Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Quick and Easy Meal Prep

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I've been doing batch cooking for years, cooking up several batches of a particular recipe and freezing them in meal portions.  Some recipes that we love to have stored up in the freezer are spaghetti sauce, lasagnes, a variety of marinated or grilled chicken, whole baked chickens, shredded chicken, bbq pork,  beef roasts, meatballs, meatloaves, hamburgers, chicken and turkey broths and even a variety of cooked beans.

This year we added a pressure canner to our kitchen arsenal and that has added a new dimension to our batch cooking and food storage.  Something that I have really wanted to do was to can foods that would make quick meals for our lunches.  I really hate to have to stop in the middle of school to prepare lunch and I don't buy quick frozen pizzas or lunch meat and store bought bread to make a quick sandwich, so lunch prep can take some thought and time.  Another thing we have been trying to do is to decrease the amount of meat we are eating and eating more and more meatless meals.  So, instead of freezing all those previously dried and cooked beans I am now canning them.  Why bother with canning them?  They are now instantly ready to heat and eat!!  I don't have to think about lunch at breakfast time in order to set the bag of beans out to thaw.  Just pop the lid off, pour into a pot and heat them up.  Or, if we are making refried beans we simply pour them into the blender adding additional seasonings and then put in a baking dish.  I am finding this so very helpful and it makes lunch prep (at least one day a week) so much easier.

We can quickly add a jar of beans to browned meat and have a hearty chili in just a few minutes with the addition of onions, garlic, tomatoes and spices.  I hope to even start canning my own chili soon.  We have been serving this chili over Fritos and topped with shredded cheese and sour cream for a fun lunch or quick Sunday evening dinner.  For even simpler meals, we heat the jar of beans and serve with corn tortillas, browned in the oven.  We can then top with chopped onions, peppers, salsa, cheese, sour cream or tomatoes for a very quick and healthy lunch.

I recently came across this recipe from the Maxwell family of Managers of Their Homes fame.  This makes a huge batch of beans to use for burritos.  I'll be making these tomorrow for the freezer.  This will be great to pull from the freezer for other meatless dishes and I hope to share some bags with another mom who just added a baby to her large family.

Do you have some great batch cooking recipes for the freezer or for canning? I am always interested in trying something new!  Please share in the comments below.

Raising Homemakers

1 comment:

SarahElisabeth said...

This is a meatless lentil soup which freezes well. It is also quick to make.

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