frozen food http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/13354/all en-US Cheaper and Healthier Than Store-Bought: 10 Great Freeze-Ahead Burrito Recipes http://www.wisebread.com/cheaper-and-healthier-than-store-bought-10-great-freeze-ahead-burrito-recipes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/cheaper-and-healthier-than-store-bought-10-great-freeze-ahead-burrito-recipes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/food-5054071-small.jpg" alt="burritos" title="burritos" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Ah, freezer-to-microwave burritos, those tubular temptresses that deliver easy satisfaction with the added thrill of wondering if you will freeze or burn your tongue with every bite. My children would live on them if I let them, and to be honest, I love a good microwaved burrito myself &mdash; especially on days that I exercise the discipline to wait until the heat has evenly distributed and avoid burning my mouth. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-microwaves">Top 5 Microwaves</a>)</p> <p>However, as a <a href="http://www.frugalisticmom.com/">frugal mom</a>, I&#39;ve avoided buying pre-made frozen burritos unless I could combine a coupon and sale. As cheap as these goodies can be, making food at home is almost always cheaper &mdash; and healthier.</p> <p>Luckily for the kids and me, lately I&#39;ve noticed that homemade frozen burrito recipes are everywhere online. True, most of the recipes posted by bloggers who are into freezer cooking are not exactly authentic Mexican street fare &mdash; you won&#39;t find much in the way of carnitas, tripe, or carne asada on the ingredient lists. But once you absorb these cooks&#39; basic methods for stuffing, wrapping, and freezing, you can swap in the ingredients of your choice. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-phenomenally-frugal-single-serving-freezer-meals">15 Frugal Single-Serving Freezer Meals</a>)</p> <p>Here are 10 posts and articles that helped me reach my own personal freezer burrito heaven.</p> <h2>1. Money Saving Mom&#39;s Freezer-Friendly Brown Bag Burritos</h2> <p>I thought <a href="http://moneysavingmom.com/2012/05/4-weeks-to-fill-your-freezer-brown-bag-burritos-day-7.html">these burritos would be stored and baked in a brown bag</a>, but according to <a href="http://amysfinerthings.com/brown-bag-burritos">Amy&#39;s Finer Things</a>, which also posted the recipe, they get their name from the idea that they&#39;d be great to pack for a cold lunch. (No thanks, I&#39;ll stick to heating mine up.) I like this recipe because it looks a bit spicy, and because the paper towel/foil wraps look like a good way to avoid freezer burn.</p> <h2>2. Shutterbean&#39;s Freezer Burritos</h2> <p>This post has great tips on how to <a href="http://www.shutterbean.com/2009/make-your-own-freezer-burritos/">work with the tortillas to make them wrap nicely</a>. With two kinds of beans, rice, and other goodies, these burritos would have a nice textural variety with low-cost ingredients. Personally, though, I would not add the greek yogurt/hot sauce into the burrito before freezing, because I don&#39;t think that would taste good when the burritos are heated. It would make a great dipping sauce, though.</p> <h2>3. Mel&#39;s Kitchen Cafe Super Bean Burritos (or Freezer Beef and Bean Burritos)</h2> <p>I like the spices used in these two recipes to keep things from getting boring: <a href="http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2010/01/super-bean-burritos.html">Super Bean Burritos</a> and <a href="http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2013/08/freezer-beef-and-bean-burritos.html">Freezer Beef and Bean</a>. These posts have good instructions on how to freeze the burritos. First lay them on a baking sheet in the freezer, unwrapped, then remove after half an hour to wrap in plastic wrap, then store wrapped burritos in a large freezer bag. The pre-freeze is supposed to prevent the burritos from falling apart while you wrap them.</p> <h2>4. Unconventional Kitchen&#39;s Five Different Frozen Burritos</h2> <p>My kids would be happy with plain refried bean burritos, but mama likes variety. So I flipped when I read that <a href="http://www.unconventionalkitchen.com/day-2-freezer-session-5-different-frozen-burritos/">Unconventional Kitchen whipped up five different burritos</a> for the freezer in one morning &mdash; before church! Fajita chicken burritos,sweet potato black bean burritos, butternut squash burritos, salsa chicken and brown rice burritos, and a curry wrap. This post made me realize that you can pretty much throw any old leftovers in your fridge into a tortilla and call it a wrap &mdash; as long as you use a good combination of moist and dry ingredients that taste good together. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-fancy-ways-to-use-leftover-food">8 Fancy Ways to Use Leftovers</a>)</p> <h2>5. Andrea Dekker&#39;s Freezer-Friendly Burritos</h2> <p>This would be one of the quickest recipes to whip up, because it gets its punch from a jar of salsa and packets of taco seasoning. I like how <a href="http://andreadekker.com/freezer-friendly-burritos/">Andrea spreads the refried beans</a> thin all over the inside of the tortilla to glue the thing together.</p> <h2>6. Macheesmo&#39;s the Homemade Trials: Frozen Burritos</h2> <p>This post answers the nagging question that always occurs to me when I&#39;m elbow-deep in a supposedly-money-saving project and my phone rings and one of my kids gets hurt and also I spill something hot on my toe: Is this really worth it?</p> <p>In the case of frozen burritos, it turns out, making at home delivers a pretty large cost savings compared to buying a nice, big, high-end frozen burrito like those sold by Amy&#39;s.</p> <p>The recipe looks good too, but the best part of <a href="http://www.macheesmo.com/2012/03/the-homemade-trials-frozen-burritos/">this post is that Macheesmo does the math for us</a>.</p> <h2>7. Vegan Freezer Burritos From The Runner&#39;s Plate</h2> <p>Of course, a plain bean burrito is perfectly vegan if the beans aren&#39;t cooked in lard, but why be boring? <a href="http://therunnersplate.com/2013/04/30/vegan-freezer-burritos/">This recipe includes potatoes, carrots and onions</a>, and sounds delicious and nutritious. You drizzle a spicy vegan &quot;cheese&quot; sauce over everything before wrapping them up. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-items-for-your-organic-vegan-grocery-list">25 Frugal Items for Your Vegan Grocery List</a>)</p> <h2>8. Goodness Gracious&#39; Breakfast Freezer Burritos</h2> <p>When do you need the convenience of a <a href="http://goodenessgracious.com/2011/10/breakfast-freezer-burritos.html">freeze-and-go meal more than at breakfast time</a>? The ingredients are what you expect &mdash; but I loved learning how to cook two dozen scrambled eggs easily in the oven, and I like the idea of only wrapping these in just paper towels, no foil, so they&#39;re ready to microwave as soon as you take them out of the freezer bag. The foil, however, might provide a little more protection against frost.</p> <h2>9. Reluctant Entertainer&#39;s Chicken and Quinoa Burritos</h2> <p>With a pre-cooked <a href="http://reluctantentertainer.com/2013/07/recipes-for-chicken-burritos/">rotisserie chicken and grains from the rice cooker</a>, these burritos can be thrown together very quickly.</p> <h2>10. The Oregonian&#39;s Vegetable-Heavy Freezer Burritos</h2> <p>Not only does it pack a nutritional punch with kale, broccoli and sweet potatoes, but <a href="http://www.oregonlive.com/foodday/index.ssf/2008/06/recipe_detail.html?id=7865">this recipe has great, specific instructions</a> on how to use freezer paper and tape to keep the burritos freezer-safe.</p> <p>For any of these recipes, check out <a href="http://www.thekitchn.com/freezer-friendly-conquering-the-frozen-wrap-167542">TheKitchn&#39;s system for protecting wraps from freezer burn and reheating them</a>.</p> <p>Does all this cooking, stuffing, wrapping and freezing sound like too much work? You can always fall back on the freezer aisle. This amusing post from <a href="http://www.fromaway.com/observations/a-detailed-discussion-and-comparative-analysis-of-sketchy-frozen-burritos">From Away: Cooking and Eating in Maine compares 13 &quot;sketchy&quot; frozen burritos</a>. The post also shares a bit of wisdom worth carrying over from store-bought frozen burritos to homemade ones: Although it&#39;s quicker to microwave them, baking a frozen burrito for about 30 minutes will have better, more even results.</p> <p><em>What&#39;s your favorite frozen burrito recipe?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheaper-and-healthier-than-store-bought-10-great-freeze-ahead-burrito-recipes" class="sharethis-link" title="Cheaper and Healthier Than Store-Bought: 10 Great Freeze-Ahead Burrito Recipes" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink burritos cheap recipes frozen burritos frozen food quick meals Thu, 10 Oct 2013 10:36:03 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1002511 at http://www.wisebread.com Fresh vs. Frozen: 5 Dinner Comparisons http://www.wisebread.com/fresh-vs-frozen-5-dinner-comparisons <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/fresh-vs-frozen-5-dinner-comparisons" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/frozen%20food%20aisle.jpg" alt="frozen food aisle" title="frozen food aisle" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="145" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I really love to cook. Recently, however, my work schedule was ridiculously busy, and I was getting home later and later. To get dinner on the table, I decided to try something completely out of character: frozen food. If you read my posts, you know that I&rsquo;m usually a die-hard do-it-yourself-er. I <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-rate-condiments-homemade-mayo">make my own mayonnaise</a>, for crying out loud. Also, frozen foods tend to be high in sodium and fats, so I have, in the past, stayed clear.