February 15th - 20th "Raid the pantry and stock the freezer" week!

So do you have those days where you just don’t have the energy to go to the grocery store and the kids are getting tired of eating cereal for dinner?  As funny as that statement is I have to admit I’ve had this happen to me on more than one occasion, and this is when I decide I better get creative and figure out what I can make from the items left in my pantry.  If you’ve followed this blog since the beginning you know that I like it when I create a meal and there are enough leftovers to create a whole other meal; they are the meals I call “Freezer Value Meals”.  This week is all about having a backup plan for those moments.   My Quick Meals will be recipes that can be made from those extra items we have in the pantry and freezer.  Three meals will double to create easy grab-n-go meals for the freezer so you can give the family another option besides cereal; because you know that you will have another one of those days.   :)
This week you will also notice to the right the title Additional Information.  This area is all about sharing; I will be listing tips and shortcuts that I’ve either discovered with my own hits and misses or what others have shared.   If you have a great tip for our readers let me know and I’ll post it.  In the shopping list area, you will find a snapshot of the spreadsheet I have available.  Although I did try to make it it’s own web page for easy access, the text and not the grid was all that would process, so until I can figure out the magic formula I will be more than happy to email anyone one who would like a copy, it is quite handy.  
Don’t forget that this is a new layout and you can now just click the title of the recipe to access it.  Throughout the week I’m sure I will continue to tweak the site, so please feel free to email me at mydinnerplaybook@aol.com with any suggestions, recipe ideas, or how I can take over the world with my blog, ha ha just checking that your still paying attention.  I’d love to hear from you and don’t forget about my goal of having 100 followers, sign up today and send this blog off to family, friends and strangers!  As always, have a fabulous week!
Find this weeks Grocery List here*
* Ingredients for the Pasta E Fagioli recipe are NOT included
Quick Meal 1
Your either going to go respond with; Yuk, I’ll pass or I remember this meal, my Mom would make this for me when she didn’t want to go to the store.  Exactly why this recipe is here this week, we always seem to have tuna in the pantry right?   Although I have to admit, secretly I really do like this meal just don’t tell anyone. 

Quick Meal 2
If I’m going to make tacos I go for my stripped beef recipe, but if it’s my son’s birthday (this is what he requests every year) or if I’m sick and can’t make dinner, my son takes over dinner duties and makes his tacos.  I’m sure most pantries contain taco shells since you’ve probably picked them up at a 10 for $10 buck sale (I’ve done this, what a deal right, sure... what am I going to do with 10 boxes of taco shells!) and without a doubt hamburger is the one staple that is in the freezer; thus tacos.  They are easy to make and a 13 year old can make them unsupervised.  So kick back and let your kids make you dinner!

Got Some Time Meal 1
While you may have chicken in the freezer and extra sour cream, this meal really doesn’t fit this weeks criteria, but we needed a chicken recipe and this one looked yummy.  Hmm not a whole lot to say on this one so let’s move on....   
Got Some Time Meal 2
So this is one of my freezer value meals.  When I buy a roast I make sure and get the biggest one I can afford and that will fit into my slow cooker.  While I enjoy a good Pot Roast and potato dinner that just needs some veggies and bread, I love what I can do with the leftovers!  This time we are going to make Burritos-to-Go, since these are individual servings they come in handy when you need a fast lunch or if you find yourself dining alone, or in my case; when I’m needing a chili fix!  This reminds me of this joke that was sent to me regarding New Mexico chili.... I’ll post it in the tips section so you can understand the obsession New Mexicans have with chili. :)  
Got Some Time Meal 3
Some of you may have a ham in the freezer that you picked up on sale during the holidays, which by the way is the best time to buy them and freeze them.  Nowadays since most ham’s you buy are precooked they can be moved into the Got Some Time category.  Our household is a fan of ham and scalloped potatoes are automatically the side dish.  While I’ve experimented making scalloped potatoes with different cheeses and add-in’s this combo is our favorite.  Your probably thinking that scalloped potatoes take forever to make but one day while trying a Rachael Ray recipe I found a tip that cuts the baking time by half and have stuck with it.  If you have a convection oven use it and shave off even more time!  Now the Breakfast Cups, have you seen the price for those prepackaged breakfast sandwiches?  Not only are they expensive but they are loaded with what I call glow-in-the-dark ingredients.  Making breakfast cups is your solution and our leftovers create one great breakfast to go.

Pass the Wine; I got all the time - Meal 1
Are you a soup or salad person at Olive Garden?  I’m a soup gal, not that I don’t love their salad also, but if by chance we eat at Olive Garden I order this soup.  So how did this soup become a back up in my freezer?  One day I was craving this soup and decided to get online and find the recipe, tada there it was.  I got busy making this soup and noticed that this recipe is making enough soup to feed an army!  Now when you access this recipe they have a little handy dandy drop down box that allows you to change the serving size, last year they didn’t!  So with my bucket of soup (not kidding) I started loading the leftovers into plastic containers, I not only filled the freezer I had enough to give to family and friends!   Today I still make the bucket size because it’s a great way to have an individual serving of soup that is homemade and not from a can.  
*** Note - Ingredients for the recipe are NOT included in the above grocery list, decide the serving amount you want to make first and then add to your list. ***
*If you are going to make enough for an extra meal and individual servings, make sure you do the following:  When all your ingredients are added DO NOT add the pasta.  (I used the small round pasta that Olive Garden did) Cook a small amount separately in a small saucepan and add to your individual servings.  When you pack up the leftovers for the freezer add DRY pasta to the container, yes DRY.  Since the pasta is so small it cooks quickly and if you add it during the first go around it will be mushy when you are ready to reheat.  The pasta will be cooked through when you reheat it and still have a the great pasta bite it should have. 

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