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Category: Baking Day

Freezer Cooking: Baked Oatmeal & Turkey Meatballs

I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 grocery budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories.

I had planned to do a Freezer Cooking Day earlier this week, but life happened and I ended up only getting two different recipes made. Sometimes, you just do the best you can do, right?

The good news? At least our freezer filled up a little more with yummy food!

I made 4 pans of Baked Oatmeal. This is a family favorite and my kids (and Jesse!) were so excited that I made it since it’s been quite awhile since I’ve made it.

I made the Baked Oatmeal on live video — only I forgot I was supposed to double it! So I ended up making a single batch on video and then another batch when I got off live video.

I also used the ground turkey I got marked down to make a double batch of Turkey Meatballs. I joked on Instagram Stories that I should call these Clean Out the Fridge Meatballs because I literally used odds and ends of thing we had on hand and needed to use up — including some rice.

We ate one pan for dinner this week and then froze the second pan. (I lined the pan with plastic wrap and then popped it out and stuck it in a freezer bag so that I could have this pan back. 🙂

See last week’s freezer cooking post here: Freezer Cooking Day: Crockpot Sausage & Peppers, Slab Apple Pie, Apple Pie Filling, Muffins, Ziti, and Taco Meat

Freezer Cooking Day: Crockpot Sausage & Peppers, Slab Apple Pie, Apple Pie Filling, Muffins, Ziti, and Taco Meat

Freezer Cooking on a $70 weekly grocery budget. This is SO impressive and inspiring!! Check out everything she made in just a couple hours!

Our garage freezer was almost empty 2 weeks ago. I decided to challenge myself to see if I could slowly fill it up — on our $70/week grocery budget.

This is one way you can save SO much money. Buy ahead when things are on a low, low price and you’ll rarely ever pay full price for anything. Then, use what you already have on hand in the freezer/fridge/pantry as the basis for your meals and freezer cooking.

I did an impromptu freezer cooking day on Tuesday and here’s what I made (well, “freezer cooking day” might be a bit of an overstatement since I actually only spent a little over two hours on this cooking and the clean up! But hey, “freezer cooking day” sounds better so we’ll go with it!)

We had a bunch of peppers and some onions that I had gotten marked down, so I combined them with some sausage I had gotten for $1.99 per package plus a little celery I had left in the fridge to make sausage and peppers in the Crock-pot. I cooked this on low most of the day. We ate half for dinner (served over rice) and I froze the rest for another day.

I had a bunch of apples that I’d gotten marked down at Kroger over the past few weeks and turned them into one of our favorite recipes — Slab Apple Pie! I baked it and we froze it to have on hand for quick desserts in the next two months when hosting guests!

I had enough apples left over to make a bag of Apple Pie Filling (sliced apples with lemon juice and cinnamon/sugar).

I used some marked down bananas I had gotten recently and stuck in the freezer to make some amazing Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.

I used our favorite Banana Bread recipe and just added some chocolate chips to the batter. My kids love these in their lunches and they also make great snacks. We store them in the freezer and then just pull them out as we need them!

We had some cream cheese that needed to be used up and some blueberries in the freezer, so I searched online for recipe ideas and found this one.

I taste-tested one and it was delicious! I stuck these in a freezer bag and put them in freezer fit quick snacks!

The Final Results of My Freezer Cooking Day:

And I did a little bit more freezer cooking on Thursday and Friday, too…

We had frozen cottage cheese and browned sausage I had gotten marked down + pasta sauce in the fridge that needed to be used up and pasta I’d gotten for $0.49/box, so I found a deal on mozzarella cheese and made 3 pans of Ziti. One for dinner that night and two for the freezer.

I found ground turkey marked down to $1.99 per pound, so I bought 2 pounds and browned them with homemade taco seasoning and stuck two bags of taco meat in the freezer.

It makes me so happy to see that our garage freezer is starting to fill up a little bit! I’m going to keep challenging myself to add more deals and freezer meals to our garage freezer every week without spending more than our $70 grocery budget.