</p> <p>The beauty of frozen meals, though, is that they take about 15 minutes or less to heat. So on one of my dead-tired days, I took a trip down Walmart&rsquo;s frozen food aisle. There were a surprising number of frozen bags of food that looked pretty darn appetizing. I decided to give one of them a try. My husband and I thought it was fine for a busy-day dinner, rounded out with bread and salad. That experiment led me to wonder about the other brands and varieties, and we ended up trying five &ldquo;bagged&rdquo; dinners. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/twenty-five-ways-to-use-frozen-spinach">25 Ways to Use Frozen Spinach</a>)</p> <p>At first I wrote a post about my frozen-dinner taste-tests. In all honesty, it was pretty boring. Then I had an epiphany: I would make home-made versions of all the dinners we had tried and compare them to the store-bought versions. There was a challenge, and I do love a challenge.</p> <p>So, here are the results of my experiment &mdash; reviews of the frozen versions and their fresh counterparts. Of course, I could not find the <em>exact</em> recipes online, but I thought these versions were very close. Also, I live in Hawaii, so my prices are likely higher than mainland prices.</p> <h2>Stouffer&rsquo;s Teriyaki Chicken Skillet</h2> <ul> <li>Cost: $6.18</li> <li>Servings per container: 2</li> </ul> <p>My husband pronounced this entrée &ldquo;eminently edible.&rdquo; He has a good vocabulary. I don&rsquo;t, and I would say, &ldquo;It was okay, but next time I&rsquo;ll try microwaving it.&rdquo; This is because although I followed the directions exactly, the rice wanted to stick to the bottom of the skillet. I finally just let it steam for a few minutes, and then it came off. Also, the vegetables were a little overcooked.</p> <h3>Fresh Version</h3> <p>As far as time went, the homemade <a href="http://caloriecount.about.com/teriyaki-chicken-rice-recipe-r2941">teriyaki chicken with rice</a> lost, because you begin by marinating the chicken for two hours. Once the chicken was marinated, though, it went together in about a half an hour. For flavor, the homemade version won, hands down. I added a cup each of carrots, broccoli, and red peppers, plus one can of water chestnuts (and was careful not to overcook the vegetables). I was able to make dinner <em>plus</em> lunch the next day.</p> <h3>Cost Per Serving</h3> <ul> <li>Frozen: $3.09</li> <li>Fresh: $2.41</li> </ul> <p><strong>Winner</strong>: Fresh</p> <h2>Birds Eye Voila! Garlic Chicken</h2> <ul> <li>Cost: $4.18</li> <li>Servings per container: 2</li> </ul> <p>We both really liked this frozen dinner. With a tossed salad and some French bread, it was just great. The vegetables (assuming you follow the directions) are not overcooked, and the chicken really, um, tastes like chicken.</p> <h3>Fresh Version</h3> <p>The homemade <a href="http://caloriecount.about.com/garlic-chicken-pasta-recipe-r134">garlic chicken</a> tasted a LOT like the frozen version. It was very good and easy. However, I did a lot of tinkering with this recipe, starting by cutting it way down (1/4 lb. pasta and 1/4 lb. chicken). I also reduced the garlic to 1 tbsp and used a combination of 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of olive oil in place of 4 tbsp of butter. I added a cup each of broccoli, corn, and carrots. This went together fairly quickly, in under 45 minutes. Again, it made enough for four servings.</p> <h3>Cost Per Serving</h3> <ul> <li>Frozen: $2.09</li> <li>Fresh: $2.25</li> </ul> <p><strong>Winner:</strong> Draw</p> <h2>Birds Eye Voila! Three-Cheese Chicken</h2> <ul> <li>Cost: $4.18</li> <li>Servings per container: 2</li> </ul> <p>Basically, this is macaroni and cheese with vegetables and chicken. That is not a complaint! We both liked it and ate it all. Plus, the Birds Eye folks have this frozen veggie thing DOWN. No mushy stuff. Two thumbs up on the frozen.