Saturday, January 09, 2010

Time Saving Cooking Results

Lots of blogs I read post about cooking multiple meals in one day to freeze and make meal planning and prep easier.  I've done this to some extent before by doubling or tripling a recipe I'm making for dinner anyway and then freezing the extra meals.  I've always been interested in Gina's at Moneywise Moms way of  Cook Once, Eat 10 Times.  She focuses on recipes using the same kind of meat and plans her cooing days around what meat is on sale.  These days can be planned in advance OR, as is more common in my life, unplanned things happen finding over 9 lbs of ground beef reduced and lots of reduced produce on the sale the same day that I was planning to stock up on chicken breasts.   So after shopping, putting lots of my groceries away and adding the ingredients I already had on hand, my kitchen counter looked like this...

I used the Cook Once, Eat 10 Times Chicken Edition and Winter Edition to come up with my own plan. Here's the things I did in order I did them.  Recipes will follow.

  1. Diced & sliced 10 Bell Peppers and 2 onions
  2. Browned about 4 lbs of ground beef and put the rest of the ground beef into a large bowl  (Meatballs were part of the plan and Gina recommended leaving the ground beef sit out of the fridge for a little while to avoid frostbite when mixing the meatball mixture with my hands....she was right!)
  3. While the ground beef was browning, I put 4 chicken breasts into a baggie with a roasted red pepper marinade.  (Dinner #1)
  4. Sliced 2 chicken breasts into strips just right for fajitas and put the strips in a baggie.
  5. Put sliced peppers and onions into separate snack size baggies
  6. Put the 3 baggies...chicken, peppers, and onions along with a fajita seasoning packet into a larger baggie. (Dinner #2)
  7. Started a pot of boiling water with 4 chicken breasts
  8. Put 3 chicken breasts in a baggie 
  9. Put chopped onions and chopped peppers into separate snack size baggies
  10. All 3 baggies then ...chicken, peppers and onions... went into a larger baggie along with recipe  (Dinner #3)
  11. Drained ground beef
  12. Sauteed lots of diced peppers and onions (Like my technical measurements? I just approximate most things without measuring)
  13. Added drained ground beef to the skillet with peppers and onions to cook together for just a few minutes and set it aside to cool
  14. Diced cooked chicken breasts into bite size pieces
  15. Divided diced chicken into 2 baggies and added a recipe to one of the baggies (Dinners #4 & #5)
  16. Put even amounts of ground beef mixture into 3 baggies (Dinners #6, #7 & #8)
  17. Added about a cup each of bread crumbs and fresh grated Parmesan cheese, 4 eggs, salt, pepper and oregano to the ground beef in the large bowl
  18. Mixed it with my hands (impressive for me because I avoid touching raw meat as much as I can)
  19. Rolled 2 trays of meatballs (with my mom's help when she stopped by to play with us for the evening) of mini meatballs (Dinner #9) and one of normal sized meatballs (Dinner #10)
  20. Put cookie sheets of meatballs in freezer and will then put them into baggies when frozen.  I may stretch them into more than 2 meals and since they were frozen on the cookie sheets they won't stick together in the baggies
  21. Add baggie of diced peppers & onions to baggie of larger sized meatballs for Dinner #10
I ended up with this....

Dinner #1 - Marinaded Chicken Breast to be grilled  Additional ingredients needed 2 sides

Dinner #2 - Fajitas Additional ingredients needed Cheese, fajita flours, sour cream etc

Dinner #3- "Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore—I'll take 1-2 of the chicken breasts, lay them in the crockpot with chopped onion, mushrooms, and green peppers, then top it with a jar of spaghetti sauce. Served with pasta, it's a very fast meal." (Quoted right from Money Wise Mom's Chicken Edition) Additional ingredients needed mushrooms, spaghetti sauce & pasta

Dinner #4 Stroganoff Style Chicken  See the recipe for additional ingredients needed

Dinner #5 Not sure what it will be but I use Diced Chicken in lots of recipes so this will be used.

Dinner #6 Beef Veggie Soup  with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches  I'll add 2 cans of tomatoes, a can of beef broth, a can of tomato sauce and whatever canned, fresh and/or frozen veggies I have on hand ie. corn, carrots, peas, green beans with baggie of the Ground Beef Mixture.  My friend Katie gave me the base for this recipe and I have adapted it work with whatever I have at the time.  My boys love it!

Dinner # 7 Shepherds Pie  See recipe for additional ingredients needed. I have mashed potatoes on next week's menu plan.  I'm going to make extra so I have some left over to freeze for this dinner too.

Dinner #8 Rice a Roni  This dinner was one of my favorites as a kid! Cook some ground beef (or take a bag of ground beef mixture from the freezer) Use a box of Beef Rice a Roni.  Follow the directions on the box but in a skillet instead of a sauce pan.  Add the ground beef to the rice the same time the recipe says to add the water.  Add frozen corn, peas or any veggie you want.  Cover and simmer as directed on the box.  One skillet dinner!

Dinner # 9 Meatball Soup See recipe for additional ingredients needed

Dinner #10 Spaghetti & Meatballs  Add meatballs, onions & peppers to pot of boiling spaghetti sauce.  Serve over pasta with homemade bread

Some of these dinners are things I've made before and some are ones new to me that I got from Money Wise Mom's plans. 

After only 2 1/2 hours I have the makings of 10 dinners in my freezer a lot less time than if I waited to do each of these steps at the time we're actually having the meal!

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Anonymous said...

Becky, this is amazing! And not only do you save all that time, you only have to handle the raw meat once, AND you only have to wash all the pots and pans that one day! Brilliant! And you're prepared for last minute guests, meals for someone suddenly in need, eetc. This is great! THanks!

Gina @ MoneywiseMoms said...

Look at all those yummy meatballs! You did a great job, and since you found everything on sale, I bet it hardly cost you anything. You're going to love the peace of mind having this all done and ready to cook for your family. :)