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Last week my son, who is going to school in Hollywood and living with my Aunt Pam, announced to me that we needed to go to Trader Joe’s to buy healthy frozen meal entrees for him to take to school.  This makes me giggle inside for a couple reasons.  First off, I love that he wanted something healthy.  He’s mine, just because he said that.  Then there’s the fact that he went exactly 4 weeks of living off sandwiches, and he just can’t stand it anymore.  Did I mention we home schooled?  That means that for years, lunch was not just something we had to do.  It was an event.  Ok?  An event.  It was creative recess.

In the true spirit of home schooling I would make different and yummy lunches for Jack and I as a treat and a creative break from our day.  Sometimes we’d do english muffin pizza, or home made mac and cheese.  Sometimes it would just be leftovers (we are a leftover lovin’ household. . . and proud).  And as Jack got older, he got more and more creative with his food.  So of course, we had to get a panini maker.  We paninied every sort of sandwich imaginable using every sort of lunch meat, cheese, vegetable and fruit that could possibly go between two pieces of bread.  We made giant subs made from french bread, waffle sandwiches, sloppy joes, and one of our all time favorites. . . Nutella, banana and peanut butter.

So should I be surprised that a plain Buddig meat and American cheese sandwich would not suffice?  Or  PB & J?  No.  I’m more surprised that he went for a whole month without all the creativity of his past creeping up on him.  Although, wait, so he comes home and tells me about the potluck that he and his new friends had.  A friend from Singapore, one from China and another one from somewhere else in the world, and Jack, my boy. . . had a potluck.  This is not typical college eating!  Maybe it’s because they are all at a music school and are a bit creative?  I don’t know.  I remember when my cousin Peter went away to college and at the end of week one I emailed him to see what he had been eating and he told me that for dinner that night he had a Slurpy, Oreos and some other horrific “food” item that was along the lines of Top Ramon Noodles or Pop Tarts.  So hey, that’s part of the fun of living away right?  No, not for my boy.  He needs warm, no, hot, home cooked meals for lunch.  What have I created?!

Well, do you know how much money those “healthy” frozen entrees are from Trader Joes?  So I assessed.  Regrouped.  And came up with a plan.

I’d make him my own frozen meals!  Did I mention that I was sick at the time with a weird summer time cold?  So I sent Husband to Smart & Final to research out containers.  The containers have to be able to go from the freezer into the microwave in order for this little endeavor to work.  Well after many picture texts and phone calls back and forth, he picked up these little containers.  They are freezer, oven and microwave safe and come 7 in a pack.  He picked up two packs.
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In anticipation of Jack coming home I made my menu and gathered my supplies.  The menu consisted of sloppy joes, creamy herbed chicken and pasta, creamy herbed chicken and mashed potatoes, and meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  Man food.

For the creamy herbed chicken start with a stick of butter to make a roux.
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Finely chop an onion and two celery stocks.
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Saute the onions, celery, half a cup of flour, 2-3 T. fine herbs and two tsp salt together.
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Add 4 cups of milk and bring to a simmer so that it will thicken.
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Here’s my favorite part!  Getting Jack in the kitchen with me.  I had roasted 3 large chicken breasts (with skin and bone) on a baking sheet for 45 minutes on 400.  Here he is shredding the chicken.
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“Noooo.”  “Why?”  Like he has to ask or has a say so as to whether I take his picture.  Duh!
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Add the chicken.
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Let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes, on low until it’s bubbly and creamy and glorious.
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Add a package of this here cheese.
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At this point you can serve this over pasta or with mashed potatoes or over cornmeal waffles, which I adore doing because it’s so delicious and unexpected.
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Then I made a meatloaf.
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There’s nothing better with meatloaf than mashed potatoes and peas.  It’s a family favorite!
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What you aren’t seeing are the sloppy joes that I had done the night before.  They were all tucked away in the fridge already.  The lids of these are just clear lids and all these stacked really nicely in the freezer at my Aunt’s house.

Creamy Herbed Chicken
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
 
Ingredients
  • 3 roasted chicken breasts, shredded
  • 4 cups milk
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 T. fine herbs
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups Italian cheese blend, shredded
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
Instructions
  1. In a large saute pan, melt the butter.
  2. Add the onion and celery and saute for about 3 minutes until translucent and tender.
  3. Add the herbs, salt, pepper and flour.
  4. Whisk and cook over medium high heat for about 1 minute.
  5. Add the milk and whisk gently until it comes to a low simmer.
  6. Add the shredded chicken and stir. Simmer for about 15 minutes on low.
  7. Add the cheese and stir until melted.
  8. Serve over pasta or with mashed potatoes.

 

9 thoughts on “Homemade Frozen Meals

  • August 10, 2013 at 2:46 pm
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    I’m making this! No….! I mean it! Where do you come up with this stuff? And another thing, these recipes are tried and tested and are all delicious. You can’t say that about the recipes in those great looking magazines. Some of those just come out completely terrible. Once I made a pumpkin pie for my boyfriend (High School), (Go Pirates!), and you had to eat it with a soup spoon! Jack is the luckiest boy in the world as I’ve said many times. By the way, can you keep those containers and re-use them?

    Reply
  • August 14, 2013 at 9:18 am
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    Excellent idea!!! I’d love to make some of these meals, adapted to be gluten free and have them in my freezer for my family! My kids are always hugry. and heaven forbid, they make a sandwich! Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  • October 5, 2013 at 2:24 pm
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    This is awesome. My son is going off to college 7 hours from me this next year and this is a great idea, one that I am going to start trying now!!! Honestly, I am not a great cook, I have to have pictures of the recipes..and dang…you nailed it. I can see that all 4 of my kiddo’s will love the Creamy Herbed Chicken. Anyway, THANK YOU for posting….maybe one day I will be a good cook!! :-)

    Reply
  • August 14, 2014 at 8:57 am
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    What containers did you use for these? Are they oven safe or microwavable? Where did you find them? Thanks!

    Reply
  • October 13, 2014 at 11:14 am
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    I noticed in one picture you have a Kitchen-Aid mixer. Throw your chicken in there and put it on 4 or 5 and it will shred the chicken for you! :)

    Reply
  • October 15, 2014 at 7:08 pm
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    I have been looking for containers so I can make my own tv dinners for awhile now. I see where you got yours at but I don’t have a store like that around me. Do you know the name of the containers or a place I could order them from online? Thanks

    Reply

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