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Tag Archive: Freezer Cooking Day

Freezer Cooking Day: The Lazy Edition

So, I did a very short Freezer Cooking Day this past Saturday. Actually, I don’t think “day” really describes what it was – since it was more like “snatches of time” in the middle of a busy day.

To be completely honest, I got all lazy and didn’t really do it “right.” I guess you could say I’m adapting FlyLady’s slogan: “Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family.”

Getting past perfectionism and being satisfied with “good enough” has been one of the best lessons I’ve learned as a homemaker. Because seriously? No one lives in the perfect, catalog houses anyway.

I cooked up a TON of chicken (something like 16 meals’ worth!) and then just chopped the cooked chicken and sliced the marinated chicken. And then {gasp!} I dumped it into two big freezer bags and stuck them in the freezer. I know I should have probably frozen them in individual meal-sized bags, but I ran out of bags and time.

The same with the strawberries, bananas and peaches. I’d planned to make up these snazzy Fruit Smoothie Kits complete with yogurt frozen in ice cube trays and the like. But I was short on time since we were leaving the next morning to go out of town, so I decided it was better to get something done and to go to bed at a decent hour, than to do everything perfectly and stay up all night.

{Is it a sign that I’m getting old or that I’m getting smart when I choose sleep over perfectionism?}

Only time will tell if my lazy methods end up taking a lot of extra time. For now, I’m just happy to have a big bag of muffins, three big bags of frozen fruit for smoothies, 40 homemade oatmeal packets and about 16 meals’ worth of chicken in the freezer making meal preparation over the next few weeks much smoother.

And all told, I probably spent no more than two hours –broken up over the day – to pull it off, including clean up.

Sure, it’s not my most impressive Freezer Cooking Day spread, but it’s something. And that something will come in very handy during the busy weeks ahead.

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Did you have a chance to do any baking or cooking this week? If so, post about it on your blog and leave your link below to your direct blo g post. I’d love it especially if you could share pictures and recipes so we can get ideas for our next Freezer Cooking Day! And I’m guessing many others would be inspired as well.

Freezer Cooking Day: The Final Accomplishments (and come link up yours, too!)

The final results of Saturday’s Freezer Cooking Day:

–4 meals’ worth of Barbecued Beef (Wasn’t really thrilled with how the recipe turned out, so I’m not sharing it here — maybe next time!)

–3 meals’ worth of Southwest Roll-ups (enough for

–4 meals’ worth of Marinated Chicken

–48 Frozen Fruit Cups

–Quadruple batch of Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes (Recipe was supposed to be coming, but they were all eaten before I got a picture. I’ll likely make these next time around and try to get a picture so I can share the recipe then!)

–Cooked bacon for BLT sandwiches and salads (enough for 3 meals)

–Cooked and chopped chicken for Homemade Pizza and Chicken Pasta Salad (enough for 4 meals — 2 of each)

By the end of my Cooking Marathon, I made enough for 18 meals or parts of meals, plus pancakes and fruit cups. For 2 1/2 hours of work, that was every bit worth the effort spent!

We still have 6 meals leftover from last month’s Freezer Cooking Day, so I’m pretty sure we’re just about set for dinners in May — and that’s such a great feeling! Yes, Freezer Cooking is very worth it.

_______________________________

Did you have a chance to do any baking or cooking this week? If so, post about it on your blog and leave your link below to your direct blo g post. I’d love it especially if you could share pictures and recipes so we can get ideas for our next Freezer Cooking Day! And I’m guessing many others would be inspired as well.

Freezer Cooking Day Success!

Wheat kernels ready to be ground

Well, I made it through my 2-Hour Freezer Cooking list on Saturday. It did end up taking me a little over two hours — more like 2 1/2 hours. But I was very happy to have made the equivalent of 18 meals or parts of meals during that timeframe, plus pancakes and fruit cups.

I think it was extremely helpful to map out specific times on my cooking plan. It motivated me to work fast and keep at it.I definitely think I’ll be doing that again in the future.

