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|The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine|
October 24, 2012
Freezer Meals for Winter
Deborah Wuehler and family
Here in sunny California, we are finally saying goodbye to the sun. Just today we had overcast weather with rain on and off, and we were able to stay warm and snug in our house. These are great days to start cooking up some freezer meals for those super busy homeschooling days.
It's not really that hard! The easiest way for me to do this has been to just double or triple one of the meals I make each week. Then I put one in the freezer for another time. Some ladies get together with a friend and have a fun cooking day where they make enough for both families.
Being prepared with at least a few meals in the freezer is very helpful for many reasons. You may need to pull one out if you are sick, or if a neighbor is sick and you want to bless them. You might have one on hand for a mom with a new baby in your homeschool group or that friend who is having a difficult time.
Whatever the reason, it's always nice to be prepared. In our September issue, Malia Russell of Homemaking 9-1-1, offers a look at freezer cooking here:
Malia Russell spoke recently at our monthly Schoolhouse Expo on the benefits and how-to's of freezer cooking. If you missed it, and you are an ST.com member, you will be able to log in and listen again to that particular Expo. Whether you are a member or not, you may log in freely to the live Expo's we hold nearly every month--FREE! More info here:
As you cozy in together this fall, pull out all those read-alouds you've been waiting to read, and spend some time enjoying each other's company while today's dinner (and maybe tomorrow's) is cooking.
It's a blessing to be able to teach our children these important life skills like cooking, and it's an incredible blessing to have our children Home Where They Belong.
TOS Senior Editor
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Freezer Meals with Molly Green
Do your food preferences change with the cooler weather and change in seasons? At my house, fall means meals that include pumpkin, cranberries, apples, soup, and fresh bread!
Homemade soups can be economical meals. You can even prepare soup in large batches to keep handy in your freezer for busy days when there isn't time to cook. Tuesdays are "soup nights" for my family. I create soups from leftover meats in my refrigerator. If I have leftover chicken breasts, I make chicken noodle soup, chicken and dumplings, or chicken and rice and vegetables soup. If there's leftover ham, I make creamy potato and ham soup. Use leftover beef roast in a beef noodle or beef barley soup. Try making a double (or triple!) batch so some can be frozen, simply freeze leftovers; or prepare and freeze the base, thaw when needed, and add in desired vegetables and cook until done. A little prep work makes it easy to get healthy (and frugal) meals on the table, on time. Check out these recipes for Creamy Cheesy Potato and Easy Taco Soup.
Another good way to use your freezer is to freeze pureed pumpkin. I freeze pumpkin puree in 2 cup batches, the perfect amount for most of my recipes. Pumpkin muffins are my favorites, year round! When the craving strikes, I visit my freezer, pull out the pre-measured puree, and mix up my recipe.
I've also put together apple pie ingredients, placed in a vacuum seal bag, and stacked them in my freezer to speed up dessert prep. This method is great when you have unexpected guests and need to serve a dessert!
Did you know I have cookbooks available that contain cost breakdowns for every recipe? Learn how to make
$5 dinners and $3 desserts or a $7 slow cooker supper! Become a Molly member, and I'll send you Molly Makes $7 Slow Cooker Suppers for FREE after your sixth month of membership! Don't miss out on our Molly membership special! Until the end of October, sign-up as a Molly Member and pay only $0.99 for the first month!
Why become a Molly Member? You'll receive my monthly Molly's Money Saving Magazine and access to ALL my back issues! That's over THREE YEARS' worth of back issues! The longer you're a member, the more goodies you receive. Build your own (massive!) money-saving library as over time additional Molly E-Books like Molly Gets Organized All In One Place and In The Kitchen With Molly are added to your account.
Drop by www.Econobusters.com and check out all my frugal tips or sign up for my newsletter and get freebies, recipes, and thrifty tips every Friday.
Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries
I'm enjoying a week of R&R in the nice warm Florida sunshine so I'm trying real hard not to think normal routine . . . including this article. Not that I would have any advice on freezer foods . . . except ice cream is one of my favorites!
Are you an active homeschool blogger?
Do you enjoy trying new products?
You know, it's just possible that I've been cooking longer than some of you have been alive! And, it's probable that I have more cookbooks than the average American--a friend counted recently and told me that I have over 150. But all of that experience and all of those cookbooks do me absolutely no good when I'm exhausted, hungry, and it's dinner time.
Sound familiar? With all that you do, all your various responsibilities, and all the people you serve, it's more than likely that you often find yourself exhausted, hungry, and overwhelmed. So, rather than list all of the ways energetic people make mega-dinners and freeze them (there are plenty of cookbooks to tell you how to do that if you are interested), I'd like to share a couple of tricks that have made my life a lot easier when it comes to dinner.
First, if I'm going to cook a main dish, I usually plan to make twice as much as we need. After it cools, I freeze it. Voila! Instant homemade dinner whenever the chef is out of time or energy. (Thawing will be recommended.)
Something I've discovered recently is that pumpkins (which take nearly an hour to bake) are actually quite easy to deal with. Once you've baked them until they are soft, you can puree that pumpkin and then freeze bags of it. Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup--all easily created from those marvelous squashes. And once you've done the work, that frozen squash is ready for anything.
Obviously, when something takes a bit of time to prepare or bake, if we can make enough to freeze an extra batch (or two), then we have just saved ourselves time and energy.
My second life saver is not a freezer. It's a crockpot. That is one of my absolute favorite appliances. When the afternoon is going to be busy, or if I'm feeling particularly overwhelmed, the trusty crockpot comes into service. Years ago, I heard about throwing frozen chicken breasts into the crockpot with salsa, letting it cook all day on low, and enjoying a savory Mexican-style chicken (rolled up as burritos, used for tacos, etc.). But that's just the start! Chicken and barbecue sauce make for a fantastic meal of Sloppy Joe-Chickens. Chicken and masala sauce from Trader Joe's is my personal favorite, served on a bed of rice--an incredible East Indian dinner. Chicken, canned pineapple, and teriyaki sauce will transport you to Hawaii. (Not really, but it's awfully good!) Any kind of meat will work with most any kind of sauce.
Use your freezer and that crockpot--you'll find it's like having a servant in the house! And with all of that free time you just saved, just imagine what you might do . . . My top suggestions are take a nap, take a walk, or hug your kids!
Remember, stay relational,
Raising Real Men
Hal & Melanie Young
Mmmmmm . . . how nice to think of just waltzing over to the freezer and back to the oven to produce a lovely dinner in the midst of the holiday rush.
We were forced to learn freezer cooking. Melanie has always had train-wreck pregnancies with lots of bedrest time. We quickly figured out that we'd have to do some heavy duty preparation if we didn't want to live on fish sticks and frozen pizza! Freezer cooking to the rescue!
Cooking in bulk can be intimidating, though. Visions of counters full of freezer-burned mystery meals and pictures of a completely wrecked kitchen give us the collywobbles! Melanie does a workshop session on freezer cooking and it's always packed with families who want the payoff of easy dinners, but it's never worked well for them in the past. We always suggest starting with something easy.
One of the easiest ways to simplify meal times is to get a stock of pre-cooked meats in the freezer. Next time chicken breasts go on sale, buy 20 pounds of them and a big bag of charcoal. Seriously. You can cook about 20 pounds on that bag of charcoal on a good-sized grill--and this is wonderful grilling weather!
Once you get home, Mom should divide the chicken into four or so big bowls or pots and put a different marinade in each one. We usually do Italian, Greek, fajita, and Cajun. Meanwhile, Dad should get the charcoal started. Chicken marinades quickly, so it'll be ready by the time the coals are. Mom should take Dad one bowl at a time as he has room, and he should keep the flavors segregated on the grill. Bring out a fresh platter (or cookie sheet) for each flavor as it comes off the grill.
Once it's cooled a bit, put each breast in its own sandwich size Ziploc bag and all the little bags of each flavor in one gallon size Ziploc bag, labeled. Oh, and choose some to eat hot that night!
What then? Say you're craving chicken fajitas. Pull out the right number of breasts and nuke them in the microwave for about 1-2 minutes each, leaving them in the baggy used for freezing or placing them out of the baggy in a tightly covered bowl. Making sure it's covered tightly lets the steam go through and through it and makes it taste hot off the grill. While it's cooking, sauté some onions and peppers, heat up some tortillas and refried beans, pull out some grated cheese, salsa, and sour cream and you've got a wonderful meal of grilled chicken fajitas in about 15 minutes flat. You can use your chicken to make gyros, Greek salads, fajita salads, chicken tostadas, grilled chicken sandwiches, chicken spaghetti, chicken fettuccine alfredo, and lots more. Imagine how much time that will save you this winter! Just try it!
Hal & Melanie Young
PS. For lots more ideas for making freezer cooking easy, including our make-your-own Universal Marinade Recipe, grab our mp3 download, Sanity's in the Freezer.
"From a distance, elephants look completely hairless, but once you get up close you will see that they have stiff coarse hairs on various parts of their body."
Read more in the article The Elephant's Hair.
(Thurs., October 25)
Thinking About Homeschooling Your
Special Needs Child?
Identifying if Your Child Has a Learning Glitch . . . Or Is He Just a Late Bloomer?
Join our Free Online Schoolhouse Expo,
and listen to Heather Laurie and Dianne Craft!
Date: Thursday, October 25th
Heather Laurie is the mother of five children and wife to Christopher. Due to the challenges associated with dealing
with their children's medical and learning problems for the
past ten years, Christopher and Heather have homeschooled
in some unique and unexpected places! Find Heather at her specialneedshomeschooling.com blog, where she offers encouragement and advice for other families who
are homeschooling their special needs children.
Dianne Craft has been working on strategies for helping
children with learning glitches, commonly called learning disabilities, for 35 years. Dianne has developed a diagnostic program, Child Diagnostics, to help you identify where your child's learning process is breaking down.Visit diannecraft.org
for more information, lesson plans, and samples
of her workshop series.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
We will also feature a vendor workshop
from the Family Hope Center.
has trained hundreds of parents to follow a program developed specifically to meet each unique child's needs. Whether your child has learning or developmental challenges, ADD/ADHD, autism, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, or mild
to extensive injuries, we can help you learn how to work
"from the inside out."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Join our Free Online Schoolhouse Expo on
Thursday, October 25th, at 7 p.m. EDT!
(6 p.m. CDT, 5 p.m. MDT, 4 p.m. PDT)
Check out all the details at
Reserve your FREE seat now---only 1000 available!
What do test scores mean and
what do they measure?
Get excellent tips for understanding
Read Special Needs:
What Do Test Scores Really Mean?
in the latest issue of
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.
For the month of October, 2012
King Alfred's English: A History of the Language We Speak and Why We Should Be Glad We Do
King Alfred's English: A History of the Language We Speak and Why We Should Be Glad We Do was written by Laurie J. White as a way to bring the history of our language to students in grades 7 through 12 in a fun and engaging manner. Laurie fell in love with the history of the English language after taking it as a college course; it made the study of key parts of history, English, and even foreign languages come alive. King Alfred's English looks at how the growth of the English language through four key invasions, or as Laurie puts it, "language altering tsunamis," both broadened and simplified English into the language we speak today.
Further, Laurie discusses how the advent of the printing press was not only a boon to language, but helped with the dissemination of the Bible to the common people aiding the Protestant Reformation and molding the vernacular. She explores the work of Wycliffe (pre-printing press), Martin Luther and Tyndale. As the book marches through history, the reader learns that many of the words with the SK sound come from the Old Norse, ph comes from Greek, how the advent of printing solidified spelling, why the Great Vowel Shift changed pronunciation, and the lasting effect of Greek and Latin on the "roots" of English. Answers to why we spell knight with a kn and other mysteries of spelling are illuminated. So that's why our spelling is so strange! (. . .)
Read the rest of this post and see all the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviews here.
You can win this book!
Email Deb (SeniorEditor@TheHomeschoolMagazine.com) with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, "King Alfred," for a chance to win* the App for your homeschool!