Uber Frugal Month Simplify Finances

Uber Frugal Month Day 16- No Excuse for Take-Out!

Today’s mantra: There’s no excuse for take-out!

Today’s action: Plot out what you want to buy or make for your emergency frozen meal stash.

I’ve been trying to be good this month, because of the challenge, about eating what’s in our house- the pantry and the freezer. This past week I ate that butternut tikka masala I discovered in my freezer for work lunches and I made my husband beef (from our freezer) with peppers and onions to be made into fajitas or Philly cheese steak sandwiches- whichever he preferred.

I had a few flops too- I tried to use our leftover cabbage to make a stir-fry and it was not tasty. I managed to eat 2 servings of it, but I think the last might end up in the garbage. I also tried to make a sushi bowl with some leftover rice, but I didn’t realize our cucumber had gone bad, and the seaweed I had was not nori (the kind used in sushi). I learned the hard way that all seaweed is not interchangeable- it made the bowl inedible for me. It was pretty sad to begin with, just seasoned rice, carrots, edamame, sesame seeds and the inedible seaweed. I finally gave up and just had pasta and red sauce.

I’ve been better with pantry and fridge meals more than freezer meals lately. You may have noticed when I talk about food that I mention lots of vegetarian options. That’s because I try to eat whole food plant based (WFPB for short, it’s essentially vegan), my husband does not, that’s why there’s still talk of meats. I find it a little harder to make freezer meals for WFBP since I try to eat mostly fresh foods. I’ll write more on my decision to go WFPB at a later time, but suffice it to say- I’m a scientist and it’s what the science says is the healthiest diet- see nutritionfacts.org.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to do WFPB freezer meals- after all, I found that butternut tikka masala in the freezer. I’m also trying to get away from making recipes and just make food- like the food formulas I talked about in an earlier post. Protein + fruit/vegetables + carb can be made into salads, wraps, burritos, grain bowls, pasta bowls, etc. There are lots of options! This formulaic cooking makes fridge and pantry cooking easier, but, at least for me, it’s harder to have full meals in the freezer.

I tend to keep ingredients around. Frozen mixed vegetables are a must for me, it can be a side dish, it can be cooked with pasta for a pasta bowl, cook it with rice for fried rice, or one of my husband’s favorite recipes, this ground beef noodle dish I made up in college:

Jo’s Beef Noodles and Veggies

2Tb butter

2Tb flour

1 Cup water

1 serving beef bouillon (1 cube, or 1 tsp of Better Than Bouillon)

6 oz egg noodles

1 lb of ground beef, cooked and seasoned with onion and garlic powder

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

Boil water and cook up the egg noodles. Add the frozen mixed vegetable the last 5 minutes

While that’s cooking, melt the butter over medium heat and whisk in the flour to create a roux. Whisk in the water and bouillon and bring to a boil. Let thicken for a few minutes. Add the ground beef.

When the noodles and vegetables are done, drain and mix with the gravy and ground beef. Enjoy!

Super easy, really filling and we’re pretty much guaranteed to have the ingredients on hand. I need to make a WFPB version for myself. I’ve found a good substitute for chicken broth, but I haven’t looked for a beef one yet.

Now that I think about it, instead of having a stocked freezer, I keep a list of recipes I can whip together with our house staples. I think they’re both useful to battle the temptation of fast food, but I do the see the benefit of freezer meals- after all, all you have to do is defrost, you don’t have to cook anything.

Do you have any good freezer meals? I need to brainstorm some ideas!

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