8 Freezer Meals in 3 Hours

Work Melissa is creeping back…I feel it.

I have the urge to be efficient.

I have the urge to make lists and get stuff done.

 

I am starting to set my alarm…early.

Summertime Melissa will be gone soon.

Thankfully, after our lovely holiday I really do feel relaxed and haven’t thought much about returning to school.

I should start thinking about school though because it starts next week.

Now the actual school stuff is no big deal, after a few operational days next week and a work day Monday, I’ll be ready for those 30 little treasures that will enter my classroom Thursday morning.

But by the end of the day during the first few weeks, the last thing I want to do is plan and prep a meal.

A few years ago, I met another teacher who said she always prepped a whole bunch of meals in the summer that she could use at the beginning of the school year.

“It just saves my sanity a little. If I need to stay at school a little later, or when I get home exhausted, I don’t have to worry about what we are going to eat.” she said.

I thought I would try it this year. Usually I do some crockpot meals, but you still have to organize, shop and prepare them when all you really want to do is crawl promptly into bed as soon as you get home.

So I found a few easy, freezable recipes and got down to work.

I decided to choose 2 chicken recipes and 2 beef recipes so that I could buy a club pack of each and use it all. These meals will feed Andrew and I for supper and give us leftovers for the next day. If you are feeding a larger family, you may want to increase the meat amounts so that there is enough.

After I had gotten all the groceries I needed, I started by labeling all my bags and containers.

On each, I put the name of the recipe and how to cook it.

8 Freezer Meals in 3 Hours

I figured I would get the easy ones out of the way first, and then tackle the more labor intensive ones after.

For each of the 4 recipes I chose, I made two batches to get the total 8 meals.

The first recipe I chose was Teriyaki Chicken.

In each bag I placed

  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 can pineapple chunks

8 Freezer Meals in 3 Hours- Teriyaki Chicken

I removed as much air as possible, zipped them shut, laid them flat and popped them in the freezer.

8 Freezer Meals in 3 Hours- Teriyaki Chicken

2 meals down, and only 15 minutes in!

Recipe #2- Peach Ginger Chicken

8 Freezer Meals in 3 Hours- Ginger Peach Chicken

In each bag I placed

  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 1 small sliced red onion
  • 12 oz bag of frozen peaches
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander

I removed as much air as possible again, zipped them shut, laid them flat and popped them in the freezer.

8 Freezer Meals in 3 Hours- Ginger Peach Chicken

4 meals done and 30 minutes down- BOOM!

Here is where the meal prepping really slowed down.

The third recipe I chose was my favorite pineapple meatball recipe from the Company’s Coming Slow Cooker cookbook.

I started by making the meatballs.

8 Freezer Meals in 3 Hours- Pineapple Meatballs

In a (not large enough) bowl, I mixed

  • 1/2 a club pack of ground beef
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 cups bread crumbs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoon minced garlic

I rolled out all the meatballs and popped them into the freezer to firm up before I put them in the bags.

While the meatballs were in the freezer, I made the sauce.

In a medium saucepan, I mixed together

  • 2 cans crushed pineapple
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce

I brought it to a boil and then added 2 tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in some water to thicken it up.

I let the sauce cool down and then put half the meatballs and half the sauce in each bag, laid them flat and popped them in the freezer.

6 meals done in 1.5 hours.

The last meal I tackled was lasagna. This was by far the most labor intensive, but a lasagna will feed us for days, so I can stretch over many meals…especially if I serve it will a salad.

I started by dicing half an onion and cooking it with the rest of the beef, salt, pepper and garlic.

Once it was cooked through, I drained it and added 3 jars of pasta sauce and let is simmer for 15 minutes.

While that was simmering, I mixed a large container of cottage cheese (in hindsight, I would have done 2 so that I had more for the lasagnas) with 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and some dried parsley.

I set up all my lasagna-making-stuff and got down to it.

8 Freezer Meals in 3 Hours- Lasagna

Sauce on the bottom and a layer of noodles,

8 Freezer Meals in 3 Hours- Lasagna

then some mozzarella cheese and dollops of the cottage cheese mixture.

8 Freezer Meals in 3 Hours- Lasagna

I repeated this again and then did another layer of noodles, sauce and cheese on the top.

I popped the lids on and added them to the freezer.

8 Freezer Meals in 3 Hours- Lasagna

8 meals +clean up in 3 hours.

Now maybe I’ll reward myself with a nap.

Maui

We visited this beautiful place for the first time 5 years ago.

Now when I travel, I love where I go, but as the holiday comes to a close, I am happy to head home and get back to the day-to-day routine of life.

Maui was the first place where I wished we could stay longer…stay indefinitely actually…it is one of my happy places.

Maui

So I was excited to return and see the island that holds such a special place in my heart.