And of course, it was also helpful that my husband took over childcare duties for 3 hours so I could cook and clean up. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you’re not being interrupted every two minutes to get someone a drink, change a diaper or calm down a fussy toddler. I’m very grateful to be a mommy to these precious children, but it doesn’t always mean I get a lot of other things done aside from taking care of them many days! 🙂

In other news, apparently our family really likes Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes. A quadruple batch of them didn’t make it much longer than 24 hours! But they were made with freshly-milled whole wheat flour, organic eggs and milk and turbinado. So I really am not going to complain. And I won’t mention how many I ate, either!

Coming at 8:30 p.m. tonight: My revised Frozen Fruit Cups recipe

Coming at 9:00 p.m. tonight: A picture of all my Freezer Cooking accomplishments, plus an opportunity for you to link up your blog posts about your freezer cooking, too!

Freshly-ground Whole Wheat flour — I love to use it when it is still warm!

Homemade Baby Food for the Freezer

Homemade Baby Food for the Freezer

Guest Post by Erin from $5 Dinners

A great way to save money when you’ve got a little one crawling under foot is to make your own baby food. The average price at my grocery store for a 1-serving jar of baby food, stage 1, is $0.51. From my rough calculations, you can save an average of 75% by spending a few minutes in the kitchen to make your own food — especially if you buy in season and get the best prices on that fresh produce.

While I prefer cooking in the kitchen each night for our “big people” meals, I’ve found it works really well for me to have a Freezer Cooking Day once a month preparing homemade baby food.

Here are a few tips for making homemade baby food efficiently and cost-effectively:

Planning

Watch the sale prices on produce. If butternut squash or sweet potatoes are on sale, but your Baby Food Freezer Cooking Day isn’t for another 2 weeks, that’s okay. Purchase the vegetables that will last longer when you see them on sale. Then, get other produce, apples, pears, mangoes, that won’t stay fresh as long just before your baby food prep day.

Timing

If it’s not too overwhelming for you, plan your baby food making into your regular Freezer Cooking Day. If that is overwhelming, plan another “1/4 day” to prepare just the baby food.

Execution

The biggest “hang-up” that I’ve experienced is not having enough ice cube trays. I get all my purees made up and then fill up all my ice cube trays, while the next puree “waits in line” for a tray!

Plan to make enough purees for the first set of trays, then busy yourself while those sit in the freezer for 2-3 hours. Put the then-frozen purees into a freezer baggie, wash the trays and pour in the next purees. Freeze, wash, pour, repeat. You can simply work these steps into your Freezer Cooking Day.

Serving

The ideal way to thaw homemade baby food is to remove the number of cubes needed for the next meal and place them in the refrigerator overnight. But I know I have a hard enough time remember where I left my car keys or cell phone, let alone remembering to take out a few baby food cubes.

So when necessary, thaw the cubes on the counter for 30 minutes. Mix in a little warm water and baby cereal to speed up the thawing. And in desperate moments, thaw the cubes in the microwave. But never give baby hot food! Always test temperature by touching the food with clean finger.

A Quick Tutorial on Preparing Homemade Sweet Potatoes for Baby:

1. Slit sweet potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees in a glass baking dish with 1 cup of water, covered with foil, for 50-65 minutes, or until all the sweet potatoes are soft. Remove foil and drain foil. Let cool 10-15 minutes.

2. The sweet potato skins will practically fall off after they are “steam-baked.” Drop the sweet potato flesh into a blender or food processor.

3. Add enough water to form the consistency you wish for your baby food.

4. Puree.

5. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Place frozen cubes into freezer baggie.

6. Serve to hungry, growing baby!

Have you successfully made homemade baby food? If so, share what worked. Did you find it difficult or frustrating? We’d love to answer questions.

Freezer Cooking Day: My No-Casserole 2-hour Plan (and come link up yours, too!)

With summer upon us and grilling and salad season in full force, I challenged myself to create a menu plan for Freezer Cooking Day which include zero casseroles. I also am short on time this weekend and ended up with only a 2-hour time slot with which to cook.

::The No-Casserole, Two-Hour Freezer Cooking Day Recipe List::

–Barbecued Beef x 4 (recipe coming)

Southwest Roll-ups x 4

Marinated Chicken x 3

Frozen Fruit Cups

–Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes (recipe coming)

–Cooked bacon for BLT sandwiches and salads (enough for 3 meals)

–Cooked and chopped chicken for Homemade Pizza and Chicken Pasta Salad (enough for 4 meals — 2 of each)

And here’s my plan — maybe a little ambitious to accomplish in two hours. But it seems doable on paper, at least!

