I have become a ” Freezer Meal Mom”. I am obsessed with how easy it is to make nourishing meals in advance for my family. Freezing healthy meals makes my life so easy. So so easy. Butternut Squash and Spinach Sloppy Joe’s are also a great way to give your kids a meal they like while getting them to eat vegetables. I have become a pro at sneaking vegetables into my kid’s food. Remember? I am a sneaky mom!
In the past I have snuck vegetables into my son’s food by making Cauliflower “Cheese” sauce, Vegetable spiked meatballs, and Hidden Vegetables Pulled Pork. I have also shared with you, 12 sneaky ways to hide vegetables in your kids food.
I love hiding spinach in any type of loose meat concoction. It literally disintegrates into the meat mixture and little kids gobble it up without even realizing it’s there!
Adding roasted butternut squash is a sweet way to add some vegetables to your sloppy joe sandwich that your family will enjoy!
I don’t usually buy pre packaged items at the store. However, I don’t feel totally bad using Pre made sloppy joe sauce. They like to even sneak vegetables into sauces like Manwich.
I like to make my weeknight dinners in advance, this makes life at home with two little boys go much smoother. On the weekends I will make a large crock pot of food, then freeze 2-3 dinners. When you freeze already cooked meat, you simply defrost your freezer bag in hot water and PRESTO! you have dinner!
Butternut Squash and Spinach Sloppy Joes.
This Recipe Makes 4 dinners and uses 4 lbs of ground chicken. If you only want to make 1 dinner you can divide these portions by 4.
4 lbs of ground chicken. ( or ground turkey or ground beef)
4 cans of sloppy joe sauce ( or if you are really ambitious, you can make your own)
1 large butternut squash
12 cups of chopped spinach
1.) Peel and chop 1 large butternut squash. Place the squash pieces on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until tender. If you plan to cook this all day in the slow cooker, you can skip the step of roasting the squash in the oven.
2.) In a saute pan, brown all the ground chicken. Rinse all the chicken to remove the fat before placing in the crock pot.
3.) Add the ground chicken, sloppy joe sauce, butternut squash pieces and 12 cups of chopped fresh spinach in your slow cooker.
4.) When you get the consistency you like, you can eat or freeze your sloppy joes!
Tips on Freezing!
1) Measure out how much your family might eat during 1 meal. I do this by filling a particular bowl in my kitchen with meat. then putting that part into a freezer bag.
2) Don’t totally close the freezer bag until the food has cooled.
3) Refrigerate the food overnight before freezing it. Putting hot food straight in the freezer can contaminate it.
4) Freeze the food flat first, then go back later and store your freezer meals like books on a book shelf.
5) To Defrost, simply place in hot water until thawed and serve!
I cannot tell you how priceless it is to simply thaw a meal, or throw a nutritious meal in the oven or crock pot and spend that extra time in the afternoon playing with my boys instead. It saves time on dishes too!
It is soooo true, that being proactive pays off!