Make Your Own Freezer Meal Kits

Italian Chicken and Pasta

Have you ever purchased one of those frozen meal kits from the store? They sure are fast and easy…just toss the contents in a large skillet with some water, bring to a boil and then simmer, and dinner is done in about 20 minutes. Couldn’t be easier right? But there are also drawbacks to these convenient kits. They’re fairly expensive when you consider how much you’re getting, they’re typically high in sodium, and the ones that include meat are so skimpy with it, you wonder why they even bothered. In addition, most of these kits claim to feed four people, but the portions would have to be mighty small at best, so unless you buy two kits, chances are good that someone is going to be hungry later.
Given the drawbacks of store-bought meal kits, it’s understandable why you might be tempted to avoid them altogether. But why miss out on the ease and convenience? Instead of buying your meal kits already assembled by a machine in a factory, why not make your own meal kits at home instead? It’s easy, and you’ll have the added comfort of knowing that you're in control over the ingredients.
To help you get started developing your own meal kit ideas, here’s an easy meal kit recipe that I came up with recently. This Italian Chicken and Pasta Dinner Kit is super-easy and my family loved it. By prepping your noodles and chicken ahead, and by making use of frozen veggies from the store, this yummy kit is a cinch to make.
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Italian Chicken and Pasta Dinner Kit

2 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning 
1 lb. Penne pasta
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (16 oz.) bag frozen broccoli
1 (14 oz.) bag bell pepper and onion blend (such as Fajita blend)
1 frozen crushed garlic cube
1 frozen chopped Basil cube
In a small bowl, combine tomato paste and Italian seasoning. Spoon tomato paste mixture into ice-cube tray sections; place in freezer and freeze until firm. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and let cool. Meanwhile, brown chicken in a large skillet; reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through. Remove from skillet and let cool on a paper towel-lined plate. In a large bowl, combine frozen broccoli and onion/pepper blend. Divide vegetable mixture between two gallon-size freezer bags. Add 1 frozen crushed garlic cube, 1 frozen chopped Basil cube, and half the frozen tomato paste cubes (about three) to each bag. Divide cooled pasta between two gallon-size freezer bags, making sure to remove as much air as possible and seal. Divide cooled cooked chicken between two quart-size freezer bags, making sure to remove as much air as possible and seal. Add one bag of cooked chicken and one bag of cooked noodles to the bag with the frozen vegetables (you may have to fold the tops of the bags down a bit to make everything fit). Makes 2 kits @ about $5.19 per kit. Each kit makes 4 generous portions @ about $1.30 per serving. Cook’s note: Frozen crushed garlic cubes and frozen chopped Basil cubes can be found in your grocer’s frozen vegetable section.

To prepare Italian Chicken and Pasta Dinner Kit:

Remove noodle bag and chicken bag from the vegetable bag. In a large skillet, combine contents of vegetable bag with 1 ½ cups of water over medium heat. When mixture begins to boil, reduce heat and add noodles and chicken. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until mixture is heated through, about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4 @ about $1.30 per serving. Cook’s note: you may need to add a bit more water if it boils off too quickly. Mixture should be well-sauced but not “soupy” or too dry. For added richness, substitute chicken stock for the water.

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