Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Great freezer lunches

One of the side effects of homeschooling is serving 3 meals per day to my family almost everyday.  I'm busy doing read-aloud/language arts with the kids until 11 and hate taking the time to stop and fix lunch, so I try to have things on hand they can grab for themselves to eat.  Last year I bought a lot of Lean Pockets, but I know those are full of preservatives, so I've made an effort this year to make freezable lunches from scratch.  These are my 3 stand-bys and I'd love to hear of any you make that freeze well.

Pizza pockets

First I make the dough using my bread machine.  I use the recipe for Italian bread out of my Bread Machine Cookbook, but add some olive oil and Italian seasoning.

1.5 c water
1 T olive oil
3 c flour
1 T Italian seasoning
2.5 tsp yeast

Run dough cycle then remove from bread machine.  Do not let rise again.  Roll out into individual circles and stuff with pizza filling.

Homemade pizza sauce:
2 small cans tomato sauce
2 T tomato paste
Italian seasoning
1 T brown sugar

For pizza filling add your choices to the sauce and simmer while rolling out dough.  I ususally use 1 lb sausage, 1/2 package turkey pepperoni, 1 can mushrooms (or fresh), and 1 green bell pepper, but you can use whatever you choose. 

Directions for assembling pizza pockets:  Roll out dough into circle, place several spoonsful of filling on one half of dough, add some mozzarella cheese- just so much that you can still close the dough circle, pinch the dough around so you have a half circle shape.  Brush with melted butter and a mixture of parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning.  Bake at 350 15-20 minutes.  Let cool and wrap in foil to freeze.  Reheat either 2 1/2-3 min in microwave or 20 min at 425.

These take me a couple of hours to make so it's usually a Saturday project.  I can make 10-12 at a time this way and usually get to freeze around 8 (medium to large size) for the upcoming week.  Of course, you can make them much smaller if your kids have smaller appetites :).  These are especially popular with my 11 yr old son.

Hot ham and chili sauce buns

I can never remember this recipe and when I looked it up online I found a similar one called bunwhiches.  I guess it goes by many names.  This is my version.

Homemade 40 minute wheat buns from Lynne's kitchen adventures

Dice 1 lb ham and about 3/4 lb sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 c sliced green olives
add hard boiled eggs if you have them (I never do)
Mix 1/2 c chili sauce and 2 T miracle whip and stir into other ingredients

Fill buns with ham mixture and wrap in foil.  I freeze them directly like this and you can either microwave them individually for 2 min or place 5 or 6 on a cookie sheet and bake at 425 12-15 minutes or until warm all the way through and cheese is beginning to melt.

Chicken squares

This is really easy and my girls love them.
Separate 2 packages of crescent rolls into rectangles (so each package of 8 makes 4 rectangles).

6 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 T melted butter
4 T milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 T chopped green onions or chives (sometimes I leave this out)
1.5 c bread crumbs
4 c cooked chicken (I stew mine either whole or breasts)

Scoop 1/8 of mixture onto each rectangle then fold up 4 corners into neat little package.
Brush tops with butter and bake on cookie sheet 25-30 min at 350.
If planning on freezing, bake first, but make sure not to get them too brown.  Then cool, wrap in foil, and freeze.  Reheat at 425 for 15 minutes (they will get brown and crispy) or 2 minutes in microwave (they will not be crispy- some of my kids don't like them this way.)

We don't eat freezer lunches everyday.  Sometimes my mom brings us lunch and sometimes my kids prefer to just toast a bagel.  Other days we eat leftovers or quesadillas, but it sure is nice to have something on hand in the freezer for those rainy days!

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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.