Frozen assets: The gift you give yourself

Nothing is better than coming home after a long day to a house that smells of home cooked love. Anticipating the upcoming holiday crazy crush, I’m giving myself a gift and invite you to join me.

Let’s have a “Fill the Freezer Day” spending part of one day prepping a bunch of meals to go in the freezer. These frozen assets will make last minute meals a snap this holiday season.

A busy kitchen’s first line of defense is the “Freezer to Crockpot Meal.” Buy whatever meat is on sale and add basics from your pantry to assemble a variety of crockpot meals.

Select a gallon zip-top freezer bag, add the ingredients, freeze them flat, and they’ll stack neatly to avoid wasted freezer space. Just remember to thaw them in the fridge overnight, empty the bag in the crockpot in the morning, turn it on and walk away.

Prepare extras because a cool thing about these baggies of love is that they make great gifts for frazzled friends. See the recipe for Easy Freezy Chili below. If you want more inspiration, check out Freezer Day recipes on the Divas On A Dime website.

Easy Freezy Chili

Chicken, pork or beef – approximately 2 lbs. – cut into cubes

Chili powder, garlic powder, cumin and salt – about 1 tsp. each

1 ½ cups prepared salsa or salsa verde

½ of a medium onion, chopped

Cut the meat of choice into pieces and sprinkle all over with chili powder, garlic powder, cumin and salt to taste. Dump the seasoned meat into a one-gallon, zip-top freezer bag along with the salsa and the chopped onion and smush it around. Remove as much of the air from the bag as possible and seal it up. On the bag, write “Easy Freezy Chili” with directions for cooking (to follow) and freeze flat.

When you’re ready to use it, defrost it in the fridge, then place the contents of the bag in the crockpot. Set it on LOW to cook for 6 to 8 hours. To serve, shred the cooked meat with two forks and stir it all together in the crockpot.

Of course you can add a can of kidney beans and/or and can of corn too. Serve over cooked rice, shredded corn tortillas or with corn muffins. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese. Yum!

Uses for pre-cooked hamburger

The second line of defense is the “Bag of Cooked Hamburger.” Buy at least 10 pounds of hamburger. In a large skillet, cook it all with chopped onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Drain the cooked meat and let it cool. Divide into what constitutes a meal for your family. (I figure 1 ½ lbs. of hamburger makes a nice base for a dinner for four with some left over.)

Label and freeze for super fast dinner solutions anytime you need them. Just defrost, reheat in a skillet adding more seasoning to this secret weapon to make burritos, tacos, chili, pasta or rice casserole, spaghetti sauce, lasagna, pizza or sloppy joes.

For mock stroganoff, add sour cream. Asian in a hurry, add teriyaki sauce and toss with stir-fry veggies and rice.

So, will you join me? I guarantee if you take an afternoon to fill your freezer you’ll thank yourself later when you take advantage of your frozen assets.