::The No-Casserole, Two-Hour Master Freezer Cooking Day Plan::

–Set out meat and milk from freezer tonight (to thaw).

–Start beef in crock pot (5 minutes)

–Grind flour (5 minutes)

–Cook bacon and chicken (5 minutes)

–Make chocolate chip pancakes batter (5 minutes)

–While pancakes are cooking, clean up kitchen (10 minutes)

–Continue cooking pancakes and mix chicken and marinade in freezer bags (5 minutes)

–Make fruit cups (15 minutes)

–Chop chicken (10 minutes)

–Make Southwest roll-ups (10 minutes)

–Bag everything and put in freezer (10 minutes)

–Clean up kitchen (20 minutes)

If all goes exactly according to plan, I’ll have 18 meals (or parts of meals) in the freezer, plus fruit cups and pancakes. Stay tuned on Monday for the full report including pictures and recipes.

Are you participating in the May Freezer Cooking Day Event? If so, post about your cooking plan on your blog and then come back here and leave your direct link below so we can all be inspired! Please note: links which do not link directly to your freezer cooking post or which do not contain your freezer cooking plan will be deleted.

Is Freezer Cooking Really Worth It?

Over the past few years as I’ve shared my Freezer Cooking Day adventures with you, a number of you have written and asked, “Is it really worth the effort?”

Well, you’re right that it’s effort. Having a Freezer Cooking Day is hard work. It takes thought, planning and sweat to pull it off.

But I have definitely found it to be every bit worth it. In fact, it’s hard for me to imagine life without pre-made meals in my freezer!

As many have stated before, Freezer Cooking definitely saves you time and money. But here are three other specific reasons I love Freezer Cooking:

1. I only have to do dishes once a month.

Okay, well, I wash plates, bowls, cups and utensils, but my kitchen only becomes massively messy once a month. Do you know how nice that is?

When I have a clean kitchen, it somehow feels like the whole house is cleaner. So while I definitely pretty much “destroy” the kitchen on Freezer Cooking Day, the other 29-30 days of the month, it stays relatively mess-free.

(Ahem. We won’t talk about the kitchen floor, though. Can I exempt it since I have young children? Because seriously, no matter how many times I sweep and mop each week, there always seems to be enough crumbs on the kitchen floor to make a casserole with! :))

Nope, I don’t have a deep freeze, so I just do the stuff-and-cram method for my over-the-refrigerator freezer. It might not be the prettiest method ever, but I can fit close to 30 meals in there at a time! And yes, I’m sure the organizational geeks are totally cringing at that picture. It works for us — and that’s what matters!

2. I don’t have to dread 5 p.m. anymore.

I don’t know about you, but there are some days at our home when life whizzes by so quickly and all of a sudden, it’s 5 p.m. and dinner isn’t even a figment of my imagination. Before I started regularly cooking ahead and freezing meals, I’d be tempted to call my husband and ask him to bring something home for dinner.

Freezer cooking has solved the 5 p.m. “What’s-For-Dinner” panic. If I forget to pull something out earlier in the day, I’ll just pick a meal from my freezer stash which defrosts quickly — such as meatballs. I pair this with from frozen veggies, toast and maybe a fruit salad and no one even has to know I forgot about dinner until 30 minutes before it was supposed to happen!

3. It’s not a huge undertaking to have dinner guests or take a meal to someone.

When I have meals already made in the freezer, it’s rather simple to bring food to a new mom or have friends over for dinner.

Lasagna, spaghetti pie and meatballs are great staple meals to have on hand to share with others. Just whip up some Bread Machine Buttery Rolls, make a salad or fruit and maybe some brownies and you’re set!

I also like to sometimes make up chocolate chip cookie dough and freeze it so I can quickly make a dessert for friends coming over or to take somewhere.

New To Freezer Cooking?

Here are some articles to get you started:

Start Where You Are and Learn As You Go

How to Plan a Freezer Cooking Day (and find more ideas here)

How to Cook for Your Freezer When You Don’t Like Casseroles

Can You Have a Freezer Cooking Day if You Don’t Have a Lot of Freezer Space?

How to Store Your Freezer Meals

Do you think Freezer Cooking is worth the effort? Why or why not?