Monday, May 16, 2011

Make-ahead-meals

I have a hard time with make ahead meals. I made a ton a few years ago, but due to the fact that I actually ENJOY cooking most every night, the majority of them went bad and I threw them out. But I have started to do what I have seen called "gradual make ahead meals", which is basically cooking the time consuming portions of meals (beef, chicken, crusts, sauce, etc.) ahead of time, so that when you need them for dinner, they are all ready! I usually take one day for beef, one day for chicken, and one day for pizza stuff. It doesnt take a lot of time, but it sure saves you a lot! Here's how I do it...

Shredded Beef:
We have a freezer FULL of elk and cow roasts, so what I do it take a LARGE roast, or 2 small ones, and throw them in the crockpot in the morning with
6 cups of water (enough to cover the meat 1/2 way up)
3 beef boullion cubes
4 TBS garlic and herb seasoning
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp seasoned salt
Turn the crockpot onto low and cook for AT LEAST 10 hours... if not 11 to12.
it will be super moist and tender! shred in a large bowl and seperate into plastic baggies (i do about 1.5-2 cups in each) and lay flat to freeze!
Then you have shredded beef for enchiladas, tacos, stroganoff, french dips etc.

Ground Beef:
This one takes a little more time and attention, but not much.
I thaw 6-8 lbs of meat at a time (our meat is usually deer or elk burger) and seperate it into 3 seperate bowls

Taco Meat-
for every 2 lbs of meat add
3-4 TBS taco seasoning
1TBS garlic powder
2tsp onion powder
cook until meat is no longer pink and set aside to cool
Great for tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, nachos, taco salads, chili etc.

Italian Meat-
for every 2lbs of meat add
1TBS garlic powder
1TBS onion powder
1TBS garlic and herb seasoning
cook until meat is no longer pink and set aside to cool
Great for lasagne, spaghetti, baked ziti etc.

Sloppy Joe Meat (recipe adapted from here)
1 lb Ground Beef
3/4 cups Ketchup
4TBS Worchestershire Sauce
1/8 cup Mustard
1/8 cup Vinegar
1/8 cup Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 small onion, minced
In a skillet, cook ground beef and onion until beef is evenly brown.
Drain beef.
Add remaining ingredients to the skillet and stir well.
Cook covered on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Then I divide the meats into sandwich baggies in 1 cup portions, lay flat and freeze!

Chicken:
shredded-
I usually buy one of those big 5lb flats of chicken, throw it all in the crock pot with enough water to cover 1/2 way up, add 2-3 chicken boullion cubes and a few tsp of garlic and herb seasoning and allow to cook until chicken shreds easily (i would guess about 4-5 hours on low)
Let cool and divide into 1 cup portions in baggies, lay flat to freeze.
diced-
Cut up any amount of chicken you want, season with garlic and herb seasoning. Cook in a LARGE skillet, but do NOT crown the pan or your chicken will never brown! If you have to, cook it in batches. Portion into baggies and lay flat to freeze.

Pizza:
crust-
I used this pizza dough recipe 3 times, making 6 crusts, but Im sure you can use whatever recipe you want and it would work fine. I split the dough into 6 balls, let 'em rise, and stretched them into a pizza shape. Then I baked them on a pizza stone at 450 degrees for 3 minutes. NO longer! It wont look done, it will be doughy, but thats OK! then I layed that one out on a towel to cool and proceeded with the next dough ball. Once the par-baked crust had cooled, I double wrapped it in plastic wrap and placed it flat in the freezer to freeze solid.
Sauce-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 TBS garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1TB tomato paste
1 32-ounce can pureed tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 TBS italian seasoning
Add the olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic powder and crushed pepper, then add the tomato paste, cook for a minute, then stir in the crushed tomatoes. Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cook on LOW for about an hour and a half , it will get think and sweet and yummy!
After I let the sauce cool down, pour 1 cup portions into baggies, seal and lay flat to freeze.

2 comments:

THE HILLS said...

These are great ideas! If I did this I might ENJOY cooking a little more, I really struggle :) I'm going to try it, Thanks!

cropmom66 said...

Great idea, and have thought about doing it often...but haven't gotten my butt in gear to actually do it!


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