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Growing up, my grandmother never liked to have anything on her kitchen counter tops, so I’m pretty sure that’s where my love of clean counter tops originated. I try to have mine cleared off as much as possible. Sometimes, when I’m in the middle of work project or cooking, things start to pile up. Things get messy. Life happens. Especially when trying to make impromptu snacks and dinners in my kitchen!
If you’re anything like me, there are no scarier times in your home than the 5 o’clock what’s for dinner debate. The scenario of of having to decide what to cook can be a daunting task for even the most prepared home chefs. So, you may be asking how to end this dinnertime debate, especially in summer? I have two words for you: Freezer meals!
Yes, small, make ahead meals which help me get out of the kitchen and back to spending more time with my family and friends during the hot summer season. There’s nothing better than being able to provide my family with a hot, nutritious, affordable meal. Now, it goes without saying that I adore freezer cooking meals, with just one exception, the clean-up.
You see as a cook, I am anything but neat. I’m what you could call an all-in, full-contact domestic goddess. A typical afternoon of cooking for me involves grease spatters, crumbs on the floor, and a pile of dishes that far exceeds both sides of my kitchen sink. From the blinds to the baseboards, nothing in my kitchen seems to be exempt from stains and spills.
It’s always a balancing act. Do you cook all the meals your family will enjoy, only to spend the rest of your evening scrubbing saucy, stained lasagna pans? Or cook just enough meals, in hopes of limiting the mess that will inevitably be created.
For me, I choose to go with the creating of meals, and to find better more practical ways of cleaning-up my kitchen. Through several years of trial and error I’ve gotten my new Freezer Cooking Clean-Up routine down to a science, and I’d like to share some of my favorite tips for Freezer Cooking Session Clean-up Success.
Instead of walking over to the trash can or compost bin with handfuls of peelings and scraps, use a bowl on the counter where you work to consolidate all of your cooking waste. This way you can efficiently save time and prevent the mishaps of slipper drippings on your floor.
Make sure cutting boards are clean, dry, and wipes down with kosher salt to help foods slide right off your boards.
For cooking projects where I’m using a lot of canned or boxed goods, I’ll take the recycling bin and set it right by the counter so I can drop everything in at once as I open it.
Pick up anything that falls on the floor immediately. It goes without saying that cleaning up spills immediately will help prevent bigger messes and help prevent kitchen falls and accidents on slippery floors.
As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So for me, I like to prep my freezer cooking sessions starting with a cleared off counter tops, an empty, fresh, soapy dish pan of water, and swept floors.
For me, it’s also important to keep functional, zero-waste cleaning methods by my side during freezer cooking sessions. Recently, my go-to cleaning cloths have been the new Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloths. I love that these Scrubbing dish cloths are reusable, sturdy, and fully washable, both by hand and through machine washing.
What first caught my eye about these cleaning cloths are double-sided. One side features awesome, textured, non abrasive fiber scrubbing dots, which gives you non-scratch scrubbing power for all your post-freezer cleaning needs. And who doesn’t need supercharged cleaning when it comes to getting off baked on, oily, gooey messes from dishes, pots, pans, and counters.
The other side of these clothes feature a multi-functional, lint-free cleaning cloth; this side is great for wiping and drying dishes, glasses, counter tops, and appliances, too!
I like that these dish cloths can clean almost anything in my kitchen, even items that I previously would have to soak or scrub including glasses with milk protein deposits or wine deposit film, a particular pet peeve of mine.
No more reaching for a case knife or finger nail to scrub off messes in the kitchen with the Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloths. Your manicure touch-ups can be saved for another day.
What’s even better? These cloths go hand-in-hand with our families commitment to zero waste living as they can be used, washed, and easily used again. They help us save money over commercial paper towels and help us create a greener home in the process. An added bonus for me? These cloths air dry in minutes, allowing me to get right back to my kitchen cleaning in no time flat. These new cloths have become a staple in my kitchen!
In fact, a few days before I started my last major Freezer Cooking marathon, I stopped into my local Walmart to pick up a few additional packs of the new Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloths, a few needed Freezer Cooking staples, as well as a snack of Good Value Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies and a banana, for good measure. Having originally purchased these cloths in tan, I loved finding out that they are also available in 2-packs in coral and navy, too! I especially liked the cheery orange cloths, which are perfect for summer!
Oh, and I wanted to mention that I was able to find my Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloths, not in the dish detergent aisle, but on the cleaning aisle of my local Walmart. Plus, for a limited time savvy savers, be on the lookout for a $1.00 off money saving offer on your next in-store purchase of Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloths at Walmart. This offer is right on the package!
And who would have known that you can get a 2-pack of awesome, greener living, reusable, scrubbing dish clothes for the low, low price of only $4.98. At this price you just can’t go wrong!
