Filling the Freezer: Easy and Budget friendly Italian Cuisine

Every few weeks I try to prepare a few dishes that I can place in our freezer.  It is always comforting to know on those crazy days when I simply don’t have the energy to cook, when our kiddos have events in the evening, when unexpected company joins us for dinner, or when I, or my husband, have a meeting in the evening that there is a meal already prepared in the freezer. 

A couple of weeks ago I prepared Italian inspired cuisine to place in the freezer that definitely came in handy! I prepare Baked Ziti, Veggie Lasagna, Manicotti, and Meat Balls.  Which were each very easy to prepare and were budget friendly so I instantly thought, I have got to share these with other moms! So without further ado….

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Baked Ziti


  • 1 box of ziti or penne pasta
  • 1 Egg                       
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 1 jar commercial spaghetti sauce (whichever kind is on sale or you prefer)
  • 2 cups Mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan (to be used after it is baked)


Follow directions on box of ziti or penne pasta to boil. Once the pasta is boiled, drained, and then place in pan 13 x 9 pan that is freezer friendly. Beat 1 egg and pour over pasta, mix it.  Sautee onions then mix onions, spaghetti pasta, and 1 cup of Mozzarella together.

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Pour mixture over pasta and mix so that sauce covers all the pasta. Sprinkle remaining Mozzarella over the top. Cover with aluminum foil. Label, date, and add directions with a permanent marker (this makes it effortless for your hubby, sitter, etc. to pull it out of the freezer and prepare).

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I know we did. The Baked Ziti I made was enjoyed with my in-laws who came over to celebrate my birthday.

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Manicotti (image above)

I joined a cooking club in November and this Manicotti dish was one of the meals we made. It was so delicious that I have added it to my fill the freezer regime. This is a dish I have managed to master after preparing a few times. At first it can be tricky stuffing the Manicotti but after some trial and error I am sure you will find your own technique.

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For the Manicotti recipe click here to be directed towards Lilly’s Kitchen Lab.

Our Manicotti dish came in handy the evening I taped Moms’ Timeout.

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Italian Meat Balls

These are perfect for Spaghetti night or meat ball subs. Meat ball subs are one of my hubby’s favorite lunches.  If you freeze these in Ziploc bags you can divide them in serving sizes so that you can simply grab 3 meat balls to heat up with sauce and place on a sub with some Mozzarella.


  • 1lb of ground meat (turkey or beef)
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 2T bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced

Directions: Mix everything together in a bowl and then form into 2inch balls. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (make sure they are cooked through).  Let cool completely and then divide into bags per your meal plans.


Like I said, my hubby adores meat ball subs thus; these went to a few subs over the past few weeks. I love the fact that he can have a hot meal for lunch and I don’t have to cook.

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Veggie Lasagna / Lasagna Roll-up

This is by far my personal favorite! I like to prepare these as roll-ups because they are much easier to serve though it does take a little longer to prepare but I think it is worth it. For the Lasagna recipe and some yummy bread to accompany it click here.

And last but not least, make this fun, put on some music, (I prefer the Lumineers ) and grab a glass of wine while you prepare…try some Julia Child lingo…make it fun!

Bon appetite!


St. Nicholas Activities for Kids

So it is the first week of Advent and like many other families we are finding ourselves becoming quickly overwhelmed.  It seems like the month of December, though not the shortest month of the year, flies by the fastest due to the numerous events, festivities, gatherings, etc. I am finding myself checking off Christmas traditions, such as decorating the tree, the house, getting out our Elf on the shelf and moving it to a new location every morning, seeing Santa, seeing lights, etc.  like items on a “to do” list, as opposed to quality family time together making memories to be treasured.

So, in an effort to slow down and truly get back to the real meaning of Christmas I am simplifying by minimizing the commercial or more secular festivities and focusing more on tradition Christmas. This means we will be focusing our attention on the Feast of St. Nicholas and the birth of Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, I am not forbidding anything, but rather trying to emphasize the true meaning of Christmas more.  So, this past week in an effort to refocus our attention this Christmas season we have been preparing for the Feast of St. Nicholas. 

Here are a few of the fun activities we are doing in preparations for the Feast of St. Nicholas.

Watching Veggie Tales Saint Nicholas A Story of Joyful Giving which is currently on Netflix.


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St. Nicholas Center  has a great story about the Real Santa that I read to the kiddos while they worked on the numerous kid friendly activities I found on St. Nicholas’ Center for Kids, including their St. Nicholas Puzzles….

Click here for puzzles to print off for your children.

Click here for more puzzle options.

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While our toddler and preschooler worked on their puzzles our first grader worked on a crossword puzzle and then started making a St. Nicholas ornament out of beads from her craft bin. 


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Then all three kiddos helped put together a fun St. Nicholas memory game. The older two helped cut out the memory squares and all three helped glue them onto cardstock.

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Another activity our preschooler really enjoyed was The Ship Game, where he had to circle all the items in the picture that began with the letter “s”.

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I have printed out St. Nicholas’ for the children to color and cut out.

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Our St. Nicholas Tradition…

When I was a child my brother, sister, and I would sit our shoes outside our bedroom doors the Eve of St. Nicholas Day and in the morning we would rush over to the shoes to see what St. Nicholas had left us.  We would often find an orange, apple, candy, and other small trinkets of interests for children (cool pencils, stickers, etc.).

Now that I am a mother I am finding so much joy in continuing these traditions with my own children. I have everything ready for St. Nicholas Eve, apples, oranges, chocolate coins, and cute St. Nicholas pillow ornaments that the children can color and then hang on the tree.

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I am so enjoying sharing the story of Saint Nicholas and all these fun activities with my children and am looking forward to St. Nicholas Eve!

Here are some additional interesting links I came across:

Checkout this new tradition, instead of a shoe why not a shoe bag for St. Nicholas day that you can have embroidered?

St. Nicholas Chocolate Coin Printable

St. Nicholas Day Spice Cookies

St. Nicholas Day Blessing of Candy Canes

Does your family celebrate St. Nicholas day? If so how do you celebrate?