You’ve unboxed the new curriculum, and you have a solid plan for the first week. Well, the first day, anyway. This week I’ll be sharing one practical task per weekday that can help the beginning of your school year run more smoothly. Today is…
Day 1 – Stock Your Freezer
Whether I’m teaching my own kids or teaching other people’s teenagers, the one thing I can count on for the first day of a new school year – nay, the first week or two of school – is that I will be hopelessly worn out. I’m going to want to micro-hibernate in a bubble when school is finished. Throw in the evening activities that we mamas juggle, and cooking a multi-step dinner is pretty low on the list of things I can muster up the energy to do. Eating out on a daily basis isn’t an option for most of us either, so freezer meals are a teacher-mom’s best friend.
On day 1 of the countdown, let’s shop, prep, and stock our freezers with meals to get us through the too-tired-to-cook days. By the way, when you’re shopping for your freezer meals, don’t forget to stock up on freezer storage essentials: quart and gallon-size freezer bags, aluminum foil and plastic wrap for helping keep freezer burn and odors out, aluminum pans for freezer-to-oven convenience, and wax paper for helping to separate items that might stick together.
Here are a few of my freezer favorites:
1. Pioneer Woman’s Red and Green Stuffed Shells – This DELICIOUS recipe makes 12 servings, so you might decide to divide it into two or three pans, depending on your family size. Add an easy green salad when you’re ready to serve, and dinner is DONE.
2. Pioneer Woman’s Tortilla Casserole – This casserole appears in the Dinnertime cookbook (which I think is maybe her best cookbook to date), and there’s an earlier version of it online here as Mexican Lasagna. Even though the online version doesn’t specifically say it’s for the freezer, I can tell you that it makes a GREAT freezer casserole.
3. Swedish Meatballs from Damn Delicious – These IKEA copycat meatballs aren’t labeled as a freezer food, but they can totally work for the freezer if you make only the meatballs, freeze them in a single layer on a wax paper-covered cookie sheet, and then move them into portioned freezer bags. Save the gravy ingredients for serving day. The time-consuming part of Swedish meatballs is making the meatballs. Making the gravy is… well, gravy, so I don’t mind whisking that up quickly.
4. Grilled chicken to thaw out for salads – I know that you can buy “grilled” chicken strips at the grocery store, but they have a weird texture and weird added ingredients. Use whatever marinade you like and enjoy actual grilled-chicken texture.
5. Taco Filling
3 lbs hamburger
1 1/2 cups diced yellow onion
2 cups salsa
2 packets of taco seasoning (or 7-8 Tablespoons)
2 tsp. brown sugar
8 oz. can of diced green chiles
4 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 c water
1. Brown and drain ground beef and onion.
2. Add salsa, taco seasoning, sugar, chiles, and garlic. Stir to combine.
3. Add water and simmer until the mixture has thickened, about 30 minutes.
4. Cool, and (depending on the size of your family) divide into 2-4 freezer bags.
Do you have a favorite freezer meal? Share the link or recipe in the comments!
Want to see the rest of the Back to School Countdown? Find it here: