Saturday, March 21, 2009

Back to Meal Planning!

I hope that you all enjoyed Freezer Meal Week. I know that I LOVED learning right along with all of you! Since I am participating in a monthly co-op, I will continue to gain new insight into the world of freezer meals. I think it would be very beneficial to do another Freezer Meal Week very soon.

I would absolutely love to check back with all of you in another 4 weeks or so to see how your freezer meals are coming along. So keep an eye out, because freezer meal week WILL BE BACK!

Please feel free to contact me at mealplanning@live.com if you have questions along the way. Also, if you would be interested in guest posting during our next freezer meal week, let me know! I'd love additional recipes to post and tips directly from you, our readers!

For now, back to weekly meal planning for the meal planning mommies. Throughout the next few weeks we will have some AWESOME giveaways/reviews for all of you!

Check back often, you don't want to miss out!

Freezer Meals: Q & A Session

Thanks for the great questions this week!

Here are a few for everyone to learn from, feel free to comment if you have extra insight to add!



Q: How do you budget THIS month for NEXT months freezer meals...I see how you would NEXT month for the following, but that initial start up cost...it's very daunting to us!!


A: For the initial start up cost, I would say to pick a meal that has few/cheap ingredients.Jen's Spicy Sausage Pasta is an inexpensive meal you could make cheaply. Another idea is to start with a small co-op group. It will definitely be cheaper to cook 4 meals instead of 8.

Q: I don't know what to cook BEFORE I freeze vs leaving it raw to bake at a later date. Also, do you always have to thaw it before baking? How do you know whether to thaw or bake frozen?

A: Most things can be cooked before you freeze, but like Jen said you are trying to save yourself time- so only cook what you have to (like browning your meats or cooking veggies).
I would suggest thawing things as best you can before baking to cut down on cooking time. Baking something frozen would take at least twice the amount of time to bake and it may not cook evenly.

Q: My question - how long do meals stay good in the freezer? Does it depend on the ingredients? Are we talking weeks here, or months?

A: soup- 4 months
cooked meats- 2 months
casseroles- 3 months


Q: I would love to make individual pot pies to freeze. I've found little tins. But I'm unsure of cook times, if they would need to thaw etc. Has anyone tried this before? If so I'd love to hear what worked/didn't work for you.

I would say to definitely give it a try. I wouldn't think the mini pot pies would HAVE to be thawed, but the cooking time will vary greatly if they are still frozen. You may take your cue from pre-made pot pies. I think the frozen potpies that you cook frozen take around 45 minutes to bake.Try it out once and just keep an eye on them. Let us know how it goes!

Q: Co-op Question: Is there a "pool" of recipes the group chooses from in order to satisfy all tastes? I would hate to get back meals in a swap that my family wouldn't eat. I'm afraid of losing money on that. How would it be handled?

In our co-op we share a couple of EASY things that could be deleted from a recipe that our family may not like- i.e. mushrooms and onions. You don't want to give your co-op group a long list of things to not include b/c it would be too hard to find a meal to satisfy all of those needs. You will definitely want to be in a co-op group with others that cook and eat similar things as your family. This will help a lot! Jen did recommend to me, however, that sometimes it is a GREAT thing to try new recipes that you would never have made for your family. It could be a great experience for you!

And our Lucky Giveaway winner is... YOU!

Thank you so much to Susanne from HillbillyHousewife.com for giving this e-book away to one of our readers for our freezer meal week! If you haven't stopped by her website yet, check it out. She has tons of great recipes, frugal tips and resources at your fingertips!

Our lucky giveaway winner for the full e-book from Susanne at hillbillyhousewife.com, selected by Random.org is :

April

April, I need you to contact me at mealplanning@live.com to give you information on how to get your free e -book and get you started on more freezer meal planning!



Susanne has been so generous and has put together a mini e-book for ALL OF YOU! That's right, you can download your copy below. She includes the benefits of freezer cooking, what freezer cooking is, how it can save you time and money as well as 5 FREE freezer meal recipes to get you all started! That is another week of free freezer meal ideas!


Click here for your free copy of Hillbillyhousewife's mini ebook!!

Thank you Susanne, we appreciate your generosity!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Guest Post: Foods that freeze well and some that don't... Plus other great tips!

Now the big question: What kind of foods can you freeze?

The good news is that you can freeze almost anything! Just about everything we eat for dinner freezes well for lunch and many of the meals I make for the co-op were meals that I was already making for my family.

Here are a few foods that tend not to freeze well:


-mayonnaise (use salad dressing instead- my friend Sara didn't know this and her awesome chicken salad was ruined!)
-big chunks of potatoes (use small pieces or potatoes from the freezer section)
-fried food (will become soggy)
-large amounts of sour cream (will become runny) (small amounts okay, or add later)

More tips:

- under cook pasta and rice since it will finish cooking when reheated; if there isn't a lot of sauce in the recipe I tend to add the rice or pasta later since they can become gummy (or something, I just don't like it, BUT under cooking helps a lot; slightly undercooking also works well for veggies too

-some herbs can become stronger or even bitter when frozen, so always use a light hand when seasoning to freeze if you don't know for sure (our co-op once had a very unfortunate incident involving oregano).

-remember that when you're cooking to freeze you are trying to SAVE yourself time, so don't cook everything twice if you don't have too. Many recipes I make call for cooked meat and other ingredients that need to basically be heated, maybe simmered for a few minutes. I simply cook my meat, allow it to cool, then divide it up and add it to the bags. Then I dump cans, and measure spices and veggies right into the bag- how easy!

How long to keep your frozen meals:

soup- 4 months
cooked meats- 2 months
casseroles- 3 months

If you're not interested in a co-op or don't have friends who are, try:

- making a double batch of one of your favorite meals and freeze it for another day
- making burritos, freezing them on a cookie sheet and once they are frozen, stick them in a freezer bag for a quick lunch you can pull out one by one and microwave.
- making a big batch of spaghetti sauce and freeze it into meal size portions. When you want to use it you just have to cook the noodles and reheat the sauce.

I hope you find, too, that your freezer can be a useful, time and money saving tool!

Still have questions? Post a comment with your question and I will post a Q & A post on Saturday!

Freezer Meal Friday: Cheesy Filled Shells with Marinara

Thanks to Paula Gruen for using this recipe in our co-op meal swap and allowing me to share it with all of you!

My family thawed and made our cheesy shells this past Wednesday and it was a HUGE hit! I have two girls: 2 1/2 year old and 1 year old and they both loved it. This says a lot b/c they are both really picky eaters! Enjoy!

Here is what you need:

40 jumbo pasta shells (12 oz. box)

32 oz. of cottage cheese

16 oz. of shredded mozzarella cheese

3/4 c. parmesan cheese

3 eggs

3/4 t. oregano

1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. pepper

Have on Hand: 28 oz. jar spaghetti sauce, parmesan cheese

Step 1: Cook shells 1/2 of recommended time

Step 2: Drain

Step 3: Cool in a single layer on pan

Step 4: Combine cheeses, eggs, and spices

Step 5: Fill each shell with 2 T. cheese mixture. (Tip: Use a freezer bag filled with cheese mixture. Snip the corner of the bag off. Squeeze to fill shells.)

Step 6: Freeze filled shells on a pan just until solid.

Step 7: Transfer to freezer bags. Notice that Paula labeled the bag with the "to serve" directions listed below. Also remember, you do not freezer the shells with the sauce. You will add the sauce when you bake the shells.


To Serve:

Step 1: Thaw shells.

Step 2: Spread 1/2 c. of the jarred sauce in bottom of a 9x13 pan.

Step 3: Arrange shells and top with remaining sauce.

Step 4: Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Serve and Enjoy!

We added a Caesar salad and garlic bread to our dish. My husband I and at 3 shells each for dinner and my daughters ate 1 1/2 together. What is awesome about this freezer meal is that you can take out as many as you want to bake and keep the rest in the freezer! We only used half the shells for dinner and we still have plenty left for another dinner!

Excellent! You have to try them!

* This recipe is taken from 30 Day Gourmet's Freezer Cooking Manual.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Guest Post: Cooking Co-Op

Here is what a lot of you have been waiting for! Jen Tolbert shares her cooking co-op tips with us today in her Guest Post. Enjoy! Feel free to leave any questions as a comment and we will answer them on Saturday as part of our last day freezer meal Q & A session!



The other way I love using our freezer to make meal planning easier is by participating in a cooking co-op with friends. This is the one that my husband will say "saved our marriage"! We had only been married a year or so when I first joined a co-op at my church. I was working until 5:30 every night, we had one car and we were living on a small income. By the time my husband picked me up and we finally got home I was starving and in no mood to cook what little food that we had. Joining a co-op put already made food in my freezer at a price that fit into my budget.

