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Freezer Cooking Day: Today’s Accomplishments

I'm wiped out! I thought it wouldn't be too hard to pull off my to-do list if my mom were here helping with the children this afternoon. I mean, after all, I usually have them and do this all by myself.

Was. I. ever. mistaken!

Oh, it was a huge help to have my mom here, don't get me wrong! I just bit off more than I could chew with trying to put in our normal full morning of homeschooling and homemaking, then a lunch date with my hubby, and then a whirlwind four hours of cooking/baking in the afternoon.

It's so worth it to have all this food in the freezer, but I'm going to devise a different gameplan next month because I'm not superwoman and ran out of steam very quickly this afternoon. I'm wondering if perhaps I'm more energetic in the mornings so starting out at 1:30 p.m. is just too late in the day for me to be as productive? I'm still mulling over it.

At any rate, despite all this, I did get quite a bit accomplished:

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I chopped up some beautiful red peppers I snagged for $0.99 total yesterday at the health food store and used them in the Chicken Tetrazinni.

I made two variations of Chicken Tetrazinni (see the recipe here) since this is one of family's favorite freezer meals–one I made with red peppers and onions and spaghetti noodles. The other I made with green peppers and fettucini noodles. They both turned out looking delicious!

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I also made four pans of Chicken Broccoli Rice. I wish I could point you to a recipe for this, but the truth is that I don't use one. I just mix brown rice, broccoli, cheese, butter, eggs, cream of chicken soup, and chicken together in amounts that look right and then freeze. Who needs a recipe when you can just dump some stuff together and call it "dinner"?!

After that was done, it was almost dinner time, so I hurriedly decided we'd have leftovers for dinner–since we had some in the fridge–and skip the meatballs I was planning to serve. I finished up the Freezer Mashed Potatoes (see the recipe here) and got everything ready to do in the freezer, and then I called it an afternoon.

So here's what I ended up accomplishing today:

1) Grind flour and mix together waffle batter and begin cooking waffles
2) Boil chicken
3) Get potatoes in the crockpot for Freezer Mashed Potatoes
4) Chop chicken, boil noodles
5) Quick clean up
6) Boil rice, make homemade cream soup, chop red peppers
7) Make Chicken Tetrazinni
8) Make Chicken Broccoli Rice
9) Finish Freezer Mashed Potatoes

It might not seem like that much, but here's a picture to give you a better idea:

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All in all, I made 12 meals, 2 dozen waffles, and 2 tubs of Freezer Mashed Potatoes. For 4 hours of work, that was definitely worth it!

Here's the revised plan for Wednesday:

1) Make Slow Cooked Pepper Steak and put in crockpot
2) Make Granola
3) Make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
4) Mix together Turkey Meatballs
5) Make Farmhouse Chicken
6) Make Pumpkin Scones
7) Make Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
8) Finish dinner preparations (Farmhouse Chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, apples) and clean up kitchen
9) Be thrilled with the finished results, put my feet up, and relax knowing I don't have to do much cooking for the next month!

Like today, I'm planning to begin baking again at 1:30 p.m. CST and will be tweeting my progress and posting pictures and details as I cross things off my list. And maybe I'll have more energy tomorrow?

For now, I'm heading to bed and hoping for a very good night's rest!

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45 Comments

  • Whitney says:

    I absolutely LOVE your baking days. Last month I made a lot of your recipes a couple days after your Baking Day, and I plan to do the same this weekend. Mid-week is hard for me but once the weekend rolls around I’ll be stoked to get some food in the freezer! You are such an inspiration, thank you!!

  • FishMama says:

    1. Don’t be too hard on yourself. I think you did great!
    2. Afternoons are hard, I agree. I’m a morning girl myself.
    3. My kids didn’t get the same kind of day as they would have if I wasn’t doing this today. I think that just goes w/ the territory. But, it’s okay to have a weird day in order to get other infrastructure in place.
    4. You did great.

    Love you, friend.

  • The day I tried to do this, it kicked my behind too! I wrote about the lessons learned here: http://momsinneedofmercy.blogspot.com/2009/10/coffee-talk-thursday-what-im-learning.html

    From looking at your list (great job, by the way!), I wonder if maybe it would help next time to prep as much as possible a day ahead if that would work for you (??). For example, mix up the dry batter, boil the chicken, cook the rice, chop the peppers, etc…so that everything is pretty much ready to assemble. Some of the freezer cooking books I’ve read say that’s the way to go! Looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings 🙂

  • Indimoney says:

    Great work Crystal!! As always, you’re a big motivation to everyone.

  • FindSavings says:

    Thanks for the recipe ideas. I do not have as many children, but I work full time, have a baby, dog, and husband and I am exhausted! Having good meals in the freezer is a great idea. I make a similar meal as the brocoli, I just add baby corns. Yummy.

  • I don’t think I’d do very well trying to homeschool AND do a baking day.

    Could you possibly work ahead with your school, or just take a day off next time?

  • Rebecca says:

    Thanks for posting your days in the kitchen as it is always an inspiration to me. I love the freezer mashed potatoes idea!

  • Lecia says:

    I have been considering doing this as I really struggle with daily meal prep. I always do it, but not with a very good spirit! I know for me starting after lunch would just be too much, but then again my daughter has stopped taking naps so I wouldn’t have any quite time anyway. I have found if I school four days a week and use one day for other projects it works better in our home. Maybe you will find it will be easier to do this if you don’t try to do school that day as well. By only having a four day school week you eliminate any guilt of not doing school with the children because it isn’t planned anyway. After teaching in the public school system I know that more can be accomplished in a four day a week homeschool than can possibly be accomplished in five days of public/private school. As the girls get older or you become more comfortable with once a month cooking you can incorporate more of their help. What a life lesson that you could never get from a textbook!

  • Tammy says:

    Good job on your cooking day.How nice that your mom was there to watch the children.

  • Stephanie says:

    The last time I did a marathon baking day, along with homeschooling I was completely wiped out too, even the next day I was moving slow!! My husband suggested I be a little less ambitious next time. I think he is right!

  • Margery says:

    I think you did a fabulous afternoon’s worth of work! My days are so chopped up right now with part time work at my church, two in private school (drive carpool) and one homeschooled, I’m just going to try to make some waffles for the freezer this afternoon. You inspired me.

  • Santhi says:

    Great job indeed and u deserve a big pat on the back! What kind of freezer do u use? And food is stored in plastic containers? Tupperware or…?

  • leighann says:

    i know you are exhausted, wow! that being said, is there any way you could do a complete breakdown of what you cooked? i know you are saying 12 dinners but i cannot tell what is in the packages. i really want to try this once a month cooking thing- i tried a baking day and loved it, so nice to have all of that on hand in the freezer-but do not have the storage space. we are currently looking for a good deal on a chest freezer. anyway, thanks for all of your hard work!

    *******************
    Money Saving Mom here: Yes, I’ll post a complete breakdown this afternoon when I post a picture of everything I make.

  • Amy says:

    I think you may be on to something with realizing your energy drops in the afternoon. I always plan my bigger chores and activities in the morning because I know that I don’t accomplish as much in the afternoon. It may be worth switching your schedule once a month for these cooking days!

  • charity says:

    Everything looks Awesome. Knew you could do it. Keep up the great work and reap the rewards.

  • Brooklyn says:

    I have a recipe for the Chicken Broccoli Rice if anyone wants it.

    http://lovepeaceandsaving.blogspot.com/2009/09/chicken-broccoli-cheese-and-rice.html

    Great job on the baking day!!

  • Ellen says:

    I know this is a silly question, but do you ever feel like you ‘just’ finished your culinary creations and don’t want to use them right away? (Of course freezing is involved so that will delay the immediate usage.) At times, I find that I make several loaves of bread & it’s gone in a day or two. Or I make a big pot of chili and poof! Gone. I guess I need to invest in a self-standing freezer.

  • Amy says:

    Crystal,

    I am really impressed that you got all this done! I try to have one day a week or once every two weeks where I bake some things for the freezer. Usually it’s just 1-2 hours so it doesn’t break up our schedule too much. It doesn’t feel like a huge accomplishment, but it’s what works best for our family right now.

    I also do lots of waffles when I’m ironing my hubby’s dress shirts. Once the batter is made, I just keep pouring it in while I am ironing in the kitchen. We recently made your whole wheat waffles (which we have always loved) with pumpkin instead of oil and applesauce. They were delicious!

    Hope today is productive for you!

  • Jennifer says:

    I think you did awesome! In the future, why not cook in the morning and then school in the afternoon? Flipping the 2 could work better.

  • MVB says:

    Wow! Great job! I am so glad I found your blog. I am excited to try once a month cooking after the holidays. I am inspired by your love for the Lord and love for you family. You are blessed at homemaking! Thanks for putting the recipe links too. Its nice to have some new recipes to look over for when I may try this whole venture. Question-are these meals for Nov. or December?

  • Erin says:

    Wow you ARE wonder woman!! All of that looks great! I’d LOVE the recipe for your slow cooked pepper steak if you don’t mind posting it. My husband does all of our cooking, but new recipes are always welcome!!!

    BTW…how do you reheat your waffles? I did some waffles and froze them and we’re having a hard time figuring out the best way to reheat them without them turning soggy!

