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Monday, December 26, 2011

MENU PLAN MONDAY: Indexing Freezer Meals and Freezing Bone Broth

Last week was a pretty lazy one when it came to eating. Big T worked late, and I only had to cook for three nights.

The Meals:

Monday: Pasta with veggie gratin sauce
Tuesday: Coconut squash soup
Wednesday: Slow cooker chicken tikka masala
Thursday, Friday and Saturday - eat at Mom Mom's

The Method:

Monday: I had thawed out the summer veggie gratin from a couple of weeks ago, but I wasn't in the mood for a veggie casserole, and I needed something that Baby T would eat. I just put it all into a blender, pureed it, and heated it on the stove and served it over pasta. Baby T ate the whole thing. This is a great, healthy toddler meal that's filled with vegetables, but goes over as a simple pasta sauce, so your kids will never know the difference.

Tuesday: I had bought two acorn squashes the week before and really wanted to try out this coconut squash soup recipe from Frugal Frolic. I swirled in some of my homemade lactose-free yogurt. It was delicious. I did end up adjusting the recipe a bit: I only used 2 squashes, half a can of coconut milk, and I didn't have any white wine so I put in a splash of apple cider vinegar instead. It was perfect.

Wednesday: I assembled the dish in the morning and put it in the slow cooker around noon. I had bone-in chicken thighs, so I cut them off the bone before browning them, but I didn't cut them up into 1.5-inch pieces as the recipe recommends. It was easier to brown them in big pieces, and I just shredded them after removing them from the crock pot, before serving. The recipe doesn't say what to do with the cream. I added it to the crock pot before cooking. Also, I forgot to add the cornstarch, and the sauce was still plenty thick and delicious. Finally, I ran out of garam masala, so I used 1 tbsp of garam masala and 2 tbsp of curry. This was definitely a keeper. Even Baby T ate it!

I made bone broth out of the chicken thigh bones.

This week, I discovered a couple of important things when it comes to menu planning:
  • It helps to actually look at your plan so you thaw out what you need in time. 
  • Also, thawing out food in the fridge just doesn't work for me. I find that 24 hours is never enough, and most foods take 48 hours to fully thaw in the fridge. Maybe I'm just impatient. I usually end up thawing out my casseroles on the counter from about 7AM to noon, and I put them in the fridge when they are almost fully thawed out.
  • It helps to know what you have in your freezer if you do any kind of bulk cooking. My lovely friend gave me the idea to just write on the freezer with a dry-erase marker. This is a great way to index what I have. I just wipe it off as I use a particular food:
menu planning index
I have a second fridge/freezer in the garage, so I don't care what it looks like.
  • Make bone broth whenever you have meat bones and store it in the freezer. I used to freeze the bone broth in ice cube trays and pop them out when they were frozen, storing them in a ziploc bag. An even easier way to freeze bone broth is to pour it into small plastic food storage containers. (I use the Take and Toss Containers). Put them in the freezer, and when the broth is frozen, run them under warm water until the frozen broth pops out. Store that in a freezer bag. Each one is between 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup, so this makes it easy to add broth to any recipe.
freezing bone broth
See how dark and rich my broth is? That's because I save and freeze scraps when I chop
up veggies like onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and sweet potatoes. I throw in a bunch of
scraps when I make the broth. It gives the broth wonderful flavor. Then I just cook the bones
and broth in a slow cooker for 24 hours.

For more meal planning obsessiveness inspiration, check out!


Emily @ Randomrecycling said... Best Blogger Tips

The squash soup sounds great, never thought to add in coconut milk. What a nice way to add some healthy fat to the recipe.

Tmuffin said... Best Blogger Tips

It does make it taste a little coconutty, but I love that. I've been trying to incorporate more coconut into my diet. I didn't realize that adding the coconut is probably what helps keep me full!

naycauthen said... Best Blogger Tips

Wow, you can write right on the fridge? And it really wipes off?? That is a pretty great visual way to keep up with it!
I have a list jotted down in my planning/recipe notebook that I try to keep current, but sometimes I forget to add or delete things! It would be nice to have a list right there for you to add as you were putting in or taking out!!

Tmuffin said... Best Blogger Tips

Yep, with dry erase marker! It does wipe off, but it takes a little scrubbing with a sponge and sometimes some cleaner because the fridge has that textured surface. It is so much easier than keeping a separate notebook! If you preferred, you could get a cheap dry-erase board and stick it to the fridge with those command strips, or even clip it to the side of the fridge with magnetic clips.

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