Real Recipes for Real People: Being Prepared For Days Like These...

by Kaylin Cherry

It is one of those days that you wish you could have stayed in bed and pulled the covers over your head! You have just found out that relatives from out of town will be visiting you this evening and your neighbor is in the hospital with emergency surgery. You want to impress your relatives with a delicious home cooked meal, as well as help out your neighbor (whose spouse is 'cooking impaired') and to top it all off, you need to be at work in 45 minutes! Sound familiar? There is a solution to days like these!

The solution is in your freezer- okay, not in your freezer now, but it can be after you finish reading this article. It does not need to be difficult to freeze meals ahead for those days when you are ill, have unexpected company or would like to take a meal in to a friend or neighbor who is ill.

The easiest way to do this, is to make extra when you are making dinner for your family, and to freeze the extra portions for later use. I have found that disposable foil containers are great for this, because if they are used to take a meal to someone else, they do not need to worry about returning a dish, and you are not waiting for a dish to be returned so you can use it.

Disposable foil containers can be washed and reused if you like, and so you do not need to feel wasteful when using them. Be sure to label your frozen meals before freezing them, as markers and stickers do not work well on frozen items. I have found it helpful to mark items like this: Lasagna, 6 servings, 01/10/2000, thaw, bake at 350 for 1 hour. It is simple- can be written on the foil covering the food, with a permanent marker, and also provides directions for other members of my family, or the person who I give it to later.

Keeping several meals prepared this way, in your freezer, will give you peace of mind, and will help you to always appear prepared and in control of any situation! Enjoy!

Hungry Man's Manicotti

Recipe By: Real Food for Real People
Serving Size : 14
Categories: Main Dish, O.A.M.C., Pasta

  • 2 packages Manicotti -- (14 each)
  • 1 pound Lean Ground Beef
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 box Stuffing Mix- Chicken
  • 2 cups Cottage Cheese
  • 2 cups Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1/8 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 8 cups Spaghetti Sauce, prepared

Note: This recipe will make either 2- 9 x 13 pans of manicotti, or 3- 8x8 pans. Have pans prepared with non-stick spray and ready to fill before following the directions below:

In a large bowl, mix dry stuffing mix (similar to Stove Top brand) and seasoning packet, ground beef, eggs, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese and cheddar cheese, to make a thick paste. Set mixture aside for 5 minutes so bread crumbs can absorb moisture. Begin stuffing uncooked manicotti shells by hand, and place them side by side into prepared baking pans. Continue until all shells have been filled and are placed as desired into baking pans. Next, spoon spaghetti sauce evenly over shells until all sauce has been distributed.

To bake: Cover and bake in 350 degree F oven for 2 hours.

To freeze: Cover with foil tightly and mark each package. Freeze for up to 6 months. To bake, thaw overnight in refrigerator and bake according to instructions above.

copyright 1999, Kaylin Cherry/Real Food for Real People All Rights Reserved.

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