Like many working moms, I love a well stocked freezer and pantry. A good stock of frozen meats, kugel, and soup means I am prepared for the worst: a crunch at work, a strep epidemic, or any unforeseen circumstances that leave me without time to shop or cook.

So I have a tendency to panic when my freezer is looking empty. When there's any empty space in my freezer, I head to Costco, place a grocery order, and spend the entire Sunday cooking and baking.

I have had a few panic attacks of this nature lately, so this week I had the opposite problem. My freezer is TOO full. I shopped last week and didn't have room for my meats! Worse, it's filled with a hodgepodge of dishes of unknown origin. So I set out with a mission this week: to clear out the old round of foods in the freezer and pantry (and make room for a new round).

Last night, we had three salmon fillets defrosted and then prepared with a honey mustard glaze. We also had a small pan of manicotti stuffed with cheese and some zucchini that was hiding in the vegetable drawer, miraculously come to life with just some butter and fresh herbs.

Tonight's dinner was a success too, and I managed to use up so many freezer and pantry items! What a joy!

Chicken and Vegetable Stew
1 cup brown rice
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in half
1 white potato, peeled and cut in half
2 zucchini, peeled
1-2 cans of mushrooms rinsed
1 can of chicpeas rinsed (or 1/2 cup chicpeas soaked overnight)
1 onion, peeled and left whole
A head of garlic, rinsed and left whole
6 chicken thighs (straight from the freezer is fine, no need to defrost!)
1 teaspoon salt
Some paprika

Combine everything in a slow cooker crock pot in the order listed above, starting with the rice at the bottom and ending with the chicken and seasoning on top.

Add water to come up about halfway.

Set the crock pot to high and leave cooking all day!