Freezer Cooking 101: Breakfast Sandwich Edition

Mornings are super busy around our house – after getting myself up and ready for work I have to herd cats, I mean wake my five kiddos and get them ready for school. By the time I drop them off at the bus stop and head on into the office a couple hours have passed and I’m hungry! The kids get breakfast at school so they’re set and I always have granola bars at my desk in case of emergency, but really I’d like a nice hot breakfast too without having to hit the drive through.

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How to Make Homemade Meal Kits at Home

How to Make Homemade Meal Kits at Home

We’ve all seen the commercials for the fancy meal kits that are supposed to make cooking easier. But what if you could create your own meal kits at home? Not only would you save money, but you’d have meals that you actually wanted to eat. Let’s take a closer look at how to make homemade meal kits at home.

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Why You Should Use Freezer Meals Instead of Hitting the Drive Thru

Why You Should Use Freezer Meals Instead of Hitting the Drive Thru

Your son’s soccer practice got out late and you’ve forgotten to take out something for dinner. It’s already 7:30, and you have no idea what in the world you’re going to feed your family. Your daughter is in the back seat complaining how hungry she is, and after a long and stressful day you’ve had enough. So you hit the drive thru and tell yourself you’ll cook something tomorrow. This scenario probably sounds all too familiar. We are all extremely busy, and takeout is so tempting when you already have so much on your plate.

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Tasty Tuesday: Refreshing Summer Drinks

Tasty Tuesday: Refreshing Summer Drinks

We haven’t had any relief from the heat here in northwest Florida for weeks so we’ve been looking for all kinds of ways to try and stay cool. These fabulous cold and refreshing summer drinks will do the trick – mix up a batch of your favorite chocolate or fruity summer drink and get cool!

1) Cantaloupe Sangria

This delicious white wine Cantaloupe Sangria from Fast Drink Recipes is super simple to make with frozen grapes, pureed cantaloupe and lemon slices with your favorite chilled Pinot Grigio. I think I’m going to have to make a pitcher for myself this weekend!

2) Watermelon Frosty

Grab some fresh, juicy watermelon and you could make this scrumptious Watermelon Frosty from Lunch Box Bunch! If you’d like a more adult type version you could turn yours into a Watermelon Margarita.

3) Orange Julius

This Orange Julius knockoff recipe is inspired by one of my all time favorite drinks, I have fond memories of hanging out at the mall with my friends and drinking these delicious orange smoothies. Apparently Orange Julius stores still exist, just sadly none in my area anymore, who knew?

4) Layered Fruit Gazpacho

Gaia Health Blog’s Layered Fruit Gazpacho is almost too pretty to drink but the mix of raspberries, cantaloupe and kiwi sounds just as mouth watering as it is healthy. I can’t wait to try this one!

5) Raspberry Cordial

Mix up a big pitcher of these Raspberry Cordials from BBC Good Food for your next summer gathering and you’re sure to have a hit on your hands. Just three simple ingredients and this refreshing drink will even keep for a few months in a sealed container in the fridge.

6) Frozen Hot Chocolate

All you need are a few simple ingredients and a blender to make this delicious Frozen Hot Chocolate from Girl Cooks World and it’s sure to help cool you down on a hot summer day! My kids really love this one and they tell me it’s better than ice cream.

7) Caramel, Peach & Berry Knickerbocker

For an adult summer beverage this Caramel, Peach & Berry Knickerbocker from BBC Good Food has quite a few ingredients but it seems pretty easy to put together and looks absolutely gorgeous.

I highly recommend Plan to Eat for a great place to store all your favorite recipes! Check it out with a free trial and see how easy it is to add recipes from the Internet, plan meals for your family and even print out a handy grocery list.


Tasty Tuesday: Slow Cooker Recipes

Slow Cooker Recipes

The slow cooker is one of my favorite kitchen appliances since it makes dinner time a breeze for our busy family.  It is so versatile and there are so many dishes you can make in it, everything from appetizers to dessert, and it’s fabulous to be able to throw in the ingredients in the morning and come home after work to a nice hot home cooked meal. These are just a few scrumptious recipes that you can whip up in your slow cooker!

1) Black Bean Enchiladas

The tortillas get soft and chewy during cooking, absorbing some of the salsa and providing the perfect vehicle for lots of oozy cheese in these Black Bean Enchiladas from The Kitchn.

2) Honey Sesame Chicken

My family absolutely loves Asian food and this Honey Sesame Chicken dish from Six Sisters Stuff is delicious. The honey gives it just the right amount of sweetness, not overly so, and you can even sprinkle more red pepper flakes on if you like it a little spicier.

3) Spinach Lasagna

This classic family favorite Spinach Lasagna from Unilever has all the flavor without slaving over a hot stove and it tastes even better the next day.

4) Spicy Barbecue Chicken

The kids all love drumsticks and its such an inexpensive meal and this Spicy Barbecue Chicken recipe from Skinny Ms has the right amount of spicy sweetness. Of course you could use thighs or a whole chicken if you’d prefer.

