Friday, September 16, 2011

Big cooking day

In the past, I have approached cooking by deciding either that day, or the previous night, what we should have for dinner, making sure I have what I need, and then just cooking.  Even with lots of leftovers, it means I am usually cooking 4 days a week.  And while I love cooking, since I started working again, I have found I do not always feel like cooking, I do not always remember to take meat out in the mornings to thaw, and we have been getting take out more.

I know lots of women try to approach cooking for efficiently, cooking once a week for the whole week and freezing the meals, or premaking meal starters that can easily be turned into one of several dishes with little work.  But the other day, I found this blog that talked about making whole crock pot ready meals and freezing them.  I decided to give it a whirl last night.

Hubby picked me right after work and went to the store with me.  In less than 30 minutes, we got the ingredients for 2 sets of 4 different meals: BBQ chicken and veggies, goulash, chicken curry (all 3 from that same blog) and beef stew (my own recipe).  We went home and I got to work.

Each recipe gets seperated into 2 one gallon freezer bags, so I decided to do that up front.  I lined up my bags, all 8, and through all the recipes, distributing the veggies one by one as I chopped.  It was a little tricky keeping the recipes straight, and dividing the total recipe in half to get the right amount in each bag, but it really was so efficient to do it this way.  It took, including a break for me to eat, slightly less than 3 hours.  Each bag will last for 2-3 meals.  And each serving is less than $2 in cost (I had to estimate because I got other groceries and non food items at the store as well), probably closer to $1.50 per serving.  The meals are healthy, hearty, chock full of veggies, and sitting in my freezer as we speak.  (yes, the time on that clock was right, I finished just before 9 pm).


Now all I will need to do is grab a bag, thaw it for 30 minutes, and dump into the crock pot before work.  This might be my new favorite thing.  I am a little nervous about the recipes from the blog, they are pretty different from anything I have ever made, but since I was using that bloggers model, I thought it best to use her recipes too.  If this works out, I will do some different recipes next time.

My only complaint was the chicken.  I tend to use breasts or tenders, which are more expensive.  These recipes called for legs and thighs.  I left the skins on the legs, and used just legs for the bbq chicken.  I used the thighs for the curry, but I had to deskin and debone them, I could not stand the sight of the skin on those thighs, and all that fat, ick.  It may detract a little from the flavor, but it was a sacrifice I wanted to make to reduce the fat.  I was exhausted by the time I was done, but I think it will all be worth it in the long run.