We’ll see how long it takes to fill it up! (And of course, we’ll be eating some what’s in this freezer every week, upping the challenge even more!)

I love looking at saving money as a fun challenge! This makes my competitive side come out in a good way AND (in our super lean years) it kept me from feeling trapped!

Instead of saying, “Ugh! This is all the $$ we have to spend!” Change your perspective and say, “How well can we do on this small amount?!”

Have you done any freezer cooking recently? What are your favorite recipes to stick in the freezer? Any suggestions on recipes I should try soon?

P.S. See my previous Freezer Cooking Sessions here.

How to Freeze Avocados

Can you freeze avocados? I set out to answer that question a few weeks ago and here are my results!

Yes -- you can freeze avocados! Read this post to find out how! It's actually SUPER simple!

Y’all know I love me some clearance buys at Kroger. I mean, really, those yellow WOOHOO stickers make my heart skip a little beat.

{I might have issues. Okay, let’s face it. I do have issues. But hey, this weirdness has saved us a LOT of money over the years and it has certainly helped to keep life interesting! ;)}

Our Kroger has a section for marked down produce and they have these red mesh bags that they fill with produce. Each bag is just $0.99. Sometimes, it will be a pretty sorry deal — like 3 half-rotten apples for $0.99 or 5 potatoes for $0.99. But oftentimes, there are some really amazing deals in these red mesh bags.

Case in point, a few weeks ago, I went to the store and saw an incredible deal on avocados. And by incredible, I really mean incredible.

They had bags of 6-7 avocados that were ripe (but not overripe) for just $0.99 per bag! I love avocados and I eat a LOT of them on the eating plan I’m on.

Right now, avocados are usually priced around $0.88 per avocado (I’ve seen them for as low as $0.25 to $0.30 each at ALDI, but that’s very rare) and I usually eat one avocado almost every single day.

So this was a BIG score for me! The only problem? I knew I couldn’t eat them all up before they went bad.

I remembered something I’d read somewhere online about freezing avocados, so I literally whipped out my phone in the middle of the store and googled, “Can you freeze avocados?”

{What did we do before the days when we could stand in the grocery store and have all of the internet at our finger tips??}

From what I found, it looked like it was worth the risk to attempt freezing them. There were six bags and I decided to play it safe and only buy 3 bags, just in case my experiment was a flop.

To freeze them, I pitted them, scooped out the insides, and then mashed those up and added some salsa and lime juice. I then stuck them in freezer bags, pressed them flat and put them in the freezer.

A week later, I thawed one out and it tasted great! I stored it in the fridge for a few days and ate some every day to see how it fared. I’d say that it’s best to use it the day you thaw it, though it was still fine a few days later — it was just a darker brown color and didn’t look too appetizing!

I opted to freeze my avocados with salsa and lime juice for flavoring because I usually eat my avocados with salsa. You could also add other seasonings, herbs, or flavorings to it — such as salt, cilantro, tomatoes, onions, or cayenne pepper. Onions and tomatoes can be a little on the iffy side to freeze, though, so you could also add those in fresh after you thaw the avocados.

You can also freeze avocados halved if you want to use them in smoothies.

Want more details? Watch my quick YouTube video to see how I made this! (Psst! Are you subscribed to my YouTube channel? If not, what are you waiting for? Go subscribe here so you never miss any of my new weekly videos!)

Last Week’s Freezer Cooking Session

So many of you loved me live-videoing my freezer cooking session last time around that I went ahead and did the same this time, too.

Last Week's Freezer Cooking Session

If you want a laugh, you can watch the entire video of my freezer cooking here. I was a little scatter-brained and had to change things up on the fly because I didn’t have all of the ingredients and forgot to follow the muffin recipe.

The good news? Everything turned out really well!

This Week's Freezer Cooking

This new Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe was a winner (here’s our other recipe that we love, too.)

