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Category: Baking Day

When you want to make Hashbrown Casserole, but you don’t have sour cream…

This Hashbrown Casserole is SO simple -- even when you feel like you're missing ingredients!

What do you do when you want to make hashbrown casserole, but you don’t have any sour cream? Well, if you’re me, you decide to get creative and make do with what you have!

This was me two weeks ago.

I woke up Sunday morning and realized that I needed to bring something to our church brunch that morning. We had just bought the Ore-Ida Potatoes at Kroger that were on sale for $0.99 per bag as part of the weekend deal and I had a can of cream of chicken soup + a block of cheddar cheese, so I was itching to make Hashbrown Casserole in the Crockpot.

The only problem? We didn’t have sour cream or Greek yogurt or anything that could stand in for sour cream. And every online search for Crockpot Hashbrown Casserole brought up recipes that had sour cream in them.

However, not to be deterred, I remembered this Hashbrown Potatoes recipe from my sister that doesn’t have sour cream or cream soup in it, so I decided to just try and see if I could make something up with what I had on hand.

Here’s what I did:

I browned the onions in half a stick of butter.

Then, I added the can of cream of chicken soup plus some milk and heated it through.

 

While this was simmering, I grated some cheese.

I then put one bag of hashbrowns onto the bottom of the crockpot and poured the soup mixture on top. (Note: I should have sprayed the pan, but I forgot to do so — it ended up not sticking to the bottom like I thought it would, but I would still recommend not forgetting like I did. :))

I mixed the soup mixture in with the potatoes.

And then dumped the shredded cheese on top.

And mixed the cheese in.

I cooked it on high for 3 hours. (We cooked it at home for an hour and a half and then brought it to church and plugged it in to cook during the service for an hour and a half.)

The end result was amazing — it smelled so good, tasted amazing, and the crockpot was completely empty in just a few minutes! I would say they were a big hit! 🙂

Not all of my kitchen creations have turned out so successfully, but it’s always a victory when they do — and I get creative and make do with what I have on hand!

By the way, I got 678 points from Fetch for buying the Hashbrown Potatoes! Yay for free points and free gifts cards for something I was already planning on buying!

Looking for another yummy Hashbrown Potato recipe that doesn’t require any sour cream or cream soup? Check out my sister’s Cheesy Hashbrown Potatoes recipe.

Freezer Cooking: Baked Oatmeal & Turkey Meatballs

I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 grocery budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories.

I had planned to do a Freezer Cooking Day earlier this week, but life happened and I ended up only getting two different recipes made. Sometimes, you just do the best you can do, right?

The good news? At least our freezer filled up a little more with yummy food!

I made 4 pans of Baked Oatmeal. This is a family favorite and my kids (and Jesse!) were so excited that I made it since it’s been quite awhile since I’ve made it.

I made the Baked Oatmeal on live video — only I forgot I was supposed to double it! So I ended up making a single batch on video and then another batch when I got off live video.

I also used the ground turkey I got marked down to make a double batch of Turkey Meatballs. I joked on Instagram Stories that I should call these Clean Out the Fridge Meatballs because I literally used odds and ends of thing we had on hand and needed to use up — including some rice.

We ate one pan for dinner this week and then froze the second pan. (I lined the pan with plastic wrap and then popped it out and stuck it in a freezer bag so that I could have this pan back. 🙂

See last week’s freezer cooking post here: Freezer Cooking Day: Crockpot Sausage & Peppers, Slab Apple Pie, Apple Pie Filling, Muffins, Ziti, and Taco Meat

Freezer Cooking Day: Crockpot Sausage & Peppers, Slab Apple Pie, Apple Pie Filling, Muffins, Ziti, and Taco Meat

Freezer Cooking on a $70 weekly grocery budget. This is SO impressive and inspiring!! Check out everything she made in just a couple hours!

Our garage freezer was almost empty 2 weeks ago. I decided to challenge myself to see if I could slowly fill it up — on our $70/week grocery budget.

This is one way you can save SO much money. Buy ahead when things are on a low, low price and you’ll rarely ever pay full price for anything. Then, use what you already have on hand in the freezer/fridge/pantry as the basis for your meals and freezer cooking.

