Saturday, September 8, 2012

Week the First

Alright guys, seriously this time.

Last 2 weeks I had legitimate excuses...the first week, all I had was a pizza pan. My crock pot lid got shattered in transit (thank you, TSA) and Nick hadn't arrived with my boxes o' kitchen goodies. Last week, he had arrived (YAY!), but the boxes were in the back of the truck and didn't make it out until midweek.



No more excuses!!!

The general appliances are all out, available, and functional. This past week we've been living off of Tuna Helper and those frozen pasta meal things, and that's made me realize that a) there are cheaper ways to make frozen pasta meal thingies, and b) I need to stop being so lazy about this.

That said, there's also no way I'm spending more than about 20 minutes on a given week night in actual cooking effort, so we're back to the "cook all the things" weekends. This week, to jump start the freezer selection, we've got the following:

The Food Pusher: Chile Colorado Burritos: Chile Colorado Burrito. 

With any luck it'll look like this:

Picture source is above link. This is not my picture, just better than one I could take. I promise I'll post something when I actually make this dish.
So the shopping list for this recipe (tripled) is going to be:
4.5 to 6 pounds stew meat or other beef cubed (top sirloin is great)
3 large cans mild enchilada sauce (at least 19 oz.)
6 beef bouillon cubes
3 cans refried beans (she calls this optional, but I love me some refries)
15-21 burrito size flour tortillas
3 cups or so of shredded cheddar cheese

The plan of attack:
The only part of this recipe that requires cooking is the meat. For 1.5-2 lbs, it takes 6-8 hours in the crock pot on low. I'll probably put it on high tomorrow, since a) I'll be home to monitor it and b) it's 3 times a much meat to cook and I'm not running that thing for 24 straight hours. Once the meat is cooked, I'll put one batch in tupperware and the other 2 batches in large ziplock bags, so they optimize the space better in the freezer.

On each bag I'll put the following instructions:

Chile Colorado Burritos
Thaw in fridge. To make dish, warm on stove until warmed through. Warm refried beans separately. Set oven to broil. In a casserole dish, spoon meat and beans into tortillas and roll into burrito forms. Once all tortillas are filled, spoon enchilada sauce over burritos and cover in cheese. (Leave half the dish cheeseless for Nick.) Broil until cheese is bubbly. Consume.

Html code for "recipe card" table gratefully lifted from here.

Next up, we have a casserole-style dish, so I'll be making 3 (disposable) pans of this and putting 2 in the freezer:

Turkey-Spinach Lasagna

Here's the shopping list (tripled):
3 pound ground turkey breast
3 onions
6 garlic cloves, chopped
6 (26-ounce) jars low-fat marinara sauce
3 (16-ounce) carton fat-free cottage cheese
3 eggs
3 ounce preshredded fresh Parmesan cheese
dried parsley flakes
black pepper
3 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
24 cooked lasagna noodles (I may not cook them, since they'll be sitting in the fridge/freezer for a while anyway)
24 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Like I said, I'll make these in 9x13 disposable foil pans with lids on them, and will put 2 in the freezer (hopefully they'll fit...) The other one I may just put in a regular pan since I'll bake it later this week. Lasagna is basically the best freezer meal ever, so I'm psyched to try out a new version. And since this one requires me to buy the sauce instead of making it, it's a double win.

On the tags for each I'll put this:

Turkey Spinach Lasagna
Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until cheese melts and sauce is bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Consume.

I'm also planning on putting the original make date on the tags, so I make sure to be rotating through things in a timely manner. In theory, nothing should be in there more than 3 or so weeks.

And last but not least, we have a solid standby:

Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

I'd like to pretend like I'm going to try to make these by following the stovetop directions, but this stove is new to me and is gas...and frankly, the stupid thing terrifies me.

How well would you like your house cooked? 
So I'm going to have to figure out some kind of staging method to cook both the sloppy joe's and the burrito meat tomorrow. Would be nice if I had 2 crock pots (I'm looking at you, TSA...)

Anyway, here's the shopping list:

4.5 pounds lean ground turkey
3 (16-oz.) package ground turkey sausage
3 small onions, chopped
3 small-size green bell pepper
3 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
cider vinegar
Worcestershire sauce
all-purpose flour
24 hamburger buns (you can freeze these too, but make sure you toast them for dinner...would thaw them in the fridge the night before)

There's really not even a label necessary for this one except the date. Just heat on the stove until warm and then maow down. Oh, and toast the buns a bit.