This Week's Freezer Cooking

And, as I talked about on the video, I have fallen in love with these reusable muffin liners that I got from Amazon (they are just $3.08 shipped for a dozen right now!)
This Week's Freezer Cooking

I was going to make burritos, but decided to do a Taco Casserole instead because it was quicker and I realized I didn’t have any refried beans. My family loved this creation of mine! (Lots of cheese makes just about any recipe creation taste yummy, though, right??)

This Week's Freezer Cooking

This Crockpot Taco Soup is so easy to make and so versatile!

Did you do any freezer cooking this week? Tell us about it in the comments!

Freezer Cooking: Blueberry Coconut Crisp, Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars, and Pumpkin French Toast

This Week's Freezer Cooking Session

I did something different for this week’s Freezer Cooking session. Instead of doing a few Facebook Live videos and taking lots of pictures for a blog post, I decided to do the entire cooking session live on video!

This Week's Freezer Cooking Session

You can watch the full video here — if you’re interested. This gives you a peek into how I work in the kitchen (I might appall you if you are someone who follows recipes precisely!) and how I adapt based upon what I have on hand or how I substitute when I don’t have one of the ingredients! 🙂

The entire session took me 30 minutes total — and then a little clean up time. I’d love to hear your feedback on whether you like me doing the full cooking sessions live like this. I love that people can interact live, share tips, ask questions, etc. It’s live-blogging at its finest!

Here were the final results:

This Week's Freezer Cooking Session

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars — I love recipes from Chocolate Covered Katie! I especially love how she makes her recipes so flexible so can adapt them if you have food allergies or preferences.

These bars were pretty good. Quite soft and sweet. I’m not sure that I’d recommend subbing pumpkin for applesauce, but at least I used what I had and saved myself a trip to the store, right? 🙂

This Week's Freezer Cooking Session

This Week's Freezer Cooking Session

Blueberry Coconut Crisp — I had some leftover coconut in cupboard and some blueberries from ALDI, so they served as the inspiration to try this recipe.

I was really happy with how it turned out and think it would be amazing served over Greek Yogurt for breakfast or with ice cream for dessert.

It’s not as healthy as My Favorite Blueberry Crisp recipe, but the coconut gives it a different twist and it’s definitely a recipe I’d recommend.

This Week's Freezer Cooking Session
This Week's Freezer Cooking Session

Pumpkin French Toast — I know it’s just barely September, but I’m all about the pumpkin over here. Have I mentioned that I absolutely adore fall? Oh yes I do!

And I start pretending that it’s fall just as soon as it hits near the end of August. Gratefully, the weather has even been cooperating with my plan some of the days and it’s been cooler temperatures instead of crazy hot!

So when I saw this Pumpkin French Toast, I was all over it. It was SO easy to make and it’s a really inexpensive recipe that can be made with ingredients from ALDI!

Jesse said that this was his favorite recipe of the three I made. I was surprised and happy about that as he’s not as ridiculously into pumpkin as I am! 🙂

Did you do any freezer cooking this week? Tell us about it in the comments!

P.S. See Last Week’s Freezer Cooking Session Here.

Come see a virtual peek into my Freezer Cooking Day!

This Week's Freezer Cooking

I’m back to freezer cooking and it feels SO good! It’s amazing the difference it makes when someone asks, “What is there to eat?” and I can list off options that are in the freezer!

On Thursday afternoon, I made 5 different recipes:

Here’s a little peek into how it all went down:

Freezer Cooking Day

I started the afternoon by unloading the dishwasher and hopping on Facebook Live to give everyone there a rundown on my plan and show my pre-freezer-cooking kitchen that was all clean.

I found that doing live videos motivated me to make sure I kept the kitchen clean during the freezer cooking session. I always need this kind of motivation because stopping to clean up as I go is not really my first choice. But it makes such a difference at the end.

You can watch my Freezer Cooking video here to see a peek into my kitchen, if you’re interested.

Freezer Cooking Day

I started off the Freezer Cooking session by making Homemade Energy Bites. This is one of those recipes that we’ve made over and over and over again and it’s family favorite.

