweet potato in a large bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. Stir in cinnamon, coconut oil and yogurt. Divide into 4 equal portions. Serve one portion immediately and freeze the remaining portions to defrost later.
Green + Orange Smoothies (1 fresh, 3 to freeze) Just like with the oatmeal, when I make a smoothie I always make enough to freeze. For this smoothie I blended:
- unsweetened almond milk
- frozen mixed fruit,
- plain full fat greek yogurt,
- sweet potato,
- chia seeds, and
I served one fresh and packed the leftovers in the freezer. Sometimes I mix the frozen smoothie into plain oatmeal, extra almond milk, or just defrost and serve in a straw sippy cup for a fruit and veggie side during a meal.
Honey Roasted Rainbow Carrots (1 fresh, 3 to freeze) We had so much fun making this toddler side together! As a family we harvested the rainbow carrots from the garden. The next day I had prepped the carrots for a simple Mommy Daughter recipe. I washed and cut most of the carrots and had the honey- balsamic glaze ready to mix. My little girl can focus on an activity for maximum 10 minutes so prepping before she sat down to help saved a lot of time. We added our chopped carrots to a large glass baking pan then shook them in the glaze and roasted in the oven until tender and soft. She was so excited to taste her creation! From the backyard to her plate, so cool! Since my husband and I eat after she has gone to bed we get our veggies in salads or sides, so having the honey roasted carrots makes it easy to add a veggie to her meals.
- 1 pound of crinkle cut carrots
- 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 3 tablespoons of honey
- a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Whisk together the balsamic, olive oil, honey and salt and pepper. Drizzle over carrots and roast at 400 for 20-30 minutes or until tender.
I hope you’re feeling ready to take this on! You will be making a lot of food but the schedule is easy! Here’s how I got it done.
- Saturday- Slow Cooker Philly Cheesesteak after a morning out with the family.
- Sunday- Wild Rice Salad during nap time.
- Monday- Oatmeal at breakfast and Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken in the morning while she watched Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.
- Tuesday- Smoothies at breakfast.
- Wednesday- Honey Roasted Carrots before lunch, made as a learning activity with my daughter.
If you would rather get stuff done on the weekend you could start a slow cooker on Friday night before you go to bed, wake up on Saturday package the meal, and start the second one!
Next week I have some delicious vegetarian meals planned and a delicious Houston Style Salsa Verde…. and more meat for my crazy cravings!
As always, send me an email or Facebook message if you have any special diet requests or questions!
Easy store bought healthy snacks for kids and toddlers! Here’s what I grabbed at the grocery store this week.
- Back to Nature Graham Sticks
- Lentil Crisps
- Freeze Dried Apples and Berries
- Quaker’s Caramel Rice Cakes
- Kashi Soft n’ Chewy Bars
I have to buy some things pre made but I can’t blow my $200 budget on expensive snacks. These snacks are great for grabbing on the way out the door, and I even keep some in the car for backup. I like the Lentil Crisps and Kashi bars because they have veggies and protein. The freeze dried fruit bags are easy to feel good about because the only ingredient is fruit. I thought about buying plain rice cakes which have less sodium and sugar, but I didn’t think they would be a hit. I feel ok with the nutritional facts of the caramel and apple cinnamon flavors. The cheddar or ranch flavors have much higher sodium. Looking at the ingredient list of the Back to Nature Grahams verses some other brands, I feel better about the list on Back to Nature where the other brands have chemicals or additives/ preservatives that I don’t like. Lentil Snaps can be found in the produce department and freeze dried fruit is next to the raisins.
To go along with these store bought snacks I made a batch of Kids’ Energy Poppers. If you shave ever made energy balls these are very similar but more kid friendly. Don’t be turned off by the spinach if you’re not a big spinach eater! Fresh spinach has a mild, crisp, sweet flavor so there is no way you can compare it to the bitter mushed canned or stewed spinach!
Kids’ Energy Poppers:
- 1.5 c of oats
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- 3/4 c of nut butter
- 1/2 c of cranberries
- 1/2 c of fresh shredded spinach
- 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
- Toast oats on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 for about 5-10 minutes.
- Microwave nut butter and coconut oil for 30 seconds, stir. Continue microwaving at short intervals if needed until easily blended and smooth.
- Stir oats, cranberries, raw spinach and flax and chia seeds into nut butter mixture with a rubber spatula. Ingredients should come together and stick like damp sand when you squish a small handful. If the mixture is dry add a sprinkle of water, or just run your hands under the water and try making a popper with wet hands.
- Form into small patty shapes and freeze on a baking sheet until frozen solid. Package in ziplock bags in portions of 2-4 and keep in the freezer to add to lunch boxes.
I did other quick healthy grab and go snacks for the freezer by making a batch of Kids’ Freezer Sandwich Slims. Have you ever bought the frozen peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese Uncrustables? The idea is you grab a frozen sandwich out of the freezer and it defrosts in the lunchbox by lunch time. These are a great less expensive, homemade substitute! You can really do any flavor that you like! I made a variety of Sandwich Slims from whatever I had in the pantry. I like the Sandwich Slim Bread because it’s compact for little mouths to bite into, and they can fill up more on the sandwich fillings than the bread.
Kids’ Freezer Sandwich Slims
- One package of Sandwich Slim Bread
- Peanut Butter, Banana and Honey
- Tuna, Mayo and Pickles
- Turkey, Mayo, Cream Cheese, and Sliced Cheese
- Cream Cheese and Fresh Raspberries
Prepare your favorite sandwiches on the sandwich slim bread. Wrap tightly in foil, label and freeze for easy, healthy grab and go snacks or lunches!
I love preparing a batch of snacks or lunches and then freezing them because our days are busy enough! I don’t want to have to squeeze in time to cook or pack lunches every day. With these healthy snack choices I can open the freezer and grab a few things, stuff a snack and cup of yogurt in the lunch box and be on my way.
I am so excited to share my next post, Family Freezer Cooking: 101! I am going to teach you the basics of freezer cooking and help you learn to prepare homemade healthy meals for the entire family so that you can eat delicious healthy food, save money, have more playtime, and stress less about preparing food. It’s going to be so awesome and SO EASY! If you want to join me, you can start going through your plastic wear now. Find your storage containers and their lids, throw out things that don’t have a lid and grab some quart and gallon sized freezer bags next time you’re at the store. I’ll share all of your materials and a few easy recipes on my next post! Can’t wait!Share it!