Monday, May 28, 2012

Freezer Cooking

I've been inspired by Mary Ann and Crystal posting their progress in Freezer Cooking recently and when I had a quiet evening, it seemed a provision to do some planning for some freezer cooking of my own. Plus, as I was looking at the weeks ahead - I could see how wonderfully we'd benefit from this if dinner was ready to go for the next month.

So, I came up with a list of things I wanted to make and then a shopping list. I looked at the grocery ads and figured out the best store to go to with the best sales and God provided again with great meat sales.

I don't have any pictures - but one day that unexpectedly opened up - I knew that was an additional provision and we went grocery shopping in the morning. Around 1 in the afternoon, I got started. And, I worked until late in the night - but figured it was worth staying up extra late one night and getting it all done while the dishes were out and the kitchen was a mess than starting it all again the next day.

Not only did I complete enough dinners for our family for a month, but I was able to cook and portion out meals for David's mom for the next month for her freezer all at the same time!

Here's what I did:

* Cooked and cut up chicken to equal 16 cups.
* Cooked about 10 lbs. of ground beef.
* Cooked 1 lb. of sausage
* Started pinto beans to soak for refried beans - I finished these the next day in the Crock Pot.
* I also cut up chicken for the first time instead of buying boneless skinless chicken breasts. I've been wanting to try this for quite some time, but haven't for various reasons until now. I was so pleased with the results! And, I followed the directions for making broth with the bones in the Crock Pot and got a LOT of broth from that as well!
* Assembled Ranch Chicken x 2 dinners
* Assembled Italian Chicken x 2 dinners and baked a third batch to portion out
* Assembled Teriyaki Chicken - great use for the pieces left from cutting up your own chicken!
* Measured out 1 1/2 cups of cooked chicken each in two ziploc bags to make quick chicken salad.
* Measured out 1 1/2 cups of cooked chicken each in two ziploc bags to make quick BBQ Chicken sandwiches.
* Made Broccoli Rice Chicken Casserole and cooked the rice in chicken broth since I had so much! I used homemade Cream Soup mix instead of canned.
* Seasoned 4 lbs. of ground beef for taco meat, divided and put in bags. (I make my own taco mix)
* Sliced 1 lb. cube steak for these sandwiches and seasoned with Lawry's Seasoning Salt.
* Sliced 4 lbs. sausage - froze 2 for our family, cooked 2 for portions
* Made Chili. (Yes, I like PW, what can I say? Thanks to a B and N gift card from David and some spending money from my Grandma, I received PW's new cookbook for my birthday ... LOVE it!!)
* Made 4 pans (2 full recipes, divided) of Lasagna, two for us, one for portions and one for a co-worker of David's.
* Made Mexican Rice for David's mom as a side. I froze this in muffin tins.
* White Chicken Enchiladas x 2
* Beef & Bean Enchilada filling mixed, seasoned and bagged x 2; also made 8 individual burritos for individual portions
* Beef Stew (without beer) x 2
* Corn Chowder x 2

I have not been good lately at planning our meals out very well, so am looking forward to not dreading 5:00 and the What are we having for dinner? question! If this works well, I may just have to keep doing it!

Do you cook for your freezer?

21 comments:

Mary Ann said...

You did great! A very wise use of your time!

One thing I learned through this last freezer cooking stint is how easy it is to go ahead and cook or marinate meat right away to freeze when I bring it home instead of freezing it raw/plain. Just a few extra minutes here and there could net me several meals in the freezer at all times! So I hope to put that knowledge to use in the future!

Oh and thank you for the links!:-)

Leanne said...

I just put away baked oatmeal, ravioli casserole, italian chicken, chicken and rice casserole (we left out the brocolli because we don't like it! I like my veggies on the side!), and ranch kabobs! I tried to put away banana muffins but the children got to them! its nice to have even just a few things ready to go!! I'm planning on utilizing it more and more as the summer goes on!

Wendi said...

I don't use my freezer as well as I should. I do like having browned beef and taco meat ready to go. I need to be better at the last minute meals.

BTW... I was in Virginia last week for my grandfathers funeral. I was able to visit The Old Lucketts Store and see the display area for Miss Mustard Seed. I even purchased a couple of things from her. I will let you know when I have the post up. Hope it is sometime this week.

Enjoy our long weekend!

Nancy said...

