Cheap freezer meals – prep today, eat tomorrow

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I have been very inspired by A Turtle’s life for me‘s blog post on Freezer meals.  With the days getting longer and me with plans to make over my garden, kitchen and master bedroom, the last thing I want to do is spend hours in the kitchen in the evening.

 While I did do a lot of batch cooking when I was pregnant and found it useful, I wanted to try something different.  I enjoy cooking so I don’t want to take the pleasure away but I do want to cut down on prep time and get dinner to the table in record time.

 I did my bi-weekly shop and included more meat than I would normally taking advantage of as many special offers as I could.  The whole chickens were 3 for £10 which isn’t a fantastic deal but better than nothing.  The pork ribs were only £3.49 per kg so I got a few packs of those too. I’ve also started buying the cheaper minced beef because not only do I find it has more flavour but once it’s drained of the oil it makes during cooking, it is pretty much the same as the extra lean minced beef.  However, with more flavour and a better texture.  Extra lean minced beef is often like little bits of cardboard! I got two large packs of this minced beef.

So, while it was quite a bit of work, I’ve landed up with 18 meals. And this is how I did it.

Firstly, I placed a whole chicken into a large saucepan of water with three peppercorns, some bay leaves, a chopped carrot, a half an onion and a stick of chopped celery. Since I intend to make some chicken salad tomorrow, I tossed in some eggs to boil too.

No need to waste electricity boiling a separate saucepan for the eggs, right? Once this chicken is done, swap with the other fresh chicken and top up the water.  Cook as before.   Once the first boiled chicken has cooled, shred and discard the skin and bones.

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Next I cooked up my minced beef using my trusty wok.  To cut down on prep time, I dumped by peeled and quartered onions into my food processor to grate along with some green peppers.  By the way, a good tip is to remove the large pieces of onion that the food processor doesn’t grate and set them to one side to be used in the stir fry mixes later.  So the onions, peppers, minced beef, garlic and a couple stock cubes went into the wok to fry up until browned.  I set these aside until they were cool to be packaged.

Cheap freezer meals – prep today, eat tomorrow

Once that was done, I set to work jointing the chickens.  You can ask your butcher to do this for you if you want but it’s fairly easy to do.  I am not a professional at this but here is how I do it.

 Remove the chicken from the packaging and trim off the foldy bits at the end of the drumsticks.

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Next, pull the drumstick aside and slit the skin with a knife. Cut down between the joint of the drumstick and the thigh.

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Do the same for the other drumstick. Next cut off the wings, being sure to get them just at the joint rather than cutting into the breast.

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Next you want to split the breasts from the back and thighs of the chicken until you have separated the two.

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This may be a little tough to do but split the breasts as shown below.

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Then slide your knife along the breast between the flesh and bones to form a chicken breast fillet.  Also remove the skin.

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The little pieces shown in the picture below are called the tenders.  Remove these and set them aside for use later.

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Now deal with the back of the chicken and remove the thighs – see the images below.

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Scrape as much chicken from the carcass as you can.  You should be able to scrape together about two cups full from four chickens.

Now you have ten pieces plus some scrapings.

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Do the same with all four chickens and you’ll land up with 40 pieces of chicken and some scrapings.

I grouped my chicken pieces into fours when I packed them up. This way there’s enough for myself and my husband with a small portion for my baby girl and leftovers for lunches.

Here’s what I made:

  • Three large potions minced beef base – these can be used to make cottage pie, as a base for spaghetti bolognaise (add red sauce), lasagne (add red sauce) or sloppy joes.

  • One large portion Thai chicken curry (Chicken scrapings) – mixed half a jar of red thai chicken curry paste I had in the freezer with the chicken scrapings.  When the chicken defrosts it will marinate in the curry sauce.  I’ll start the dish by frying up some sliced onion and bell peppers. Then add the red thai chicken and fry until half done.  Add a tin of coconut milk and cook until reduced by half.  Serve with rice.

  • To make chicken satay, add a couple of rounded tablespoon of peanut butter to the coconut milk and heat through.

  • Two portions balsamic roasted chicken thighs

  • Four portions chicken stir fry (chicken breast; sliced) – I got four packs of stir fry sauces on sale so mixed one pack of sauce per two sliced up chicken breasts, with onion slices and sliced bell peppers.

  • One portion teriyaki marinaded chicken wings using A Turtle’s life for me recipe.

  • Two drumstick casseroles – Place the drumsticks in a ziplock bag with a tin of tomatoes and two cups of frozen mixed vegetables.  When you’re ready to make the casseroles, place one package of chicken stock and the casserole pack into the slowcooker and forget about it! Until dinner time that is.

  • Four packs of cooked shredded chicken – this chicken is so versatile and can be used in chicken salad, in wraps, for making chicken and sweetcorn soup, well pretty much anything you can think of.

  • One large pack of Teriyaki pork ribs using A Turtle’s life for me recipe.

  • I have three lovely portions of chicken stock thanks to my boiled chicken.

  • With the carcasses from the chickens I’ll make more lovely golden stock to freeze for future use.

 Tomorrow, I’m making red sauce and some of A Turtle’s life for me twice baked potatoes.

I’m typing this with a cup of tea having a well deserved break knowing that I’ll have time to enjoy crafting in the evenings in the coming weeks.

 Bright blessings,

 Mama R

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