Veggie Burgers

While I’m not a vegetarian, I really enjoy vegetarian foods. Veggie burgers are one of my favorites because they often highlight delicious vegetarian flavors and are so versatile. In addition to eating them as a burger you can put them on top of salads or crumble them in egg scrambles. Store-bought veggie burgers often are full of salt and additives, so I prefer to make my own. They can be a little time consuming, so I prefer to make a bunch of them and freeze them for use later. I had a.m.a.z.i.n.g. walnut veggie burger at Jac’s in Madison and decided it was time I tried a few few new recipes. These burgers turned out great. J and Eli love them too!

These burgers can be prepped and frozen to be cooked fully from frozen when you are ready. Another option that saves a lot of time later is to prepare them fully, let them cool, and them freeze them individually. The latter option allows you to just warm them up in the microwave, on a GF grill, or in a skillet when you are in the mood. It saves a lot of time and is less messy since they are fully cooked already.

The key to freezing these is to line a baking sheet with wax paper and place the burgers on the paper individually. Be sure they are not touching. Put this in the freezer for about 2 hours, or until the burgers are hard. At this point you can remove them from the paper and place them in a freezer bag. It is critical that you do it this way so the burgers are individually frozen. If you don’t the burgers will freeze stuck together. This isn’t a huge deal if you plan to thaw them all at once, but it makes it impossible to remove individual burgers from the freezer. It is also a problem if they aren’t pre-cooked, because they will need to be thawed and then they will just a be a big pile of mush. This approach of freezing individually has been a live saver and can be used for anything you are freezing. We use it all the time in the summer when berries are in season!

 

veggie burgers-blackbeanSpicy Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers
Recipe from Ambitious Kitchen

 

 

veggie burgers-chickpea walnutChickpea-Walnut Burger
Recipe Adapted from Big Mike Eats

veggie burgers3veggie burgers2

 

 

 

 

Black Bean and Corn Soup

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During the summer CSA we got a TON of sweet corn. I  mean a ton – 12 ears per week. That is way too much for 2 people to safely eat. My routine was to roast all 12 ears in the oven the night we got them. I would save the number of ears I thought we could eat in the week and then remove the corn from the others. By the end of the summer, despite eating corn like it was going out of style, we still ended up with 3 gallon freezer bags filled with corn.

When fall rolled around I decided it was time to start making a dent in the corn. Over the summer we also inherited a few gallons of tomatoes from my dad’s farm and a decent amount of hot peppers from our own garden (probably the only fruitful plants in our garden). What better to make with all of these items in the fall than soup! Pair that with a bag of dry black beans and you have a simple, nutritious, and filling meal.

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While you can use canned black beans (be sure to drain and rinse!), I chose to use dry beans since that is what I had on hand. It is best to prepare these separate and in advance. If you don’t, you run the risk of excessive gas in your soup (and subsequently in you). You can remove the gas by soaking them in water the night before you use them. You can then add these soaked beans to your soup directly. If you do this, they may be firmer than you are used to, so another option is to cook them fully before adding them to the soup. If you like to cook them in the crock pot before using them, here is a great resource. What I did was soak an entire bag overnight, cook them in the crockpot (per the link above), and then used only what I needed for the recipe. The rest I put in a freezer bag and stored in the freezer until I needed them again.

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Crock-pot Black Bean and Corn Soup

Ingredients
These are all estimates, as I don’t measure when I am putting things into the crock-pot for soup

  • 2 cups of corn (I used sweet corn but regular would do as well)
  • 6 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2-3 cups cooked/canned black beans
  • 1/4 cup diced hot pepper (less if you don’t like spice)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Additional options – ground beef/turkey, shredded chicken, shredded zucchini, diced green peppers

Directions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in the slow cooker
  2. Add water to desired consistency (soupy vs stewy)
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.

Bigger Wallet, Smaller Waist

Here are some website I have found with great tips on eating well while staying on budget:

  • Eat Well for $36/wk with some tips from You.Beauty! Eating healthy doesn’t have to cost much. It just takes a little planning and strategy.
  • I hate that I buy canned beans. Dry beans are so cheap and simple to prepare. The problem is that it feels like such a task to soak them ahead of time. I usually forget and need the beans NOW. Thankfully, Ella at Naturalla Ella as some helpful tips on how to freeze those beans so they are ready when you need them!
  • Whenever we make soup, we do it in the crock pot (why work if you don’t have to) and we make so much that we can freeze over half. This saves us time and money. The Kitchn has some great tips to “Freeze First, Eat Second.”
  • Looking to try canning this year? Old Fashioned Families has some great tips on how to prepare for and can produce from your garden!
  • More Ella I seriously LOVE her blog. She has some great tips on canning you should check out. We plan to use some of these recipes in late summer when our tomatoes and cucumbers are going crazy!
  • Have you ever thought about feeding your family with your garden, but weren’t sure where to start? Becky at Your Modern Family has a great post with tips to get you started
  • Oh Ella…did I mention I love this blog? Oh yes, just a minute ago. Well, this post is great too. It has tons of tips for homemade staples and how to stock your pantry.
  • Last, but certainly not least – Mavis. She blogs at One Hundred Dollars a Month (yes, it is what you are thinking – she feeds her family with $100/mo) and has more tips and tricks than you could ever imagine. If you are ever looking for fresh-from-the-garden recipes, tips and tricks for gardening, or ways to save money, this blog should be your first stop. She also raises chickens and travels all over, so there really is never a dull post.

Money Saving Mom’s 4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer Challenge

Crystal at Money Saving Mom held a 4 week challenge last May to help people stock up their freezers and save money. This is an awesome idea that I wish I would have stumbled on over my winter break (as if I didn’t have enough to do with the kitchen remodel).

So many people tell me that they fall off their diets because they get hungry and there is nothing in the house to eat. They usually end up going out – and when they finally get their food they are ravenously hungry, because almost an hour has passed from the moment they looked for something to eat at home, drove to the restaurant, waited to be seated, ordered, and received their food. Having healthy food and meals on hand in the freeze is a great way to prevent those diet pitfalls.

If you aren’t on a diet this is still good for you! It will help you keep a modest food budget and go about your week stress-free (well, at least stress-free about what will be for dinner).

Many people have food prep parties where they invite their girlfriends over and make meals together. This helps keep everyone on track and gives you an excuse to drink wine and hangout with your girlfriends.

To read more about the challenge, head over to Crystal’s blog here: May’s Challenge: 4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer | Money Saving Mom®.