Thursday, March 20, 2014

Freezer Cooking: Single serving style...

If you read my first blog post, you know that my mother-in-love (no, that is not a typo), Dora, lives with my husband and I.  She will be 90 years old in a few shorts weeks, and Dora has Alzheimer's.  Along with the obvious trials she deals with on a daily basis, she also lives with a condition called Dysphagia.  This is a deadening of the nerves in her throat, that make it difficult to swallow.  Sometimes it is more sensitive than others, but bottom line. she is very limited on what she can eat. 
My mother-in-love and her buddy Lizzie Jane
 When she came to live with us, a little over two years ago now, she was basically living on soups and ice cream.  I am so happy to say we have worked her up to solid foods now, but it has been tricky.  She is limited to things like meatloaf, mashed potatoes, Salisbury steak, mac & cheese, applesauce, etc.  This being the case, my husband and I have been buying her the Stouffer's, single serve, frozen dinners.  This costs us around $60-$80  month depending on whether or not we find them on sale.  Considering I live on a $200 a month grocery budget, that is quite a bit.  So I started thinking, could I make these meals on my own?  The answer is yes, and the cost difference is MIND BLOWING!!! 
This is how I did it. 
In order to have enough trays for keep the food in, I saved all my frozen dinner ones from the month before.  Now, I know that there is a big controversy about the plastic issue.  please keep in mind that this is a trial run.  If all goes well, I will be looking for a more permanent solution.  For now, this was the most economical way to do it. 
Then I gathered all my ingredients, and got to work. 
Now, I wanted to keep this as simple as possible, that is why I purchased some premade items. 
Also, for my mother-in-love, I have found she is able to chew these a little better. 
I decided to start with the easiest entrĂ©e first. 
I brought my water to a boil, added my pasta, and cooked it according to the directions on the box. 

When it was finished cooking, I strained it, and returned it to the pot.
Then, I poured have of the jar of sauce in the pot and...

Mixed it up well.
Next I portioned it out in my trays, and added the other half of the jarred sauce on top.

I sprinkled a little parmesan on top and VIOLA!  There you have it! 
Next up, the meatloaf!
I mixed together the meat, oats, egg, milk, and seasonings, just like you would any meatloaf.

But, instead of making one large loaf, I decided to use a muffin pan for proper portion sizes. 
Just use an ice cream scoop to help keep things even.

I squirted a dollop of BBQ sauce on each and...

put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

While they were baking, I made the instant potatoes, portioned them out, and there you have it,
7 perfectly portioned meatloaf dinners!
Finally the Salisbury steak!
To keep clean up to a minimum, I used the same bowl that I mixed the meat loaf in.
I mixed meat, egg, onion powder, and parmesan cheese together, and using my trusty ice cream scoop, I portioned out my paddies. 

Then, I heated 2-3 tbsps. of oil in a skillet and browned my paddies on both sides.

Once they are brown, I removed them from the skillet, drained off the fat, and added 3 c. of warm beef broth.  In a measuring cup, I added 2 tbsp. of cornstarch to 1 c. of warm beef broth, and whisk.  Add it to the skillet, bring to a simmer, return the meat to pan, and let simmer for about 10 minutes. 

I portioned out a box of a prepared mac and cheese and 6 more dinners done!
I packaged these in the Ziploc vacuum seal bags and froze them.  To heat up, just remove from bag, and microwave 3-5 minutes. 
 I made 17 meals, of 3 varieties, in one hour, for $9.66!  That is a break down of about .57 per meal! I made 4 spaghetti dinners, 6 Salisbury with mac & cheese dinners, and 7 meatloaf with mashed potato dinners. 
600 meat
100 Sauce
.70 Mac and Cheese
.50 eggs
  .50 pasta
.50 seasonings
.30 oats
.16 potato flakes
$9.66/ .57 a meal!
This would be perfect for lunch or dinner options for your family and you just can't bet the price! 
Have a great day everyone, and as always...
Happy Reading, Happy Eating, and Happy Living,
~The Kitchen Wife!



  1. I too have a form of dysphagia called achalasia. I find fruits & vegs difficult, but V-8 Juice helps & soups that I use an immersion blender to puree a bit for easier eating. Fish like cod is very tender. Discard the skin or breading, if she likes fish. Bless you.