The last few months have been crazy around here. I have been working on several big projects and I didn’t even have time to cook! After a few months without any home-cooked goodness, I decided that my family deserved something special. So this month, there’s no experimental recipes… Just our very, very, very favorite dinners.
Even my five picky eaters agree – this might just be the best thing that’s ever happened in my kitchen.
$6.44 per meal
(~$1.07 per person)
This is my family’s all-time, #1 favorite freezer meal. I make it every month! This month, I opted to use Southern-style potatoes from the freezer section (one bag per casserole) instead of blanching my own. I divided 3 pounds of sausage and two pounds of bacon between the four casseroles. I also used a cup or two of cheese in each.
As I’ve discussed in previous posts, this meal can easily be made cheaper by blanching your own potatoes or using smaller quantities of meat or cheese.
To cook, just dump the bag into a Crockpot and cover it with a scrambled egg mixture. For our family, I use about a dozen eggs per casserole… and I rarely have leftovers.
Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake
$10.55 per meal
(~$1.76 per person)
This. Is. My. Favorite. Dish.
Inspired by this incredible Taste of Home recipe, this dish is hands-down the most amazing thing to ever come out of my kitchen. Ever. And there’s been a lot of yummy goodness in my kitchen.
Since I was making four (yes, four) of these, I cut 10 pounds of cooked chicken breasts and four pounds of pre-cooked ham into small cubes. I covered the bottom of each pan with chicken and layered the ham on top. In a bowl, I mixed a huge can of cream of chicken soup with about a cup and half of milk. I poured an equal amount of the mixture over each casserole. And then I smothered the entire thing with Swiss cheese. Yum.
Since there is never enough of this dish to go around, I serve it with stuffing mix (either on the side or on top).
Since this dish is oh-so-good, I made sure to make a few in mini-tins so I can have some all to myself at lunch time.
(~1.79 per person)
Instead of re-heating the taco meat in a crockpot like I usually do, I decided to try something new this month. I cooked four pounds of hamburger and mixed in taco seasoning, onion, green bell pepper, diced green chilies and diced tomatoes. I slathered refried beans into the bottom of ten mini-tins and added taco meat on top. And, of course, I topped it with lots of cheddar cheese.
These mini-tins are the perfect amount to reheat and eat for lunches. You can eat it out of the tin (with chips!) or dump it onto warm tortillas or taco shells. Yum.
$11.61 per meal
(~$1.93 per person)
I get hungry just thinking about this amazing baked ziti from Six Sister’s Stuff. I made two and I wish I’d made more!
$7.66 per meal
($1.27 per person)
My picky eaters are carnivores. In fact, according to my eight-year-old son Jack, they are “carni-pigs” because they are carnivores that, well, eat like pigs. And meatballs? Well, that’s their favorite meal of all.
Thank goodness for Costco! I just divide the meatballs from one giant Costco bag of meatballs into three separate gallon Ziploc bags and douse them in our favorite barbeque sauce. I also toss in some bell pepper and onion slices for me to make a sandwich out of later, since I’m not a big fan of meatballs.
To cook, I just dump the bag into the crockpot and set it on low for the day. Doesn’t get much easier than that.
Lasagna Roll Ups
$11.49 per meal
(~$1.98 per meal)
Since my picky eaters hate ricotta (or anything that looks remotely like it), I had to make a few adjustments to this recipe by the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. Since she said, “Basically, any weird, white, soft, slightly runny cheese will do,” I decided to use homemade Olive Garden Alfredo instead. Because it’s amazing. Unfortunately, it’s also terribly expensive and added about $10 to the overall cost. But did I mention it’s also amazing?
I decided to freeze this meal into mini-tins so I could re-heat these for lunches. I made about a dozen of them. In fact, I’m eating one while I write this… and it is delicious! Even my picky, pasta-hating kids are hovering like vultures, begging for bites.
Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken Casserole
$6.64 per meal
(~$1.11 per person)
I know I said no new recipes this month, but I discovered this dish on Delicious as it Looks and it has everything we love most in it – meat, potatoes, cheese and BACON!
Of course, since it’s going in the freezer, the potatoes need to be blanched in advance. Blanching potatoes is time consuming and tedious, so I opted to purchase some already-frozen potatoes for this dish. However, if you’re blanching your own, don’t be discouraged – it’s easier than it sounds. Just cut up a bunch of potatoes, boil them for three minutes, douse them in ice cold water for three minutes, and spread them on a flat pan to freeze until solid. Due to the size of pans and my freezer, I can only blanch about six potatoes at a time – which is why I decided not to blanch my own this time.
Do not freeze potatoes unless you blanch them first (or buy already frozen potatoes)! Believe me. I’ve tried it. It’s awful.
Stuffed Bell Peppers
(much cheaper if you only use the green ones!)
My husband loves stuffed bell peppers. Since I was cooking anyway, I decided to try making some. It was so easy!
The bell peppers were kind of an afterthought to my cooking, so I was just improvising and didn’t really use a recipe. I just mised some chopped onion, some Worcestershire sauce and some seasonings into about a pound or two of hamburger. I washed the peppers, chopped off the tops and cleaned out the inside… and then I stuffed the meat in!
Really, you can do anything you like with a stuffed bell pepper. My favorite stuffed bell peppers are stuffed with taco meat. There are a lot of awesome recipes here, though. You can find a bunch on AllRecipes.com.
To make them easy to cook one at a time, I placed each one on in a disposable tin bowl and wrapped them individually with tin foil. They freeze great! You can cook them straight from frozen (although it takes longer) or you can defrost them in the fridge overnight. Either way works.
Best of all – all of these pans fit nicely on one shelf in my freezer!
This post was originally published at NicoleThelin.com on February 10, 2015.