Sep 012004

Notes from Tammy

tammyHi everybody! Welcome to September! I can’t believe fall is right around the corner already. But all the signs are there… the leaves are starting to turn, it’s getting darker earlier, and the kids have started back to school.

I will admit that I was ready for the kids to go back to school… I was tired of my summer job as referee! Even so, I found myself feeling sad the morning of August 26th, as I watched my boys walk to the bus stop. It was bittersweet… I was looking forward to the schedule and routine of back-to-school, but where have my babies gone!?? My ‘baby’ is 6-1/2 and a first grader this year! My oldest son is 9-1/2 and a happy fourth grader. And my daughter? She’s 11-1/2 (going on 16!) and started middle school this year… sixth grade. She catches the bus an hour earlier than the boys, and looked so grown up as she started down the road through the sunrise mist to the bus stop. I couldn’t help but reflect back as I watched all three of them confidently stride off to their first day of school this year. After a couple minutes, reality set in and I decided to go enjoy the peace and quiet I’d been waiting for! The ability to work uninterrupted is a beautiful thing!

This issue of “Chewin’ the News” brings you four recipes from Carol Santee, author of our Freezer Lunches to Go ebook. If you have to pack lunches for anyone in your family, Carol has some great ideas (and recipes!) to help make the task easier. Read more about it below, in the Bonus Recipes section.

Bonus Recipes from Carol Santee

carol2007Well, it is back to school time here and that means it is time to think about packing lunch for my 3 teenagers (ages 17, 14 and 14). Preparing a nutritious and tasty lunch can be challenging. One sure way to make this process a little easier for everyone is to get the kids involved in the planning. Make a list of what they like to eat and what they don’t. Most of the time you can accommodate their lunchtime wishes as long as the food item is within reason and is something that can be made “portable”. We get ideas from The Freezer Cooking Manual, the recipes section of the 30 Day Gourmet web site, my ebook Freezer Lunches To Go and from other family favorites that we eat on a regular basis. I have one important rule. The recipe has to be something that can be heated quickly in the morning. The bus comes to our house at 6:45 am so I pack most of the side dishes the night before. I am usually just heating the main dish or making sandwiches in the morning. That usually rules out most casserole type dishes and recipes that need to be baked for an extended amount of time.

Once we have compiled a list of 15 or 20 recipes, I put together a rotating menu. We use a four-week schedule. We use this menu for three months at a time. At the end of the three months, we talk about what recipes we liked, the recipes that we want to remove from the rotation and what new ideas we have for the menu. Then we update the menu and go for another three months. Here’s a sample four-week rotation:






Week 1

Chicken Pockets

Ham Sandwich

Meatball Sandwich

Pasta with Ham

Pizza Pockets

Week 2

Bowtie Soup

Turkey Sandwich

Hamburger Mulligan

Pepperoni Sticks

Peanut Butter and Jelly

Week 3

Turkey and Noodles

Sausage and Rice

French Toast Sticks

Montreal Chicken Sandwich

Tuna Salad Sandwich

Week 4

Mac and Cheese

Chicken and Rice

Turkey Sandwich

Pork BBQ

Meatloaf Sandwich

I also have a list of side dishes that I buy every week to pack with lunch. This usually includes a fruit, a vegetable, a small dessert (usually homemade) or salty snack (chips, pretzels, homemade snack mix, etc.) and a beverage. These help round out the meal. Here’s a sample weekly menu with some possible side dishes:

Monday: Turkey and Noodles, baby carrots, sliced cantaloupe
Tuesday: Sausage and Rice, pineapple chunks, celery with peanut butter
Wednesday: Taco Roll-ups, sliced cucumbers, apple
Thursday: Ham Sandwich, sliced tomatoes, applesauce
Friday: Tuna Salad Sandwich, baby carrots, grapes

For the snack items, we use a variety of recipes. I usually plan a monthly cooking day just for the lunch and after school snacks. Here are some of our favorites:


Granola Bars Blender Shakes (multiple variations)
Grandma Petrini’s Gingersnaps Carolyn’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Snackin’ Mix Apple Squares
No-Bake Cookies Frozen Peanut Butter Bars


These are great things to have on hand when your hungry kids come home from school. I also keep lots of fruits and vegetables on hand for snacking as well as simple things like popcorn, homemade frozen waffles, frozen muffins, etc.

