We love pancakes at our house! However, I don’t really love the sugar-high and sticky mess which comes along with drenching them in syrup (which my children enjoy doing!). So I found them if we sprinkled in some chocolate chips, the mess and sugar was reduced because the chocolate chips eliminate the need for syrup!
Here’s our family favorite recipe which we’ve made time and again. It was originally tweaked from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.
Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes
2 cups whole-wheat flour (we use freshly-ground flour)
2 tablespoons turbinado (or sugar)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 beaten eggs
2 cups milk, buttermilk or sour milk*
4 tablespoons melted butter (you can also use oil or coconut oil, but we prefer butter)
1/3 cup chocolate chips
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl. Combine the eggs, milk and melted butter in a separate bowl.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add egg mixture and chocolate chips. Stir until just moistened.
Cook on a greased pancake griddle. Serve immediately or cool and freeze.
To freeze: Lay cooked and cooled pancakes on a baking sheet and stick in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour (until frozen). Remove from pan and place in airtight freezer bags or containers.
To thaw: Take desired number of pancakes out of freezer bags and heat one to two at a time in the microwave for one to two minutes. Or, place on a baking sheet and cook in a 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until heated through. Serve immediately.
Makes around 10 regular-sized pancakes. I usually double or quadruple the recipe when I make it for the freezer.
*I freeze milk that I find marked down at the store or milk which is almost souring and then we just thaw it in the refrigerator or in a sink full of warm water and use it in pancakes.
And I also am hoping to start posting recipes and meal-plans again. Truth be told, we’ve been eating more than our fair share of cold cereal, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and burritos. It’s not ideal, but sometimes you just gotta do what works! However, I’ve really missed cooking and baking and can’t wait to get back to it!
Freezer cooking has been touted as a great way to save money, time, and energy. Also known as Once-A-Month Cooking (OAMC), it offers the home cook a respite from daily kitchen tasks as the freezer is stocked with an assortment of pre-made frozen meals. Since freezer cooking involves one large grocery shopping trip, often buying items in bulk at a reduced rate and then cooking the meals all at one time, this method of meal planning can produce great savings in the pocket book and on the schedule.
Typically when people think of frozen meals, images of stacks and stacks of casseroles come to mind. But, what if you don’t like casseroles? Or what about that small freezer of yours? Thirty meals are not going to fit. Maybe you just like having some flexibility at dinnertime and don’t want to commit to a 30-day meal plan. You might think that freezer cooking’s just not for you.
You can still reap the benefits of bulk buying and bulk cooking without having to eat Lentil Sausage Surprise for the next month or having to buy a deep freeze. You can have your freezer meals and be creative, too.
Freezer cooking is ultimately making your own convenience foods, tailored to your family’s budget, size, and tastes.
You can easily adapt the standard “OAMC” methods to your own preferences. Think about the meals you regularly prepare and then consider how to make part of that meal ahead of time.
Prepare “dinner kits” for easy to assemble meals such as tacos, burritos, or pizza. Cook and season the meat. Portion the cheese. Cook and season dry beans. Cook up a pot of rice. You can even mix up the pizza dough. Package each of these components in meal-size portions and place all the bags for a certain meal in a larger bag. Be sure to include tortillas. Label and freeze. The work is practically done for you come dinner time. You can easily make kits for sloppy joes, hamburgers, or chili dogs. Just prepare all the components and stash them in the freezer.
If you’re pressed for space in the freezer, you may not have room to bundle each component. Instead, store the items in the best space-saving way and keep track of what you have.
Love to cook outside? Is your family a bunch of meat eaters? No problem. Trim your cuts of meat, season or marinade and seal in a ziptop bag. Label and freeze. On the day of serving, dump the roast in the crockpot, arrange the chicken in a baking pan, or throw the steaks on the grill. Your dinner prep is half done! Add a side dish and a vegetable and you’re good to go.
Assemble baking mixes for pancakes, muffins, scones, biscuits, brownies, or quick breads. Label a ziptop bag with the recipe name, list the wet ingredients to add later as well as the baking instructions. Measure out the “dry” team into the bag, seal it, and store in the pantry for later use. You’re halfway to homebaked goodies which will be tastier and less expensive than store bought mixes.
What is the biggest challenge for you in making freezer cooking serve you best at dinnertime?
— Jessica Fisher, also known as FishMama, regularly feeds her freezer so that she can feed the hungry masses who call her “Mom.” She posts daily about life’s joys and challenges at LifeasMOM and shares delicious ways to act your wage at Good Cheap Eats.
