Homemade TV Dinners
June 22, 2018 by Nicole Collins
I'm sharing another dirty little secret with you today.
I don't know why I continue to tell you all of the less flattering things about me. But I must admit, it's kind of freeing!
In all honesty, my confession today is really not as juicy as calling it a “dirty little secret” may imply.
Sorry if I built you up to thinking you were getting the good gossip today. I'll make up for it by giving you the good noms instead.
So, here is my confession of the day...I eat like crap on the weekends. Total caca. I snack on junk, and junk, and junk, and junk which usually results in me gaining a few pounds every weekend (that thankfully I lose over the course of the week). It's a pretty unhealthy seesaw, though.
I think I do a fairly good job of keeping it healthy(ish) here on The Yummy Muffin, and what I feed you here is what I eat in real life.
But, here's how I think I get in to trouble.
I do all of my cooking on Sundays. I make a few different meals, portion them out, and I've got lunches and dinners that last me up til Friday (which is a safe shelf life for everything I make). So, by the time Saturday rolls around, I don't have any prepared food left. I do my grocery shopping on Saturdays; but since I cook on Sundays, I never make a plan for what to eat on Saturdays.
So, I'll usually treat myself to some carryout and/or I'll just snack allllllll day. And, I'm not snacking on veggies if you know what I'm saying.
I am 100% aware of the flaw in my plan, and I still haven't done anything to fix it...until now!
Before I got my life right and started making healthy, fresh food for my meals (with the exception of Saturdays), I used to live off of food from the freezer. Frozen chicken patties or nuggets, frozen french fries, frozen appetizers, and sometimes frozen tv dinners. I've never been a huge fan of tv dinners, but they're just so easy when you don't feel like cooking.
The problem with surviving from the freezer aisle is that the majority of the products are loaded with sodium and fat. And since the food is so bad for you, the suggested serving size is usually pretty small. So, you end up overeating just to try to get full. And, it's an ugly downward unhealthy spiral.
Well, today I'm turning over a new leaf. Because today, we're making Homemade TV Dinners!
I figured the solution to my Saturday problem was having something on standby in the freezer that could be prepared in no time. But, I did not want to get back in to my bad freezer food habits.
So, I took a few shortcuts, and I came up with 3 super simple to assemble meals that can be stored in the freezer...tv dinner style! I also ordered these containers that are freezer and microwave safe, so they're perfect for storing our tv dinners.
For our first meal, we're using store bought rotisserie chicken. I LOVE rotisserie chickens, because they're so full of flavor, totally delicious, and usually no more that $5. We carve the chicken, make a quick homemade gravy, make some mashed potatoes, and grab some frozen cut greens beans. Portion them out between 4 containers, and you've got your first meal!
For our second meal, we're making this meatloaf and some smashed potatoes, then serving them with cut green beans again. Since I prefer most veggies raw and won't go near them cooked, I had limited options on what to use as my veggie component for each meal. The cool thing about these tv dinners, though, is that you eat whatever you put in them. So if you prefer peas, carrots, cauliflower, corn or whatever else; you can use whichever veggie you like. It goes straight in to the container frozen either way, so the options are limitless.
Our third meal is a fun teriyaki chicken and broccoli fried rice served with edamame on the side. Though rice is easy enough to cook up on its own, I used some leftover white rice that I got with a chinese food order. So, I had to put even less effort in to preparing this meal!
Once you have your components portioned out, it's really really important to let everything cool completely before you pop the lid on and store it in the freezer. It's also important that you're transferring your containers to the freezer the day you prepare and assemble the foods. We want to freeze our meals while they're in their freshest state. Finally, make sure you put some date labels on these. You want to eat these tv dinners up by the 3 month mark.
3 meals might sound like a lot of work, but we're really not doing much heavy lifting here at all. And, we get 12 totally healthy home cooked meals whenever we want in the blink of an eye as a result. You just can't beat that!!! And, don't even get me started on how much money we're saving by making our own tv dinners.
If anyone has any other ideas or suggestions for more tv dinner flavors, I'd love to hear them! I'm going to need them if I want to break this BAD Saturday routine I have.
But for now, enjoy; and let's eat!