It’s so easy to make, these are so versatile, and everyone loves them! Plus, not only are they a great snack, but they even suffice as breakfast in a pinch! 🙂

Freezer Cooking Day

I almost didn’t make these, because as I was getting ready to make them, I realized that we didn’t have any honey — which is kind of a staple ingredient in this recipe! 🙂

I put on my thinking cap and rummaged through the cupboards and refrigerator and decided to try subbing maple syrup for the honey. It made the Energy Bites a little stickier and I ended up adding a little flour to the recipe, but it worked!
Freezer Cooking Day

Freezer Cooking Day

For those of you who might be interested, as you can see in the photos above, I set up my tripod and did a quick live video while finishing up making these. It was my first attempt at actually “cooking” while being on live video and I was happy with how it went.

Freezer Cooking Day

We also had a funny conversation on the video about how I only have two kinds of looks — the dressed up look or the completely dressed down look — and I answered questions about why I was wearing a nice shirt to cook in. 🙂 Watch the video here, if you’re interested.

Freezer Cooking Day

Freezer Cooking Day

After I finished the Homemade Energy Bites, I then moved on to making Homemade Biscuits. I use the recipe from the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook — one of my very favorite basic cookbooks in existence and a cookbook I think every cook needs to own!

I accidentally mostly melted the butter, so instead of making cut-out biscuits, I made drop biscuits. They may not have looked as pretty, but they tasted just as delicious!

Freezer Cooking Day

Next up, I made the Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins. This was a new-to-me recipe and I was anxious to see how they turned out.

Freezer Cooking Day

I used some of the marked down yogurt I got recently for the Greek yogurt the recipe called for. Mostly because that was all the yogurt we had, but also because I did not like the lime flavoring of these yogurts and was trying to use them up!

Freezer Cooking Day

This recipe is made in the blender — which made it super easy! However, I also noticed that since the batter was a little thick, it got warmed up because of having to blend it for a few minutes on high.

Freezer Cooking Day

Freezer Cooking Day

This meant, that when I added in the chocolate chips, they melted somewhat due to the warmed up batter. It gave a sort of swirled look to the muffins — which was different than I was expecting.

Honestly, I might be weird, but I prefer chocolate chunks in my muffins to chocolate swirls, so I thought that was a drawback to this recipe.

Screenshot 2016-08-12 22.27.14

The biscuits were delicious (of course I had to “taste-test” one warm from the oven!), but the Banana Muffins were a bit of a let-down. I think it’s because they are gluten-free and the flour in them is oat flour. It just isn’t as fluffy and yummy as it would be with regular flour.

Oh well. Not all recipes can be homeruns, right? And if you’re gluten-free, it’s definitely a pretty good recipe to try.

Freezer Cooking Day

Freezer Cooking Day

Freezer Cooking Day

Next, I made the Carrot Cake Waffles. I devoted a whole post to these because this was the surprising favorite of the Freezer Cooking Day.

If you’re looking for a new twist on waffles, have some extra carrots to use up, or are looking for ways to sneak more veggies into recipes, go try this recipe! All my family really loved it!

Freezer Cooking Day

Freezer Cooking Day

And finally, I made Homemade Chicken Nuggets. (Can you believe it was my first time to make Chicken Nuggets?)

These were easy and quick to make, but I think that next time around, I won’t bother to cut them in chunks. My family would like them just as well if I just sprinkled all the ingredients on top and coated chicken tenderloins and baked them.

Freezer Cooking Day

If you’re interested, you can watch my quick video here — complete with spilled muffin batter on my shirt! — where I show you all of the finished recipes!

I Need Your Feedback!

I’d love to hear from you! If you followed me along for this Freezer Cooking Day, could you give me your honest feedback? Did you like me posting on Snapchat and Facebook Live? What would you like to see more of? How would like for me to blog/post about these Freezer Cooking Days?

I’d love to hear your feedback and input and suggestions. So much has changed in social media since when I was regularly live-blogging my Freezer Cooking and I’m trying to determine the best way to conduct these sessions so that it’s fairly simple for me, but also fun and inspiring for you all. Let me know in the comments!