For some more helpful information on packing lunches, read Do’s and Don’ts of Packed Lunches and my ebook Freezer Lunches To Go. Good luck this school year and enjoy the bonus recipes!


Peanut Butter Muffins

My family loves anything made with peanut butter – cookies, peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter fruit dip, peanut butter on apples, bananas and even pancakes! This recipe is an easy and convenient way to get the taste of peanut butter in a muffin. I make batches of these and keep them in the freezer for breakfast and lunch. The kids also eat them as an after school snack. Remember to sprinkle the sugar on top when you bake them. It makes a nice crunchy topping that kids especially love.

MontrealChickenSandMontreal Chicken Sandwiches

This is one of the sampler recipes from my ebook, Freezer Lunches To Go. My husband loves to grill chicken and he is good at it. He is always experimenting with different combinations of herbs and spices. This is one of his special combinations. This makes a great sandwich for lunch. We like to have some on hand to toss with a garden salad or it can be added to pasta dishes. Montreal Chicken Seasoning is produced by McCormick. If you have trouble finding it in your area, you can use their store locator on their website.


IndivPumpPiesIndividual Pumpkin Pies

This is another sampler recipe from my ebook. I created this recipe to satisfy my husband’s craving for pumpkin pie. This recipe has turned out to be one of our family favorites. It is always a hit when we take it to family gatherings or potlucks as well as in the lunch box. Add a little whipped topping and you would swear it is Thanksgiving!


fruitNoat_002Fruit and Oat Bars

My family likes to eat fruit and grain bars that you can buy at the store. I wanted to create my own version so I can make them at home. We usually make these bars with raspberry jam or apple butter. You can also make them with applesauce, strawberry jam or peach jam. They smell wonderful and are great right out of the oven!



Website News from Nanci

Update on my new teaching job!
A special thanks to all of you who have e-mailed and wished me well on my new venture back into the world of teaching. I really love it! We are knee-deep in The Scarlet Letter! For Spirit Week we had a Pajama Day and a Hippie Day. It doesn’t get any better than that! If you’re REALLY interested, you can visit my website at:

Thanks also to Tammy and Carol who have taken on lots more 30 Day Gourmet work. I couldn’t do it without them!

I’ll tell you one thing that working full-time outside the home has taught me – you gotta have a cooking plan or it’s McDonald’s most nights and “whatever” on the other nights. My freezer stock is WAY down. I’m hoping to talk some of my colleagues into forming a Co-op Cuisine group with me. Speaking of Co-op Cuisine – do you have your copy yet? What a great book!
New eBook!!! – Co-op Cuisine: Freezer Cooking with Friends
Author: Jan Limiero from Bakersfield, California
Do you love the idea of bulk cooking but are scared to death to tackle it by yourself? Try making it a team effort! You’ll find the challenges divided and the rewards multiplied. Co-op Cuisine will tell you how to get started cooking as a team. It gives practical tips to the leader of the group and features recipes multiplied by larger numbers so you don’t have to do the math yourself.
With Co-op Cuisine, each participant cooks just one recipe (or try more as you get the hang of it) but multiplies the ingredients by the number of people participating, for example, ten. Then, when everyone gets together on Swap Day to trade meals, each person will end up with ten different meals even though they only had to spend their energy shopping for and cooking one recipe (multiplied by ten). Participants cook their recipe in their own kitchen during the agreed upon time allotment. This give everyone the flexibility to work around their family’s busy schedule.

The book includes 51 pages and 25 recipes suitable for co-op cooking that are simpler to multiply by large quantities. It highlights Easy and Super Easy recipes that are good for the beginners in the group.

Click here to check out Co-op Cuisine today. You can take a look at the recipe list and table of contents and download a free sampler with 3 recipes to try out. It’s available for $6.95 as a download or for $8.95 + s&h on CD. You will never go back to bulk cooking by yourself. And you’ll find new friends that share dinner with you every night.

Next Ebook: Vegetarian Freezer Cooking
Watch for it soon! Our author is a long-time vegetarian freezer cook who lives in Jerusalem!