Planning is key in pulling off a successful Freezer Cooking Day. Believe me, I’ve tried winging it before and it just doesn’t work. Many of you have asked questions on how I actually go about planning a Freezer Cooking Day so I thought it’d be fun to share a little peek into my planning process this time around:
1) Shop The Cupboards
I always start my planning by opening up my cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer. I’m always amazed at how much inspiration I find just from the ingredients I already have on hand.
Jot down a list of ingredients you already have to work with and possible recipe ideas as you go along. If you have an odd assortment of ingredients and are stumped for ideas, check out the Ingredient Search feature on AllRecipes.com.
To give you an example, I went through my cupboards and freezer this morning and found the above ingredients: canned tomatoes, whole-wheat pasta, and cream cheese. I immediately remembered FishMama’s lasagna and added that to my list.
2) Consult The Sales Fliers
If your cupboards don’t produce enough ideas or recipe fodder to work with, the next step is to consult the sales fliers. I often combine both the ideas from my cupboards and what is on sale to make up my Master List of Recipes.
3) Make A Master List and Grocery List
Take the recipe ideas you jotted down and narrow them down to 4-10 different final choices (or more, if you want to be a SuperWoman like FishMama!). Shoot for some variety in the main dishes you choose (I doubt you want to eat three weeks of nothing but chicken casserole!) and keep in mind how much time each will take. I usually try to pick a few simple meals and a few more time-intensive dishes.
Once you have your Master List of Recipes, read through each recipe and note what you’ll need to buy at the store. Since you’ll likely need duplicates of many items, you can just write onions and then in make a mark next to them as you go through the recipes for how many onions you’ll actually need. Like this:
Onions – I I I I (this means I’ll need to buy 4 onions)
Cheddar Cheese – I I I I I I I (this means I’ll need to make sure and have enough to shred seven cups of Cheddar cheese)
And so forth…
If your list starts to get really messy and you’re afraid you might not be able to decipher it when you’re shopping, re-write it on a clean sheet of paper once you’re finished with the rough draft.
Match up any coupons to items you’ll be buying and put these in an envelope along with your final Grocery List.
4) Make a Freezer Cooking Day Prep List
Once your grocery list is completed, go through your recipes and quickly write down what things you need to prep in bulk next to the recipe. These would be things like shredding cheese, chopping onions, browning ground beef, cooking and chopping chicken, and so forth.
For instance, if I were doubling the lasagna recipe, I would write it like this:
Brown 2 pounds of ground beef, Grate 24 ounces of mozzarella cheese
I might have three other recipes which also take browned ground beef and four which take mozzarella cheese. So once I’ve written the prep work next to each recipe, I can make a Master Prep List which combines all the prep work for all the recipes together.
My Prep List for next week’s Freezer Cooking Day.
I recommend then also making a final Master Plan which includes the order of events for your Freezer Cooking Day. First, you’ll do all the items on your Master Prep List and then you’ll actually put together all the meals. You’ll save a lot of time and effort by doing all the prep work first. And when you get to the actual putting together of recipes, you’ll just fly through them.
My Master Plan for next week’s Freezer Cooking Day.
I always try to put the most time-intensive recipes first and the easiest recipes at the end. That way, if I’m starting to drag halfway through the cooking, I know that I’ve saved the easiest for last and it gives me renewed energy!
So there you have a simple explanation of how I plan a Freezer Cooking Day. My planning method might not work for you at all, but hopefully it will give those of you who are completely new to cooking in bulk some inspiration and ideas to get started.
Free Downloadable Freezer Cooking Day Planning Worksheets
Just for fun, I asked Joy to put together some free downloadable Freezer Cooking Planning Sheets which you are welcome to use, if you find them helpful. I’ve always used a simple notebook in the past, but I’m excited to finally have something a little snazzier to use.
Once you’ve decided on your recipes, made your shopping list, and jotted down all the prep work each recipe requires, you can create your final list, the Freezer Cooking Day Prep List. This is where you’ll put the planned order of events for your Freezer Cooking Day. Check things off as you go and be encouraged by your progress and accomplishments! Download the Freezer Cooking Day Prep List here.
I’ll post my Freezer Cooking Day Master List and Prep List later on today along with a link-up for you to share yours, as well. I’m excited to get our very bare freezer filled up again! For more ideas on how to pull off a Freezer Cooking Day, be sure to stop by and read FishMama’s post called Freezer Cooking Basics.