Let's save some time and some money together. Let's waste time and money, because we sometimes forget. Let's figure out a way to go for what we want. Let's parent with reckless abandon. Let's be sarcastic and really real and drink all the coffee that was ever made. Let's do life.
My friend Sarah and I cooked ALL DAY today, from about 10 AM to 4 PM. We were very well prepared and had babysitters, but things still took a little longer than expected. However, we both now have around 11-12 meals in the freezer to help make dinnertime a little less stressful for the month of July.
I had planned on posting a video to cook off our Freezer Cooking Day, but there was a Mac and an iPhone involved that I couldn’t quite figure out, so I finally gave up and posted on the Facebook wall instead. Click here to check it out.
I will be posting a final wrap-up of our cooking day in a few days. Although it was a lot of work, I am so thrilled with all that we accomplished!
If you would like to arrange your own cooking day, here are the links you will need to get organized:
I have been working on a tentative schedule for the actual cooking day to try and keep us as organized as possible. This is going to look different for everyone, but hopefully my schedule is a good jumping off point for you.
You can never be too organized or plan too much for a cooking day like this. The more you can get prepped and ready before you start, the better off you will be.
The day before
Double check your ingredient list and make sure you aren’t missing anything. You don’t want to be running out at the last minute, you will be busy enough as it is.
Make sure you have enough aluminum pans, if you are following my plan exactly you will need six. You can either print out labels for your lids or foil that are going on top of your pans or write directly on the foil with a Sharpie. You will also need six gallon freezer bags, print out labels for these or write cooking directions with a Sharpie directly on the bag.
Print your recipes or make sure you have them all bookmarked on your computer
Make sure all of your meat is defrosted and in the fridge ready to go.
Make sure you have something planned for dinner after all your cooking. Use one of your freezer meals to keep it simple or plan to have a pizza delivered. I can guarantee that you won’t want to cook anything elaborate that evening.
Prep, prep and then prep some more (BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE)
Shred all your cheese
Dice bell pepper
Chop onion (or use food processor)
We’re going to bake our chicken, so we aren’t tying up a burner and we can just toss it in the stove and forget about it until it’s done. Once the chicken is done, cube about 2/3 for White Chicken Chili and shred the remaining chicken for Chicken Spaghetti.
Saute onion and carrot for White Chicken Chili, add remaining ingredients per the recipe and let simmer while you are getting everything else ready.
Brown ground beef/turkey/pork
We are going to start off browning all six pounds of meat together. When meat is brown, we will split it up for three different recipes:
2 lbs into crock pot for Spaghetti Sauce
1 lb each into bags for Spicy Sausage Pasta
2 lbs continue to brown with taco seasoning for Lawnmower Taco, add remaining ingredients to meat
Add remaining Spaghetti Sauce ingredients to crock pot, set on low and just let it simmer while you take care of everything else
Dice potatoes, prep and bake after chicken is done for Oven Fries, place on cookie sheets and freeze per recipe
Let Spaghetti Sauce cool and place in prepped bags
I tried to include every step of the process, but I may have missed something small so please double-check your recipes. Truthfully, it was a lot of work to wrap my brain around this kind of planning. The last time I did a cooking day like this, I was organized in that I had all my ingredients, but nowhere near this detailed. I’m excited to see how much more smoothly the day goes with a schedule.
Sarah and I need to make one big shopping trip before our cooking day to gather all the ingredients we haven’t been able to score with coupons or hot sales. I will use some of my catalinas from the Albertsons gift card promo, but most likely we will head to Walmart or Winco to pick up the other ingredients, as they are generally cheaper overall.
Are you ready for this? I’m so excited to be cooking with all of you! When is your cooking day planned?
I have included all the Freezer Cooking Day posts on the sidebar of the blog for easy navigation. You can find them under the Freeezer Cooking header, right above Local Farmer’s Markets.
On to the official ingredient list. I will do my best to highlight store deals that will match up with our ingredient list, but it’s not a bad idea to print out each recipe and the list of ingredients for yourself, so you can get yourself totally prepared.
Brown 1 pound hamburger with two chopped garlic cloves and 1/2 chopped onion. Drain before mixing. When almost brown, mix in one jar Prego (or other sauce of your choice), one 5 oz can tomato paste, one 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes and one 8 oz can tomato sauce. Let simmer for half an hour or so.
