Last week was Show Week. My two boys were in a play and I was directing. A busy (somewhat-stressed) mom plus limited time to get dinner on the table makes it hard to resist the allure of a drive thru window . . . but I succeeded!
(Monday through Thursday. I had no intention of cooking on the weekend!)
Each night, I used my pre-cooked and frozen ground beef or chicken. These are HUGE time-savers.
(In case pre-cooking meat seems like a huge task, here’s some perspective. I browned eight pounds Sunday evening while making tacos. It took about 15-20 minutes of extra time to cook the extra meat. I let it cool while we ate dinner and then packed it into freezer bags. I was motivated because I knew how much easier it would make my week.. I also froze some this way.)
Monday night was my most ambitious. I threw together chicken fried rice in less than 20 minutes. I used chicken I’d cooked in the Crock Pot and then shredded with my hand mixer. The rice was leftover from Thursday night’s dinner the week before. Want the chicken fried rice recipe? Go here.
Tuesday was extra crazy with baseball practice at 5 and rehearsal from 6-8. We needed food on the run, so I made “chicken salad” by mixing more of that pre-cooked chicken with ranch dressing. Yes. That’s all I did.
It was a little painful to pay 3.99 for six croissants, but chicken salad on croissants is a whole ‘nuther level up from chicken salad on regular bread. And it was either $3.99 for croissants or $20+ for fast food. With chips and carrots, I call this a meal.
These were a hit and we’re definitely adding them to our baseball season picnic repertoire. (See all my picnic recipes here.)
Wednesday was a field trip. A field trip that involved a choir competition at a place with an all-day pizza buffet. I “might” have encouraged my boys to eat one last round before we left at 3:30 just so I could NOT cook that night.
But then . . . Hubby and my daughter wanted to eat. (Whatever!) I almost declared it a Fend For Yourself Night, but then had this idea:
Frozen, pre-cooked ground beef microwaved on 10% power for one minute to thaw, then spread over blue (UN-photographable) tortilla chips and sprinkled with shredded cheese to melt under the broiler. Mmm-hmmm. That’ll do.
Thursday, we ended up with a little extra time (baseball practice was cancelled) so I made a “real meal” in a hurry. Spaghetti. Not anything earth-shattering, but such a great example of how much easier dinner time is with pre-cooked meats.
I often just put the meat into the pan frozen, and then add the sauce and let the meat thaw as the sauce warms.
So there you go. Four easy ways to keep from eating out. It’s how freezer cooking works in our house.
What are your favorite ways to use pre-cooked meats?
While some may think that none of these are terribly fantastic meals, I’ll call it a win for you Nony! Great job avoiding the call of the drive-thrus 🙂 I used your “freezer cooking PB&J” for my lunch today. Just pulled it out of the freezer and stuck it and a piece of fruit and a small bag of chips in my lunch box, now I’m good to go for lunch on the road.
melissa c says
Umm…..its wed and we’ve hit drive thru 3 times. So. ….. this sounds like a much better idea.
Shannon L says
Yesterday was a very busy day for us. Before I left home, I threw a frozen chicken breast in the Crock Pot. I had no idea what to do with it when I got home but it was a start. After a full day of running, I didn’t feel like staying on my feet one second longer than needed. So I made salsa chicken salad. I added a small jar of salsa to the chicken and “shredded” with a potato masher. I let it sit for a few minutes while I took a breather. To serve I put a pile of lettuce, salsa chicken, shredded cheese and sour cream for dressing. It was yummy! My little wasn’t too fond of a salad so I made her a soft taco. Done!
I love my crockpot for those night. Love, love, love the idea of cooking and freezing meat. I am doing that this weekend :)!!
Dana White says
I usually love the crockpot, but it was one of those weeks when I’m flying by the seat of my pants!!!
It is great to have these planned so you can bypass that magic food-dispensing, food-gobbling window! How do you shred chicken with a hand mixer??
Dana White says
Just take the chicken out of the liquid and put your handmixer (or stand mixer) on it and start. Go as slow as possible, though, because it shreds SOOO fast. Seriously, it’s like magic! (Again, just be sure that you took it out of the liquid or the hot liquid will splatter everywhere!! I know this.)
