Cheddar Broccoli Rice Casserole and Freezer Cooking with a Preschooler

Cheddar Broccoli Rice Casserole Freezer Cooking with a Preschooler

Recently, I have been on a mission to declutter my house and essentially my life! My kids don’t need half the stuff we have, and that stuff just gives me more organizing and clean up work.

As I have been thinking about my priorities and what we like to do as a family, I’ve realized we love cooking together AND it accomplishes a purpose. Why not teach my kids now to have fun working—because that’s really what it is!

One afternoon I decided to fill the freezer with some freezer meals, because let’s face it — in the summer, who wants to be cooking dinner every night? We’d rather be enjoying a hike or a playground or some creek play.

I decided to keep my freezer recipe simple so my 4 year old daughter could help me too. I learned this recipe several years ago from Money Saving Mom.

broccoli cheese casserole

It can’t get any easier than this, folks! I do a few things differently than Crystal, but its essentially the same.

Simply prepare the following ingredients and then mix together.

  1. Make 10 cups cooked rice in a rice cooker or on the stove. I used the rice cooker so I could work on other things while it worked away and so my daughter could help pour the rice and water in.
  2. Bake some chicken (or start it in the crock pot that morning)—enough for 4 cups chopped. I often leave out the chicken. I might serve the dish as a side and throw some chicken on the grill, or we’ll just eat it without any meat. Another way to save some money!
  3. Steam some broccoli. I just use whatever we have. Sometimes I add more than the suggested 4 cups.
  4. Combine all the ingredients with a mixture of 3-4 cans cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup and 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese.
  5. Divide the casserole into your meal containers. I used to put it in bags like Crystal does, but then I started freezing them right in oven-ready containers. I have some nice glass pyrex dishes with lids that I use, or I’ll use disposable foil pans.
  6. When you get them out of the freezer, thaw them first and then bake them at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. If I find myself in a bind and didn’t plan ahead—sometimes I need a quick dinner—I will slide them right in the oven and bake them for a little longer. It always seems to work out fine!

brocolli cheese freezer casserole

I find these oven foil containers locally, at places like Glennwood Foods and Sharp Shopper. I usually buy them in packs of two or three for $1, which is actually about the same price you would pay to buy them on Amazon!

The pyrex containers were part of a portable picnic set with carrier, but are a lot like these available on Amazon. I pack them full because they are only about half the size of a normal 13×19 casserole dish—which makes them perfect for side dishes!

Be sure to check out Crystal’s full recipe with complete instructions. Since you know I simplify everything—probably too much sometimes! 😉

You may also find these recipes appetizing:

eclair graham cracker pudding chocolate frosting summer potluck delectable dessert rhubarb crunch Marshmallow Peanut Popcorn: Easy Enough to Do With Kids (and toddlers too!) Energy Bites  Christmas Cookies for Novices: Cherry Winks I hated yogurt until i made my own 

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Keep Your Stock Up Prices Easy To Find

Track Prices with Products

We keep our raisins and oatmeal in previously bought containers and just keep refilling them. I could never remember what price I paid for them since I buy them in bulk, so I started writing the price I paid and place I bought it at on the lids with a sharpie marker. I even included the date purchased.

As I tracked this information, I quickly learned that just because Martin’s has raisins for $1.39/lb one week, doesn’t mean they’ll be the cheapest next week!

I thought their price would always be the same, but not true!

I saw them for as much as $1.99/lb one time, so I checked Glennwood and Sharp Shopper and found them to be cheaper that week. It pays to keep track of these things!

Keep a Stock Up List

You can also keep a spreadsheet or list of your stock item prices. I have recently printed this one  and added it to my “Mom’s Notebook”, but you could very easily make your own too! (Please see all other Money Saving Mom forms here.)

There are many places to download/print stock up spreadsheets online. Here are a few I found:

:: Centsible in Seattle
:: Cuckoo for Coupon Deals
:: Beautiful Frugal Life
:: We Use Coupons


Sharp Shopper Customer Appreciation Week

This week is customer appreciation week at Sharp Shopper. There are some good deals, like $.79 for 40oz ketchup. I’ll warn you though, the lines are long and the stores are busy (I think at every time of day!).

If you are just making one shopping trip, you will find most things decently priced. However if you are a couponer, you’ll notice that you can get better deals on cereal and even some juices with coupons at your grocery store that doubles coupons. For instance, V8 Splash sells for $1.99 and up at Sharp Shopper, but this week you can get it for $1.50 after coupons at Giant.

You also have a chance to win some great door prizes and gift cards. You must make a purchase to be entered.

Buy Quick Oats in Bulk for $.49/lb

Buying in bulk can save you a lot of money. But have you ever bought in bulk once, loved the price and then went back to buy it again and were disappointed?

It wasn’t long ago that I started buying in bulk, and I think the first time I bought, I was lucky. It was on sale that week, and I was super-excited to find it cheaper in the bulk section than in dented and discount grocery stores! Then when I went to buy it again, thinking it would always be the same price, I was disappointed to see the price had changed. But at that point, I needed it, and had to buy it. I have experienced this with both raisins and quick oats.

Quick oats for example are typically around $.89/lb. However, this week at Martin’s in Ephrata, Quick Oats are on sale for $.49/lb! This is a great deal! Even if you do RiteAid or drugstore deals, you are lucky to find a 1lb container of Quaker Quick Oats for less than $1.

I have found it helpful to check prices of each bulk sections when I am at stores like Glennwood, Sharp Shopper, Martin’s, Yoder’s, etc. I keep a mental note until I get home and then check my notes to see what the last price I paid was. Also, if you shop at Martin’s in Ephrata, watch your Shopping News. Every now and then they offer a special coupon in their weekly ad to save on bulk food purchases.

Sharp Shopper Deals: $1 Soy Milk and Whole Wheat Flour

Have you been to your local Sharp Shopper lately?
Locations are in Ephrata, Leola and Middletown.

We found 1/2 gallon Zen Soy (lactose free) milk for only $1. And it doesn’t expire until February 13.

They also have five pound bags of whole wheat flour for only $.99.

I can’t guarantee they still have both of these in stock, but at these prices, it is worth checking out!