For breakfasts, we've got this:
Make-Ahead, Healthy Egg McMuffin Copycats
I'm going to make 3 varieties of this one with the same base (English Muffin, egg): sausage and cheese, just sausage, bacon. So the shopping list looks like this:

36 large eggs (may substitute Egg Beaters or use all egg whites, if desired)
36 100% whole grain English muffins
24 cooked turkey sausage patties
12 slices low calorie cheese
12 strips maple-smoked bacon
black pepper, freshly ground

For these, I'll just make the whole things up, then wrap as instructed on the site. On the bag (of individually wrapped sandwiches), I'll put this (text copied directly from the site...not my text. Except the word "consume". That's all me.):

Egg McMuffins
REHEAT IN MICROWAVE. If thawed, 40-60 seconds at full power. If frozen, 3 minutes at half power, turning over after each minute. REHEAT IN OVEN. In 350 degree oven, place on baking sheet and heat for 15 to 20 minutes if thawed; 30-40 minutes if frozen. Consume.

So the shopping lists are based on what I know I have/need, which means yours may differ if you're following along, But if your pantry is like mine, here's the cumulative list:

8 pounds lean ground turkey
3 pounds ground turkey sausage
24 cooked turkey sausage patties
5 pounds stew meat or other beef cubed
12 strips maple-smoked bacon
39 large eggs
3 small-size green bell pepper

6 onions
6 garlic cloves, chopped

3 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
6 (26-ounce) jars low-fat marinara sauce
3 large cans mild enchilada sauce (at least 19 oz.)
3 cans refried beans
6 beef bouillon cubes
cider vinegar
Worcester sauce
all-purpose flour
3 (16-ounce) carton fat-free cottage cheese
3 ounce preshredded fresh Parmesan cheese
24 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
12 slices low calorie cheese
3 cups or so of shredded cheddar cheese
3 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
24 cooked lasagna noodles
36 whole grain English muffins
24 hamburger buns
20 burrito size flour tortillas

Since it's now after dark and homette don't do Walmart after dark, I'll shop this mess tomorrow.

SO that's pretty much it. Next step: coupon hunt. Anyone got tips?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Worst Blogger Ever Award Goes to...

So this is the part where I apologize for ditching the blog and explain my absence. The short (SHORT) story is that I got busy with work and life, got a new job as a Spin instructor, then decided to get a completely new career as a physical therapist. I'm now living in Colorado, attending UC Denver Medical School and reliving my broker than broke college days, except this time with a family (husband and 2 critters - no kids!) in tow.

So to that end, the latest cooking escapade is...

Investment cooking. I'll try to make at least one recipe a week an interesting, international one, but no promises.

So here's the goals:

Each week (once I've hit maintenance mode) I'll take 2 recipes and triple them. The idea is that you make 3 times as much, then freeze 2/3 of what you make. You eat the other third that week and take 4 meals from previous weeks out of the freezer to thaw for eating that week. In total, that's 6 meals for the cooking cost of two each week! The seventh meal will have to be one from scratch.

Obviously some meals make more than a single meal's worth of food (Red Beans & Rice, I'm looking at you), so "triple" is a loose term. Basically, just make enough so you can have 3 full meals' worth of food.

So the loose plan for now is this (I say "loose" to allow for learning and habit forming):

For maintenance weeks, cook/buy the following:

Meal Cook Buy fresh
Dinners 2 tripled recipes - entrees
   Alternate between beef, pork, chicken, veggie
1 tripled recipe - sides
Breakfasts Granola/breakfast bars
Lunches Deli meats
Veggies (lettuce, etc)
Snacks Dehydrate fruits Veggies (cut)

Some of those won't need to be done every week (like buying popcorn), so that's just a guideline.

Obviously it's going to take some effort to get to that point, so here's the plan of attack to get to a point of maintenance for dinner entrees:

Week 1:

Sunday - triple 2 recipes, put away 4 servings and keep out 2.
Weekdays - eat 2 precooked meals, cook 5 meals fresh

Week 2:

Sunday - triple 2 recipes, put away 4 servings and keep out 2.
Weekdays - eat 4 precooked meals, cook 3 meals fresh

Week 3:

Sunday - triple 2 recipes, put away 4 servings and keep out 2.
Weekdays - eat 6 precooked meals, cook 1 meal fresh

These plans assume that I don't have leftovers too - that would change how many meals I'd need to cook fresh as well. The sides and breakfasts will work their ways in there with the proper planning. Since I have about 48 hours to go before classes start up again, I'm going to try and get organized for this semester before Monday. Cooking this Sunday is going to be a stretch since I'm flying back to CO from NH that day, and will need to get groceries and get my crock pot working and all that. Actually, this first week the only means I have of cooking food is a crock pot - all the rest of my kitchen goodies will be on the truck in a week (fingers crossed).

I've also started a board on Pinterest for meals that could work for this. Feel free to repin and contribute ideas!

Hopefully I'll keep up with this, at the very least to use it as a planning board. Keep me honest! :-)