Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Healthy freezer food for the diabetic who doesn't cook.

Hubby and I are not big on leftovers.  I can deal with them for a couple days, but I get tired of the same food over and over again.  Last winter I had some pre-made foods in the freezer and pantry that I could easily work with for meals.  I need healthy, ready to eat, foods for those snowy weeks, when driving is a little crazy and we just don't want to go out for food.

This year, I've been eating lower calorie and the pre-made foods seem to be a lot higher on calories.  Also, I'm auditioning to be in a show and rehearsal schedules get crazy.  In the winter, I'd rather eat at home than stop somewhere on the way and eat out. So, I decided I wanted to try freezing foods and stocking the pantry.  Now, I know there are a million posts on the internet about how to freeze meals or ingredient packs for the winter.  Most of them assume at least one of the following;

  1. You are willing to cook ahead.
  2. You are willing to plan your meals for a month at a time.
  3. You are willing to spend time prepping and putting ingredients together for an afternoon (or day!).
NONE of which I am willing to do!!  So, if you're anything like me and really don't enjoy prepping, planning and putting together meals, but do want (or need) to cook at home through the winter, then maybe you can try this idea along with me.  I'd love to hear how it works for you.  

Here are my assumptions:
  1. You have 5-6 basic recipes that you know and can easily make.  
  2. Some of the recipes share at least a couple ingredients with others.  
  3. You are willing to write out a list of all you will need for these recipes.
  4. You are willing to spend a couple hundred dollars on a stock up trip to the grocery store.
  5. You are cooking for yourself or you and one other person (not a family of 4)
  1. Find recipes 
  2. Write out ingredients
  3. Look to see what you don't have on hand
  4. Make a shopping list of what you do need
  5. Go grocery shopping
  6. Store foods
  7. Put menu on the fridge with meal options you can pull 
That last one is huge for me.  I can have all the ingredients in the freezer, staring me in the face, but for the life of me...I can never remember what I was going to cook with them.  So, I need a list of options...plus it saves time and I don't let all the cold air out of the fridge while I try to figure it out.  

The longest part was figuring out what I would need to stock.  Once I had a shopping list, it was actually really easy.  It took me less than 15 minutes to put it all away and I was done!  

Now, I will say that I did do one piece of prep ahead of time.  I used part of an onion for a recipe the other day and decided to chop up the rest and stick it in the freezer.  You can buy recipe starter frozen onions, though.  So, this step is unnecessary.  

Below are the recipe options and the shopping list.  Keep in mind that many of the cold foods, I keep on hand and use in recipes or in snacks I make all the time.  I also have on-hand some of the ingredients/spices for making these dishes, like Chicken Broth for the Herbed Chicken. 

Main Dish Options: My list of Main Dishes is more a list of options.  I don't have enough to make all of these recipes, but many of the ingredients are interchangeable, so I can mix & match.  I'd rather have options than HAVE TO make one specific thing.  Thus the reason I didn't do bags of pre-made, crock pot ready, raw food.
Chicken Tacos with Black Beans and Corn cooked with the meat
Chili Mac (Beef Broth Base with no tomatoes)

Side Dish Options:  For the side dishes, I don't have a lot because I usually have fresh veggies in the fridge to make salad or some other kind of fresh vegetable dish (like fresh brussel sprouts).  

Plain Brown Rice
Mexican Rice with beans and corn (mexican spiced tomato sauce)
Italian style Green beans (Italian spiced tomato sauce)
Green Beans with Bacon
Parmesan Broccoli (steam and add butter/parmesan)

Grocery Pantry Items
Mushroom Soup (Low Sodium)
Canned Mushrooms
Corn (Low Sodium)
Peas (Low Sodium)
Green Beans (Low Sodium)
Black Beans (Low Sodium)
Red Kidney Beans (Low Sodium)
Light Kidney Beans (No Low Sodium available)
Beef Broth (Low Sodium)
Tomato Sauce
Tomato Paste
Dijon Mustard

Taco Seasoning (Low Sodium)
Spices (I went through and tossed what had expired and replaced only what I need for these recipes.)
Tapioca Pudding mix

Whole Grain & Regular Macaroni Noodles (Hubby doesn't like the whole grain stuff, so I make both)
Whole Grain & Regular Egg Noodles
Individual Microwave Brown Rice Cups (Brown Rice, Hubby eats)
Oyster Crackers
Tortillas - 16 grams of carbs each (I got a bag of 20 and froze them in bags of four...1 meal per bag, for me and Hubby)

Grocery Meats
Cubed Chicken 2.5 lbs divided (the meat counter will cube it up and package in two pieces for you)
Ground Chicken 2 lbs
Ground Sirloin 5 lbs in 1 lb tubes 
Italian Marinated and individually wrapped chicken breasts (5 per bag) 

Grocery Dairy/Fresh/Frozen Foods
Mexican Cheese (Low Fat)
Shredded Carrots
Frozen Green Peppers
Frozen Broccoli

Prep when I got home (less than 15 minutes)
Our butcher put the chicken cubes on a Styrofoam tray and wrapped it in saran wrap.  I put that in a zip-lock bag.
Tortillas - I put 4 in a bag at a time, let them cool in the fridge with the bag open for an hour, then sealed the bags and moved them to the freezer. 
Put everything away

Plans as I go through the winter
I do plan to replace some things as I use them.  Broccoli, canned goods and maybe some meat if we feel we'll eat that recipe again.  It depends on how fast we go through the food.  While we'll still go out and eat when we can, I suspect having food in the house will be very convenient when we just don't want to go out in the cold.  If we have a winter anything like last year, that will happen often!  

Let me know if you plan to try the ingredient method of freezing.  If so, leave a comment and share your thoughts.  

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