5) Sausage and Lentil Stew

This is the perfect time of year for homemade soups and stew and this hearty Sausage and Lentil Stew from Stephanie O’Dea has lots of meat and veggies in to make a nutritiously sound meal that the whole family will love.

6) Cheesy Bacon Ranch Potatoes

These Cheesy Bacon Ranch Potatoes from The Recipe Critic are perfectly tender and packed with flavor.  All of the flavors combined with cheese and bacon create a delicious side dish for any meal.

7) Macaroni and Cheese

There’s just nothing like homemade macaroni and cheese and this slow cooker version from Moms With Crockpots is outstanding and so easy to make! Everybody loves this dish and it takes so little effort that I love it too.

I highly recommend Plan to Eat for a great place to store all your favorite recipes! Check it out with a free trial and see how easy it is to add recipes from the Internet, plan meals for your family and even print out a handy grocery list.


Scrumptious Slow Cooker Ham with Chek Cola

Slow Cooker Ham with Chek Cola

Every time the holiday sales come around on ham I like to buy several and stock up the freezer. My family asks me to make them pretty often and I love when they do because I have a super simple recipe that I use and the ham always comes out tasting wonderful. Since the hams are pre-cooked and just have to be warmed up, usually in the oven for several hours, they often come out pretty dry and can be tasteless if you’re not basting from time to time while they’re cooking.

Slow Cooker Ham with Chek Cola

My super simple (and until now secret) method is to use the slow cooker and a can of soda. In the past I’d use a major name brand cola but I was recently challenged by the good people at Winn Dixie to use their Chek sodas in recipe so this time around I used Chek Cola and the ham was every bit as scrumptious! All you have to do is put your frozen ham, right out of the freezer, in the slow cooker in the morning, pour a can (or 12 ounces from a 2 liter bottle like I did) over the top of the ham put the lid on and cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours. The best part is that you can just walk away or go to work and not worry about dinner, it will be ready when you are and when you cook the ham this way the sugars from the cola not only add some flavor, the cola also keeps it nice and juicy and the meat will be falling off the bone when you’re ready to serve dinner.


Of course there are so many more flavors of Check soda available, the private label soda brand is only available at Winn Dixie or BI-LO and is available in 26 different flavors including strawberry, peach, grape, and orange pineapple in addition to traditional favorites like cola, diet cola and root beer. There are also mixer flavors available like club soda, tonic, diet tonic, seltzer and ginger ale.

Now you can discover your favorite flavor of Chek soda and enter to win Chek soda for a year, free groceries and more!

Disclosure – I received sample products and a gift card from Winn Dixie to share this recipe and post. All opinions are my own.


Quick and Easy Shortcuts to Save Time in the Kitchen

Beef Tacos with Cheese Salad and GuacamoleCooking every day can be one of the biggest drains of our time. At the same time, cooking meals at home is one of the biggest money savers we can find. Let’s face it, some expenses are fixed: rent or mortgages, car payments, cell phone plans, insurance payments. Our food budget is one area that we have some control over, so if we can make our time in the kitchen more efficient, we are well on our way to saving money:

1) Prepping Ground Beef

Ground beef is the basis of a myriad of recipes, but browning it is one of the most time consuming parts of the prep. If you buy ground beef in bulk, consider browning it when you get home. You’ll only have to spend that time once, instead of for each meal, PLUS you get the benefit of not having to use that gas or electricity over and over again. If you tend to use recipes that ask for onions or peppers to be cooked with your beef, make sure to have those on hand so you can do that as well. In a pinch, you can use dried, minced onion instead of fresh. Freeze the cooked ground beef in freezer bags in meal sized portions, and you will have the base of many recipes ready to go. Think how quickly you could throw together tacos or even simple Hamburger Helper on a busy weeknight when the meat is ready to go!

2) Chopping Veggies

Many recipes call for diced onion and/ or peppers. All that dicing takes some time! The good news? These two veggies freeze super well. If you find a deal on buying these items in bulk, make a plan to chop them all at once shortly after purchase. Freeze them in freezer bags in portions you use commonly for recipes, and you have a head start next time a recipe calls for either of these items. In many instances, you can dump the frozen veggies directly into the dish you are preparing. They break up fairly easily when frozen, and will cook right along with your other ingredients straight from frozen in the oven or on the stove. They are also perfect for throwing into omelets, sauces, and the like.

3) Prepping Chicken

As with ground beef, cooking chicken all at once for use in your recipes is a great time saver. I like to take bulk chicken and boil it, then shred or chop it. I put it in freezer safe bags, freeze it and then just pop it out of the freezer for use in dishes such as barbecue chicken sandwiches, chicken fettuccine, chicken salads, casseroles, and so on. Meals come together in minutes when the meat is ready to go!

4) Ham

I love ham and bean soup, ham salad, scalloped potatoes and ham, etc. When the grocery stores offer holiday deals on ham, I like to buy a couple, bake them and chop them into portions I can use for these meals later.

