In my house, there has to be something quick and easy in the freezer at all times that can be microwaved for lunch or a snack. If there’s not, spur-of-the-moment hunger pangs at unusual times of the day can lead to unhealthy and expensive trips through the drive-thru. I used to keep a stash of chicken patties, hot pockets or frozen burritos on hand, but I’ve been trying to eliminate all convenience food from our diets, so for a while I was at a loss at what to do. Then I devised these hot pocket knock-offs. They’ve been a godsend–they are the perfect vehicle to use up little bits of leftover meat, veggies or sauce, they freeze beautifully, and they heat up in 60-90 seconds!
Using homemade dough, leftover meat and sale-priced cheese, I can make a batch (about 14) of these for around $3.50. That’s less than 30 cents per pocket! And trust me, these are super easy to bake up.
You can either use a bread machine to mix this or knead it out by hand. Either way, let the dough rest for around 10 minutes when you’re through mixing/kneading.
4 cups flour
3 TBS oil
1 TBS sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup of room temperature water
scant 1/4 cup of milk
2 teaspoons yeast
- Lightly mix flour, sugar and salt and mound on a floured countertop (I sometimes do my initial mixing in a large bowl). Add water, milk, oil and yeast in the center.
- Gently mix till a dough starts to form.
- Knead for around 7 minutes until dough ball is smooth and easily workable.
- Let rest for 10 minutes.
- Divide dough into 14 balls for 14 hot pockets
- Roll out into a rectangle and fill with cheese and meat of your choice
- Fold long sides over, then tops. Gently press or pinch to seal.
- Place onto a lightly greased baking sheet seam-side down and sprinkle with Italian seasoning and parmesan cheese.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes (tops should be slightly golden brown)
- You can eat them immediately, or freeze for later. To reheat, microwave for 60-90 seconds.
I fill these with leftover meatballs, sauce and cheese (after we’ve had a spaghetti dinner), leftover sliced or cubed ham with some cheddar cheese, or leftover shredded chicken with a bit of buffalo sauce and mozzarella. These would also be great with scrambled eggs, cheese and bulk sausage for quick breakfasts! To freeze, I put 1 or 2 into zippered freezer bags so they can be taken to work for lunch quickly.
Anybody else have any homemade frozen convenience food ideas that keep them away from fast food joints? Please share in the comment section!
Stay tuned till the end of this post! 🙂
Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.
Pork. The Other White Meat.
In America, the Big Meat companies spend BIG bucks on advertising and propaganda to convince us that no meal in this country is truly complete without a super-sized slab of beef, chicken or pork taking center stage on our dinner plates.
Compare that to the status quo in most other countries, and you’ll find that meat is most often either served up in MUCH smaller portions, eaten sporadically as a treat, or merely used as a flavorfull accent amidst an abundance of rice, beans and vegetables.
Besides the debated health concerns of a meat-heavy diet, the COST of buying all that meat can really add up! Compare the price of a pound of sirloin to that of a pound of dry Kidney beans, and you’ll see what I mean!
Now, I’m a happy carnivore (although I do have issues on the way most meat is farmed, fed and slaughtered, but that’s another issue altoghether!), so I’m not advocating a Vegan or Vegetarian diet in this post. But how can we enjoy eating our “finger lickin’ good” wings and drumsticks without spending an arm and a leg??
Here are my favorite tips to save big on buying meat:
- Use a little less meat than a recipe calls for! I find most of the recipes I use for chili, soup, casseroles, meatloaf, etc. call for around 1 lb of meat. I was constantly portioning out and freezing 1 lb servings after I brought it home from the grocery store. Now, If I buy a three pound package of ground meat, I divide it into four portions instead of three. The difference is negligable, and Mike has never caught on he’s not getting that full pound of beef in his chili! You can portion out ground turkey, chicken breasts, and many other cuts of meat in the same way.
- Streeeetch that meat! I realized a while ago that great-tasting “fillers” can drastically reduce the amount of meat I have to use in our favorite recipes. For example, instead of just using ground meat in my burritos, I now use half the amount I did before, and replace the missing beef with some rice and/or beans. And I think they actually taste better! Or, if I use the “normal” amound of beef, adding the rice and beans DOUBLES my recipe and gives me an extra dinner’s worth of burrito filling to freeze for a lazy day! I also used to make salmon or tuna patties that were mostly…well, salmon or tuna. Then I happened upon a super-tasty recipe for Salmon Croquettes that reduced the amount of fish I had to use by adding leftover mashed potatoes and extra Panko bread crumbs! You can do this with LOTS of recipes (remember Grandma stretching out the meatloaf back in the day with bread/bread crumbs/cornflakes back in the day?) Same idea here. Grandma sure was smart!
- Become a follower of “Meatless Mondays”. This is a wordwide movement to abstain from meat every Monday for health/environmental reasons and benefits. I was initially attracted to this because it’s also historically a tradition in New Orleans (my favorite city of all time). Red beans and rice is cooked up in pots all over the city every Monday in epic proportions, and it tastes like a dream. I find it fun to get creative cooking without meat once a week, and believe me, it’s a challenge to tickle Mike’s tastebuds if his dinner doesn’t contain SOMETHING that once lived and breathed. Check out the Meatless Mondays site for tasty recipes, eye-opening statistics, and celebrity followers that are sure to get you on board!
- Buy cheaper cuts of meat, and cook them low and slow. I know, I know, you’d think the Crock Pot people paid me to endorse their products. They probably should. But I can’t sing enough praises to the slow-cooker. With little time and effort, you can turn the cheapest, toughest cut of meat in the butcher’s case into a melt-in-your-mouth delicacy. You can pay 69 cents a pound instead of $3.99 a pound, and your dinner will actually taste BETTER. Best of all, you can throw it in the pot before you go to work, and come home to an aromatic, fully-cooked meal. It’s like my own personal plug-in chef. Check out my Southwestern Pulled Pork Taco recipe (and use a pork butt roast, the cheapest cut of pork you can buy), and give it a whirl! I’ll be waiting for an email on how delicious it was.
- OK FRIENDS, I’M INVITING YOU TO THINK UP TIP NUMBER FIVE!! Just post your best money-saving meat tip as a comment on this post! I’ll pick the one I like the best, and the winner will get their choice of a few prizes!! (an AirWick Ultra Fresh Automatic Air Freshener System, a Lysol No-Touch Hand Soap Dispenser, or…well, I’m tossing around a few other ideas!! (must post by August 19th to be eligible to win)
Post in the comment box/link below to leave your favorite tip! Good luck!