Meal Plan Monday (sort of) – Freezer cooking edition Aug 11, 2014

menu-plan-monday2
Once again we are linking up with Laura for OrgJunkie.com‘s Menu Plan Monday. Be sure to check out her menu plan for the week here.

As Megan mentioned in last week’s Meal Plan Monday post, most of the ninjas do some sort of meal planning. I am not one of those ninjas who meal plans. You’re likely asking yourself, “then why is she the one writing the Meal Plan Monday post?” That’s a legitimate question and one I asked myself. My answer is this, while I don’t meal plan in the sense of deciding what we will have for our meals throughout the week, I do plan for meals. Huh? Let me explain a bit.

First off, We’re monthly grocery shoppers. What that means is we try to shop for the bulk of the groceries we need for a month (or longer) in one big (and expensive) trip per month. We do stop weekly at the local farmer’s market to restock fresh veggies & fruit as needed, as well as free range eggs & sometimes local meat. We might also make a stop at the local grocery store for things like milk & bread or something we don’t normally keep on hand. Shopping monthly allows us to shop out of town at a larger grocery store that has a much bigger selection & better prices on organics and other foods that fit how we try to eat than we could shopping in town. We are also able to shop Costco and stock up on items.

Another thing we do is buy our chicken in bulk through Zaycon Foods. (This is my referral link. If you click-through and end up signing up with them, I will get a credit added to my account to go towards my next order. If you do that, thanks! If you prefer you can just google them and get to their site that way.) While I would love to buy all of our chicken locally, cost-wise it just isn’t possible and I feel like Zaycon is a good alternative. If you’d like to know more about the chicken we buy from Zaycon Foods and how we process and use it, post your question in the comment section below and I can do a future post on it.

So with all this bulk food buying, how do I plan for meals? Well one big part is freezer cooking. For me this can involve making any number of things(breakfast, school lunches, dinner items or sides.) The freezer cooking I did this weekend involved 13 lbs of ground turkey and around 4 lbs of frozen chicken breast. Obviously not all or even most of these items will be eaten this week. They will go into the freezer with items from previous freezer cooking days as well as the store for us to pull from as needed.

Today I’ll tell you what I did with the chicken. Come back tomorrow to see what I did with all that ground turkey.

First off I made some taco seasoning. Have you seen what they put in those packets you buy at the store? Partially hydrogenated soybean oil, maltodextrin, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Caramel Color (sulfites)? Uhm, no thanks.

taco seasoning
Taco Seasoning
Ingredients
8 T chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp dried oregano
4 T ground cumin
4 tsp sea salt
~4 tsp black pepper (I use fresh ground pepper so I don’t actually measure it, just grind some in until it looks right.)

Directions
Place all seasonings in a jar (mine is 12 oz), cover & shake to mix. Store in an airtight container.

3 T = 1 packet

I used the taco seasoning to season half the chicken breast & steak seasoning on the other half then I baked it in the oven, covered, at 350 degrees until cooked through. For me this was about 40 minutes since the chicken was frozen when I started. Once the chicken cooled a bit I used 2 forks to shred it. The steak seasoned chicken was frozen in 2 cup portions to be used in future meals. The taco seasoned chicken was sprinkled with additional taco seasoning & cumin. Part of it was used to make 2 meals worth of quesadillas for the kids lunches and the rest was divided into baggies and frozen to make quesadillas in the future.

shredded chicken

quesadillas
Quesadillas
Ingredients
2 tortillas (per quesadilla)
shredded chicken
shredded cheese

optional filling
jalapenos
cooked peppers & onions

toppings
sour cream
salsa
guacamole

Directions
1. Preheat skillet over medium heat.
2. Place tortilla in skillet, top with a small amount of shredded cheese, then chicken & any other additions you’d like ending with more shredded cheese. (I just did chicken in & cheese in these since they are for the kids) Top with a second tortilla.
3. Cook until bottom tortilla starts to brown.
4. Place a paper plate over the quesadilla in the pan. Place your hand over the paper plate then carefully lift the pan and flip it over so that you are holding the paper plate and quesadilla in your hand (with the cooked side up.) Now carefully slide the quesadilla back into the pan with the uncooked side down.
5. Continue cooking until the 2nd side is browned.
6. Slide out of the pan onto a plate, cut and serve with your favorite toppings.

These can also be frozen and used for school lunches. Just take out of the freezer and put in their lunch box in the morning and they will be thawed by lunch. They can be eaten cold or microwaved for 30-45 seconds.

As promised here’s part 2 of my freezer cooking day.

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