What is a cooking co-op?

A cooking co-op is a group that swaps meals on a regular basis.

Here is how it works:


1. Establish a group, or a coop. I suggest you try 4 people to start with and then consider moving up to 6-8.

2. Establish rules such as what day you swap each month (such as the first Sunday of every month), how many people should your meal should serve (I suggest 4), and do you have to be in it every month (we let people sign up on a monthly basis).

3. Schedule a sign-up cut-off (such as you must sign up by the 2nd Wed of the month) and have everyone sign-up with:
a. their name and phone number
b. Name of the meal
c. if their family has any food allergies or strong dislikes

4. Now you have 2 weeks to cook your meal! If there are 6 people total in your co-op you buy ingredients do make your recipe x6. Save money by buying family packs of meat and #10 cans of sauce. Freeze each batch in a freezer bag, label with name of recipe and date you made it. If you left out onions for one family, label that too. Freeze your bag as flat as possible so they will stack nicely. It will usually take me a 2- 2 1/2 hours or so to make 4-6 meals instead of the 6 hours it would have taken me to make one each night.

5. Email your recipe along with reheating instructions to everyone in your swap. Reheating instructions often say something like: thaw in fridge overnight and reheat on stove top or microwave until hot.

6. Bring your meals in a cooler to the designated "swap spot" at the designated time and SWAP! Now you have a variety of homecooked meals to take home that will only take minutes to reheat!

Freezer Meal Thursday: Pasta E Fagiolo Soup

I made this soup because: 1. It is my favorite soup at Olive Garden 2. I have been craving it and 3. I am a part of a freezer soup swap. It turned out very well and makes a ton! I thought it tasted VERY similar to Olive Garden's recipe. I found the recipe at cdkitchen.com. You can go there and alter the total amount you wish to make (this recipe makes 3 qts.) and it will change all the amounts of ingredients for you.

Here is what you need for 3 qts. (serves 6)

2/3 lb Ground beef
4 oz chopped onion (about 1/2 of a medium)
4 2/3 oz slivered Carrots
4 2/3 oz diced celery
16 oz tomatoes, canned, diced
2/3 cup cooked Red Kidney Beans
2/3 cup cooked white Kidney Beans
32 oz beef stock
1 tsp. Oregano
3/4 tsp. Pepper
1 2/3 tsp fresh, chopped Parsley
1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
16 oz Spaghetti sauce
3 oz dry pasta bow tie macaroni (or noodle of choice)

Pillsbury freezer french baguettes (or bread of choice)

Step 1: Chop up your onions, celery and carrots

Step 2: Brown the hamburger in a 10 qt. pan until it browns

Step 3: Add onions, carrots, celery and tomatoes. Simmer about 10 minutes.


Step 4: If you are making this for a freezer meal, you will stop cooking at this point. Once the veggies and meat have simmered for a bit, let them cool down to room temperature.

Step 5:
Then I add your meat and veggie mixture to a gallon freezer bag along with the drained & rinsed beans; beef stock, oregano, pepper, tabasco, spaghetti sauce and parsley.

Step 6:
Measure out your noodles and put in a separate baggie to use when you make your dish. Do not freeze your noodles with the soup.

Step 7:
Lay your soup down in your freezer (make sure it's sealed well!) so that it will freeze flat, label your bag with date and reheating directions and use for another day!


Reheating Directions:

1. Thaw soup (in fridge over night or place in a bowl of cold water for a few hours)

2. Add soup and uncooked noodles (don't forget these!)to your pot and let simmer for 45 minutes or until everything is tender and warm!



Step 3: While the soup is simmering, bake your bread and fix a nice salad

Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Freezer Week



Still to come this week....

Thursday: What is a meal-planning co-op and how to start your own
Friday: What foods freeze well and what to avoid freezing. Plus other great tips!

Plus a great new freezer recipe each day!

Plus on Saturday: Freezer Cooking E-book winner will be announced! If you haven't entered to with the Freezer recipe e-book yet this week, you don't want to miss out!
Click here to get yourself entered.



Are you enjoying our freezer week, but still have questions about freezer cooking?

Leave a comment and let us know what else you would like to know before the week is over!

If we get enough questions, I would love to post a Q & A on Saturday.

Let me hear what you've got!