I did an impromptu freezer cooking day on Tuesday and here’s what I made (well, “freezer cooking day” might be a bit of an overstatement since I actually only spent a little over two hours on this cooking and the clean up! But hey, “freezer cooking day” sounds better so we’ll go with it!)

We had a bunch of peppers and some onions that I had gotten marked down, so I combined them with some sausage I had gotten for $1.99 per package plus a little celery I had left in the fridge to make sausage and peppers in the Crock-pot. I cooked this on low most of the day. We ate half for dinner (served over rice) and I froze the rest for another day.

I had a bunch of apples that I’d gotten marked down at Kroger over the past few weeks and turned them into one of our favorite recipes — Slab Apple Pie! I baked it and we froze it to have on hand for quick desserts in the next two months when hosting guests!

I had enough apples left over to make a bag of Apple Pie Filling (sliced apples with lemon juice and cinnamon/sugar).

I used some marked down bananas I had gotten recently and stuck in the freezer to make some amazing Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.

I used our favorite Banana Bread recipe and just added some chocolate chips to the batter. My kids love these in their lunches and they also make great snacks. We store them in the freezer and then just pull them out as we need them!

We had some cream cheese that needed to be used up and some blueberries in the freezer, so I searched online for recipe ideas and found this one.

I taste-tested one and it was delicious! I stuck these in a freezer bag and put them in freezer fit quick snacks!

The Final Results of My Freezer Cooking Day:

And I did a little bit more freezer cooking on Thursday and Friday, too…

We had frozen cottage cheese and browned sausage I had gotten marked down + pasta sauce in the fridge that needed to be used up and pasta I’d gotten for $0.49/box, so I found a deal on mozzarella cheese and made 3 pans of Ziti. One for dinner that night and two for the freezer.

I found ground turkey marked down to $1.99 per pound, so I bought 2 pounds and browned them with homemade taco seasoning and stuck two bags of taco meat in the freezer.

It makes me so happy to see that our garage freezer is starting to fill up a little bit! I’m going to keep challenging myself to add more deals and freezer meals to our garage freezer every week without spending more than our $70 grocery budget.

We’ll see how long it takes to fill it up! (And of course, we’ll be eating some what’s in this freezer every week, upping the challenge even more!)

I love looking at saving money as a fun challenge! This makes my competitive side come out in a good way AND (in our super lean years) it kept me from feeling trapped!

Instead of saying, “Ugh! This is all the $$ we have to spend!” Change your perspective and say, “How well can we do on this small amount?!”

Have you done any freezer cooking recently? What are your favorite recipes to stick in the freezer? Any suggestions on recipes I should try soon?

P.S. See my previous Freezer Cooking Sessions here.

13 Easy Homemade Bread Recipes {Freezer & Budget Friendly!}

These easy homemade bread recipes are all really budget-friendly. PLUS, you can make all of them ahead of time to freeze for later, so that it saves you time!

There’s something about the smell of homemade bread wafting through your house. Not only does it smell SO welcoming, but fresh-from-the-oven bread is beyond delicious!

Our family loves bread, and one way that I’ve always stretched our grocery budget is by making our own bread at home. You can buy the ingredients for homemade bread and it will last for many, many bread recipes of all kinds.

During the lean law school years earlier on in our marriage, this was one of my favorite ways to save money but also enjoy something delicious! In fact, I often saved us $100-$200 per year by making our own homemade bread!

I know making bread can seem time consuming and requires planning ahead, and that’s why I love to make bread ahead of time and freeze it for later!

Here are 13 of my very favorite homemade bread recipes that are frugal, easy to make, and freezer-friendly…

1. Homemade Freezer Biscuits — Say goodbye forever to canned biscuits. This recipe is a winner. It’s quick, easy, inexpensive, and so practical. Best of all, you control what ingredients go in it, unlike canned biscuits that you buy at the store.

2. Easy Freezer-Friendly Homemade Pizza Dough — This pizza crust recipe has been my go-to recipe for years. It’s so easy to make — and it’s really hard to ruin. In fact, I’ve made it dozens upon dozens of times and I don’t think I’ve ever messed it up.

3. Homemade Breadsticks in the Bread Machine — These are SO easy to make — and absolutely delicious, too! To make these freezer-friendly, just wait until you reheat them to add the melted butter, parmesan, and garlic.

