Thursday, February 23, 2012

Being a Thrifty Nifty: Once A Month Cooking

Ok so I have always wanted to try doing once a month freezer cooking. I finally stopped making excuses and I tried it! It went really well! So here is a little blurb about my first try at cooking meals and freezing them. There are two reasons why I wanted to do this. 1. I wanted to help my family save money, and I did that! 2. I really hate cooking every night but I did not mind doing it all in one day! Now I just throw my freezer item in the oven and we are good to go for dinner. I am going to give you my step by step in what I did but also some tips for a few things I discovered along the way that will work better for me next time.

Here we go!
Step 1
Get a book on freezer meals:
I read The Everything Freezer Meals Cookbook
It was a great book, I wanted something that had simple everyday recipes and this one did. It gave great me great tips on how to get started with freezer cooking. There are tons of books out there, but this is the one I liked.

Step 2

After reading the book you have to pick out the recipes you want to cook. I picked out about 14 recipes that I knew I could split into two dinners. The ones that said "feeds 6-8" actually ended up make 3 portions for our family. I am only feeding two adults and 1 14month old. Either way, pick out the meals you want to cook then make a list of everything you need to cook those meals. After, check your pantry and cross off anything you already have and do not need to purchase.

Once your list is complete, go do your shopping!!! Have fun and organize your list so you are not running around the store. Try and keep things grouped together so that your shopping is quick and organized!

Step 3:
Start cooking! Once you get your shopping done you are ready to get in the kitchen. Try and shop the day before cooking if not it will make for a long day. I organized all my cooking supplies into recipes so I would have everything on hand and readily available. The book suggested if several recipes called for the same thing then do it all at once. So I had about 9 recipes that called for chopped onions so I chopped all 9 at once and kept them on hand.

I tried to cook the things that took the longest first! The meals that called for no cooking at all I prepared last. Make sure to prep and label your bags with what you will put into the bags everything kinda looks the same once they are frozen. I think freezer bags are the easiest way to freeze the meals. Once things are done being cooked and cool off place in your bags then freeze as flat as possible. Some things will call for flash freezing. Your book will explain the different types of freezing methods.
That is about it, I cooked my meals and froze them. Below are a few more pics of cooking different meals and I also listed my pointers. So far only one meal did not turn out well. All of the rest have tasted excellent!

1.Buy disposable casserole dishes for your casserole recipes. The casserole method of freezing did not work too well for me. It was also very difficult to defrost and get saran wrap off.
2. Purchase really good freezer bags.
3. On re-heating day if you are cooking an item that doesn't need to be defrosted you will probably have to cook it a little longer than the book says.

Here are a few pics.

My meat loaf: I will use my normal recipe next time not the books

My man helping me cook

Steak and Tomatoes

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