Guest Post: Freezer Meals as Lunches

The Meal Planning Mommies would like to say thanks to Jen Tolbert for sharing her freezer meal experience with us! Jen is an experienced freezer meal planner/cooker. She has participated in 2 meal planning co-ops (including the one she talked me into joining!) and is very comfortable talking about freezer meals. She is an excellent, frugal cook and loves to cook for her husband and son. Jen is the one who got me interested in freezer cooking and I know you will enjoy what she shares with us this week.

Enjoy!



I have been using my freezer to help keep my grocery budget down and to help make meal-planning easy for most of my ten years of marriage. I do two different things, one of which, my husband will jokingly say, "saved our marriage".

The first way that I use our freezer to save time and money is for lunches. I freeze leftover dinner into freezable, microwavable containers. I then label them and stack them in a certain spot in my freezer, so at a glance I can tell how many "lunches" we have.

I make lunches every evening and simply pop a frozen lunch into my husband's lunchbox along with fruit and a soda and put it in the fridge until he's ready to go the next morning. He loves leftovers and will complain if we're out and has to eat soup from a can or a sandwich (poor guy). He sticks his lunchbox under his desk and allows it to defrost a little longer (while keeping his soda and fruit cool) before he reheats it in the microwave at lunchtime (reheating usually takes anywhere between 2-6 minutes depending on how frozen the meal and how powerful the microwave).

He is never tempted to eat out and I never have to make an extra meal or spend time planning one! (Note: not all of our dinners generate lunches but most of them do; also, sometimes we will have 2 or 3 lunches from one dinner and occasionally he does have lunch meetings or goes out with a friend (or takes me on a lunch date) so for us, it evens out).

The other way I love using our freezer to make meal planning easier is by participating in a cooking co-op with friends. This is the one that my husband will say "saved our marriage"! We had only been married a year or so when I first joined a co-op at my church. I was working until 5:30 every night, we had one car and we were living on a small income. By the time my husband picked me up and we finally got home I was starving and in no mood to cook what little food that we had. Joining a co-op put already made food in my freezer at a price that fit into my budget.

So What is a co-op? How can you get one started in your area?

Check back tomorrow for another Guest Post from Jen to get all the info!

Freezer Wednesday: Sarah's Cheesy Ham and Potatoes

This recipe was so simple to make, easy to freeze and tasted so yummy when re-heated!

Here is what you need for a family of 4-6:



1 24 oz frozen shredded hasbrowns, 1/2 cup minced onion (about 1/2 med. onion), 2- 10.75 oz cream of celery soup, 1- 8 oz cream cheese, 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, 1 1/2 -2 cups cooked, cubed ham (about 1/2 lb total), 1/4 tsp. pepper, 1 cup cheddar cheese (optional)



Step 1:


Soften Cream Cheese (notice I had 4 laid out b/c I made this meal for my co-op group) and Cube your ham




Step 2:

Cream the cream cheese and 2 cans of cream of celery soup together.

Step 3:

Stir in chopped onions, ham, cheese and pepper to the soup mixture

Step 4:

Break apart frozen hashbrowns, gently stir in.




Step 5:

Place in a gallon freezer bag get as much air out as possible, label and Freeze!


Reheating Directions: Thaw, place in a greased baking dish. Bake uncovered 1 hr at 350 degrees, uncover and top with cheddar (optional) and return to oven until cheese is melted!

Every one in our family loved this dish. I honestly thought it was great, but next time might use it as a side dish instead of the main dish. This would probably be great for a brunch meal as well! To make this meal a bit healthier, opt for the low fat/no fat cheese!

*Freezer Cooking Tips I learned from making this recipe:
  • If you are freezing using a freezer bag, freeze with the bag laying flat. This will allow you to stack your frozen items easier and give you more freezer space!
  • Also, I label my freezer items with the 1. Recipe name, 2. Date Made & 3. Reheating directions (listed above). By adding the reheating directions, I can simply pull it out and know how to reheat w/ out having to look anything up! If you are a part of a meal co-op this will also make it easy to pass on reheating directions to others
  • This freezer recipe has already frozen potatoes in the ingredient list. Already frozen potatoes tend to work great in a freezer meal, but baking potatoes/red potatoes do not tend to freeze/reheat very well!
  • This recipe called for cooked ham. Instead of baking the ham, I bought the already cooked 5 lb ham from Wal-Mart. It cost about $6.00 for the ham and I only used 1/2 of it to make 4 of this recipe. I then took the leftover ham, cut some into cubes and some into ham steaks and froze in freezer bags. Now I have ham ready to pull out to use for omelets, dinner or another casserole. Plus I didn't have to do anything but cut it up before freezing!
  • Expect your kitchen to be a mess when you are done making this meal for a co-op group. I made 4 batches of this dish and I used about every open space in my kitchen as a "station." I had a cutting station, mixing station, labeling station and freezer bag station. I didn't even have to pre-cook anything for this meal and my kitchen was a MESS! Just take a look...
This is just one side of my kitchen. You can't even see the other half of the mess. Let me tell you, though it was worth it to have my freezer stocked with 4 meals!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Freezer Meal Tuesday: Krista's Chicken Pot Pie





