Whew! Saturday was a doozy (is that a word??). I cooked many a meal on Saturday. I had planned on cooking / preparing 30ish dinners but didn’t get quite that many done but only because my freezer wasn’t quite big enough for everything. This is the first time I’ve done a big cooking day in our new house and just looking at the freezer it appears to be the same size as our old one, but in reality it’s smaller. And I did more casserole type meals that are frozen in casserole pans, rather than baggies, and they definitely take up more room than the ziploc bags.
So first thing I did to prepare for my cooking day was gather all the recipes I wanted to use. I used mostly recipes I know my family already likes and ones I make a lot. I also threw in some new ones to try because I can’t think of 30 days worth of meals that I know we all like. And I don’t want to have the same thing four times a month, I need variety. That’s just how I am. Anyway, I gathered my recipes and made a master shopping list. I wrote down all the ingredients for every recipe, even if I knew I had it on hand. I separated my paper into columns based on where in grocery store these items are found (frozen, dry foods, produce, dairy, meats, etc.). This process of gathering recipes and writing out the list takes some time. I didn’t do it all in one sitting, I just kind of did it as I collected the recipes I was going to use.
A day or two before I did my cooking I went through my food on hand and crossed off everything I didn’t need to buy. I also went to the grocery stores a few days before the cooking day to get some marked down about-to-expire meat that I could use. I do not have the luxury of going to cheaper grocery stores like WalMart or Costco. I only have our two local grocery stores and they are, in general, more expensive than other larger chain grocery stores. I almost always buy the cheapest brand of food (with some exceptions) and used the cuts of meat that were on sale. I spent a total of $230 for all my meals and somehow ended up with an extra 8 chicken breasts (big ones too!), three blocks of cream cheese (why did I buy so much cream cheese? This baffles me), about 5 cups of shredded cheese, two pounds of sausage, lots of extra cans of food, etc. I didn’t get to make quite everything but I also somehow overbought stuff. I will be able to use these things next month as the meat just went into the freezer.
Ok, so, my cooking day was scheduled for Saturday and I did all the shopping (minus the meat I had already purchased) on Friday night. Came home and unloaded all the non-refrigerator stuff onto the counter and got out some spices I would need. I just left it all out Friday night so I wouldn’t have to put it all away and then take it out as I needed it. It was easier just o have it al on the counter where I could see it all.
Here’s a picture of some of the stuff and a picture of some of the meat before it was cooked. My fridge was super full of packages of meat and cheeses you just can’t see them all.
I forgot to take a picture, but I first made spaghetti sauce, enough for two big meals. I just used two cans of spaghetti sauce (cheapest ones), a pound of ground pork and a pound of ground beef, a couple (or more?) cans of diced tomatoes, some Italian seasonings, a can of tomato paste and some garlic and onion salt. No idea of the measurements, I just started throwing things in. It turned out delicious.
After I got the spaghetti sauce simmering I cooked up some chicken for recipes calling for cooked chicken. The funny thing is, I didn’t even use any of this yet. Due to the no-room-in-my-freezer issue, these are still in my fridge. I think I’ll shred / chop it up and put it in baggies in my freezer to be used for my December cooking day? Surely I can fit some baggies of cooked chicken somewhere in my freezer.
So the next thing I did was got the Black Bean Salsa Chicken cooking in the crockpot. This is one of the meals that premade completely so that all we have to do is heat it up. I also put a few small containers of this together for David’s lunches. He sampled this and thought it was good, but thought it would be better with a bit more salsa and served over rice. Noted. I can’t remember the exact recipe but there’s chicken breasts, salsa, cream cheese, corn, black beans…and not sure what else?? I’ll have to get a page together for recipes if anyone is interested.
Next thing I did was get together this nice sweet salsa dump recipe. I like a good “dump” recipe. All you do is dump everything in the bag. Now, this is not precooked so it will be totally fresh on the day I cook it, it’s simply prepared. I realize I could easily throw all this together in a crock pot in the morning and not freeze it like this, but seriously, some mornings are so hectic taht I don’t have ten minutes to find everything (and then discover I dont’ have all the ingredients) and put it in the slow cooker. It’s nice to know in my mind the meal is ready to be cooked, just dump and cook. This consists of chicken breasts, salsa, apricot preserves, and something else that I can’t remember right now.
So then I cooked the macaroni noodles for this FABULOUS crockpot mac n cheese. Yeah, it was good! Super good. So good, in fact, that there’s none to freeze. All is well as I don’t think the noodles would hold up super good frozen. They were kind of soft and would have probably turned out mushy if frozen. But oh my, this is comfort food at it’s finest! This was 16oz noodles, can of condensed cheese soup, can of evaporated milk, and like 4 cups of shredded cheese.
Next I did another “dump” recipe. Frozen meatballs and bbq sauce. I use Sweet Baby Rays and it’s the best around. This is ready to just dump into a pan and cook on the stove, or in a dish in the oven, or even the crockpot. Super tasty over rice!
