Dinner · dinner in 30 minutes · Family life · main dish

Make Your Own “Dream Dinner”

Have you heard of Dream Dinners?  You can check out this video if you’re unfamiliar. The basic idea is that you go to a Dream Dinner store, where they have prepared ingredients for you to assemble meals into freezer bags to make up complete dinners for your family for the month.  I heard about it through a gal I watched on You Tube.  While I’m sure it’s really convenient, it can’t be cheap!  She also said there were some meals they had they didn’t like and wouldn’t have again.

Testimonials on the Dream Dinner’s site said their families were now able to eat together and have become closer as a result.  Family mealtimes are important, and they do strengthen families, but if you’re on a budget, there are creative ways to make family meals happen in a much less expensive way.  Here’s one suggestion…

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Recently while putting away leftovers from a meal I’d made, I had the idea to bag it together just like I’d seen on the Dream Dinners.  I had made Pork Tacos, Refried Beans and Spanish Rice -all from scratch and I had enough for another supper meal for my husband and me, but rather than eating it two nights in a row, I pulled out the freezer bags.  I put the Rice in one, the Beans in another and the Pork in another, then I put all the small bags together in a large freezer bag and labeled it, “Pork Taco Dinner.”  How great it will be on a busy day to pull this out in the morning and let it thaw, then simply warm it up that evening!  It’s better than having leftovers two nights in a row, and it’s better than paying someone twice what it would cost me to fix it!  I’ve always been a huge fan of freezing food, but having the whole meal together in one bag is a great plan!

I plan on doing this more often!  You could simply double whatever you’re making and eat one for supper tonight and put the other into freezer bags for another day.  There’s no need to have to do a month’s worth, or even a whole week’s worth at one time!  Wouldn’t it be nice just to know you have a whole meal in a bag all ready to eat for ONE day?  Start there, then perhaps you can build on that.

That’s my challenge to you – see what you can pull together to make and freeze ahead.  Have the elements for that meal in one large bag. It will eliminate calling out for pizza, or running up to a local restaurant because you’re too tired to cook.  Become your own Dream Dinner maker; it’s really doable, it’s cheaper, and you’ll be making things you know your family loves!

My mind is whirling with several ideas.
Swiss Steak
Taco Casserole
Turkey Meatball Sandwiches with Honey Chipotle Sauce

What would you make and freeze?

Dream on!

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baking · dessert · Dinner · dinner in 30 minutes · Fall · home · Home making · Uncategorized

Fall/Winter Pantry Essentials

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Last week I shared three of my Go-To meals when I’m in a pinch for time (and money!).  I also shared the items I keep stocked so those meals can happen.  I hope you’ll check out that post if you missed it.  But when it turns cooler my menu changes, as I bet yours does too.  We think about soups, stew, cobblers, and comfort foods to fill us when fall and winter approach.  Since I know those are the kinds of foods we’re going to want for supper, there are certain items I know I need to keep on hand.

Let me share some of the essential items I like to keep in my pantry so I can cook and bake at a moment’s notice.

  • Chicken stock or broth – I love to make my own stock after I’ve roasted a chicken.  You can find my method here.  I’ve even updated my method by putting all the ingredients in the crock pot and letting it simmer all day.  It’s so much easier than doing it on the stove!  I freeze my broth in Ziplock bags (double-bagged for fear of leakage), lay them flat and stack them so they don’t take up much room.
    Chicken stock is necessary for soups, but also many other dishes – enchilada sauce, and roasted chicken, for example.  It’s great to have it on hand. This soup is a ten minute soup, and great for flu victims!
  • Minute Rice
  • Baking Mix (Like Bisquick).  This mix can quickly be turned into pancakes, waffles, biscuits, Cheddar Biscuits, muffins, dumplings and more!  Check out these recipes!
    Here’s a homemade version  you can make and keep on hand:
    Homemade Baking Mix

    6 cups All-purpose flour
    3 tbl baking powder
    1 tbl salt
    1 cup shortening
    Sift flour, baking powder and salt three times into a large bowl.  Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Store mixture in airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 months.
  • Canned Goods – Right now is a good time to stock up as many stores have sales events going on for the holidays.
    • Beans
    • Tomatoes
    • Corn
    • Green Beans
    • Pie fillings
    • Pumpkin
    • Cream Soups
    • Pasta sauce
  • Pasta
  • Taco SeasoningHere’s my homemade version
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar – Balsamic, White, Apple Cider – I love making my own salad dressings and if I have a good olive oil and choices of vinegar, I can mix one up in a minute!
  • Sugars – White, Brown and Powdered
  • All-purpose Flour
  • Shortening
  • Baking chocolate – Cocoa and chocolate chips
  • Oatmeal
  • Cake Mixes – Again, I stock up three or four when they’re on sale and keep for the Quick Cakes or desserts.

Of course I keep potatoes, onions. fruits, etc., but I’m only mentioning the dry goods here on this list.

There were lots of years that I couldn’t stock up my pantry, but had to purchase only what I needed that week.  If you can only add one or two extra items a week as you shop, keep an eye out for the sales and grab them when they’re marked down.  It will truly save you in the long-run!

Did I miss an item that you try to keep in your pantry?  What is it?

With love from my country kitchen,

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