Recipe of the Month Contest Winner

Recipe of the Month… Basil Tortellini Soup

Our winner this month is Rhea with her recipe for Basil Tortellini Soup. Fall is just around the corner, and it’s the perfect time to fill your freezer with some tasty soups for those chilly days we know are coming.

I haven’t made a recipe for soup like this before. Besides the Beefy Vegetable Soup, we like Cheddar Broccoli and Loaded Baked Potato Soup. Now we can add Basil Tortellini Soup to our list of favorites! It has good flavor, it’s colorful, and so quick to make! My kids really like cheese tortellini, so they didn’t hesitate to try this soup, which is another plus.

This recipe is so easy to make in bulk, because you are just mixing the ingredients together and freezing it… no cooking needed! Just thaw, heat and eat on serving day. And it is so easy to freeze in family or individual size servings… your choice!

Let’s meet Rhea:

Hi, I’m Rhea, from Bakersfield CA, located at the southern tip of the San Joaquin Valley. I’ve been married 34 years and have two daughters, ages 33 and 12, and three grandchildren, ages almost 15, almost 13 and 10. (Yes, you did read that right, two of my grandchildren ARE older than my younger daughter.) I work full time as a computer programmer for the local welfare department, and am really looking forward to retirement in the next 3 years or so. I have been freezer cooking in some form or other for as long as I have been cooking, starting way back in the dark ages when I was a junior in high school. I really enjoy the 30 Day recipes and the message boards. I am a “mini-session” kinda gal and just multiply recipes as I make them. Why make that big a mess for only one meal when the same mess can result in two, three or even four mess-less meals later? Since this soup doesn’t have to be cooked before freezing, it’s one of my favorites – just pour everything together and you’re done! Served with crusty bread and maybe a salad, it’s super simple and tastes great. As the great Katharine Hepburn once said, “If the soup’s good, I’m happy.” Enjoy!!

Click here to view/print the September Recipe of the Month.

Freezer Cook of the Month Contest Winner

Our winner this month is Sharon Coughlin, of WA. Sharon sent me the following email about how 30 Day Gourmet has helped her out recently.

This year has kind of been a tough one for me health wise. The end of April, I had a minor heart attack and I required a stent. The doctor said that I was very lucky because there was no damage to my heart muscle but I said…God is very good!

I have been feeling so much better that I was able to help with VBS this year (300 kids!) and recently volunteered to help out with Jail Ministries and even helping out in Missionettes again when it starts up this fall – something that I have not been able to be a part of in about 17 years. Again I just said…God is very good!

My usual schedule is often hectic but I have even felt like doing it for a change! My 17 year old daughter is a competitive swimmer and striving to one day go to the Olympics. We are poolside by 6:00 AM every morning during the summer months. While she swims me and my oldest daughter walk laps around the park then we go home and start our chores. Even my house is looking better than ever. I decided that I would set myself a goal to cook and freeze a total of 60 meals for my freezer. That would allow me to have enough meals stored up for about two months and still have food available for church functions and helping a family or two if necessary. As of today, I now have 77 meals in my freezer…God is very good!

A couple of weeks ago I had to take a break from my busy schedule to go to visit my doctor. The news wasn’t so great…a rather large mass in my right breast that is going to need to be surgically removed. Well, you know how that makes us feel <smile> There were some other troublesome things too that also are going to require some treatment. I hadn’t been prepared for that particular news so I was alone. I wasn’t so worried about me as much as I was worried about trying to tell my family. Our families are so very dependent upon us. I prayed quietly and began to reflect upon how good God is and that “aloneness” just kind of went away. God is very good!

But my house is clean and beautiful. Everything is in it’s proper place. I have personally prepared all the meals for my family for the next two months, I even scheduled meals on my calendar listing what food is for what day – obviously God is the one who prompted me to get busy. I know that I am truly ready for whatever lies ahead. After all, it is He who is in control and it is He who helped me prepare for this all this – although certainly unexpected nothing goes unplanned or unknown by God…God is very good!

Please be encouraged today in your own life and be encouraged in your own work that God has called you to do because after all is said and done…God is very good!

