Freezer Cooking News from Nanci
For teachers, mid-August is a bigger deal than January 1st. We live by a school year calendar rather than the lunar calendar. I suspect those of you who have children in school might know what I’m talking about. We tend to evaluate our past year and think about what went well and what we want to change for the next year. So here are my “new year’s” food resolutions:
1. Add fruits, veggies and whole grains to our diet on an EVERYDAY basis.
2. Do one mini-session per month so we can eat dinner from the freezer at least 5 nights a week.
3. Figure out how to work healthier snacks into our lives.
1. FRUITS, VEGGIES and WHOLE GRAINS
Here are some easy things that I have done to start making this happen:
*It seems like a “duh” thing but I made a list of the fruits and veggies that each person in our family likes. Then I put them on my grocery list each week. I also look for good deals on ones that I can buy and freeze for later use. Click here for some great tips on freezing fruits and veggies when they are in season.
*I mix up a large bowl of fruit (for us it’s apples, grapes, strawberries, blueberries and pineapple) and leave it in the refrigerator for the week. We’re all a lot more likely to eat fruit when it is already washed (and cold!). (We put bananas in just before eating since they brown easily.)
*Instead of eating big bowls of ice cream a few times a week, I’m making smoothies using frozen fruit, yogurt and fat free/low fat ice cream. I also make milkshakes using skim or Almond milk, flavored yogurt, and fat free/low fat ice cream or frozen yogurt.
Click here for good info and recipes for healthy smoothies.
Click here for some healthy milkshake recipes.
*Whole grains are (for me) just a matter of spending more money. Instead of buying cheaper bread, buns, and cereal I have started buying 100% whole grain sandwich bread, 100% whole grain thin bagels (have you tried these? They’re really good!), and more expensive whole grain, high fiber cereal that the family will eat. I’m also trying to use ½ brown rice and ½ white rice until I get the family used to it and then I’ll go 100% brown.
We have several great freezer recipes for healthy, whole grain foods as well. Check out:
Whole Wheat Apple Crunch Muffins from BBOFC
Whole Wheat Bread Dough Crust from Vegetarian Freezer Cooking
Breakfast Cookies from BBOFC
2. COOKING PLAN FOR THIS SCHOOL YEAR
If you didn’t follow my “summer cooking marathon” on the 30 Day Gourmet Facebook® fan page, you can still read all about it at www.facebook.com/30DayGourmetFreezerCooking. Scroll back to July 4th and 5th. I did 45 entrees for 4 of us and 10 entrees for 1 (my college son). Here’s a pix of my full freezer.
Life sure changes, though, when school starts. I looked at my personal and school schedules and decided that “come heck or high water” I’m going to cook on these breaks/weekends:
- September 4-6 (Labor Day weekend)
- October 1-3 (Fall Break)
- November 25-28 (Thanksgiving Break)
- December 17-January 3 (Christmas Break – I will put enough food in the freezer during one BIG cooking session to last until after the school play that I direct in mid-March)
- March 25-April 2 (Spring Break)
3. HEALTHIER SNACKS
This is a big problem in the Slagle family. We just love our snacks and most of them are of the “unhealthy” variety. Changing what we eat for “meals” is one thing but taking away our snacks and handing us a handful of celery and a 100 calorie pack of Doritos is a declaration of war. My husband and kids are all thin but they need to be getting their “energy” from good calories. I, on the other hand, need to lose some weight so my calories need to count in lots of ways. Here are some ideas I’m trying:
- Stop eating whole tubes of Pringles in one sitting but forget buying the 100 calorie packages. I’m sure you’ve realized that you are just paying someone else a lot of money to put high calorie snacks into little bags for you. If only they would send a skinny lady along to slap my hand every time I reach for another 100 calorie bag of Oreos.
- Make your OWN 100 (or whatever) calorie packs of snacks. Use the nutritional info that our recipes all provide to package your snacks ahead of time. Here are some great recipes that I have started using in place of some of the “not so healthy” snacks that we eat.
1. Peanut Oat Bars – my kids love Honey Nut Cheerios so these seem “familiar” to them.
2. Snackin’ Mix from BBOFC – Freezer great and is much cheaper and healthier than the store bought version.
3. Chewy Granola Bars – We seem to eat a lot of granola bars at our house now. This recipe has lots of healthy ingredients that can “tide us over” until mealtime.
Well, just in case you think that the Slagles may be giving up sickeningly sweet snacks forever, trust me – we haven’t. They just taste so much better when they are a “treat” rather than a 10 pm ritual.
We usually take our kids out to a restaurant for their birthdays but wow – is that ever getting expensive now that they don’t order from the kids’ menu. And if you add desserts for everyone (can you really deny them dessert on their birthday) the bill goes up another $25. Our family loves Applebee’s Triple Chocolate Meltdown but at $5 each with no volunteers to share, it’s a bit spendy. This year, I went looking for a recipe and found several. The one below was adapted from a recipe I found on www.thepioneerwoman.com. She uses a whipped cream topping but my family wanted the rich, chocolate topping just like Applebee’s.
I’m guessing that these would freeze easily although I have to admit that someone ate the extra before I could put it in the freezer and test my theory.
Closing Comments from Nanci
That’s it for now. Next month I’ll show you some pix and recipes geared toward “College Student Cooking” or “Cooking for One”. I bought our son a small George Foreman grill this summer and we’re learning how to use it together. He’s also learning about packing healthy lunches.
On a final note, I want to congratulate Christine Bowman from Austin, Texas who recently won a $25 gift card for Olive Garden/Red Lobster when her review of the Big Book of Freezer Cooking was chosen on the 30 Day Gourmet Facebook® fan page. If you aren’t a 30 Day Gourmet Facebook® follower, join us now. It’s great fun!
If you haven’t purchased one of our new books yet . . . . well, you really should! The recipes are pretty amazing and with the layflat binding and a photo of each. . . It’s just a great book for freezer cooks! Here’s a reminder of our products:
- 30 Day Gourmet’s BIG Book of Freezer Cooking $19.95
- Advantage Cooking Software $34.95 download
- Holiday Freezer Cooking $6.95 download
- Freezer Cooking on a Budget $6.95 download
- Freezer Lunches to Go $6.95 download
- Freezer Desserts to Die For! $6.95 download
- Freezer Cooking for Daycare Providers & Busy Parents $6.95 download
- Healthy Freezer Cooking $6.95 download
- Vegetarian Freezer Cooking $6.95 download
- Co-op Cuisine $6.95 download
- Souper Freezer Soups $6.95 download
- Slow Cooker Freezer Favorites $6.95 download
Keep sending us your recipes, suggestions and comments. We love hearing from you!