By now I had a real mess going. I was starting to sweat and questioning whether I wanted to continue. Of course I wanted to, I’m not a sissy. So I continued. And then I spilled cheese on the floor and got a little bit sad for a minute.
Moving right along. I made the farmer’s casserole next. I’ve made this before a long time ago and really like it. It’s a package of frozen hash browns, some meat (I did turkey sausage), cheese, green onions, 6 eggs and evaporated milk. I froze this in the foil dish and double foiled the top. I write what’s in the dish and what degrees to bake it to make cooking day easier.
Next is Birds Nest Pie. This is kind of like a baked spaghetti. It’s got spaghetti noodles, sour cream filling thing and then sauce on top. I’ve also made this and it’s delish!
Ok, now I’m starting to get a little stressed. I have the biggest mess known to man in the kitchen, the kids are starting to wander into the kitchen to eat breakfast (I started cooking pretty early) and I’m not feeling patient. And then I spilled my expensive Thyme on the counter. Enter next stage of anger/frustration brewing.
I decided to take a little “break” from cooking and throw together another dump recipe. SUPER easy. Chicken breast and Yoshidas sauce. This is our favorite Teriyaki sauce by far. I’ll either throw this in the crock pot or bake it. Not sure yet.
Next I made two bags of taco meat. These are each 1 1/4 pounds of meat and will feed our family one night and David will have enough for at least one lunch. Tacos are some of our faves so I made two.
I am seriously getting tired at this point and start to think about quitting and finishing the next day. Then I come to my senses and realize that would suck so I gathered myself together and continued. Next I made Mexican stuffed shells. They look so good and I’m really excited to try these!
This next recipe is new to us also. It’s called “Quiche in a Bag.” Kind of weird, no? I’m interested and it was pretty easy to throw together. It’s a crustless quiche but it does have some flour in the mixture?? I’ll let you know if it’s any good.
Then I made some baked ziti. WAY.TOO.MUCH.BAKED.ZITI. I don’t know who wrote that recipe and who they were feeding but oh my goodness, it made a lot! I forgot to take a pic of the actual food and when I realized that I had forgotten, it seems like way too much work to take the foil off and snap a picture. I was really, really tired by now.
Here’s a picture of the containers of it (and there was even more…and David ate a bunch too!)
Next is another dump crockpot recipe. It’s called Mandy’s Big Mess. I thought about renaming this because I don’t know Mandy and I feel kind of funny calling it Mandy’s Big Mess, but I thought it would be rude to call it Linae’s Big Mess since I didn’t make it up. Anyway, it’s got turkey sausage, pineapple, sweet n sour sauce, red onion, and green pepper. Looks like a yummy dish to try.
Next I made meatloaf mixture. I like to freeze meatloaf in loaf pans but couldn’t find any. Not one. And I don’t know who stole them but they are gone. And I was getting more frustrated and sweaty looking for the pans, so I threw the whole mess in a bag. And my picture is upside down. Why? No clue.
Here’s a picture of the huge mess I had going on. At this point I took a break. Walked away from the mess, walked away from the food. I pouted on my bed for a few minutes. David rubbed my back for a bit and then I again pulled myself together. I cleaned all my pots and pans, bowls, spoons and forks, measuring cups, etc. and got back to work.
I started the soups. First up, taco soup. It’s one of my all time favorite meals. I like to put sour cream and cheese on top. This is a pound or two of ground beef, two cans of diced tomatoes, two cans of corn, two cans of kidney beans, a can of green chili and a can of sliced olives. Oh, and a packet of ranch dressing mix (the powdered kind) and some taco seasonings. I just cooked this for about 15 minutes and will throw it in the crockpot on the day we eat it.
Pot roast is another favorite at our house. I seasoned it up and threw it in a bag. It’s ready to dump into the crock pot.
Another new recipe I tried was this layered tex mex casserole. Mexican food is our most favorite so I make a lot of it. This has layers of corn tortillas, enchilada sauce, tomato sauce, ground beef, black beans and cheese. How can you go wrong?
I always just bag up my soups so they lay flat in the freezer and don’t take up too much room. Here’s a second look at taco soup.
Another fave is black eye pea soup made with sausage, diced tomatoes, corn, black eye peas, and lots of seasonings. I will put this in the crockpot and will add potatoes to it when I cook it. Potatoes do not freeze well. Ask me how I know this.
I also made two pans of chicken spaghetti and we tried one and really liked it. Forgot to take a picture..oops.
And here’s a picture of my well-stocked freezer. Dinners will be easier now for a while. Good thing since we are just about to basketball season for David and Bryson and Macy, and Aleeya has already started 🙂
Yay! I survived! And felt like a rock star once I was done and the kitchen was all cleaned up.
I was sick of being in the kitchen by this time and nothing sounded good so David took me to a nice restaurant for appetizers, wine, and dessert. It was perfect!