*money gobbling (Mom is a little sleep deprived here!)
Ummmm, I may or may not have eaten all of our meals out on Monday. BK breakfast, Hospital Lunch, Bob Evans, and Chinese. In my defense, FIL was in ICU. He should be home by the end of the week though, and I’ve managed to only spend $4 on groceries so far and eating from the pantry for the rest of the week hopefully.
Dana White says
Hospital times don’t leave many other options! You just do the best you can!
Shredding chicken with a hand mixer! You are a genius!
Dana White says
I’m not! I saw it somewhere else! I think it was CouponingtoDisney.com!
I buy the 5 lb. rolls of ground beef (the meat is much fresher than the plastic wrapped kind), and put 2 or 3 ROLLS of meat in the crock pot (unwrapped, of course). After an hour or so, I give it a few strokes with the potato masher, let it cook till it’s no longer pink, drain, and bag it up for the freezer. I almost forgot, if you have a pound or so of raw ground beef, instead of frying it – boil it!! Really! It really gets the fat out, and leaves no splattery mess on the stove. You won’t know the difference.
Just found you site a while back and enjoy it very much. Thank you.
Batch of rice, can of chilli, can of beans (whole, refried, baked, made from scratch and frozen, leftover, whatever), some kind of cheese (shredded, cream ,whiz, sauce), either your precooked ground beef or shredded chicken, maybe some sour cream, salsa, mexican spices, or hot sauce, stir this together and it makes great burrito filling.
It comes together really quick if you have leftover rice. If not, you can make (err, dump out of cans and stir) the rest of the filling in the time it takes the rice to cook. I usually assemble the burritos and then fry in cast iron pan with another hot one on top to press them, but you could also just microwave the tortillas until warm, roll, and serve as is, or wrap and take out for later.
last week i made lasagna with pre cooked beef and no-boil lasanga noodles. it was the only thing that saved my sanity after spending 2 hours making tomato sauce from scratch, lol. (but i made enough sauce to freeze too, so it’s ready to heat and eat for a quick meal the next time!)
2 favorite crock pot meals…
2 jars of Alfredo sauce and frozen chicken. Low for 6 hours. Add a box of noodles and some Steamfresh veggies and wa la dinner. Bonus points for garlic bread.
1 spegetti squash, frozen meatballs, and a jar of marinia.
Cut squash, scoop seeds put cut side down in crockpot. Add sauce and meatballs and wala 4-5 hours on low.
These are great ideas. I had vowed to stave off the drive-thru for meals this month. But, making every meal from scratch every day takes too much time. I’m going to do the pre-cooked meats from now on. I could cook all this one Sundays. Thanks!
Tracy Thomas says
Easy ground beef for the freezer, without even 20 extra minutes standing at the stove:
Put your ground beef in a 9×13 (or larger, depending on how much beef you are doing–a ten pound chub fits in a 13×17 casserole dish). Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Drain under hot water (to get all the fat off, and package for the freezer.) Done and done!
Shelia B says
Yep! You nailed it, Tracy—I was about to say the same thing. And not only do I do ground beef like this, I bake a sheet-pan full of chicken pieces, lightly floured and sprayed with canola oil. Same method works great for cubed chicken or pork loin—throw the cubes on top of a hashbrown casserole base (bag of frozen hashbrowns, can of cream soup, 2 Tbsp sour cream. 1/2 cup milk, 1 cup shred cheese, 1 cup french fried onions, and a handful of diced peppers/onions) for a speedy supper. I actually freeze most of my side dishes too—anyone else do this? Then everything goes into the oven together for about an hour…no muss, no fuss.
I buy a half side of beef usually twice a year. This last time I got 50 pounds of it in ground beef. I made up 6 meatloaf’s in disposable pans from dollar tree, and 6 pans of meat balls, 48 burgers, and a slew of suck flat bags of 2 pounds each of loose. I have not thought to cook it prior to freezing it.. That may be a next go around.