Sunday, September 9, 2012

Freezer Cooking #3 - Sauce-a-Palooza!!

My Freezer!
We are about a month and a half away from baby boys due date and I decided it was about time to stock up the freezer with some easy to "pull out & serve" meals!  Some of my favorite fall recipes are my moms which include her Spaghetti Sauce, Beef Stroganoff and her Homemade Marinara.   I decided to have an afternoon of cooking last weekend to prep all these sauces and I ended up with 19 "bags" of sauce!!

It is sooo easy to pull out a sauce and defrost it in the sink for 20 minutes and then transfer to a pot to warm while the noodles are cooking so I figured stocking up on these "comfort meals" would be perfect for once baby is here and for the cool fall/winter weather!

As I pointed out in my Freezer Cooking # 2 post,  I prepare my “bags” to be for “2 servings.”  Since there are only 2 of us eating…this helps with waste & portion control.  If you will be serving more than 2 people with your freezer meals then you can cut the # of bags I tell you to prep for each sauce in half so that each bag has more sauce. ( i.e. – I will tell you to label 6 bags for “spaghetti sauce”, these bags will have enough for 2-3 servings each in them when the prepared sauce is divided equally between them, so if you would like your bags to have 4-6 servings, then divide the sauce evenly between 3 bags instead of 6.)

Also, I will be using my FoodSaver system to seal/store all of the sauces.  For the sake of the instructions and so no one gets confused I will still refer to everything as “bags.”  For this round of recipes you will need quart sized freezer bags if you follow my instructions how they are OR gallon sized bags if you are increasing serving sizes to (4).   

Here is the menu for Freezer Cooking Round 3 “Sauce-A-Palooza”:
·         Mom’s Spaghetti Sauce  (6)
·         Tomato Marinara Sauce  (7)

Here is my grocery list:  (don’t be alarmed!  The list looks a bit long but most of the ingredients were already in my cabinet and are probably in yours!  Everything in italics was already in my cabinet.   Compare this list to your cabinets and cross out the items you won’t need to buy at the store. =)  )
Fresh Produce:
·          Sweet Onions (7 small) I bought a “bag” of sweet onions- it was less $
·          Head of Garlic (1)
·          Fresh Sliced Mushrooms (24 oz)
·          2.5 pounds Ground Beef
·          4-5 Ibs Beef Sirloin Tips ( I buy steaks and cut them down into tips/strips - less expensive!)   
·          ¾ cup Butter (1.5 sticks)
·          4.5 cups Beef Broth
·          Worcestershire Sauce
·          Flour
·          Sour Cream (This is added to the Beef Stroganoff LATER when you defrost it and are ready to eat so you may not want to buy this yet!)
·          Yellow Mustard
·          Tomato Paste ( 7)- 12 oz cans
·          Crushed Tomatoes (4) – 28 oz cans
·          20 oz Chicken Broth
·          32 oz can Tomato Sauce
·          Diced Tomatoes (2)-32 oz cans
·          1.5 cups milk
·          ½ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
·          6 Eggs
·          6 Slices White Bread
·          White Sugar
·          Oregano Leaves
·          Bay Leaf (2)
·          Salt & Pepper
·          Garlic Salt
·          Parsley Flakes
·          Flour
·          Dried Basil
·          Vegetable Oil & Olive Oil
·          Freezer Bags
Don't worry!  I recycle!!
·          *You may also want to go ahead and buy a couple of packages of spaghetti noodles & egg noodles to have on hand for when you thaw the sauces- I usually stock up when they are on sale & when I have coupons*

Of course, once you get everything home and you are ready to cook put it on the counter and admire what you are about to do!! =) 

I label everything with name, date and instructions BEFORE I start:
·          Mom’s Spaghetti (6 bags):  Thaw in Fridge or Sink, Heat & Serve over Noodles
·          Beef Stroganoff (6 bags):  Thaw in Fridge or Sink, Heat, Add 8 oz Sour Cream before serving over Egg Noodles
·          Tomato Marinara (7 bags):  Thaw in Fridge or Sink, Heat & Serve over Chicken Parmesan, Noodles OR make Baked Ziti.