Homemade TV Dinners
Serves: 12 Print
For the Roasted Chicken Dinner (serves 4):
1 store bought rotisserie chicken, carved
2 tbsp plus 4 tbsp (half stick) unsalted butter, divided
2 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock, warmed
salt and pepper, to taste
1 ½ lbs yukon gold potatoes, cut in to 1 ½ inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tbsp heavy cream
¼ cup sour cream
2 cups frozen cut green beans
For the Meatloaf Dinner (serves 4):
1 recipe Mama's Turkey Meatloaf
12 baby yukon gold potatoes
olive oil cooking spray
olive oil, for drizzling
salt, pepper, garlic powder, and grated parmesan cheese, to taste
2 cups frozen cut green beans
For the Teriyaki Stir Fry Dinner (serves 4):
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup, plus ¼ cup, plus 2 tbsp teriyaki sauce, divided
2 cups leftover white rice, cold
1 tbsp canola oil
¼ cup soy sauce
3 scallions, dark and light green parts only
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups frozen chopped broccoli
2 cups frozen edamame
Make the Roasted Chicken Dinner: In a large pot, add potatoes, smashed garlic, 1 tbsp salt, and cover with cold water, making sure there's about an inch of water above the top of the potatoes. Heat to high, and bring to a boil. Boil for 10-12 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender. Remove from heat. Drain water from pot. Put potatoes back in the pot along with the softened garlic cloves. Add 4 tbsp butter, and mash to desired consistency. Add heavy cream, sour cream, ¾ tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper. Continue mashing, and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.
Melt 2 tbsp butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Whisk in flour, and let cook for 1 minute. Whisk in warmed chicken stock, whisking constantly until smooth. When the gravy starts to bubble, let it simmer for 3-4 mins, whisking occasionally. Whisk in salt and pepper, to taste. Remove from heat.
Place about 4-6 oz of rotisserie chicken in each container. Top with gravy. Place mashed potatoes in 1 compartment, and place frozen green beans in another compartment. Set aside to cool completely before snapping on lid. Freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, loosen the lid and microwave for 6-7 mins until heated through.
Make the Meatloaf Dinner: Prepare 1 recipe of Mama's Turkey Meatloaf. Set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce baby potatoes with a knife, and microwave for 5-6 minutes until fork tender. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil, and spray with olive oil cooking spray. When potatoes are finished in the microwave, lay the on prepared baking sheet. Take a metal spatula, and smash each potato by laying the spatula on top of a potato and applying pressure down. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with a pinch of salt, pepper, garlic, powder, and parmesan cheese. Roast for 13-16 mins until crispy on the bottom. Set aside to cool.
Slice meatloaf, and place in each container. Top with more bbq sauce, if desired. Place 3 smashed potatoes in 1 compartment, and place frozen green beans in another compartment. Set aside to cool completely before snapping on lid. Freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, loosen the lid and microwave for 6-7 mins until heated through.
Make the Teriyaki Stir Fry Dinner: Place chicken thighs and 1 cup teriyaki sauce in a ziploc bag. Move the chicken around in the bag to make sure it's coated. Place in the fridge and marinate for 2-4 hours. Preheat oven to broil. Move the top oven rack to 6 inches from the heating element. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray with cooking spray. Remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking off the excess marinade. Arrange in a single layer, and broil for 5 mins. Flip chicken, and broil for 5 more mins. Flip again, and brush with some of the remaining teriyaki sauce. Return to broiler and broil 1 minute. Flip, brush the other side with sauce, and broil 1 final minute until the chicken is cooked through, and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. When cool enough to handle, chop in to bite size pieces.
Heat canola oil in a wok or large skillet over medium high heat. When oil starts to shimmer, add rice, scallions, and soy sauce. Stir fry for 6-7 mins, stirring occasionally. Push the rice to one side, and add beaten eggs to the wok. Cook for 2-3 mins until the eggs are scrambled, stirring occasionally. Mix the scrambled eggs in to the rice. Push the rice back to one side of the pan, and add the frozen broccoli. Saute for 4-5 mins until softened. Mix the broccoli into the rice mix. Add the chopped chicken to the pan along with21 tbsp teriyaki sauce. Stir fry for 1-2 more mins. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool.
Divide stir fry mix evenly between containers. In 1 compartment, add edamame. Set aside to cool completely before snapping on lid. Freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, loosen the lid and microwave for 6-7 mins until heated through.
*These are the containers I got. They're great because they're freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe!
*I used leftover white rice from a chinese food order, but you can certainly make your own rice. You could use brown rice too. We want it cold when you stir fry it, though.
*You could use store bought gravy too, but ours is a little healthier since we know what we're putting in it.
*I made my mashed potatoes for the chicken dinner with baby yukon gold potatoes, so I only had to buy one kind of potato for 2 meals. You could also make a double batch of mashed potatoes, and make your meatloaf dinner with mashed potatoes too instead of smashed potatoes, or vice versa.
*You can switch up your frozen veggies. You don't have to use frozen green beans, and you don't have to use green beans twice. You could use frozen peas, corn, carrots, cauliflower, etc. As long as you add it to the container already frozen.
*You don't have to make these meals in order. Have the potatoes boiling on the stovetop while the meatloaf is in the oven and the teriyaki chicken is in the fridge marinating, for example.
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