I have been a member of Patsy's A Working Pantry Classroom and this has been very educational. I feel as though I have had an intensive course in preparedness and it has given me many extra things to work on. Patsy has a new class coming up and a new subject coming later in the year also. I will be taking that class as well.
Otherwise I have been working on an inventory and organisation. When the bathroom is finished I will also have a dedicated cupboard for medications and remedies and more space for personal care type items so this will be good!
This week I am going to sneak in a recipe as I have been asked a few times for it. This is something I almost always keep in the freezer. Having meals put away is really a great form of preparedness! And a money saver! If I am having busy day I can just grab a meal from the freezer. (Otherwise I will get something started in the crock pot.)
This is how I make Lasagna and it is very versatile. I am very casual about quantities etc as this is how I make it, with what I have. It is a cheats recipe really and probably not very authentic however it tastes good!
First of all... if I have a lot of tomatoes or have found a box of tomatoes at a good price I will make up lots of tomato sauce which is just onions, tomatoes, garlic, herbs and whatever else I have (possibly zucchini, eggplant, capsicum etc) and cook that up.
If not I use jars of a ready made spaghetti sauce like these....
Actually these aren't even the normal ones but this is what I used last time and they were fine!
If I am having a cook up I will normal do about 4 kilos of mince (ground beef) which is roughly 8 lbs ish! You can do whatever qualities you like.
First I chop three or four large onions and fry them in a little olive oil in a really big stock pot.
Then I add the mince and cook until it is not pink anymore.
Then I add in my jars of tomato sauce ... I think usually about six to eight jars. You want enough that your mince looks lovely and red not icky and brown!
I swish each jar with water to get the last bits out and this little bit of extra liquid is a good thing....
Anything that is in the crisper that needs using or maybe I have because of a good price goes in... zucchini, capsicum, fresh tomatoes, spinach... even carrot could go in. If you have picky eaters you can grate these and sneak them in.
I add plenty of pepper and a fair bit of oregano.
I let this simmer at least an hour. Two hours on low is even better.
With all this sauce I might have a meal of spaghetti and set some aside for another time. I might even use some for on top of what I call a boys meaty pizza. (they seem to like it)
With this lot I froze some, used some over penne pasta and made three lasagnas.
I just use dry lasagna sheets.
I am always breaking off the corners to get them to fit!
I do a layer of pasta, then a layer of meat sauce, another layer of pasta, another layer of meat sauce and top with a final layer of pasta sheets!
Your meat sauce does not need to be very thick, just well cover the sheets.
I am often guilty of over filling the pan. Allow more room than you think!
I pour that over...
Make sure you cover all the pasta to the edges. We love the cheesy topping so I am generous on that.
(If I end up with left over cheese sauce this is good! I will toss in some cooked pasta and that might be dinner with some meaty sauce over the top or make a macaroni cheese type dish. Yum!)
Then bake in a medium oven until it is golden and bubbly...
You need to keep an eye on it as you don't want it too brown... and you want it to be in the oven an hour or so as it takes this time for the pasta to become soft and good. It is just one of those things that you want the flavours time to blend and develop.
If I am freezing it or putting it way for another night I will only brown it lightly... or the second time it might get too dark. Think of that....
It is messy to cut when hot but when it is cold it cuts so neatly and nicely....
So if you want to freeze meals I suggest cutting it into portion sizes then wrapping them and freezing them. I wrap them in non stick baking paper and foil.
I have frozen whole trays many times but now I tend to do portion sizes and find we waste less, it thaws out quicker and it is really handy in portion sizes.
As you can see when I cook something I cook a lot. I just can't see the point of cooking in small batches, I would rather cook and ensure a good few nights off down the track. But you can make up any amount of meat sauce you like, layer it will pasta (sometimes I have used cooked penne or other shapes instead of lasagna sheets or even thinly sliced zucchini or eggplant) top with a sauce and bake. The quantities are up to you and very flexible.
Lasagna is one of those things that taste better the next day like stew, soup etc as the flavour develops. A tray of it also goes a long way as I always serve it with a large salad and if you wanted it to go even further you can serve with crusty bread as well.
Thanks to Lynette who knew I was making Lasagna and she said I should take photos as I go and finally share the recipe!
What meals do you find good to keep in the freezer for emergencies? I try and keep a couple of weeks worth of dinners ready to go. I also keep components of easy meals frozen i.e. I always have some bacon and some pizza bases as in the fridge I always have cheese and so it is easy to make a pizza in about five minutes. You can make a pizza this way much faster than get a take away one or even one delivered!
Maybe we can all build up our go to freezer meals selections! Recently I discovered that Enchiladas freeze really well so I keep them individually wrapped and ready to go as well.
What have you been doing towards your pantry and preparedness?
Have a good week! Our week is a bit funny as tomorrow is a public holiday. xxx