Here is my recipe for Chicken potpie. It is kind of complicated to make, but we love it.

Here is what you need:

Pie Crust--You can make your own, but I buy a box at the store.

1 10 oz. bag frozen peas and carrots

1/2 cup chopped onion (optional)

1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms (optional)

1/4 cup margarine or butter

1/3 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon marjoram (you may substitute with thyme)

1/3 teaspoon pepper (I sprinkle in to taste)

2 cups chicken broth

3/4 cups milk

3 cups cubed chicken

Sprinkle in parsley, as desired


Step 1:


I cook my chicken in the crock pot with water all day, or overnight.and cube it before making the rest of the pie.





Step 2: Prepare the bottom of the pie crust and set aside.

Step 3: When ready to make the pie, I cook the peas and carrots according to the package directions. While the peas and carrots are cooking, I melt the margarine and cook the onions and mushrooms until they are tender. (If you do not add the onions and mushrooms, go directly to the next step.)

Step 4:

Next, I stir the flour, marjoram and pepper into the butter & vegetable (mushrooms and onion) mixture. It is thick. Then, I add the chicken broth and milk all at once. (I use the broth from my chicken, but you can buy cans of broth.) Cook and stir until the mixture is thickened and bubbly.


Step 5:


Finally, add the Drained peas and carrots, chicken and parsley to the sauce. Heat until the mixture is again bubbly.

Step 6:



Spoon the mixture into the pie crust. (I usually have some filling leftover that can be refrigerated and poured over biscuits for another several servings.)

You may bake the pie immediately in a 450 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or you may freeze the pie for another day. If you choose to freezer your pie, a good way to store it is by placing it in a disposable tin pie plate and cover twice with foil. Then simply place in the freezer for another day!

To thaw frozen pie: Set the pie in the refrigerator in the morning. It will probably still be slightly frozen by dinner time. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the crust is a golden brown and the sauce is bubbling. You may wish to cover the crust with foil or a pie crust cover after 15 minutes to keep the edges from burning.

Cut into slices, serve with mashed potatoes and enjoy!

The basic recipe for this potpie comes from my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, copyright 1989, but I did make some slight changes.

Thanks, Krista for this excellent freezer meal! Our family enjoyed Krista's Chicken pot pie for dinner last night. With 3 adults and 2 toddlers, we only ate half of the pie, so it makes a lot. This is definitely a keeper recipe, one that should always be in the freezer and on the meal plan once a month. YUM! Try it out!

Do you have a favorite freezer meal you keep on hand at all times? We'd love to hear it, leave a comment and share!


Monday, March 16, 2009

Guest Post: Great uses for your freezer!

Although not everything can be frozen, the things that can sometimes require a little prep work. Here's some tips I've learnt over the years:

Casseroles
Okay, so you doubled your recipe and have made two casseroles - one for now and one for the freezer. But, you don't want all your casserole dishes in the freezer so what do you do?
Line the casserole dish with clear plastic wrap or foil and then spray with cookin spray. Place your casserole in the dish, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for a few hours until completely frozen. Remove from the freezer and take it out of the dish. Then tightly wrap the food in more plastic wrap/foil, label and place back in the freezer.
When you're ready to eat it take all the plastic wrap off, place back in the original dish and place in the fridge to defrost. Then cook!

Fruit/Veg
I love to have fresh produce around and sometimes I see great sales but I know we can't eat that much before it goes bad. Last week onions were $.79 for a 4LB bag at ALDI so I grabbed some, brought them home and chopped them up. I then put them on a baking tray and put them in the freezer for about 2 hours. You don't want them in there too long or they'll get freezer burn.
I pulled them out of the freezer and put them in a ziploc bag. I then threw them back in the freezer.
The advantage is that when you need some you can just go and grab a few and they're not all stuck together in a big ball! I've also done it with peppers, blueberries and other fruits.

