One of my goals for the last few years has been to start some sort of a monthly baking/fill the freezer day. We do the majority of our shopping (meat, dairy, baking supplies, frozen foods) on one Friday of the month, and it just seems like it would make sense to spend a day getting things prepped for the rest of the month. Now that I'm having to make almost everything from scratch due to dietary restrictions, it seems even more sensible.
I have to be honest...it also appeals to my more frugal side. Why pay $2 plus for a box of 40 frozen mini pancakes when I can make hundreds for the same price at home and freeze them myself? And it seems silly to pay $3.29 for a package of 8 of the sandwich rolls the kids like at Publix when for the same price, I can make 3 dozen.
The one thing that has held me back?
We have a side by side refrigerator freezer that has almost no freezer space. If I'm super creative and play Tetris with frozen meat and fruit, it can hold exactly what I buy during my big shopping trip, but doesn't leave me any room for any baked goods or even good buys.
My mom, understanding my obsessive need to be organized and save money, has tried to give us a freezer for the last few Christmases by giving us the money to buy it ourselves. And every year she's done that, we've had some huge December crisis or unexpected bill and haven't gotten that freezer. This year, she decided to just order the freezer and have it delivered (thank you again, Mom!). Within the next week, I should finally have that freezer happily chilling away in my garage.
Which is perfect timing for this: February Freezer Cooking Day (on Facebook). My freezer will be here and it just so happens to coincide with my big shopping trip day. I think my plans might be a little bit optimistic, but I've already warned Tom and the kids that they're helping. We're even going to make it a Home Ec school day.
I'm pretty sure there's no way I can do this all in one day, so I'm working on spreading it out over two.
- Big monthly shopping trip - BJ's, Publix
- Put taco roast in crock pot (will share recipe soon)
- Start chicken stock on the stove
- Make large batch of brown rice
- Cook beans
- Make tortillas using the electric griddle(several dozen whole wheat and 1 or 2 dozen small flour)
- Make mini pancakes on the electric griddle and freeze
- Marinate chicken, pork chops, steaks before freezing in family sized portions
- Prep often used spice mixtures (crockpot chicken seasonings and ranch dressing mix) and store in jars
- Remove taco roast and shred, put in freezer bags and freeze
- Remove chicken from stock, place in bowl and refrigerate
- Strain stock and place in large jars to refrigerate over night
- Make, bake and freeze -
- blueberry muffins
- pumpkin or banana bread
- sandwich rolls
- several loaves of bread and only bake those partially
- Shred chicken - freeze some
- Prep and freeze burritos using tortillas, brown rice, beans and shredded chicken
- Double batch of enchilada sauce
- De-fat chicken stock and freeze in 4 c. portions
- Make a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough and freeze in scoops
- Large batch of applesauce
- A lasagna or two to freeze
- Homemade chicken strips
- and if I get really crazy, yogurt
I know it seems like a lot of random stuff, but it would give me key parts of many of our favorite breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Knocking out a lot of this prep work on things I know we love and eat regularly will save me so much time over the month. I also know that having a lasagna or enchiladas or even some shredded beef stashed away keeps us from eating out when we're tired, sick or feeling lazy.
My ultimate goal? To make this a monthly habit, but I think I'll see how I do with this first one before I commit myself to anything too big!