Many thanks and blessings,
Sharon Coughlin

Thanks for sharing with us, Sharon! Since I got this initial email, I checked back with Sharon to see how she was doing. She had her surgery, and it went very well. On September 1, she went to her Dr. for a follow-up visit, and was given a clean bill of health! Sharon and her family know they are blessed, and are very thankful for those blessings!

Gourmet Q&A from Tammy

Q. Nanci, I ordered your book and love the recipes that I have tried.  I am quickly on my way to cooking fewer days out of the week/month.  My husband loves beef and wanted me to do a Beef Pot Pie.  I can’t seem to find a recipe for that on your web site.  How can I adapt the Chicken Pot Pie recipe from the book?  Help!  Debra

A. Hi Debra,  My name is Carol Santee and I work with Nanci at 30 Day Gourmet. Nanci asked me to answer your question on finding a recipe for Beef Pot Pie. There are two things that you can do. If you like the Country Chicken Pot Recipe in the fourth edition of the Freezer Cooking Manual (FCM), you can simply try replacing the chicken broth with beef broth and the cooked and chopped chicken with cooked lean stew beef. That should work. Another option is to look at the Master Beef Cube Mix recipe on page 53 of the fourth edition of the FCM. The comments section of the recipe references some other recipes that can be made with the Master Beef Cube Mix. One of these is Beef Pot Pie. You can find this recipe in the Member’s Only section on the 30 Day Gourmet web site. Click here to get to the Member’s Only section. Enter the password found in your Freezer Cooking Manual. Click on Free Recipes & Files for Advantage Cooking Software. Scroll down to section Recipe Additions & Variations from the Fourth Edition. Click on Beef Recipe Variations. You will see the recipe for Beef Pot Pie. It’s the last page in the document.

I hope this helps!

Cookin’ at the Keyboard with Shelley

ShelleyWhat do you think of when you hear the word “new?” A new house, a new car, or a new dress conjure thoughts of eager anticipation. On the flip side, a new school, a new job, or a new boss might produce an anxious reaction. My husband and I reacted quite differently when our dishwasher broke a few months ago. I imagined myriads of new features, giving me the ability to wash more dishes, more quietly. He imagined the potential problems he would face when installing the new appliance and disposing of the old one.

Now to the important question, and the point of my discussion. What’s your reaction to “new” computer software? Do you see the myriads of features, giving you the ability to freezer cook more meals, more efficiently? Or do you imagine the potential problems you might encounter when installing and using the program? If you fall into the second category, here’s some advice that will change your perspective.

Three basic steps is all it takes to get you up from the keyboard and into the kitchen:


  1. Add your recipes. Although the software comes with over 150 recipes already loaded, you might want to add a few of your favorites. Use the “Recipe Manager” tutorial in the Help File for an easy lesson.
  2. Select recipes for a cooking day. Choose the recipes to be cooked and specify the quantity of each recipe. Use the “Cooking Day” tutorial for step-by-step instructions.
  3. Print the reports. The Container Report indicates how many freezer bags to buy. The Recipes Report and the Appliance Report help you plan your cooking strategy. The Grocery Report alone makes it worth the effort!


You’ll find more information for each of these steps in the advanced tutorials and the “How to Get Started” section of the manual. Install the software and you’ll be surprised how fast “new” can turn into “tried and true” and you won’t want to live without it! (By the way, our new dishwasher installed without a problem, much to the relief of my husband.)

If you haven’t tried our Advantage Cooking software, click here for a 30 day free trial or to order your own copy.

Final Thoughts

I hope you’ve enjoyed another edition of our Newsletter. Carol mentioned the Members Only section of our website above in the Q&A… be sure to check it out if you haven’t! Besides lots of recipes, you can download a variety of forms and worksheets to help your cooking day go smoother. Enter the user name and password from your manual or software purchase to access this area.

Click here to send me an email me with any questions, ideas, suggestions or problems. I enjoy hearing from you all! Have a great September!



Carol Santee

Carol is the co-author of the Big Book of Freezer Cooking and the author of 30 Day Gourmet’s Slow Cooker Freezer Favorites, Freezer Lunches To Go and Healthy Freezer Cooking eBooks. She is a computer information specialist and works for a computer software company.

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