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.
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.
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. Now because these containers are freezer, microwave, and oven friendly, you can pull one from the freezer and pop it into the microwave oven and heat on high for I’d say, about 10 minutes. Check it and stir if necessary. And I would keep the lid on, put a little loosened at one corner to let the steam out. For the oven, put it in at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. You can also read the package for more directions, but my kid takes these to school frozen, and they are practically defrosted by lunch time, so into the microwave for about 3 minutes, is all it takes. Enjoy!
- 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
- In a large saute pan, melt the butter.
- Add the onion and celery and saute for about 3 minutes until translucent and tender.
- Add the herbs, salt, pepper and flour.
- Whisk and cook over medium high heat for about 1 minute.
- Add the milk and whisk gently until it comes to a low simmer.
- Add the shredded chicken and stir. Simmer for about 15 minutes on low.
- Add the cheese and stir until melted.
- Serve over pasta or with mashed potatoes.