4. 30 Minute Rolls — This recipe has been a favorite in our family for many years. We’ve made so many batches of these rolls that I have the recipe memorized. They are so yummy and a hit with everyone who eats them. And you’ll be shocked by how easy and FAST they are to whip up!

5. Pull Apart Oat Rolls — The addition of oatmeal and whole wheat flour gives these tall, fluffy rolls a hearty boost! You can even substitute wheat germ or wheat bran in place of some of the whole wheat flour for a little different twist. If you can’t eat them all at once, they freeze well and reheat beautifully.

6. Easy Whole Wheat Muffins — These consist of only a few staple ingredients, making them extremely frugal and easy to make. They are also a lifesaver for those day-before-grocery-shopping emergencies where you really need something else to serve with dinner, but your cupboards are almost empty! These muffins are surprisingly moist, even though they don’t have any oil or butter in them. So for those of you trying to watch your fat intake, use low-fat buttermilk, and this recipe can be your new best friend.

7. Easy and Delicious Homemade English Muffin Bread — I made this recipe back in 2012 for the first time as a DIY project one month. I’m so glad I tried the recipe, because it’s an ongoing winner in our house. It’s so easy to make, so frugal, and SO good. It also freezes beautifully! I make the loaves, slice them, package them in freezer bags, and freeze them. Then, we just take out however many slices we want at a time!

8. Make-Ahead Butterhorn Rolls — These are pretty much hands-down the most-delicious dinner rolls you’ll ever eat. And best of all? You can make up a batch or a double-batch ahead of time and then just pull out, thaw, and bake as many as you need for dinner.

9. Bread Machine Buttery Rolls — This is a recipe from my brother, it uses basic ingredients you usually will always have on hand, and it literally takes about 5 minutes of labor! These rolls always turn out beautifully and my whole family loves them. This is a winner recipe you’ll make over and over again.

10. Chocolate Banana Bread — It’s hard to go wrong with anything that has bananas, chocolate, and chocolate chips. Seriously, though. Chocolate on chocolate. Enough said! 😉

11. Pumpkin Crescent Rolls — When it comes to homemade rolls, it doesn’t get much better than these. You can’t taste the pumpkin in these at all, but the pumpkin is there for a reason. It makes these rolls tender, soft and absolutely delicious! The finished rolls are a beautiful golden fall color – although the color varies depending on what kind of pumpkin you are using.

12. Brown Sugar Biscuit Twists — This recipe is one of our family’s very favorite recipes. I originally adapted it from an old, falling-apart Better Homes and Gardens bread cookbook my mom had when we were growing up. I’ve made these countless times and they are so easy to do and so yummy!

13. Freezer-Friendly Banana Bread — This banana bread recipe freezes so well, and you can add all kinds of fun mix-ins to it if you want! Our favorite is chocolate chips (of course!). We make this whole wheat chocolate chip version frequently!

Bonus Tip: You can also try making your own homemade baking mixes to save money and time!

Looking for other freezer-friendly recipe ideas? Try these:

What are some of your family’s favorite bread recipes? I’d love to hear!

How to Freeze Avocados

Can you freeze avocados? I set out to answer that question a few weeks ago and here are my results!

Yes -- you can freeze avocados! Read this post to find out how! It's actually SUPER simple!

Y’all know I love me some clearance buys at Kroger. I mean, really, those yellow WOOHOO stickers make my heart skip a little beat.

{I might have issues. Okay, let’s face it. I do have issues. But hey, this weirdness has saved us a LOT of money over the years and it has certainly helped to keep life interesting! ;)}

Our Kroger has a section for marked down produce and they have these red mesh bags that they fill with produce. Each bag is just $0.99. Sometimes, it will be a pretty sorry deal — like 3 half-rotten apples for $0.99 or 5 potatoes for $0.99. But oftentimes, there are some really amazing deals in these red mesh bags.

Case in point, a few weeks ago, I went to the store and saw an incredible deal on avocados. And by incredible, I really mean incredible.

They had bags of 6-7 avocados that were ripe (but not overripe) for just $0.99 per bag! I love avocados and I eat a LOT of them on the eating plan I’m on.

