The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Sunday 27 April 2014

Meals made ahead are like money in the bank.

I really think that a well stocked pantry and meals made ahead in the freezer are like money in the bank. Besides being so good not to have to cook every night you have a stash of meals for when things go wrong, you are unwell or you have a week with very little money. You can get through and feel confident you can.

Also easy nights and no cook nights make life much easier. We all get cooking fatigue. No one needs to cook every night. If you combine some super easy nights with some no cook nights then you have a much happier time cooking on the remaining nights.

My greatest help is the crock pot. (slow cooker).

Over the weekend I filled my biggest slow cooker with a beef casserole. It is so simple.

In this I had thick slices stewing steak. Mushrooms, onions, carrot, sweet potato, baby potatoes.... later I added broccoli. Pepper, two tins of tomato soup. That's it. One tin of tomato plus one tin of mushroom soup (or packet) makes it like a stroganoff. Either is fine. 
A dash of soy sauce or something else you like. 

I let it cook on  high all day, stir it a couple of times a bit. Thicken with gravy at the end if you want.

It just cooks down into a delicious stew. And we had that last night. Then I sat aside another serving of stew using the rest of the little potatoes in that. 

After that I used a wooden spoon to break it up more and then made meat pies. I got 3 big meat pies, family size. But you can make individual size ones as I did recently with my Texas muffin tins when I did this with chicken.

Pies make it entirely different and we will have a pie tonight, with relish. 

Pies freeze so well and are delicious! So I have meals made ahead and ready to go. It was easy. I made one for Lucy and her husband. I know that will be a help to them this week.

The thing is you don't need special recipes. If you have a favourite curry, soup, stew, casserole then use it. I never add any water, except for soup. The main thing is it will not evaporate so don't use much liquid. Add something like a tin of soup, a can of peaches, a moist ingredient, and stir once or twice to coat the ingredients in that or the juices. And let it cook for the day. You can do a whole roast and place the vegies around the outside. I do apricot chicken, pot roasts, lamb shanks, many soups, baked apples and anything you can think of! Long cooking is flavoursome and you can use inexpensive humble things and they become tender and beautiful.

My second cook up was I cooked a whole Turkey Saturday night. It was 4.5 kilos. I got it for $3.50 a kilo after Christmas. I got three. Now you can do this with a big chicken. Or since you have the oven on roasting roast two chooks at the same time and twice as many vegies.
Anyhow we had a huge roast dinner with cranberry sauce and a heap of roast vegies and gravy. It was beautiful. Andy was in heaven with this.

So that is a lot of meat! (especially being tow of us) and that is precisely the idea! The next day the boys went fishing and took chunks of turkey, the remaining leg and wings. These caused a sensation. Andys son said "that is one big chicken!" and was very excited when told it's a turkey. He devoured it saying that's what he wants in life more real meat! They were happy.

After dinner I made "tv dinners". I had cooked extra vegies, make plenty of gravy all in the first place planning to have lots over. One TV dinner was for Chloe and I think she would be having it tonight. I know she loves this!

They can be reheated in the oven or microwave. I have always made these. On a frazzled night or if you aren't well being able to slap a complete roast meal on the table in minutes is just wonderful! A roast meal is comforting, delicious and happy. Really they reheat very well. 

So now I have stews, pies, roast dinners ready to go. 

Other things I would do with left over chicken or turkey would be make wraps, baguettes, focaccias, chop up and make chicken soup without the chicken and add it in towards the end, make a pasta sauce and add the chicken or chop and add vegies and cheese and make a pie. 

Watching out for great specials on meat and vegies you can end up with so many meals. I would never say use this meat or that vegie. Use what you can get on wonderful specials and go from there. 

So I don't have to cook tonight or tomorrow night and all the meals are not the same at all. I have a built up freezer stash as well.

Oops I forgot to mention I had 3 bags of broccoli as it was $2.50 a kilo so on Saturday morning I cooked 7 big heads of broccoli, onions and added 2 tins of cream of chicken soup and blended that. I added some stock to taste and cheese. It turned out so yummy, nice and thick. I did that Saturday morning. I freeze it in individual serves as I try to have soups mainly for my lunches in winter. It made a lot of soup! I sat and had a bowl of this for my Saturday lunch.

I really hope crock pot cooking can be a big help to you as it is to me. Thick soups like minestrone or chicken soup can be a meal in themselves, have a bread stick or rolls on hand and warm them up and you have a family filler. Good hot food in winter is so warming and comforting!

Have a wonderful week! I think we have rain coming which we desperately need. And a new month! I love to consider everything we have done this month and plan a new one. Just time to tick a few extra things off the list fro April. Today is Andy's birthday too and yesterday was our anniversary. Celebrations! xxx


  1. Just lovely, it all looks so very yummy Annabel! I love the autumn and winter for all the lovely food we get to enjoy over the season. I love using up the leftovers like you do, "refashioning" my food if you will. lol. My married DD told me she just threw out some sour cream!! It would be put in a snap lock (if not used up already!) here and put into the freezer so I could add it to a stroganoff or butter chicken to "finish" the dish. I do the same with leftover tomato paste or even a gravy or sauce from a casserole. I love making surprise additions to our meals. It is a great feeling to use everything up isn't it? Waste not, want not!

  2. A few years ago, the money was very tight. It just wasn't an option for us to "just go out to dinner" because of lack of time or lack of energy. I decided that I had to get a handle on this issue, so I made a list of things I could make in less than 30 minutes. I still have the list, and refer to it, when I need a quick meal.

    I also made up large batches of spaghetti sauce for "those nights."I always keep spaghetti sauce and fishsticks in the freezer. Some people might be opposed to fishsticks, but it is better for us than going out to eat (and that was our other option.)

    I want to say that this is the most I have enjoyed any site since I found the transcribed radio broadcasts Mrs. Elisabeth Elliot had from her radio shows. Thanks for your sharing.

    1. Cristy being prepared fro "those nights" is the wisest thing! And homemade mixed with some easy frozen things is just fine with me as both still save you money and stress overall. Plus sometimes too we can see amazing frozen specials and we shouldnt over look them!
      You have paid me the highest compliment. I listened to Elisabeth Ellitot tapes years ago when the girls were small and she was such a help to me, I just loved her! Thankx you so

    2. She was a real help to me, too. I just loved what she had to say about marriage, motherhood, family, etc. It really changed my life. :) Blessings.


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