Freezable Familiar Meals

Just say no to the takeout and pre-packaged and processed grocery garbage and feel great about what you are feeding your family. Nutrition is crucial right now as continue to slog through 2020 and start a new, bizarre school year and continually-changing work life. Never fear, recipes are here!

These two recipes pack big, familiar flavor, have fresh, whole ingredients, and very little added salt and sugar per serving in comparison. For instance, did you know that the recommended daily allowance of sodium is only 2300 mg (2.3g), or ONE TEASPOON of salt PER DAY?? One can of chili with beans off the shelves has 990 mg per serving, almost a third for your whole day. Not to mention other added junk you can’t pronounce. Much Chinese takeout has as much salt as five Big Macs, which have 920 mg EACH. Can you see how dangerous this is, why cardiovascular disease is our number one killer? Yikes! 


With just a bit of time and planning, you can whip these up in about 30 minutes. The chili mac is made in one pot. Less dishes to wash, yay. And the Asian dish can be made with any kind of rice: day-old, quick-cooking, whatever you have on hand. Or switch to noodles, even faster. Also, the fact they both use ground meat makes them more economical. Make an extra batch for the freezer so you have these on hand for the next week. Believe me, you’ll want them to be in regular rotation. Eat well!


One-pot chili mac


Serves 4-6




1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided

8 ounces lean ground beef (7% fat)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 (28-ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes

2 cups or more low-sodium chicken broth or water

2 cups dried elbow macaroni (8 ounces) 

1 (15-ounce) can kidney or pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire

1/2 cup unsweetened evaporated milk

1 cup shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a combination (6 ounces), plus extra for serving

2 medium scallions, thinly sliced




Heat the oil in a 3 1/2- to 4-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and light golden-brown, about 5 minutes. 


Add the ground beef, break into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon or spatula, and cook for about 3 minutes. When only a few pieces of pink ground beef remain, add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, black pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Cook for 1 minute more. 


Add the tomatoes, broth, noodles, and beans. Be sure all noodles are submerged. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the macaroni is tender, about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on liquid level, you may need to add more broth or water as it cooks.


Stir in the evaporated milk and cheese until melted. Ladle into bowls and top with more cheese and scallions. Freeze leftovers in a freezer storage bag, press air out, and lay flat in freezer.



Crispy orange take-out


Serves 4




1 pound ground beef, ground chicken, or ground pork

1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 1 medium navel orange)

3 tablespoons tamari or low sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 1/2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, divided

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons fresh orange zest

1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks

1/2 cup frozen peas

Cooked rice with dash of soy sauce and sesame oil, for serving

2 medium scallions, thinly sliced

Dash of white and/or black sesame seeds




Remove the ground meat from the refrigerator and set out at room temperature while you make the sauce.


Place the orange juice, tamari or soy, sesame oil, brown sugar, cornstarch, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and red pepper flakes in a measuring cup with a spout or small bowl and whisk to combine; set aside.


Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over high heat until shimmering. Add the ground meat and season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Press the meat into an even layer and cook undisturbed until the bottom is brown and crisped, about 4 minutes. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon, then press it into the pan to help it brown. Cook until well-browned and crisp all around, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a large paper towel-lined plate.


Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon oil around the pan. Add the orange zest, onion, and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until slightly tender, about 3 minutes. Add peas and stir. Re-whisk the sauce, pour into the pan, and stir to coat the vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Return the meat to the pan and stir to combine. Serve over seasoned rice, topped with scallions. Or stir in the rice and top with the scallions. Freeze leftovers in a freezer storage bag, press air out, and lay flat in freezer.