We arrived early in the morning and did what I think most tourists do in Maui: had a pineapple fritter from Krispy Kreme and waited for Costco to open.

We got our groceries and headed off to our home for a week.

The last time we were in Maui, we stayed in Kihei on the southern part of the island. I swore I would never stay anywhere else unless I could stay in Wailea (I love Wailea…I think I want to retire there…) but budget and time of year just didn’t allow for us to stay there. Instead we stayed on the Northwest side of the island between Kaanapali and Napili. Little did I know that this was a big resort/condo area too and would have lots for us to explore.

Maui

And explore we did! Our days quickly filled up with many activities, old and new.

We visited the blowhole on the northern side of the island.

I love the little sign for this place…this is what most of the signs on the islands look like. Blink twice and you may miss it.

Maui

It was a little hike down, but you got a neat show when you got there!

Maui

We snorkeled Honalua Bay.

Over the years we have come to love snorkeling. (Andrew even more so than I) so when we heard this is where all the tour boats take you, we knew we had to check it out. It was only a 15 minute drive from where we were staying so we went numerous times.

Maui

This is not a great beach place (as it is all rocks) but if you love to snorkel, you will be rewarded with beautiful corral, tons of fish and even some turtles.

We visited the Kihei/Wailea area.

I think this is where I am most happiest on the island. In particular, I think I could spend my whole week just at Wailea beach. It is a busier beach because it is right in front of many hotels, but the sand is soft, the water is (relatively calm) and there is lots of great snorkeling right off the beach. A perfect marriage of all the things we love. In fact, while Andrew was out snorkeling one morning I was in the water and was greeted by a cute little turtle who popped his head up to say hi as he swam by. Does it get any better? I don’t think so folks.

Maui

We drove the road to Hana.

Some people say this is only something you need to do once when you visit Maui, but the road to Hana offers some incredible views and breathtaking scenery if you are willing to put in the time. Prepare yourself- it is a long day in the car (I think we spent 6-7 hours driving) but you will see something completely different from the rest of the island. Beautiful greenery and stunning waterfalls around every turn (and there are LOTS of turns…hairpin…single lane bridges…it’s not for the faint of heart or easily carsick. I must ride in the front seat and Andrew has to promise to not take the corners too fast)

Maui

When you finally reach Hana, you can drive a little farther to the state park and see the 7 sacred pools. The day we went, the pools were closed for swimming so we didn’t stick around, but they were pretty to see and we didn’t get all the way last time (funny…3 small children did not want to be in the car for more than 5 hours. I distinctly remember a conversation with the youngest in the back of the rental car. “Can we go home?” he pleaded “Just look out the window buddy…it is so beautiful” I responded. “It’s not THAT beautiful, Auntie Melissa!” was his quick response)

Maui

We went to the summit of Haleakala.

Haleakala is the inactive volcano that sits in the middle-ish part of Maui.

The sunrise at Haleakala is world renowned. Now because we were about 2 hours from the summit we decided that getting up and driving at 3am was probably not something we were going to do….but we did get a chance to drive up our last day and look around.

Maui

Though it was cloudy, I can imagine that on a clear day, the views from 10,000 feet up would be absolutely breathtaking.

We walked around, took in what we could and enjoyed the long drive up and down the volcano.

Maui

If you are in Maui and planning to go to Haleakala, make sure you are prepared for the weather. We had on our sweaters and jackets for part of the time and at one point driving up the wipers could not even keep up with the rain. I’ve heard that the sunrises and sunsets can be particularly chilly so make sure you have what you need.

We had numerous beach days.

Maui

You cannot go wrong with a beach day in Maui. A few of our favorites are Wailea beach, Black Rock beach and Charlie Young beach. On our last day we drove through Kapalua and wished we had more time to explore that beautiful area too.

We ate at one of our favorite spots.

Coconuts Fish Cafe in Kihei is one of our favorite restaurants. Their fish tacos are amazing! They are messy and flavorful and filling. I made the mistake of thinking I could eat a whole order (2 tacos) and french fries…

Maui

Needless to say Andrew had to help me finish my tacos and we left quite a pile of fries when we rolled ourselves out of there.

We sussed out our favorite new treat.

In Kauai, Andrew happened upon this delicious treat called a malasada.

Malasadas are Portuguese doughnuts filled with custard and rolled in sugar. Basically the most wonderful fried thing you can get.

Maui

Every since that first malasada it was our mission to find more.

I researched and researched and finally found a little cafe in Kihei that makes malasadas. The Home Maid Cafe, a little dive-y restaurant, fresh fries their malasadas to order and they were incredibly delicious. Maybe I’ll have to try to recreate these at home…or find a place where we can buy them.

Unfortunately our week ended and we had to come home…after 3 weeks away you kind of get used to the ocean and beach as a part of your everyday life.

I guess we can’t be on holidays forever…though I did consider it for a while.

Now to get ready to go back to work.