</p> <h3>Fresh Version</h3> <p>To use a texting expression, OMG. It was so good. Birds Eye calls their version &ldquo;three-cheese&rdquo; chicken, but if you look at the ingredients, there are actually four cheeses: Romano, cheddar, Parmesan, and blue cheese. I could not find a recipe close to this online, so I made up my own, adding 1 1/2 cups each of broccoli, corn, and carrots to 10 oz. of pasta. I sauteed 2 boneless chicken thighs and tossed the mixture with 1 cup of the mixed cheeses. My husband thought the blue cheese &ldquo;made&rdquo; the dish, and we could have eaten a ton of it. But we didn&rsquo;t, since there was enough for leftovers. It took about 45 minutes to put together.</p> <h3>Cost Per Serving</h3> <ul> <li>Frozen: $2.09</li> <li>Fresh: $2.24</li> </ul> <p><strong>Winner: </strong>FRESH, definitely</p> <h2>Bertolli Mediterranean Garlic Shrimp, Penne &amp; Cherry Tomatoes</h2> <ul> <li>Cost: $6.88</li> <li>Servings per container: 2</li> </ul> <p>The Bertolli packaging looked great, which convinced me to try it. (Yes, sometimes I buy wines by their labels and books by their covers, too.) This tasty meal contained swanky asparagus and shrimp, plus cherry tomatoes, in a great buttery garlic sauce with penne. The vegetables were surprisingly good. I hesitated a little when I saw the price &mdash; but I had also recently priced both frozen shrimp and asparagus, so I knew they were expensive. We would have liked to have more shrimp, but that is probably asking too much.</p> <h3>Fresh Version</h3> <p>&ldquo;Fine.&rdquo; How is that for a resounding review of this <a href="http://caloriecount.about.com/shrimp-asparagus-pasta-recipe-r5495">shrimp and asparagus pasta</a>? To keep it frugal, I bought raw shrimp. That meant deveining and peeling, a cooking chore I don&rsquo;t enjoy. No, wait &mdash; I hate it. It <em>looked</em> a lot like the frozen version, but next time, I&rsquo;ll let the Bertolli people do all the work. Also problematic &mdash; it took forever to make. Well, maybe not forever, but the stupid shrimp alone took 20 minutes, and then it was another roughly 30 minutes of chopping, grating, and cooking. Sure, it made enough for leftovers, but it was only &ldquo;fine&rdquo; the second time around, too. I added a half cup of grape tomatoes to the recipe.</p> <h3>Cost Per Serving</h3> <ul> <li>Frozen: $3.44</li> <li>Fresh: $3.70</li> </ul> <p><strong>Winner:</strong> FROZEN. (Who wants to eat &ldquo;fine&rdquo;? BOR-ing.)</p> <h2>T.G.I. Friday&rsquo;s Sizzling Chicken Fajitas</h2> <ul> <li>Cost: $6.88</li> <li>Servings per container: 2</li> </ul> <p>Of all the packaged meals we tried, I was the most hesitant about this one. My husband is a big fan of fajitas, and I was worried that a frozen fajitas meal would not meet his criteria. I followed the directions exactly and heated up some fat-free refried beans to go on the side. Surprise! The fajitas were tasty. His words: &ldquo;Hey, it&rsquo;s not Chevy&rsquo;s, but it&rsquo;s good.&rdquo; (Chevy&rsquo;s is a west-coast chain of Tex-Mex restaurants.) He also thought I had to buy <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ten-tortilla-tips-for-mealtime-madness">tortillas</a> to go with them. Nope. I did take out some of the onions from the vegetable mix (there were just too many for me). These frozen fajitas were something you could really dress up, if you wanted, with guacamole, sour cream, cilantro, etc.</p> <h3>Fresh Version</h3> <p>The homemade <a href="http://www.food.com/recipe/chicken-fajitas-91860">fajitas</a> really had a WOW factor. I was left wondering &quot;Why the heck haven&rsquo;t I been making these, all along?&quot; I had this incorrect idea in my head that they were hard to make. Not so. My husband said, &ldquo;Frozen, pretty good...versus fresh, VERY good.&rdquo; It went together in about 45 minutes, and I have to admit there was a lot of chopping. I cut it down to a four-serving size, though, and we made breakfast burritos the next day out of the leftover filling and scrambled eggs.</p> <h3>Cost Per Serving</h3> <ul> <li>Frozen: $3.44</li> <li>Fresh:&nbsp;$2.73</li> </ul> <p><b>Winner:</b> &iexcl;FRESCO!</p> <p>My ending thoughts? Unless you are the <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4X4MwbVf5OA">Enjoli woman</a>, go ahead and give yourself a weeknight break with one of these frozen meals.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fresh-vs-frozen-5-dinner-comparisons" class="sharethis-link" title="Fresh vs. Frozen: 5 Dinner Comparisons" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/marla-walters">Marla Walters</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/frugal-living/food-and-drink">Food and Drink articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink cheap dinner recipes eating fresh frozen food quick meals tv dinners Tue, 19 Apr 2011 13:37:34 +0000 Marla Walters 522987 at http://www.wisebread.com