Sunday, December 1, 2013

Make Ahead Meals

This past weekend, I earned a badge of honor. I joined the ranks of those once a month cookers!

Say, what?

You have surely seen the post all over Pinterest. "Make Ahead Meals," "13 Meals in an Hour," and there is even a website, "Once A Month Meals."  I have been interested in a long time but never actually took the time to be prepared.

Well, I got prepared.

Before we even got started, we as a family have been preparing for this event. We started by cleaning out our cabinets, pantry, and freezer. We really have not grocery shopped in a month and have forced ourselves to use up what we had on hand. This gave us needed room. Last week, I pulled the very last package of meat from the freezer and I knew the time had come to jump into the Make Ahead Meal trend.

The first thing I did was talk to some other people who had done make ahead meals. I tried to learn from them before I even started on this journey. Then I started collecting recipes. I tried to find 10-15 different meals that I thought my family would enjoy.

I decided for my first go-round I would try these meals. Some are tried and true favorites of ours and others are new:

Chicken Shiitake and Wild Rice Soup
Chicken Pot Pie Soup
Spinach Lasagna Rolls
Homemade Chicken Nuggets
Spicy Peach Chicken Sliders
Creamy Cheesy Broccoli Soup
French Dip Sandwiches
Cherry Chipotle Pulled Pork
Taco/Spaghetti Meat
Chicken Pot Pie
Pepperoni Rolls
Sweet and Tangy Meatballs
Cheesy Chicken Bacon Broccoli and Rice

Need inspiration? Want a recipe? Check out my Pinterest pinboard: Make Ahead Meals.

The next step was making a detailed list. I created an Excel document that listed the menu item, how many batches I was going to make, the ingredients, the quantity needed, and any prep comments.

With my printed document in hand, it was time to head to the grocery store. I had to visit a few grocery stores to get the best deals and needed supplies. I chose to make my own chicken stock. I also chose to not purchase pre-shredded cheese but instead grate a block of cheese myself. {It saved me some money and really was not much extra work.} We ended up spending a total of $ 230.00  on this months groceries.

I took a few moments to organize myself and went straight to work.

Since it was a holiday weekend, I started Friday night. Not everything is cooked. Some things are in freezer bags raw and just need to be thawed and cooked. Before I knew it, gallon sized freezer bags were going into the deep freezer.

Friday night I cooked up the taco meat. I cooked all the chicken and made chicken stock. I cut up carrots, celery, onions, and shredded cheese. {Oh yeah, and I went on a double date with my husband and our son and his girlfriend.} When we got home I made Chicken Pot Pies and Sweet and Tangy Meatballs. I also prepped the French Dip Sandwiches and the Cherry Chipotle Pulled Pork.

Saturday morning I made three soups: Cheesy Broccoli and Chicken Pot Pie, Cheesy Chicken Bacon Broccoli and Rice, and the Spicy Peach Chicken Sliders. {Note to self, the slow cooker only works if you plug it in.} I also roasted a turkey. After de-boning it, I put it in the freezer for some later use.

To tired to continue, I saved the Spinach Lasagna Rolls and the Homemade Chicken Nuggets for Sunday.

I found myself using large bowls to store all of my prepped ingredients. I do believe you should prep before you start. It makes it so much easier not to have to stop and cut, dice, or chop as you needed something!

Every counter space in my kitchen was full of food. Food either in a prep stage, an active cooking stage, a cooling stage, or in a packaged and ready for the freezer stage.

Some meals were portioned for lunches. Some for dinners.  In the end, I made 27 meals. This does not include the turkey that I baked. We will freeze a large portion of it to eat later.

Be prepared. Your kitchen will look a mess for an entire weekend. You will use every available surface. You will use every pot and pan and baking sheet you have.  Your hands will become dry from all the washing. Your feet will scream at you for an entire day!  But, when it is all over, you will have a stocked freezer. With a months of meals.

I wonder if my Husband will call me crazy when he does not have to cook for the entire month? 

1 comment:

  1. Really awesome Pam.....I hope someday to have the motivation to do this!!!