Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday

I don't like to spend hours and hours in the kitchen preparing meals(I love baking over cooking!). I thought that freezer meals was my answer to my problem. BUT after trying several and finding that no one in my family liked them, I needed to figure out something else. So I worked at developing a plan of attack that works for me where I don't have to spend much more than an hour getting a meal ready and served to the table. My plan of attack is this...making menus every week; having master meal lists for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and preparing items ahead(mainly meat!).

Here is what I do after my bi-monthly shopping trips or after one of the grocery stores has a good sale on meat.

For 10-15lbs of ground beef I take and make burgers and meatloaf with the raw meat and freeze them. The burgers get stacked with wax paper between them in a freezer bag. Each freezer bag has the number I need for one meal. I also make meatballs but I cook them and then flash freeze on a cookie sheet and then transfer to a freezer bag. I also brown some of the ground beef and put in plastic containers/freezer bags the amount that I need for a meal of spaghetti, chili, goulash, and sloppy joes.

For chicken meals, I normally just get the Quick frozen boneless chicken breasts/tenders because they are usually on sale more than fresh chicken. So I just take a bag out the night before for the dinner meal the next day. If I get fresh chicken I still make sure that I get it on sale and I get the boneless/skinless breasts....When I get home I clean and de-fat them and put them in a freezer bag in the number I need for a meal(usually 5-6 breasts do it for my family of 7). If the breasts are thick I will butterfly them to make the meat stretch a little more. It also helps to butterfly them when you know that you are grilling them! I also will cut up the raw chicken to pull out for using in soups and such. I also make sure that I get a couple of whole chickens when they are on sale to have to pull out of the freezer for the next day for a drop in the crock pot and forget type meal! LOL

For pork chops...I get one of those half boneless pork loins and bring it home and slice it into pork chops(or you can have the butcher at the grocery store do it too!) and once again make sure that I put wax paper between the chops and divide it into the meals in freezer bags.

I found doing things this way I am not tied down with the precooked meals in the freezer. If I want to try something different/new for a meal I can without having to go to the store to get other meat to use. I also found that doing my meats ahead and putting them in freezer, I have been able to cut the time in the kitchen preparing the meal in half! Most of meals I can get done in an hour or less, unless of course I am using my crock pot! When I had a new baby in the house, I was able to nurse baby and put down for a nap and then prepare and eat dinner before baby would need my attention again. If I am using my crock pot I would just put the items in the crock pot when I had about 5 minutes in the morning before lunch. And then take a 1/2 hour when baby is napping to finish up the meal in the afternoon.

I found with having five kids and homeschooling that sitting down and planning out my meals for the week helps a lot. After planning and writing those down I would post them where my hubby or munchkins can see what was going to be for the different meals and they help me make sure that the next day's meat is out thawing the night before we needed it! LOL

The other thing I do is have a baking day where I get a bunch of quick breads/muffins, cookies, and other snacks in the freezer. The quick breads/muffins can be used for breakfast along with some scrambled eggs. The cookies are just nice to have for that sweet tooth! LOL Another thing for breakfast that I have made ahead for my boys(including hubby) is "Mom's Egg McMuffins" toasted english muffin with scrambled egg patty, sliced american cheese, and bacon or ham or sausage patty. Wrap the individually with plastic wrap and then put in a bread bag. When you want one take it out microwave for 20 seconds and then turn it over and microwave for another 20 seconds, if still cold in the middle microwave for 10 more seconds. Let set for 2 minutes and eat! You can use croissants or Grands! biscuits for the same type of sandwiches.

This is what has worked for me! To find out what works for others, head over to Rocks in my Dryer . (Shannon is back from her trip to Africa!! Welcome back!)


Katrine said...

Good tips! I'd like to do more freezer cooking.

Nichole said...

Thanks for the tips! I try to do some freezer cooking, but I'm not very good about planning it.

thediaperdiaries said...

With 5 kids that you homeschool I am amazed you find time to do any cooking at all. I am in awe! I menu plan too and find it saves me tons of time and money.