All amounts listed are based on each recipe being doubled, except for the Cheese Enchiladas that are already doubled in the original recipe.
If you want a printable ingredient list to take to the store with you, I created a Google Doc here.
(16) flour tortillas
(6) cups spaghetti
(2) boxes rotini pasta
(9) cans chicken broth (14.5 oz cans)
(4) cans cream of mushroom soup
(6) cans white beans
(2) cans black beans (optional for Lawnmower Taco)
(2) cans diced green chilies
(2) jars Prego spaghetti sauce
(2) cans tomato paste 5 oz
(2) cans Rotel (or other diced tomatoes)
(2) cans diced tomatoes 14.5 oz
(2) cans tomato sauce 8 oz
30 oz enchilada sauce or tomato sauce
Tortilla chips or corn tortillas
Green bell pepper
Approximately (5) onions
(21) cups shredded cheese
(12) boneless skinless chicken breasts – Can still order through Zaycon at $1.64/lb (6) lbs ground beef or turkey
There are some basic pantry ingredients I didn’t include, like spices and salt and pepper, so make sure to double check each recipe before you start. This is an approximate list, there may be items you want to swap out or exclude. I never tend to use as much onion or cheese as each recipe calls for, so my personal list may be slightly different from yours.
My friend Emilie is going to check a few prices at Costco for us tomorrow, to see if there is anything that would be worth grabbing there. Feel free to share if you have any ideas where we can pick up some of the items at a lower cost.
Next on my list is to put together a tentative schedule to (hopefully) keep us all organized.
Are you ready to start the planning process for our big Freezer Cooking Day Extravaganza? I was truly overwhelmed by the response to this idea and I’m so excited for all of you to follow along with me!
A quick recap.
For the next 3-4 weeks, I will be posting a menu, ingredient list, planning and preparation ideas and (hopefully) answering your questions along the way to get us ready for our big Freezer Cooking Day towards the end of June.
My friend Sarah and I have decided to cook together and we chose Wednesday the 29th of June. We would love for you all to cook along with us on the same day, but I know that probably won’t be a possibility for some. The purpose of this series is to give you the tools and information you need to cook on whatever day you choose.
Tips on planning your day:
Between Sarah and I, we have four kids under the age of three. There is NO way we would ever be able to focus on our cooking and prep, feed our children and get them down for naps and still have the house standing. We arranged our day around her mom’s schedule and she is going to come and help out with the kids. If you have young kids at home, I highly suggest hiring a babysitter! If it’s not possible to find someone who can dedicate themselves to watching the kids, maybe join up with a few friends for your cooking day and trade off duties as the day goes on.
Be as organized as possible. I will do my best to give you all the tools you need, including a timeline for prep and cooking for the day of, but double and triple check your ingredient list before you get started. You will have enough to do without running to the store for any last-minute items.
Don’t take on more than you think you can handle. My menu plan is fairly basic and planned around similar ingredients, but if you feel like it’s too much for you, don’t do it all! Start with just two or three recipes. If this series is successful, I’ll definitely plan another and you can jump in with both feet next time.
I personally am going to add $40 to our grocery budget this month, dedicated to the Freezer Cooking Day ingredients. I’ll do my best to pick up all my items on sale/with coupons over the next few weeks, but anything left on my list in the few days before, I will just grab at Walmart or Winco. The reason I am adding a little to the budget (you do not have to do this!), is so I don’t feel stressed out that I am “blowing” our budget for something that will help save us money next month.
The official Freezer Cooking Day Extravaganza menu plan:
I will be making two of each meal, but of course feel free to do as many (or as little) as you’d like. Don’t feel obligated to make every recipe either. I tried to choose simple recipes based around what most of us have in our pantry and can be adapted for meat preference (ground beef, pork or turkey should work fine in most of the recipes).
Chicken Spaghetti – I use boneless, skinless chicken breast instead of a whole fryer, just for simplicity
Spaghetti sauce – Will finish in crock pot, but you can make on stove top. I like to call this semi-homemade pasta sauce, as it still uses some canned ingredients for ease. This was given to me by a gal I went to college with, who patiently attempted to teach me how to cook. I hope you’re reading Marney!
The official ingredient list will be up in a few days.
Please leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions. I would also love to hear your tips on freezer cooking if you have done it before. Anything to help streamline the process will be much appreciated!