Today’s strategy….Cook Big (and stay home)!

So this weekend I used one of my favorite strategies to make weeknight’s easier. Cook BIG~ or prepare way more than you need for a meal and freeze it!

If you don’t have a second freezer, I highly recommend it. You can find great deals on meats when they are on sale and freeze them for later use, buy bulk (for example a half a pig, or lamb which I did this year!) and also to freeze meals for future use!

Today was Sunday Sauce day. Sunday Sauce simmers for several hours on the stove and makes the house smell like heaven!

This is my 12 quart stockpot full of tomato sauce. As you can see, it’s almost full and this one big pot will make several meals. Today I breaded and fried up some chicken breast cutlets and made two pans of chicken Parmesan.
Chicken Parm!
Again, if I am making the mess of breading and pan frying, why make just one meal? We ate one pan tonight for dinner with a side of Barilla-Plus spaghetti and some greens and beans. The other pan will go in the freezer for a dinner in December. (It was on the master list so I can check that off!)

The rest of the sauce is packaged in freezer containers, some large for spaghetti dinners, and a couple of smaller ones for homemade pizza night.

Another tip, when we are in the thick of sports season and rarely eat at the same time, I will package individual servings in small gratin dishes. Everyone can then pick what they want from what’s in the freezer, heat and eat when they are available and clean up is a breeze since it is in one dish. I often do this for my clients!

I am planning a couple of “Cook Big” nights this week with some quick cooking soups and by using my crockpot. By next weekend I will have a nice selection of things in my freezer and there is nothing I love more than knowing I have something ready to go to feed the family!

Crispy Chicken Parmesan (Serves 8-10)
8-10 chicken breast cutlets
3 eggs
2 c. flour
2 c. Panko bread crumbs
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tb. Italian herb seasoning
salt and pepper
Canola or Peanut oil for pan frying
8 c. Marinara sauce (homemade or an all natural variety)
2 c. shredded Italian cheese
1/2 lb. Spaghetti, cooked

Set up a standard breading station. First tray: flour seasoned with 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper. Second tray: beat the eggs until smooth. Third tray: Panko, cheese, herb seasoning and 1 tsp. salt.
Heat oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium high heat until it ripples. There should be about 1/4″ of oil in the pan. Dip each of the cutlets into the flour, shake off excess. Dip in egg and completely coat it and then dip in the Panko. Place cutlets into the pan, 2-3 at a time, don’t crowd them, and cook 3 minutes or until nicely browned, and then flip for another 2 minutes. Remove cutlets to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Once all the cutlets are done assemble in the pan.
Spray the bottom of two 9×13 Pyrex dishes with cooking spray. Add about 2 cups of sauce to each, place 4-5 cutlets in each pan, overlapping slightly if needed. Top with cheese.
Preheat oven to 350º and bake chicken for 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.
(If freezing, don’t bake. Freeze once assembled and then thaw in the fridge overnight and bake as directed.)

2 comments on “Today’s strategy….Cook Big (and stay home)!

  1. Martha says:

    Looks great, Mary Beth! We have had two freezer failures recently (one due to human error; the other due to a circuit breaker and we’re still trying to get to the root of that), which has put a serious damper on my inventory as well as my desire to stock up, after all I’ve lost. :(

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