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.

Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken

A classroom is a bubbling, constantly moving place. I love it. Sometimes the noise gets to me and turns me into a bit of a crazy person, but generally I love the hum of students working and learning.

In my room, students know that when it comes to work time, we work hard. And if you are stuck, you have a few choices:

  1. Talk to the person next to you (work talk only please…no visiting)
  2. Do the parts you can and then come back to what you are stuck on
  3. Come to the guided reading table for help (a c-shaped table that allows me to sit in the middle and be able to access 5-6 students around me easily)

My students move fluidly through these choices and we get lots of work done.

I also hear lots of funny things at the guided reading table…

The other day, as we were working on math, I had a group of girls around my guided reading table with me.

We were talking about 2 digit adding and I was reminding students that if we have more than 2 numbers to add, we don’t have to be scared…it’s exactly the same process no matter how many numbers we are adding together.

One little girl was lamenting about how scared she was about this adding business.

Another little girl piped up “I’m not scared of these numbers…I’m not scared of anything!”

“That’s great!” I said

We continued to work a little more in silence

“Except for my closet…at night” she added.

I couldn’t even hold it in. I laughed out loud.

She look at me and adamantly said, “Well it is scary at night..”

I love the kids I work with.

I also love a good crockpot recipe…especially a dump-and-cook one. So when I found this recipe for honey garlic chicken thighs, I couldn’t resist.

Crockpot honey garlic chicken

This could not have been simpler.

I placed the chicken thighs in the bottom of the crockpot. (Note- I doubled the amount of chicken thighs from the original recipe, and opted for boneless skinless ones because they were on sale)

Crockpot honey garlic chicken

In a small bowl I mixed

  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley

Crockpot honey garlic chicken

I poured it all over the chicken and cooked if for 8 hours on low. Warning- if your crockpot has hot spots (like I found out mine does) the sauce can burn a bit…I wouldn’t cook it longer than 8 hours…6-7 probably would be even better, and if you have a way to turn your crockpot off when done (I used to be able to use a light timer with my old crockpot) that would be a great choice to keep your sauce from burning.

Crockpot honey garlic chicken

I served this with rice and stir fry veggies.

The Verdict- Even with a hot spot in my crockpot causing the sauce to burn a bit, which in turn caused an I-can’t-believe-I-might-have-to-throw-out-dinner mini meltdown in the kitchen after work, this was STILL delicious. I will be sure to cook it less next time…but all in all this was a success, and could not have been easier!