Wednesday, August 08, 2007

How to make 11 healthy, homemade meals in 2 hours...

I grew up in a perservative free, junk food free, convenience food free household. My mom is a health nut. The chocolate chip cookies I ate growing up had a LOT of oatmeal in them. This lifestyle was a bit hard on me as a kid, but it did teach me very healthy eating habits. I only learned about packaged convenience foods, and that it was possible to have cream of mushroom soup as the basis for a recipe, after I grew up and got married. =) And my mom also taught me that healthy homemade food doesn't have to take a lot of time to prepare... if you plan ahead. Mom, this post is for you. And so, I unveil the secret of our Whitaker family homemade spaghetti sauce. Above, you can see the fruit of two hours of labor over one large pot. Here's the recipe:
1 green pepper, finely diced in the food processor (I have a little one I got at Walmart, cheap)
2 med. onions, ditto
4 cloves minced garlic
2 T. olive oil
2 (1lb.) cans crushed tomatos
2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
2 T. parsley flakes
1 T. sugar
1 T. Worchestershire sauce
1 T. each oregano and basil
2 lb. lean ground beef
Heat oil in pot and stir onion, garlic, and pepper until veggies are tender. Pour off some of the water if the pepper makes it seem really watery. Add remaining ingredients, except beef, bring to gentle boil, and then simmer for 30 min., stirring occasionally. In large pan, brown beef and drain. Stir meat into sauce and simmer another 30 minutes longer. The sauce thickens as it stands, so later frozen meals will have thicker sauce than your first fresh meal.
This recipe makes 11 servings for two people. Yes, you heard right. The top picture shows 10 quart freezer bags filled with homemade sauce (we ate the 11th for dinner =). I put the freezer bag into a glass, folded it over the rim, and put two 2/3 c. measures in each one. Then I flattened them as much as I could. The next step is to wrap each bag in one sheet of Saran Wrap. Do not attempt to skip this step. If you do, you will have a lot of frozen bags of sauce stuck tightly together.

After wrapping your bags, lay them flat on top of each other in a large, gallon ziploc freezer bag. You can get about 5 quart bags in one gallon bag.

Now you have 10 meals nicely stacked in your freezer. In the morning, before you go to work, take one out and leave it in the fridge all day. By evening, it will be soft and thawed. Even if you forget to do this, just take it out and run it under hot water for a few minutes, and it'll be fine. You can heat it up in the microwave while you're cooking some yummy whole wheat noodles and cooking up some brocoli and garlic bread. And there you have it, folks, a healthy, home-cooked meal, low in fat, no preservatives, low in sodium, and I think, devoid of high fructose corn syrup. This recipe could easily be doubled for larger families, but you'd need a really large stock pot. I might be investing in one myself when Seth starts eating it with us. =) I hope this helps some of you out there who really want to make more homemade food, but know that you really don't have a lot of time to devote to it. I'm right there with ya.


Anonymous said...

Keep 'em coming, I say. I can't guarantee you I'll be in the kitchen tonight attempting my hand at this, but it does help to know that someone out there has some hints, tips, and recipes up their sleeves for when I need them! :)

Sarah Shingler said...

You crack me up.

Kiddies in the Sun said...

Just don't go too healthy for poor Seth! I have a friend who's 3 year old son went to a party and had cake and ice cream for the first time, the same kid who a few months later was given a "chocolate covered bagel", he didn't even know what a donut was! We give her such a hard time! : ) The second child hasn't been as shelter though! Love ya!