As exciting and amazing as is the thought that Christmas Month is right around the corner, one thing intimidates--trying to deal with family meals during December. My Christmas diary that I keep each year during the holidays always ends with the same caveat for the next year--"Always cook and freeze during November. Put food aside. You CAN'T cook and get ready for Christmas at the same time!"
As my journal illustrates, I've learned this lesson through some trials and tears. Meal prep gets lost in the middle of gift-wrapping, card-sending, decorating, and party-attending. Despite the best intentions, this important home-maintenance aspect gets lost. In our family, dining at home and consuming foods in which we control ingredients is highly important. "Just grab something" in a fast-food line on the way to a Christmas event is not a viable option when sodium content, carb content, and proper nutrition is vital to our health. So meal planning must be done carefully and adhered to.
Things work well when we start building a December stockpile in the weeks before the rush hits. When I can, I cook double portions in advance, label them, and freeze them. Last night began the first of such efforts--as I prepared our spaghetti sauce for the evening meal, I tripled the recipe. From that I derived four portions--one to serve that very night, three others to assign to small casserole dishes which I then wrapped securely to prevent freezer burn, and stored in the deep freeze. From past occasions I know what a welcome blessing these already-prepared meals will be in just a few short weeks.
Spaghetti Sauce Excellente contains healthful onions, fresh tomatoes, and green peppers (the latter from our garden that right now is awash in the delightful green orbs). Over some whole-grain pasta it makes a grand meal for right now and a reassuring promise that we'll eat well and wisely during that Month of Months ahead!
Spaghetti Sauce Excellente
1 pound ground turkey, browned and drained
1/4 cup onion, browned with meat
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped, and browned with meat
6 ounces tomato paste
10 ounces, tomato sauce (no salt)
1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped and drained before adding
1 teaspoon salt substitute
1/2 teaspoon each oregano, basil, rosemary, pepper
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Brown turkey, onion, and green pepper together. Drain. Add remaining ingredients. Cook covered for 30 minutes. Serve with cooked spaghetti and Parmesan cheese. Freezes well.