Make Dinnertime Easier

For the majority of American families, homemade meals are a thing of the past. I’ve heard many reasons why families don’t eat at home more often.

It’s too inconvenient, too time consuming, too challenging, too expensive.

This is a problem my friends.

First of all, eating out is definitely more expensive.

 

For example, a meal at McDonald’s for a family of four, consisting of 2 “Big Macs”®, 1 cheeseburger, 1 6-piece “Chicken McNuggets”®, 2 medium fries, 2 small fries, 2 medium sodas and 2 small sodas, comes to a total of almost 28 dollars. For this amount, and actually much less, a home-cooked meal could include a whole chicken, potatoes, green vegetables and a simple salad on the side. {source}

 

You already know how Maria & I feel about processed food.

Now, we know many people say they don’t have time to cook with working full time and then taking care of children, but there are ways to have a home cooked meal when you’re short on time.

Instead of reaching for the take-out menu or picking up fast food on your way home from work, why not turn to your freezer.

 

Want to see what’s in my freezer?

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Tomato basil sauce, butternut squash soup, cabbage & white bean soup and pesto.

These all came from meals I made over the month. I made large batches on purpose so that that I could freeze all the extra. When you can find the time to work in the kitchen, make a large batch of whatever you’re making and freeze the rest for those for the nights you don’t have time to cook a meal for your family.

I made both of the soups in a crock-pot which is another way of having a meal ready for you when you return home for dinner.

Some things that freeze well are soups, sauces, grains and casserole type dishes. (Avoid making milk or cream based soups because those don’t freeze well.)

 

This weekend I added another 2 items to my freezer stash.

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I spent Friday afternoon in my kitchen cooking up a storm making Veggie Lasagna Roll Ups.

We had one tray for dinner and truly enjoyed them. Not only was I able to freeze 2 extra trays of these, but I also had some leftover sauce to freeze that I can use in another recipe.

I was even nice enough to share with Maria and gave her one of the lasagna trays.

 

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Now this meal is more time consuming, but the great thing is that you can have it again later in the month without lifting a finger. Ok, well besides putting the tray in the oven from the freezer! ;)

 

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I used whole wheat noodles and filled them up with spinach, mozzarella, zucchini and mushrooms.

Serve with a nice mixed salad and this meal couldn’t be more perfect.

 

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I definitely cannot wait to have these again in the next coming weeks.

If we can wait that long!

Veggie Lasagna Roll Ups
Entree
 
Ingredients
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced thinly lengthwise
  • 16 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 8oz frozen spinach, defrosted and drained well
  • 6 cups tomato sauce (recipe below)
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 package whole wheat lasagna noodles (mine had 19 noodles in 1 box)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. First, you want to grill the zucchini slices and then sauté the mushrooms. This step is important so that you can extract some of the moisture in these vegetables. (You can also throw everything in the oven on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes.)
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the spinach, 2 cups of tomato sauce and 1 1\4 cups mozzarella cheese.
  4. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the noodles in batches until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single later on a clean kitchen towel to prevent them from sticking.
  5. Take 3 8×8 pans (2 of mine are aluminum with plastic lids) and pour 1\2 cup tomato sauce in each.
  6. Lay out 3 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread about 1\4 cup of spinach mixture evenly over each noodle. Top with one zucchini slice and several mushrooms.
  7. Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly toll. Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, atop the tomato sauce. Repeat with the remaining noodles, spinach mixture, zucchini and mushrooms.
  8. Spoon with the remaining sauce over the lasagna rolls. About 3\4 cup for each pan. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese over the sauce. ¼ cup for each pan.
  9. Wrap 2 of the trays securely in plastic wrap and freeze at this point.
  10. Bake the remaining tray for 20 minutes.
  11. You can serve alongside any additional sauce
Notes
Each tray will serve 3 people.

 

It would definitely help to make the sauce ahead of time to cut down on prep time.

You can also use your favorite canned pasta sauce if you want to, but I almost always make my own since it’s so simple.

Here is the recipe that I used.

 

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Tomato-Basil Sauce

3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 28oz whole plum tomatoes, no salt added
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup basil leaves, torn into pieces
1 tbsp sugar

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Saute onions for 4-5 minutes, until translucent. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring once in a while and smashing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

Use an immersion blender to puree everything, or carefully pour sauce in batched into a blender. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Makes about 8 cups of sauce.

Hope you enjoy this recipe and stock up your freezers this month!

 

Do you stock your freezer with homemade meals?

Lisa
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  • http://www.thrive-style.com Lisakthrives

    The lasagna roll-ups look awesome. I’m ashamed to say I don’t do much storing of food in my freezer. It’s something I really need to get better at!  I do, however, completely agree that eating at home can be more convenient and is definitely cheaper than eating crappy food out!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Lisa!
      Yah, I never got into freezing meals until these past few months and it truly does help! It feels good to know that if there’s a night where I don’t feel like cooking, I can just look into my freezer and my problems are solved. :)

  • http://www.healthfulsense.com/ Lisa Rainer @ Healthful Sense

    The veggie roll ups look delicious!!
    I’m all for quick healthy meals!
    I do lots of soups, quesadillas, burritos, pasta, veggie burgers, sandwiches, salads… all quick =)

    • Anonymous

      Thanks! Yah I usually do quick healthy meals, but love taking some time once in a while and making a nicer dinner!

  • skinnyshae

    Genius! Next week I am cooking like a crazy person and freezing EVERYTHING! These are great!

    • Anonymous

      Yay! I would love to know what you’re going to make!!

  • DORA

    I agree with you,I am doing this for years,and it is the best.

  • http://www.thefitnessdish.com Laury@thefitnessdish

    Those lasagna roll-ups looks incredible! I need to make asap!!!!!!! I think Michael would love them too! Score!

    I love how you freeze all your food. I am so bad about doing that but need to get on it. I actually will be doing it  a lot for Ellas food so i may as well do mine too!

  • Thehealthyapron

    thanks for sharing this recipe! I was going to make a lasagna bake from my grandma’s 91st bday thursday night but I think I will make these instead! They look wonderful AND delicious!

  • Greg the S@HD

    I just used my turkey roasting pan and made up a huge, HUGE batch of lasagna and froze it. We love to over cook and freeze meals, like Split Pea soup, Hearty Lentil Soup, Chicken Parm, Pot Roast with all the fixins, and even Stir Frys. It gives us time to talk about our day and not be hurried in the evenings.

  • Anonymous

    Wow – I never keep leftovers in the freezer because I never “have any room”.  Duh! I just need to get as organized as you are.  The box full of freezer bags is brilliant!

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    Hi, welcome to Healthy Diaries and Thank You for stopping by! Our names are Maria & Lisa and we’re 26 year-old identical twin sisters. Our blog is a look into our lives as we live life being healthy and active. Find out more here...
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