by: Tammy Trail
We all like keeping life simple. Cooking shouldn’t be complicated with strange ingredients that might be questionable for picky eaters. A couple of years ago when Tim and I were still fostering teen boys, my crockpot was a lifesaver. Especially one summer when I decided to spend two weeks away from home visiting my mom in New Mexico.
Tim was a bit nervous about my leaving for that long a period of time. How was he going to feed the boys? Going out to eat every night for two weeks was not an affordable option, and he didn’t feel confident in his cooking skills to attempt to feed them on his own. Lucky for him, I had already planned a bit before I bought my train ticket.
I began to scour the internet, Pinterest, and my cookbooks for a solution. I came up with enough meals to sustain them while I was away. Some meals were made ahead and put into tin pans, and covered with foil. Other meals were uncooked and stored in plastic gallon storage bags. All of the meals were intended for the freezer and could be pulled out the night before and either placed in a crockpot, or in the oven after thawing to cook. I even took a permanent marker and labeled all the meals, oven temperatures, and how long they needed to cook on the outside of each meal.
A week before my trip, I made my menu and shopping list. After shopping, I started meal prep. This consisted of chopping all my vegetables into separate containers. Then I cooked all the meat that would be put into the frozen casserole tins. I did casserole meals one day, and crockpot meals the next in an assembly line fashion.
Now, I covered my pans with heavy-duty foil, but there are some storage options that have lids already provided. There are also newer type storage containers that can be used in the microwave and can be used once again as they are also dishwasher safe.
The only item I did not include when making my casseroles, was shredded cheese. Most of the casseroles can be cooked without being covered, so in my instructions, the cheese was to be added before cooking or cook for 20 minutes and then cover in cheese. I found that you can basically cook ahead and freeze anything.
Here is a family favorite that is so simple and filling. I call it Goulash. I know I didn’t make it the traditional way, but here it is:
1 lb. ground beef, cooked
1 15. oz can of tomato soup
1 15 oz. can of cream of mushroom soup
1 cup of elbow macaroni, cooked
Mix it all together well, add Italian seasoning, salt, pepper to taste. Put it in a casserole dish.
Add shredded cheese on top.
Cook until bubbly.
Writing Prompt: Tell a story using your Grandmother’s recipe that you loved as a child.