Stewing over a busy calender? Fill the freezer

As I look ahead at our Octo?ber calendar, it?s become painfully clear just how busy Joey and I will be this month.

There isn?t much more space to add engagements, and with both of us moving in opposite directions over the next few weeks, coordinating meals won?t be very easy, either.

That?s why I was excited to try a recipe that is designed to create several meals in one for you to keep in your freezer.

The original recipe comes from ?Quick Cooking Magazine? in its November/December 2003 issue. You can find it online at http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/favorite-hamburger-stew.

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Favorite Hamburger Stew

Ingredients

2 pounds ground beef or turkey

1 medium onion, chopped

4, 14.5 ounce cans of diced stewed tomatoes

8 medium carrots, thinly sliced

4 celery ribs, thinly sliced

2 medium potatoes, cubed (I didn?t peel mine)

2 cups water

1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice

1 to 2 tablespoons salt

1 to 2 teaspoons pepper

Directions

In a Dutch oven, brown the ground beef or turkey along with the onion until the meat is cooked all the way through.

Drain off any grease.

Add the carrots, celery, potatoes, water, rice, salt and pepper to the pot.

Bring the mixture to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.

Remove the lid, and let the stew simmer for another 20 minutes or until it thickens slightly.

Let the stew cool, and divide it into freezable containers in three-cup portions (there should be about five).

The stew can be frozen for about three months.

To eat it, thaw a portion out and then add to a stock pot with a cup of water. Cook it on medium-low heat until it?s heated through.

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This is really good with saltine crackers or crusty bread, and it tastes just as good out of the freezer as it does fresh, and it was super easy to heat up. I ended up freezing ours in about one and a half cup portions, and that?s enough for two big bowls of stew when you heat it up with a cup of water, so I think the three-cup portions should be family-sized, especially if you add just a little more water to it to stretch it a bit more.

If you?re as busy as we are or you would just like to have some pre-made stew in the freezer for those nights you don?t feel like cooking, I highly recommend this recipe.

Maybe, if we?re lucky, November will be a little slower, but I suspect the calendar will fill up quickly, and I?ll be making another batch of stew very soon.

When not helping husband Joey with newspaper work, Lindsey teaches speech, debate and forensics at Haven High School. She can be reached at lindseyclarion@gmail.com.