I don’t think I go through that whole “nesting” phase during pregnancy. Instead I get it after the baby is born… and then at random times like around birthdays, when I decide to complete all of the things in the baby’s room I planned to do before said baby arrived. So, this baby has been home for weeks and still doesn’t have a completed bedroom. It will happen eventually. There were a lot of other grand plans I had that also never happened, like stocking my freezer with lots of easy meals for nights when cooking just wasn’t going to happen.
When Sweet Girl was born, my mother-in-law and her brother packed a whole cooler with tons of home cooked frozen meals, and toted it up here to have on hand post-baby. It was so nice to have a freezer full of back-up meals for the days that my husband and I were both exhausted and hadn’t even thought about dinner. I thought of those meals during this pregnancy and decided that I would plan ahead and start to build up my own stash of frozen dinners so that we were well prepared to get dinner on the table even on hectic nights. Well, I had good intentions. About 4 days before the surprise arrival of baby #2 I finally got my act together and found and planned for three recipes to prepare and freeze. We actually got one of them cooked and frozen before having the baby. That’s something, right?
Since I had already purchased the ingredients for two other recipes, we tried them out during our first week home from the hospital. It actually ended up being a really good thing that I had some meal planning done. I had searched the web for good freezer meals, but had some trouble because so many of them were smothered in cheese or creamy milk-based sauces. I came across this recipe from Thriving Home for Burrito Pie, and made it without the cheese – it was delicious! I felt that it needed some minor tweaks because we omitted the cheese, and I also adjusted it to replace some of the ingredients that are a little harder to find where we shop. This has become an instant favorite for our whole family. It is nutritious, inexpensive, and perfect for freezing. The author of the original recipe suggests using square or rectangular pans, but I like to use pie pans, which are a perfect fit (plus, ya know… it’s pie, right?). I also took a leaf from my mother-in-law’s book and purchased some disposable take-out style containers, some of which are the size and shape of pie pans. This makes it so effortless to make one pan for dinner, and other pan to stick in the freezer for later.
At first I felt silly making meals for the freezer AFTER having a baby, but then I realized this is exactly what we need for our situation. First of all, on the nights that I can manage to get a home cooked meal on the table, why not make a second batch for the freezer? Two meals for the effort of one? Yes, please! Second of all, I will have to return to work in a few weeks, which will be another huge adjustment for the family. Not only will it take us some time to get into a new routine, but I will be shorter on time than ever. Having some meals in the freezer will be a huge help. Finally, when searching freezer meals, I found several bloggers who regularly freeze meals as a tactic for eating healthier and saving money on their food budgets. The whole concept makes a lot sense to me and reading about it got me excited to try it out! Stay tuned for more freezer friendly meals!
1 to 1 1/3 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 cup dry black beans, soaked and cooked (or 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed)
2 cans tomato sauce
1 cup sliced black olives
1 Tbsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 can refried beans
5-6 whole wheat tortillas (8” size works well for pie pans) – use corn tortillas for gluten free option
- Begin to brown ground beef. Once it is about half way browned, add the onions and cook until tender. Add garlic and cook for one additional minute.
- Add black beans, tomato sauce, olives, and all spices. Mix well and bring to boiling. Reduce and heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Layer ingredients as follows in pan(s). Recipe makes one 9×13 pan, or two pie pans: Spread a thin layer of the meat mixture on the bottom of the pan. Top with a tortilla that has been spread with the refried beans. Spread another layer of the meat mixture. Continue this layering, ending with the meat mixture until you pan is filled. I usually fit about 3 layers per pan.
- Bake at 350⁰ for 20-30 minutes. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before cutting. Slice and serve (I like to slice it just like a pie).
Follow through step 3. Cover with foil and freeze. To cook, take straight from freezer, and bake covered for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Make sure to write these instructions on the container so you know when you take it out of the freezer. DO NOT take glass dishes straight from the freezer to the oven – these should be thawed first and baked for the normal amount of time to avoid breaking the glass.
Note: The black beans in the recipe can be considered optional. We almost always mix beans in with taco meat to make it healthier, less expensive, and (in our opinion) tastier. If you are not a big bean fan, you can leave them out and double your meat. Just make sure to adjust spices to your taste.