After cooking in bulk in for the last year making individual meals, in individual containers and filling the freezer, I realized there must be a faster, more efficient way to do this. And once The Bump arrives, there will be no cooking for 6 weeks. I made this decision, and now it’s going to happen, in practice. We have a deep freezer, a broken, non-working deep freezer. One that I have been trying to unload for months now with no success. I have found a new one that I want, but we can’t get it until this broken one hits the road.
So until then, I am doing this plan on a much smaller scale. So here’s how my process works:
1. Figure out what we want to eat, plus locate some new recipes. I try to add at least one new recipe per week, that way we are not always eating the same ole boring meals every night. Currently I am doing this every week…but once that freezer gets here…this meal plan will last us up to 2 months if I plan right.
2. Then I make a list of what goes into each meal. Then I shop in the pantry, freezer and cupboards to see what I already have, and cross it off. That way I am not buying a 4th can of black beans because my baby brain can’t remember if I’ve got them or not. I also make a list of what we’ve got for other meals like breakfast and snacks.
3. Then I compile all of what’s left into a master shopping list I created in excel, with how much of each item that I need.
4. Now for the fun-ish part…Shopping! I print the above list, and write in how much each item costs as I go, and then I can keep a running total of how much this is going to cost me, before I get to the register. And then I can track big picture, I will know how much each meal costs me to make, if an item was on sale, if I had a coupon, or when the last time I bought pantry items was. the items with a $ in the notes column is an item that I was able to get at the Dollar Tree, saving anywhere from .02-.98 per item! Those items are usually packaged smaller, but then I only pay for what I need right now and don’t end up sitting on pantry items, or the like for weeks at a time without using them.
5. When I get home I input the prices into the spreadsheet and also enter the receipts into quickbooks. We use that to manage our household finances…The Hubby is a CPA after all.
6. COOK! or Prep! I assemble the ingredients for each meal and slice, dice, and chop and get it ready to go into the bags. I write on the bag the name of the meal, and the date it was prepared; along with any other special instructions or additional ingredients that are not freezer friendly onto the bag and then I fill em up! squeeze the air out and stick it in the freezer. Remember to freeze the bags flat so they stack better.
Then on cooking day I just pop in a slow cooker liner into my crockpot and dump the contents of the bag in, and turn it on! I will usually take the bags out of the freezer the afternoon before so that it has some time to thaw a bit…otherwise getting that huge bag into the crockpot would be a nightmare! Also remember to add any of those additional ingredients listed on the bag.
The meal shown above is our favorite. I know I’ve featured it on here before, but I’ve never prepped in and then frozen it. So I am curious to see how this goes. But I will share the recipe again for you, as what is pictured above is different than how I usually make it. And that is why I love those “kitchen sink” meals..you know that ones that you can make different each time, different protein, a new veggie…
Zucchini Skillet (as pictured above)
In the bag:
2 lb ground beef
4 small zucchinis, sliced
1 can of diced tomatoes, I prefer the Fire Roasted, but I had a garlic & basil flavor so that is what I used
1 bag of Southwest blend veggies (black beans, corn, peppers & onions), I usually just use black beans call it good but the extra veggies are a bonus!
rice – I make mine in the rice cooker per the cookers directions we use 2 scoops, and each scoop is just under 2/3 a cup
shredded cheese, I like the colby jack, and I cover the top of it in the skillet, so I would do the same here in the CP, cover it in cheese and stir it up prior to serving.
I always freeze the left overs, and it freezes really well. We usually eat it with tortilla chips, dip style but I love just diggin in with a fork!! The one pictured above has chicken in it, and some pinto beans for an extra kick of protein.
In this week I planned on make lots of new recipes along with some old faithfuls!
Penne Rosa (4)
Chicken Parm (6)
Meatloaf & veggies (5)
NEW! Savory waffles with turkey and gravy (holy cow was it good!) (5)
Cheesy chicken & rice (4)
NEW! Chicken & dumplings (6)
NEW! Balsamic & brown sugar Pork chops with sweet potatoes (4)
NEW! Chicken & stuffing (4)
Zucchini skillet (8)
NEW! Overnight apple cinnamon oatmeal (5)
Most of these meals will make 4-5 servings, so we each get 2 dinners, and then The Hubby will get a lunch out of it totalling around 51 meals. And seeing as I still have 7 or so meals in the freezer we’ve got dinner every night for 2 months. Not to mention the ingredients for Sweet & sour chicken, and about 36 burritos (breakfast & chicken, bean, rice & cheese)
I have perfected this process over the last year, and then I totally turned it upside down and started all over. But much prefer this process as I spent an hour this afternoon and did the Chicken & dumplings, currently in the crockpot, the double batch of zucchini skillet, and the cheesy chicken & rice, which gets divided into two bags. This is much faster as compared to the previous method which was always a 3 hour endeavor as everything got cooked and then split up.
Do you cook in bulk? Do you prepare freezer meals?