Renn Faire Privateer Gone Mom.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Back Into Freezer Cooking: Paleo Style: Part 2- Shopping Costs and Cooking with Eggplant Lasagna Tutorial

I'm hoping to make this an infinitely numbered series as I progress in my Paleo freezer cooking adventures.

I took Cabin Girl shopping with me to give the Captain a break.  Hah.  Like being left with 3 and 1 1/2 year old boys is a break.  I have shopping rules for her; Use 1 finger to touch, no touching food, pointing out everything you like or wish you could have is like nagging me, no asking for things, etc.  She did good for the most part, though towards the end we were both ready to be home.  A 6 year old can only follow so many rules, you know?

We ended up buying more than what we needed solely for freezer cooking, but the extra stuff was on our list (gotta have milk, ya know?).  To figure out how much I spent on freezer meal stuff, I highlighted and totaled the ingredients on the receipts:

Yep, we shop at Grocery Outlet and WinCo.  Their canned and packaged foods are by far the cheapest in our area.  We get our produce, meat, and dairy from a local grocer though. 

Total, we spent $69.10 on a projected 15 meals for our family of 5, not including the cost of the organic, grassfed beef (which was a Christmas gift from my parents) in our freezer.  That's less than $1 per person, per meal.  Likely $1.50 per person once meat costs are factored in.  Are you sold on freezer cooking yet?

After getting everything home and unloaded I mapped out my plan of attack:

Tons planned for the first day, then I'll be making more stuff to slowly add to the freezer throughout the next week.

Our flurry of a cooking day went like this...

Throw ground beef, beef broth (homemade), chopped celery, onions, and peppers, 2 cans of Rotel diced tomatoes with chilis, 1 can of tomato paste, and loads of seasonings into a crockpot on low.

Put a whole, frozen chicken in an oven safe dish.  Slather in oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and whatever else 'billows yer sail'.  Cover with foil and stick in an oven preheated to 375 degrees.

Brown 2-3 pounds of seasoned ground meat (I used half beef and half turkey, because it had been in my freezer for a while) with a diced onion in a giant soup pot.  Add 2 giant cans of tomato sauce and 3 cans of stewed tomatoes with oregano and basil and bring to a simmer.  Add spices and some grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.  Let it simmer a bit.

Gently cook some thinly sliced eggplant in butter:

Pancake griddles are good for lots of things!
Layer it in a freezer friendly baking dish with some of the simmering marinara, fresh baby spinach, and generous amounts of grated cheese:

A Romano snow is the only kind I like.
  Repeat until you run out of eggplant.  Pretend to be savvy and make a horrible attempt at a pretty drizzle of marinara:

Don't be jelly of my mad culinary skills.

Let it cool before putting the lid on and freezing it!  Let it thaw in the fridge the night before you want to eat it then bake it (I'm gonna say 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour should suffice).


Make 2 pans of Crazy Cabbage, sans cheese.  Don't forget to cover them with foil... like I did.  They're a bit brown and dry, but still smelled amazing coming out of the oven.  Let them cool, put a lid on them, put them in the freezer.  Again, let it thaw in the fridge overnight, cook a bit in the oven then top with cheese.  I'll be adding some homemade bone broth to it to moisten it up since, you know, I'm awesome.

Make Egg Muffins and Coconut Flour Pancakes (which, ironically, my pancake griddle stopped working for). 

Check chicken.  If it appears to be done take off the foil to let the skin crisp for about 15-30 minutes.  Once it's done, out of the oven, and relatively cool, divvy it up into ziplocks.  DON'T THROW AWAY THE CARCASS!  Either put it in a ziplock to freeze for another day, or wait for your crockpot to be available to make bone broth.

Leave the chili until it's been in the crockpot for a good 6 hours, then divvy into freezer and microwave safe glass dishes.

Take a picture of your achievement!

I also sliced up a bunch of browned bananas I got on the cheap and put them in the dehydrator with some applesauce to make banana chips and fruit leather.  Between that and my crockpot full of bone broth, this morning was pretty eventful, too!

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