Sunday, September 13, 2009

More Once-A-Month Cooking!

Yesterday, I purchased, prepped, and froze meals for the next month. (I know it sounds intimidating, but it probably won't once you read the menus.) I usually try to do the prep work on the day I do my grocery shopping - I brown and freeze any ground beef, or saute, chop up, and freeze chicken breasts that will later go into recipes. That way, whether it's me, the hubby, or kids who cook, half the meal is already done to toss into a dish.

So, what can you whip up in 20 minutes or under if you've got the meat already frozen?

Taco salad
Hamburger helper
Gravy with Hamburger or Sausage
Stir Fry
Chicken Packets
Spanish Rice
Layered Enchiladas
Linguine Alfredo with chicken
Fried potatoes with Hamburger
and a bunch more I can't think of right now

Here are my menus for the next month, for your viewing pleasure, and for me to refer to (just in case the list on the front of the fridge mysteriously disappears):

9/13 - 9/19
M- bread pudding (frozen in aluminum lasagne pan) with buttermilk syrup (which would make dirt taste delicious)
T- "ham" salad sandwiches
W- corn dog muffins
Th- spaghetti
F- Mexican Rice Casserole (I also love Rice-A-Roni Spanish Rice, add precooked/frozen ground beef - gotta double it for my family)
Sat- stir fry chicken (bag o' frozen stir fry veggies, chicken is precooked, chopped and frozen, minute rice)

Sun- lasagne (all prepared and frozen in aluminum lasagne pan with directions to thaw and bake written on tinfoil cover)
M- biscuits and sausage gravy (sausage is cooked, and frozen in gladware. McCormick mix is delish if you don't do homemade.)
T- beanie weenie (I'm lovin' Bush's baked beans, toss in after frying some hotdog coins, add a little extra brown sugar)
W- chicken packets (chicken filling is cooked, chopped, doctored, and frozen in gladware)
Th- ravioli (frozen bag of premade stuff, add can of sauce and precooked frozen ground beef)
F- Rhodes dough pizzas (defrost loafs of Rhodes in the morning, quick homemade pizza that evening)
Sat- tostadas


Sun- chicken ranch pasta (crockpot in the morning, ready when you get home from church!)
M- hamburgers & fries (yes, I bought the premade, frozen patties and a bag o' fries to bake while I'm frying them)
T- ham sandwiches (mixed, filled, and frozen in tinfoil, just toss in the oven for 20 minutes)
W- Kielbasa and Potatoes (kielbasa chopped and frozen in gladware)
Th- enchiladas (frozen in aluminum lasagne pan, just add sauce and bake)
F- pancakes
Sat- soft tacos (hamburger cooked and frozen in gladware, tortillas soft fried, and frozen in a gallon bag)

10/4- 10/10

Sun- quiche (frozen pie crusts; bacon, onions, etc. frozen - no thawing required, but I precook my crust about 5 minutes before adding eggy mixture and filling)
M- fried potatoes with bacon & onions (bacon is chopped, cooked, and frozen with onions - just chop potatoes, saute them til tender, and toss in meat)
T- Easy Crustless Quiche (precooked sausage, add green chile and onion)
W- penne pasta lasagne (I had a bunch of lasagne filling left, so I cooked up some penne, tossed it in the cheesy filling, put it in a baking dish, and poured on the rest of the can of sauce. Can't be too bad, right?)
Th - baked potatoes with hamburger gravy
F - homemade Mac & Cheese
Sat - Time to Go Shopping and Cook Again. I'm going out to eat.

Everything for these meals is either in the pantry, fridge, or freezer. I like to package and freeze parts together, so they don't accidentally get eaten before their time. (For example, if you were having french bread pizzas, you could wrap your container of homemade meat sauce, bag of mozarella, package of pepperoni, and loaf of french bread together in saran wrap, before you stick it in the freezer. Get the package out the night before, defrost in the fridge, and you're all set to whip it up in about 15 minutes!)

By the way, I spent about an hour at Walmart, after I made up a list of meals in the parking lot. I spent about $200 (and that included milk, bread, cereal and some other necessities, but not a bunch of snacks or anything). My goal is to spend about $1 per meal, per person. The prep work (cooking the meat - hamburger and chicken, assembling lasagne, ham sandwiches, enchiladas, and making filling for chicken packets, etc.) took about three hours. (And just in case you're wondering, I figure I spend about $400 per month on food for 7 people (5 adult/teen, 2 picky littles. Also, I do have a separate full-sized freezer, but I think I could probably keep all the prepared stuff in the kitchen freezer, as long as I didn't have a bunch of other junk in there.) Another tip: I keep a list of the stuff I have prepped in the freezer, on the front of the freezer, so we don't forget to use it.

I also did laundry while I was doing my cooking. I didn't fold, just moved loads through the washer/dryer to the couch. By Saturday night we were ready for our "Laundry Party!" (which makes little kids beg to be allowed to come, and big kids groan). At our "Laundry Party!" we turn on fun music, and everyone sits in special spot of their choosing (just like Christmas morning!), while I throw laundry off the pile at the owner, and they fold their stuff. Each of the big kids usually has to do their own and a small sibling, while little kids fold dishtowels, and little things. I do mine and DH does his own. Whoever isn't busy (because all their laundry is still on their floor) gets to do towels, sheets, or whatever I throw at them.

(Here's BittE and her new babydoll, Spamela)

Have a productive week! (And if you're all inspired to go for it, try starting with just a week or two.)

Got any good tips for me? I'd love to hear what works for you! Thanks!

Oh, By the way, I don't do the cooking most nights. The kids (16, 13, 11) are still doing it. They just go by the chore chart as to when their cooking day is, then they make the meal on the menu calendar. Yup, life is good.


Ter said...

I wish I could be more organized like that. I can't seem to think of meals ahead of time! (It's easier when there's other people, I guess)

Kristina P. said...

What a great idea! We eat out so much. I want to start prepping more meals at home.

Jaina said...

Wow. I'm seriously impressed! What a fantastic system. Incredible. I'd love to do this someday...though I'm not sure how this would go over with the bf, who's rather an amazing chef and loves to cook on a daily basis. Maybe for the quick things, yeah?

Are You Serious! said...

♥ you're awesome! I'd lvoe to have dinner done for a month! fabulous!!! :)

Lynne's Somewhat Invented Life said...

I have always said that amking a menu plan saves money but you have gone a step further. I'm so impressed. You go, girl. I hope you get others to try this.

Janna said...

can I come over for dinner?

Michelle said...

Wow. You sound like you have it together-at least as far as meals go!! I love how you said that buttermilk will make even dirt taste good. My boys LOVE that stuff and they'd lick it off ANY surface they find it on.

onehm said...

You are my idol.

Salsa Mama said...

That Spamela is a cutie! :)

onehm said...

PS...I have totally been inspired, and while I don't think I'll be as Super-Hot you, but a girl can dream, right?

Here I to make a menu and shopping list.


Cyn City said...

This is awesome! I really want to start posting recipes to my blog too. BTW we finally bought that house and I love cooking in my new kitchen :)

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