Right now, avocados are usually priced around $0.88 per avocado (I’ve seen them for as low as $0.25 to $0.30 each at ALDI, but that’s very rare) and I usually eat one avocado almost every single day.

So this was a BIG score for me! The only problem? I knew I couldn’t eat them all up before they went bad.

I remembered something I’d read somewhere online about freezing avocados, so I literally whipped out my phone in the middle of the store and googled, “Can you freeze avocados?”

{What did we do before the days when we could stand in the grocery store and have all of the internet at our finger tips??}

From what I found, it looked like it was worth the risk to attempt freezing them. There were six bags and I decided to play it safe and only buy 3 bags, just in case my experiment was a flop.

To freeze them, I pitted them, scooped out the insides, and then mashed those up and added some salsa and lime juice. I then stuck them in freezer bags, pressed them flat and put them in the freezer.

A week later, I thawed one out and it tasted great! I stored it in the fridge for a few days and ate some every day to see how it fared. I’d say that it’s best to use it the day you thaw it, though it was still fine a few days later — it was just a darker brown color and didn’t look too appetizing!

I opted to freeze my avocados with salsa and lime juice for flavoring because I usually eat my avocados with salsa. You could also add other seasonings, herbs, or flavorings to it — such as salt, cilantro, tomatoes, onions, or cayenne pepper. Onions and tomatoes can be a little on the iffy side to freeze, though, so you could also add those in fresh after you thaw the avocados.

You can also freeze avocados halved if you want to use them in smoothies.

Want more details? Watch my quick YouTube video to see how I made this! (Psst! Are you subscribed to my YouTube channel? If not, what are you waiting for? Go subscribe here so you never miss any of my new weekly videos!)


This Week’s Menu Plan + My Freezer Cooking Plan

Here’s what’s on our menu plan this week:

Breakfasts

Breakfasts are a big deal at our house. Not necessarily because of what we eat, but because this is the one meal we’ve committed to eat together around the table pretty much every single day.

Dinners are often somewhat grab and go or brown bagged — especially on the nights our kids have activities. But breakfast, it’s a given. We eat, we talk, we read together, we pray together, and we linger around the table. It’s been a beautiful addition to our schedule + a great way to start the day!

Choose from:

Lunches & Snacks

Our extra refrigerator is 100% devoted to lunch items. We’re making up a big batch of freezer-friendly PB&J on the weekends and, in addition, there are 4 different bins of items that the kids can choose one from — cheese sticks, snack packs, veggies, fruit, applesauce, chips, cookies, etc.

Each bin has something different so that when they choose one item from each, they have a well-rounded lunch.

Kathrynne helped me set this up and she took the initiative to write a board with details on how to put together the lunches. So far, I have literally done NOTHING for lunch prep other than help set the system up and make sure we had the items on hand for Kathrynne to get everything into baggies in the extra refrigerator.

And then the kids have been entirely in charge of each making their own lunch every night. I haven’t had to remind anyone and no one has yet to forget their lunch. I’m pretty excited at how well this has worked so far — especially because the kids seem to be loving it!

Jesse and I are in charge of our own lunches and I’m going to have items on hand to choose from: fried eggs, toast, chips & salsa, yogurt, refried beans & cheese, salads, fruits, veggies, and/or leftovers.

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Dinners

Freezer Cooking

I’m doing a Freezer Cooking session on Wednesday where I’m combining dinner prep with freezer cooking. This means that I’ll really only have to bake/cook one day this week. I’ll be making Homemade BreadCrockpot Taquitos, Pancakes, and Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole. Look for more details on how that goes later this week!

Look for my post tomorrow with full details on what all the groceries we bought for this week plus how much we paid for everything!

What’s on YOUR menu plan this week? Share the link to it in the comments or tell us what you’re most excited about cooking!

Related Menu-Planning Posts:

3 Recipes I Made Recently Using What We Had on Hand
Why I’m Back to Menu-Planning, Grocery Shopping, and Freezer Cooking
Why We Stopped Making Family Dinners a Priority
YEARS of Past Menu Plans We’ve Shared Here
6 Ways We’re Keeping Our Grocery Budget Low
Why We More Than Doubled Our Grocery Bill