Now it’s time to get started on the sauces!
1.      First, you want to assess your “pot” situation.  You will need (3) LARGE pots to make these sauces.  I only have (2) large pots so I actually ended up prepping the marinara in (1) large pot and then transferred it into my 3qt and 5qt crock pots to simmer while the spaghetti sauce & beef stroganoff occupied the pots on the stove.   Get  your pots/crockpots ready on the counter/stove.
2.      Prep the meat for the Beef Stroganoff:  Make sure the beef sirloin is cut into strips or tips and place in a large bowl.  Coat evenly with ¾ cup flour, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper.  Set aside.
3.      In Marinara Pot warm 2 tbsp olive iil.  In Beef Stroganoff Pot melt ¾ cup butter and in Spaghetti Pot warm 2 tbsp vegetable oil.  **MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT LET ANY OF THESE BURN!* Keep on LOW HEAT until you are ready to add onion.  (If you will be using crock pots like I did for the Marinara Sauce then hold off on Spaghetti instructions until Marinara is transferred to crock pots.)
4.      Next, chop all 7 onions- I have an onion chopper I used for this which made things a little easier.   You will want to distribute (3) of the chopped onions into the melted butter/Beef Stroganoff pot, (2) of the chopped onions into the Marinara pot and (2) of the chopped onions into the Spaghetti Pot.  Also, at this time add the beef tips coated in flour to the Beef Stroganoff pot.  Add (6)cloves garlic minced to the Marinara Pot.  Sauté all onions until translucent.  Sauté beef & onions in Beef Stroganoff pot until beef is cooked through.
5.      Once Onions are done it is time to assemble the sauces:
a.       Marinara Sauce Pot:
                                                   i.       Add 4- 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
                                                 ii.       Add 20 oz chicken broth
                                               iii.       Add 32 oz tomato sauce
                                               iv.      Add 36 ounces tomato paste
                                                 v.      Add 3 tbsp oregano
                                               vi.      Add 3 tbsp basil
                                             vii.      Add 2 tsp salt
                                           viii.      Add ½ tsp pepper
                                               ix.      Add ½ cup sugar (or more to taste)
                                                 x.      Mix all together well and simmer for 1.5 hours OR transfer to crock pots at this time to simmer.
b.      Beef Stroganoff Pot:
                                                   i.      Add 4.5 cups beef broth
                                                 ii.      Add 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
                                               iii.      Add 2 tbsp yellow mustard
                                               iv.      Add 6 oz tomato paste
                                                 v.      Add 24 oz sliced mushrooms
                                               vi.      Mix all together well and simmer 1.5 hours  
c.       Spaghetti Pot:
                                                   i.      Add 36 oz tomato paste
                                                 ii.      Add 64 oz diced tomatoes
                                               iii.      Add 1 tbsp oregano leaves
                                               iv.      Add (2) bay leafs
                                                 v.      Add ½ cup sugar (or more to taste)
                                               vi.      Add 2 cups water
                                             vii.      Mix all together well and simmer 1.5 hours  *if it seems to thick, add more water*
6.      While Sauces are simmering, you will need to prep the “meat” part of the spaghetti sauce.  In a bowl mix the following ingredients together:
a.       2-2.5 pounds of ground beef
b.      1.5 cups milk
c.       1 tsp pepper
d.      ½ cup parmesan cheese
e.       6 eggs (beaten with fork)
f.         6 slices white bread torn into tiny pieces
g.       1 tsp garlic salt
h.      2 tsp parsley flakes
Brown the above ingredients in a skillet well.    Add to Spaghetti Sauce pot after sauce has simmered at least an hour- mix well and let simmer an additional 30 minutes.

Once all sauce has simmered for 1.5 hours- let cool before placing in bags.

Distribute sauces evenly amongst # of prepped bags.

I usually put them in the freezer stacked as flat as possible on top of each other for easy storing.