And with my new dish cloths handy, I created a month’s worth of Italian-style freezer meals this past weekend. I cooked, assembled, and froze Chicken Parmesan, baked spaghetti, and lasagna roll-ups pans. All meals were delicious, and all super simple to make. The best part? They were all created using my recipe for Homemade Italian Pasta Sauce. Here’s how it’s made.
- 4 (28 ounce) jars of crushed tomatos
- 4 (28 ounce) cans peeled tomatoes
- 4 (2 ounce) cans organic tomato paste
- 1 cup filtered water
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 small onion, diced (can be substituted for turnip roots)
- 18 cloves
- 3 teaspoons fresh chopped basil
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 6 tablespoons organic cane sugar
- 1 small pinch cinnamon
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup fresh grated cheese
- In a large pot, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil.
- Empty plum tomatoes, canned tomatoes, and tomato paste into a food processor.
- Puree for twenty second on low.
- Add all ingredients (including any meatballs or sausage you want to add) to pot and simmer for 3 hours on low.
- Test seasonings and re-season as needed each half hour.
- Stir as needed.
- Once sauce is finished cooking, cover with a lid and let sit for one hour.
- Sauce can be stored in a mason jar for up to two weeks in the fridge, canned for up to one year, or frozen for up to six months. Enjoy!
Now that your sauce is finished, you can turn this base into different pasta meals. Again I made, Baked Spaghetti, Chicken Parmesan, and Lasagna Roll-Ups. Here’s how I used this sauce:
Ingredients (for two trays):
- 8 cups spaghetti sauce
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In large skillet, cook ground beef until brown. Add sauce to hamburger and bring to temperature. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Boil pasta for 10 minutes. Once cooked, drain your pasta. Mix together spaghetti and meat mixture, pour into pans. Top with cheese and bake for 30 minutes, until cheese is bubbly. Cool for one hour, then wrap in foil and plastic wrap. Freeze for up to six months; serves four per pan.
Ingredients (for two trays):
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoon water
- 2 cups kosher dried bread crumbs
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 pound spaghetti pasta
Create a chicken coating station; place beaten eggs in one bowl, flour in a second bowl, and bread crumbs in another.
Meanwhile, lay a piece of plastic wrap over chicken breasts. Pound the chicken breasts flat with mallet, until 1/2-inch thick. Dredge chicken pieces in all three bowls; egg, then flour, then crumbs. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Boil pasta for 10 minutes. Once cooked, drain your pasta. Cook cutlets in olive oil for 4 minutes on each side until golden and crusty, turning only once per side. Place cooked pasta in each freezable tray. Ladle the tomato sauce over each chicken piece and sprinkle with mozzarella, Parmesan, and basil. Bake the Chicken Parmesan for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Cool bake for one hour and freeze for up to six months. To reheat, thaw dinner overnight in fridge. Cook at 350 for one hour.
Ingredients (for two trays):
- 1 box uncooked lasagna noodles (16-20 sheets)
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork sausage
- 3 cups tomato pasta sauce
- 2 containers (15 oz each) part-skim ricotta cheese
- 2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves
- 2 egg
- 2 cups mozzarella shredded cheese
Cook noodles in salted water. Cook for twenty minutes. Rinse with hot water. Drain well. Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet, cook beef and sausage over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Stir in 3 cups pasta sauce. Reduce heat to low; simmer uncovered 10 minutes. Remove from heat. In small bowl, mix ricotta cheese, basil and eggs into a mixture. Spread about 3 tablespoons of mixture over each cooked lasagna noodle from end to end. Spoon about 1/4 cup meat mixture over ricotta mixture on each noodle. Roll up firmly toward unfilled end. Place roll-ups, seam side down, on pan. Cover with sauce and shredded cheese. Cover loosely with foil. Freeze about 30 minutes or until firm. Freeze up to 3 months. To bake 16 lasagna roll-ups, thaw in refrigerator at least 8 hours and bake at 350°F. Bake until hot and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
So savvy savers, that was a lot of work this past weekend! But with the Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloths, cleanup took just minutes. Comparing this to the hours spend scrubbing dishes, pans, counters, and floors before, these cloths were a true lifesaver.
I’ve been so inspired by the ease of cleaning this past weekend that I’m already looking for new recipes for my next mega freezer cooking session online. And if you are looking for awesome new family meals ideas, be sure to check out the Scotch-Brite Scrubbing Cloth site for quick, budget-friendly cleaning tips and family meal planning ideas!
I encourage you all to pick-up a pack of Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloths, while in-store at your local Walmart, because with Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloths I no longer have to choose between a clean kitchen and the convenience of a freezer full of meals .
So savvy savers! Do you have any great tips for keeping your kitchens cleaned and your counter tops cleared during freezer cooking sessions, I’d love to hear about them below!
Here’s to better meals and cleaner kitchens,