Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Once a Month cooking day (with children:) Part Three

Since it's been awhile, let me just refresh your memory about what we made...

Muffins (some zucchini, some Fiber One blueberry from a box--4 doz. large & 3 doz. mini)
Beef and Bean Enchiladas
2 lbs. Taco Beef
Hearty Tomato Beef Stew
French Stuffed Potato Topping
Chicken Enchiladas
Chili Verde
Creamy Italian Chicken (for the crock pot)
Chili Sauce Chicken (for the grill or oven)
Herbed Chicken (for oven)
Southern Noodle Bake (my husband calls this "Amish Lasagna")
4 lbs. chicken, cooked and cubed for salads
Sloppy Joe beef
12 "uncrustable" PB&Js
Approx. 70ish whole wheat banana oatmeal choc. chip pancakes

Here are some tips for doing your own Freezer Cooking Day:

1. The most important part of doing a cooking day is to HAVE A PLAN! It's all about the preparation. This is usually a week long process for me. Several days of planning, grocery shopping day, prep the day/night before, and then the actual "Cooking Day".

2. Take stock of what you already have in your pantry. Try to choose recipes that include ingredients that you already have on hand.

3. Plan around a good sale. In my case, it was boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.99/lb.

4. Decide which recipes to use and how much you want to make. If you are new to freezer cooking, you may want to try just 4-5 meals to get used to the process. Here are some things to keep in mind:

** If you need some ideas on what freezes well, you may want to invest in a good Once a month cooking cookbook. A good one to get you started would be Once a Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg. Or check into the menus for places like Touch of Gourmet or Super Suppers. Search internet sites for OAMC recipes. Or heavens, just take a walk through the freezer section at your grocery store. My initial interest in freezer cooking came when I thought to myself, "Well, if they can freeze peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, why can't I? How hard can it really be?" Most items in the freezer section can be recreated by you at home. Think pastas, meatloaf, pancakes, cookie dough, smoothie kits, muffins...the sky's the limit. If "they" can freeze it, SO CAN YOU:) But if it's something you've never frozen before you may not want to make multiples of it until you are sure it worked.

**Make sure to take into consideration how much freezer space you have. When you have a big family like ours, it helps to have a chest or upright freezer available.

** Think about what type of container you will use for each recipe. If it's a recipe that I might possibly take to a potluck or give to another family, I tend to use foil pans, so as not to have to get them back. Soups, stews, marinating meat can all go in zipper freezer bags. Plastic containers (square or rectangle) that can stack are also a good choice, to make the best use of your space.

Hang in there with me...I know you want even more details. No worries, I'm just getting started. There are whole books on this, people. I'm trying to break it down into little bit size chunks. No, I didn't say break dance, although I must say, I did my share of trying to spin around on a cardboard box back in the eighties:) So come on back and next time, I'll get more specific on the grocery/prep/cooking day info and how you can get your own little aspiring chefs involved:)
Shoot me some questions, if you have something specific you are wondering about. Or comment on what ideas you have about recipes you'd like to try (or have tried before) on your own cooking day!

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)

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