Here is how I typically serve my sauces:
Spaghetti Sauce:  Typically I just serve this over plain ole’ spaghetti noodles with salad & garlic bread.
Beef Stroganoff:   I serve this over egg noodles with some sort of bread.
Marinara Sauce:  I use this for all sorts of things!  You can make baked ziti with it, serve it plain over noodles, over frozen ravioli or manicotti and my favorite way to serve this is over chicken parmesan.



  1. Great recipe ideas and congratulations on your baby!

    1. If you partially freeze the food in the foodsaver bags before sealing them, it is easier to seal them with the foodsaver later.

  2. I am making this today. I will be home with the baby until Feb. With one income coming in this is going to make dinner a lot easier. Sauce will be done at 7pm. I don't have the foodsaver (been on my xmas list for past two years lol ) I am gonna use reg. freezer bags. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful idea, I really appreciate it :) I will be posting my Sauce-a-Palooza to facebook =) Sinead xo

  3. Hi, i have just bought a foodsaver and i am very excited to use them with ur recipes <3 i just have a qn. can u actually 'vacuum' the sauce in the bags or do u just close the bag as closely as possible? Would appreciate the help. Thank u. and u have a wonderful blog ;)

  4. Hi Melissa! Think I'll add a foodsaver to my Christmas list - wondering which one you have (and hoping I didn't miss this answer on freezer cooking #2)?

  5. Hey, Inspirer,
    (1) The spaghetti recipe blew my mind in that it added bread crumbs and eggs to make the meat go farther. The first time I used a small bag, the sauce was way too thick so I added 15 oz regular tomato sauce and it was good; the last time, I added 16 oz Classico basil spaghetti sauce and it rocked.
    (2) The marina sauce was great. I serve it over store-bought tortellinis for a quick meal. Holly A just told me today about a quick cal zone using french bread dough. I must get the details again, because this marinara sauce would be great as a dipping sauce.
    (3) I was more than pleased with the beef stroganoff. My mother-in-law has a to-die-for stroganoff, but it is very time consuming. This sauce is tasty for a regular evening meal. For some reason, I did not buy enough steak for the recipe, so I always let my husband serve his plate first. Whatever steak is left is fine since the mushrooms are great as well. Right after I heat up the sauce, I add 1/2 c sour cream and several dashes of paprika and warm it all up.
    (4) Because the twice-baked potatoes and the Boston Butt BBQ were so wonderful from your day 2 of freezer cooking, I also added those this Fall. I ended up serving some of the potatoes at Thanksgiving for those in my husband's family who are not satisfied with stuffing for a meal.

    Thanks for the blog!

  6. We just tried the beef stroganoff tonight. I can't wait until it is beef stroganoff night again! It was delicious! My husband loved it, too!

    1. The beef stroganoff recipe is my moms and has always been my dinner of choice for every birthday!!

  7. I have a foodsaver too but usually I just use it to stock up on raw meat and freeze that (trimming it first, if needed)... have yet to try full meals with it, but these definitely make me want to!

    What kind of onion chopper do you have? I usually chop a bag of onions with a knife and freeze those for easy use later but for some reason they've been stinging my eyes REALLY bad lately, and I would love a device to help!

    1. Jen, You have got to try the Chef'n VeggiChop Vegetable Chopper from williams-sonoma.||NoFacet-_-NoFacet-_-NoMerchRules-_-

      It's only 19.99 and I love it. It takes less than 2 minutes to cut up a ton of onions and no tears. My friend told me about it last year and I absolutely love it, might go and buy an extra to keep on hand just in case they stop making it for some crazy reason.

  8. OMG... can't wait to make all this! I work nights so these recipes will be great for my family! Thanks so much for sharing all your recipes, list and prep tips! I have now bookmarked part #1, #2 and #3

  9. Starting a second job soon and will for sure need this to make sure my husband does not eat take-out every night! It will also be useful on my days I am home all day playing catch up on housework and not having time to stop and make dinner. Will be trying part #2 & #3 this weekend!!