  • Andrea says:

    You are amazing!!! Everything looks great. :))

  • Wow! That’s great! Hope today goes well for you too! I need to do this one day very soon! I might even bake a few things today. Thanks!
    God bless,
    Amanda

  • Toni :O) says:

    You are a ROCKSTAR! I love your site more and more each day. Thank you for all of the savings and great ideas…my coworker and I just rave about your site and all the savings that we’ve had recently…it’s SO awesome!

  • Jen says:

    Can you tell me how you package the meals for freezing them. Do you just put them in a metal 9X13 and then cover the top with tin foil? Does this keep out freezer burn for you?

  • Molly says:

    I love what you do! So great! I do some freeze ahead but not near what you do — Do you have the recipe for the scones? They sound super yummy!!!!

  • Bonnie says:

    You did wonderfully, Kiddo!!! Here’s another suggestion for your day: Can the little ones help you prepare some of the things that morning?? I remember you posting that your oldest helped with cutting up cooked chicken and such. It can be a “Home Ec” day, so it’s schooling, just not book schooling. Just a thought!!!

  • Amanda says:

    Maybe next month you could ask you mom to come in the morning, if it would fit in her schedule. She could school the girls. I hear that her graduates turn out wonderfully!

  • Debbie says:

    You know I am so proud of you and your achievements I rarely see anyone your age working so hard to meet your goals (or even working hard at all!) I commend you!

  • Kari says:

    I’m wondering if you use aluminum baking pans? I want to make up a bunch of stuff, but then I’d have to go out and buy a bunch of throw away pans for it…I’ve done it before. Now that I’ve cut my budget in half for groceries, I’m wondering if there is a way around this? Thanks for your input! 🙂

  • mobil bekas says:

    Everything looks Awesome.Thank you for all of the great ideas…

  • MeghanM says:

    You did so much! Good job, it looks so god too!

  • Challice says:

    So discouraged. I went to bed Monday night with a fever and slept all day yesterday. WAHHHHH
    Ahh well. I guess I’ll be using today and tomorrow as my freezer cooking days.

  • Sarah S says:

    Amazing!!! With baby #3 arriving in a few weeks I would love to make meals ahead but my freezer died and I have no place to store meals.

    Do you have any specifics you use when making your Chicken Broccoli Rice? It looks amazing, but I’m not very good at making up a recipe.

    Thanks! Praying your day goes well.

  • Mrs. R. says:

    Hi Crystal!

    I appreciate SO much the lists you gave us this week–thank you !!!

    Also—what is the line/name of the health food store that has all the great bargains the Lord provides for you? I’m hoping it’s a national chain, and not local to just one area.

    We have these in our area: Whole Foods; Trader Joe’s; and single-store mom-and-pop ones. I don’t remember seeing deals like these, so I thought I’d ask you.

    Thank you AGAIN for all the fabulous inspiration you provide to me and our family!!!

    Oh–and my grandma always said, “We live nad learn,”” too—so that’s a regular saying around our house. 🙂

    ******************
    Money Saving Mom here: The health food store is a local store and there’s only one location. I wish it were national so the rest of you could share in these great deals, too!

  • Rae says:

    “doesn’t seem like much” LOL!!! Even before the picture it seemed like a lot. You’re crazy 😛 Great job and good luck with day 2 🙂

  • Brooke says:

    Seriously, you are super woman….

  • Reesa says:

    Wow! I am find this to be so much harder that I thought it would be. My next baking day will have to be on a Saturday so my husband can help with the kids and so there is no homeschool work to do.

    I am having fun though! We are selling our house so I planned my meals around what we had in the cabinet and freezer. For example, I have several containers of black beans in the freezer but found one older can in the cabinet so I am using it today. I only had to purchase some meat and a couple other ingredients to make what will eventually be about 15 dishes.

    http://suburbantreehugger.com/blog/?p=220

  • Alison says:

    i was wondering if you could post the recipe for your steak? It sounds delicious!

  • Kim says:

    Is the recipe for chicken broccoli rice posted somewhere on your blog, I’m not seeing it.

  • Shari says:

    For the broccoli/cheese/rice casserole did you precook the rice?

  • KLJ says:

    I have the same question as Shari. =)

    Also, once you pull it out of the freezer, do you put it in a 350 degree oven? For how long?

    I’ve never been able to “wing it” in the kitchen without a recipe. I’m so jealous. =)

    Amazing day! When I’m able to stay home, I may have to try a baking/cooking day and see how it goes.

  • Whitney says:

    When you add eggs to your Chicken Broccoli Rice – are they cooked or raw? Going to make this for my Baking Day this weekend… please let me know! 🙂

  • Dee says:

    I need a recipe for kid friendly freezer chili with beans Please!

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