Meal Plan Monday – October 6th

This week’s meal plan in our (that would be NinjaMeg’s) family is one where many (if not all) of recipes can be doubled and frozen. We’re deep into prepping meals for after our little Ladybug arrives (I have around 11 weeks left until she’s born – we’re still waiting on a c-section date), so I’m trying to pull as much double duty as I can (doubling the recipe so I only have to prep or cook once). NinjaMichelle is the resident freezer cooking Ninja, so luckily I have someone whom I can ask when I have questions along the way!

We're linking up with orgjunkie's Menu Plan Monday be sure to stop by and check out her menu and hundreds of others.

We’re linking up with orgjunkie’s Menu Plan Monday be sure to stop by and check out her menu here & hundreds of others.


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Meal Plan for the Week of October 6th

MondayCincinnati Spaghetti, Green Salad (doubling the chili recipe, then freezing the leftovers- it’s great as Cincinnati Spaghetti, but also over baked potatoes, in chili cheese dogs/fries, etc. Note: This recipe does make a lot, even without doubling!)

TuesdayRoasted Garlic & Artichoke Stuffed Chicken (doubling the recipe & freezing 1/2 of the the stuffed chicken breasts raw), Greek Salad, Roasted Lemon Potatoes

WednesdayCrockpot Beef Stew (doubling it, cooking then freezing 1/2 of the batch – after I take out 1/2 of the batch to freeze, I’m going to add in some diced cooked potato) & Homemade Bread (in the bread maker)

ThursdayThai Chicken (this one I’m just freezing some raw chicken to have on hand since I’ve read if you freeze chicken in a marinade with soy sauce & citrus, it can change the texture of the meat), Rice & Bok Choy Salad (it’s just as good without the fried shallots)

FridayBistro-Style Short Ribs (freezing 1/2 of the batch after cooking), Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Brussels sprouts

Saturday – Appetizers for dinner: Buffalo Wings, Veggies & Ranch Dip, Spinach Dip with baguette slices, Hot Onion Soufflé Dip (making full regular recipe, which makes a lot, & freezing 3/4 of it) with baguette slices, Jalapeño Popper Dip (doubling the recipe & freezing 1/2 of it) with tortilla chips

Sunday – Thanksgiving Dinner (Monday is Canadian Thanksgiving, but I like making our dinner on the Sunday): Classic Roast Turkey and Gravy, My Great-Grandmother’s Stuffing Recipe, Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Carrots, Green Salad, Mashed Potatoes and Cranberry Sauce. (I’m doubling the stuffing recipe, which makes a lot of stuffing, so that I can make two dishes of my own take on Rachael Ray’s Pilgrim Casserole to freeze – one will be for after Ladybug arrives, one will be for American Thanksgiving).

For lunches, there will be lots of leftovers this week, so that will take care of those. For breakfasts, Monkey’s still on his kick of turkey sausages, whole-grain toast and eggs and I’m still not able to eat too much (Greg takes care of his own breakfasts). So there you go, this week’s meal plan!

~ NinjaMeg



Freezer Cooking – Even better the 2nd day

In yesterday’s post I promised to follow up today and tell you what I made with the 13 pounds of ground turkey that we picked up on our last trip to Costco.

cooked shredded chicken, quesadillas, 1 lb taco meat & 3 lbs sloppy joes ready for the freezer

cooked shredded chicken, quesadillas,
taco meat & sloppy joes ready for the freezer

For this cooking session I chose 5 of our favorite recipes to complete.

  • 3 lbs sloppy joes – my usual recipe is for 2 lbs so I just multiplied everything by 1.5.

    Sloppy Joes
    2 pounds ground turkey
    2-3 T dried minced onion or 1/2 onion diced
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 1/2 c ketchup
    1 c beef stock (or water)
    1/4 c apple cider vinegar
    1/4 c brown sugar
    2 T Worcestershire sauce
    1 tsp dry mustard
    2 tsp cumin
    1 tsp Italian seasoning
    1/2 tsp chili powder
    1/2 tsp allspice
    1/2 tsp pepper

    Cook the ground turkey, onions and garlic in a large skillet until meat is browned. Drain fat.
    Add all remaining ingredients to the pan, bring to a slow boil, reduce heat to low. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Allow to cool completely. Spoon meal size portions into freezer bags, squeeze out air and seal. Freeze flat.
    To cook:
    Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Reheat in pan on stove.

  • 2 lbs turkey breakfast sausage
    I use this recipe with the addition 1/3 tsp fennel & 1/2 tsp maple syrup or brown sugar.)
    I didn’t make patties this time. I cooked, crumbled & drained it and will use it in breakfasts over the next several weeks. (When I do make patties I freeze them uncooked. I also don’t fry them in butter.)

  • 6 lbs taco meat – no recipe since I’m sure you all know how to make taco meat. I use the taco seasoning I posted here.
  • 4 lbs frozen in 1 lb packages. This will be used for things like tacos, nachos, taco salads, mexican pizza.
  • 2 lbs were used to make freezer burritos.

    Freezer Burritos
    2 lb taco meat
    32 oz salsa
    2 cans refried beans
    2-4 oz diced green chili peppers
    18-20 large tortillas (about 10 inch)
    1-2 cups shredded cheese

    Cook taco meat, then add salsa, beans & undrained chilis. Continue cooking over medium heat until heated through.
    Heat tortillas in pan on stove top or in microwave.
    For each burrito, place 1/3 cup meat mixture on a tortilla & sprinkle with cheese. Fold in sides, then fold up from bottom and roll up.
    Place rolled burritos on a cookie sheet lined with freezer paper. Freeze until solid.
    Remove from freezer and wrap individually and place in a freezer bag labeled with cooking instructions.

    To cook:
    Brush with olive oil and bake at 375 degrees flipping 1/2 way through. For thawed burritos cook 20 minutes. If baking from frozen increase cooking time to 40 minutes.

    18 burritos,  3 lbs taco meat & 2 lbs breakfast sausage

    18 burritos, 3 lbs taco meat, 2 lbs breakfast sausage packaged & ready to go in the freezer

  • 2 lbs for meatloaf muffins
    This is a recipe I got back when I did Weight Watchers. I’m not sure of the source but it’s all over the internet.

    Meatloaf Muffins
    1-6 oz box instant stuffing mix (such as Stove Top)
    2 eggs
    1 cup water
    2 lb ground turkey

    Mix all ingredients.
    Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.
    Fill muffins tins to top.
    Place in freezer until firm.
    Remove from pan and transfer to freezer bag

    To cook:
    To cook immediately, bake at 350°F for 35 minutes.
    To cook from frozen, bake at 350°F for 45-60 minutes or until cooked through.

    So there you have it, my freezer cooking adventures from this weekend. These recipes represent just a handful of the things I regularly make to have on hand in the freezer for quick, easy meals. If you’re interested in more freezer friendly recipes or more cooking days, leave a comment below letting me know.

    ~Ninja Michelle

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

    Once again we are linking up with Laura for‘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
    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.)

    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

    2 tortillas (per quesadilla)
    shredded chicken
    shredded cheese

    optional filling
    cooked peppers & onions

    sour cream

    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.