Ice Cubes
Want to make fun ice cubes for drinks? Add a small piece of fruit (strawberry, cranberry, blueberry etc) to an ice-cube tray and then add water. Freeze and then serve in drinks!

Looking for a bargain or good deal? www.mummydeals.org

Thanks to Clair for her great guest post in freezer meals. I hope that you got a few great ideas to use in your kitchen!

Clair runs her own blog over at MummyDeals. I check her blog out daily and love all of the frugal tips she offers! If you are into couponing or want to learn how (trust me, you want to learn how!).... check her out!

Giveaway: "Freezer Cooking Made Simple" E-book



Susanne Myers from Hillbillyhousewife.com has generously offered a free e-book for one of our readers!

This e-book as packed full of tips such as what is needed to freezer meal cook, how to plan for freezer cooking, safety tips and so much more. There are recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, baked goods and desserts. Susanne has made it so easy for you, there are even printable labels to stick on your freezer meal w/ directions for each of her meals that give you "how to" directions once you are ready to bake!

"After a lot of thinking and weighing all the options, I think I have come up with aa good solution for anyone that wants to cook healthy, inexpensive meals, without spending a lot of time on dinner each night.

The solution is Freezer Cooking.


We’ll start out by taking a look at what exactly freezer cooking is and how you and your family can benefit from it. From there we’ll jump straight into some practical tips that will help you get started. I’ve even created a weekly menu of freezer meals for you complete with recipes, directions and grocery list.

Just shop, cook and freeze.
"



As a new mom to freezer cooking I found her e-book useful, yet not overwhelming. I finished reading her book saying "I can do this!" If you are new to freezer cooking or just want some great new ideas and printables, you can download a copy for $9.95 by vising her website hillbillyhousewife.com

Here is what you need to do to win a FREE copy of "Freezer Cooking Made Simple"
Leave us a comment and let us know either

1. How freezer cooking has made your life easier
OR
2. How you plan to use freezer cooking in the future to make your life easier

Don't forget to leave your name and e-mail information. The contest will run from 3/16-3/21 (by noon CST). We will announce the winner on our blog and contact you via e-mail to let you know how to retrieve your prize!

Good Luck and don't forget to check back tomorrow for another great freezer meal recipe and more great tips!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Freezer Meal: Jen's Spicy Sausage Pasta

This is a great new idea to use kielbasa or smoked sausage. It has very few ingredients that are inexpensive and so easy to put together! Make one for your family tonight and make an extra to freeze for next month!

Here is what you need:

Jen's Spicy Sausage Pasta

1 lb turkey kielbasa, cut into thin slices
1 can Rotel
1 cup cubed colby cheese
1/2 c. Italian dressing
12 ounces rotini pasta, cooked according to package directions

Freezing directions:
(follow these steps if you intend to freeze this meal before eating)

Step 1:



Brown the sausage

Step 2:

Place your sausage, rotel, cubed colby cheese and 1/2 c. Italian dressing in your gallon freezer bag, label and freeze!


*Notice that Jen made 4 of this dish as a part of her co-op. She gave her co-op group one frozen bag of the rotel, sausage, cheese etc. and one bag of uncooked pasta to make their dish.

Later this week Jen will be guest posting about co-ops and how to start your own!

Reheating directions (co-op directions):

Step 1: Thaw.




Step 2:


Boil pasta for 8-10 minutes and drain.


Step 3:


Add contents of bag to pot. May warm on low heat if desired. This dish may be served cold, just simply rinse pasta under cold water (we like our dish warm, with the cheese melted- we call it spicy mac and cheese!).

Step 4: Add your side dishes.
We added corn bread and loved it with this dish!


Step 5: Serve and Enjoy!




Eating your dish tonight? Simply skip the freezing step and continue making your meal!


Our family LOVED this dish. Not only is it GREAT after being frozen, but it is also great as leftovers the next day. We added corn bread as a side and it completely fit the dish. It was a little spicy for our young daughters, but I made sure to pull out just noodles and sausage for them and leave the peppers for the adults.


I hope you enjoyed our first freezer meal recipe of the week. Remember that we are giving you a main dish recipe. You will want to make sure to add veggies/fruit/grains as a side for your family!

Plan on using this for your next freezer meal?

Leave us a comment and let Jen know that you enjoyed her recipe!