With the completion of our 4th of July festivities, comes the fact that my summer break from school is half over. Like most teachers I use my summer break to recover, rest and refuel. I also use it to try to find ways to make life in our little house run smoother. Our lives, like everyone elses, go full speed once the month of August makes it appearance. Not only does school start, but Bubba plays football (3 practices and 1 game each week), DH is an assistant coach for Bubba's team, Boo Boo cheers (2 practices and 1 game each week) and I will be the team mom for Boo Boo's squad. We just about live at the ball park from August 1st until the week before Thanksgiving (if one or both teams make the playoffs). One thing I will not give up on during this fun and busy time is eating at home. We reserve our eating out during this time for the celebratory dinners and lunches with the kids teams.
How do I do this? I take 3 - 4 days during July and cook many of our favorite meals and store them in the freezer. I will make between 40 and 50 meals and meal starters, 15 side dishes, and cookies and muffins during this marathon cooking session. These meals in addition to several pantry meals I keep stocked will get us through to at least Thanksgiving, if not longer. This is a HUGE undertaking, but I find the time investment so valuable, especially when we walk through the door at 8:30 PM after practice to a yummy, warm, home cooked meal. It also cuts down on the amount of time and money I spend at the grocery store.
The most important part of the process is the planning stage. I will spend on entire day going through what is in the pantry, what is on sale and recipes my family loves that freeze well. I will also spend some time at some of my favorite freezer sites and add a couple of new recipes to my selection. To plan, I use Money Saving Mom's Guide to Freezer Cooking. She has some great tips and ideas and once I started following her guidelines, my freezer cooking went so much smoother.
For recipes, I have adapted some of our very favorite recipes to be freezer friendly - Sloppy Joes, Beer Chili, Lasagna, Chicken Pot Pie, Macaroni and Cheese, Pizza Sauce and Pancakes are just a few favorites I have adapted to freeze well.
Some of my favorite online resources for recipes are -
Once a Month Mom - each month she posts a full month's worth of recipes and how tos.
Recipeezaar's OAMC Message Board - readers share their freezer friendly recipes and their cooking plans. Some even post their entire plan from start to finish. This is a great resource!
Here is my list of what I plan to cook over the next 4 days. Please keep in mind that this is an extremely ambitious plan and that I have been doing this for about 10 years. If this is your first freezer cooking attempt, please try something simple and easy :-). Listed next to each recipe is the number of meals this will make for our family.
Beer Chili (3)
Sloppy Joes (3)
Taco Meat (4)
Basic Meat Mix (6)
Hubby Will Inhale Them Meatballs (2) - new recipe
Chicken and Broth (4 and 8 c broth)
Spicy Crockpot Chicken and Broth (2 and 4 c broth)
Crockpot All-Purpose Chicken and Broth (2 and 4 c broth)
Parmesan Chicken Strips (1)
Grilled Chicken Strips (2)
Chicken Lemon Pasta (1)
Marinated Chicken - Lemon Pepper, Italian, Marinated, Dijon, Bottle O'Beer (8)
Make Ahead Twice Baked Potatoes (6) new recipe
San Marzano Marinara Sauce (3)
Mac and Cheese (4)
Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes (2)
Pizza Sauce (4)
Frozen Fruit Cups (12) new recipe
Blueberry Orange Muffins
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Kentucky Sugar Cookies
M and M Cookies - new recipe
Here is my timeline -
Monday - Inventory pantry and freezers, make list of recipes, create grocery list and write out timeline. Clean out refrigerators and thaw meat/chicken already in freezers. Check on storage containers - add to grocery list if needed.
Tuesday - Shop (I NEVER shop and cook on the same day. Well, I did it once and them swore NEVER again). I do some prep work, chopping onions, etc. but no cooking
Wednesday - Make all Beef Items, Mac and Cheese, Red Mashed Potatoes and Fruit Cups
Thursday - Make all Chicken Items, Marinara, Pizza Sauce and Twice Baked Potatoes
Friday - Baking Day
I will be back to update on Friday!
Linking up to these blog parties -
Delicious Dishes at It's A Blog Party
Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace
$5 Dinner Challenge at $5 Dinners