Photo Credit: iClipart


Tasty Tuesday: Freezer Cooking

We’ve been freezer cooking for a couple of years now and I’m still amazed at how much more money we save on our budget by making up a bunch of meals in advance and then use menu planning based on our freezer inventory to plan each month’s meals.  Not only does it save us money because we’re not wasting food and we’re basing our freezer meals on what is on sale, but we also save a tremendous amount of stress around dinnertime because we have a plan in advance and we no longer waste time on “what do you want for dinner?” and “I don’t know, what do you want for dinner?”  Here are a few terrific freezer cooking recipes to help fill up your freezer with inexpensive homemade meals.

1) Slow Cooker Recipes

Stephanie at Mama And Baby Love lists some fabulous slow cooker recipes for the freezer including Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken, Stephanie’s Goulash, and Chicken Curry.

2) Breakfast Burritos

Money Saving Mom is one of my favorite blogs and Crystal always has terrific recipes that are both yummy and low cost like these Freezer Friendly Breakfast Burritos.

3) Teriyaki Chicken

We eat a lot of Teriyaki Chicken at our house and this is an excellent recipe for the freezer from Thriving Home Blog.  You’ll also find recipes for Savory Chicken, Lazy Day Stew, Sweet & Tangy Meatballs, and Sausage & Peppers on this page.

4) Homemade Freezer Pizza

Here’s another family favorite as shown by Crystal at Money Saving Mom – we like to buy our chicken in bulk then cook large batches in the crockpot that we dice and shred before freezing meal size packages.  We later thaw and use the chicken in pizzas, salads, quesadillas, soups, tacos and more.

5) Pizza Pockets

Amy at Amy’s Finer Things swears that these Pizza Pockets and her Pigs in a Blanket saved her summer!  With five young kids of my own I can easily see how having a freezer full of these would be a life saver and I’m definitely making a bunch very soon.

6) Mexican Casseroles

Joyful Momma’s Kitchen provides the list to her top five freezer meals including Layered Enchilada Casserole, Quesadilla Casserole, Wild Rice and Chicken, Goulash, and Potato Soup.

7) Crab Cakes

These Crab Cakes from Abbi at Once a Month Mom look absolutely scrumptious and are a great way to make expensive crab meat go a little further while its in season and be able to enjoy it off season too when the price is higher.

I highly recommend Plan to Eat for a great place to store all your favorite recipes! Check it out with a free trial and see how easy it is to add recipes from the Internet, plan meals for your family and even print out a handy grocery list.


My 5/30 Publix Trip – $88.42 for $21.80 or 75% Off

I’m still taking advantage of the meat specials lingering from Memorial Day and they’re just in the nick of time too because I hadn’t purchased any meat since January until last week!  After paying 99¢/lb for the chicken leg quarters last week I saw that Food World had a 59¢/lb special over the weekend so I went ahead and bought 60 pounds, which have since been cut and divided into meal size packages for freezing.  After I’m done with this post I plan to cut the pork loin into thin half inch slices and cut the sirloin tip steak into chunks for tips and gravy.  I should be able to extend these two cuts of meat into 4 or maybe 5 five meals for my family of seven, so that will cost either $2.93 or $3.65 per meal – whoohoo!  Today I bought $88.42 worth of groceries for $21.80, or 75% off after coupons and $21 RR.  Here are the deals:

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Freezer Don’t Fail Me Now!

Note – my freezer was beeping when I got home from the grocery store today with a bunch of stuff I needed to put in there so I thought I’d re-post this article I originally wrote April 27, 2010 because I was SO happy that I knew what to do this time!

Since the nearest grocery store is about a 40 minute drive away, one of our first big purchases after we moved into the “deep woods” was a large chest style deep freezer. Usually not big believers in the add-on insurance and warranties it seems like everybody wants to sell you, we did pay for an extended three year warranty in case anything happened to the freezer because we knew we’d be depending on it. Well the darn thing started beeping and flashing ‘6’ two weeks ago. At first we checked it out and it was still freezing so we re-set the alarm and dismissed it.

Started beeping again the next day. Step 2 – call Sears Home Repair only to find out that the warranty expired a few months ago :( The gentleman that I spoke to on the phone looked up the error ‘6’ I was getting and TOLD me that it meant the freezer was at six degrees instead of 10 below like it should be so it was sounding the alarm. He told me that the temp was okay for the food, to check for any frost issues, and to keep an eye on the temp – if it got to around 12 or 15 he said to call back and they’d send someone out, but that it would be at our expense.

Step 3 – in between repeatedly re-setting the alarm at all hours of the day we did research online, tried to figure out what was going on, whether there was anything we could do ourselves, or even what the appliance fault codes mean. NOTHING!!

Step 4 – found an obscure comment on a post from 2006 that said the ‘6’ might actually be a ‘b’ for battery so we went back and looked the freezer over again. Sure enough, there is a battery compartment hidden on the far side of the thing. As you can tell, this battery had seen better days!

Step 5 – be REALLY grateful that we didn’t pay some appliance repairman $100+ to come out and tell us that all it needed was a new battery ;)

Step 6 – be REALLY annoyed that the appliance repair center didn’t give me the helpful tip of checking the battery first!

Sooooooooo, if your freezer is beeping, flashing a ‘6’ or a ‘b’ then check your battery. That battery compartment should be clearly marked but will likely be on the lower side or bottom front of the unit.


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