I do freezer cook. I wrote a blog post about it here: http://www.howtohomemaker.com/2010/05/how-to-do-multipe-make-ahead-meals.html
I will do freezer cooking some in the summer but we don't eat many of the meals during this season just because I don't want to turn on the oven and heat the house right now. Enjoy your delicious food! Blessings!

Mom said...

Great job to get this all done!
Love you, Mom

More than Survival said...

WOW!!! Way to go!!! You set a great example of what can be done and you will reap the harvest of your hard work this month! You are a BLESSING to your family!!

LynnMarie said...

I'm now exhausted and need a nap just reading all you did! What I do is make a big meal to start with, then take 1/2 of it and freeze for another day. I do this for a month and then I have enough for another month.

Mrs. K said...

Ok, I have a ton of questions :o)

When you say "for portions" what do you mean?

Also, you said you sliced sausage, I always use bulk sausage, what kind do you use and what do you use it for once it's sliced.

Lastly, the Ranch Chicken - did you cook it and assemble it then freeze it? Or how does that work?

I love freezer cooking but I stick to casseroles, sandwich fillings and soups a lot because I'm not sure how to do recipes like the Ranch Chicken (which by the way is a knock-off of my favorite meal at Outback...yumm-o).

My favorite way to do freezer meals is by using the cookbook "The Occasional Cook" by Cyndy Salzmann. Her method is a lot of chopping, pre-cooking ground beef and chicken, but then just dumping cans of beans, frozen veggies, etc. into the freezer bags. It makes for such easy prep and then when you use the meal, it's just baking it off or warming up on the stove.

Cherilyn said...

I started freezer cooking (to about the extent you did it) a few months ago. I don't do it every month but when I do, it is wonderful to not have that stress about what will be for dinner.

I also make a meal plan so I know what needs to thaw etc.

It is a lot of work on the day or two but the payoff of time saving is worth it.

*carrie* said...

My, you were ambitious! Rather than freezing entire meals, I prefer cooking and freezing basic ingredients such as chicken, broth and rice. The main thing I do in this regard is to double all my baking and freeze half. In fact, I have 3 dozen morning glory muffins in the oven right now!

Katie said...

Wow, you've been productive ~ way to go!

I was introduced to freezer cooking when I was pregnant with our third child. I cooked up a storm in the kitchen to prepare several meals for the freezer before his birth. I'm sad to report I haven't done much freezer cooking since, with the exception of waffles. I seem to whip those up pretty frequently.

You, Mary Ann, and Crystal sure have me inspired to try again sometime though!

Angel said...

Crystal's posts inspired me too, and I canned some beans and froze those,
http://www.spain-in-iowa.com/2012/01/a-tutorial-how-to-cook-dried-beans-to-freeze/
and made some soup and banana bread to freeze, then our family ended up getting REALLY sick for 2 weeks, and it was such a blessing to have that food there and ready!

Julie said...

What a productive session!
We're not big fans of freezer meals, but I do love to have readied ingredients in my freezer. I often cook ground beef or chicken and portion it into meal-sized bags. It makes meals like chili or tacos or certain casseroles much easier to prepare when I'm short on time.

Trace said...

Oh this is great!! Way to go!
Question - do you have freezer instructions for the Ranch chicken?? That looks deeelish....

Blessings,
Trace

Kristin said...

I can't believe you got ALL of that done in a day, especially starting at 1pm!! I'm VERY impressed and jealous that you have all those meals prepped in your freezer! What a huge help that will be!

Melissa said...

Way to go! I'll have to try freezer sometime! Thank you so much for linking all those yummy looking recipes for your readers too!

Emily said...

I try to have at least a month's worth of meals in the freezer before I have a new baby. It's wonderful not to have to cook those first few weeks. I'm not expecting right now, but I'm wanting to do some freezer cooking again so I don't have to cook every night.

thehomespunheart said...

Trace: I just put the raw chicken in a ziploc with the honey and mustard marinade. I can pull that out and finish preparing quickly some evening for dinner!

Michele said...

I used to do once a month cooking...so much work! So I like to do the relaxed version. When I make a meal that can be frozen, I double the portion, freeze one and eat the other one that day. This is less overwhelming to me.

Kimberly said...

YEAH for you!!!

faith said...

wow i just started freezer cooking wee are doing it in little batches late at night. I started blogging about it as well as other stuff including any recipes that are my own here is my blog http://avonfreezercookingandcrazykids.wordpress.com/