This time of the year gets a little crazy and it's usually the time that people want their houses cleaned a little extra, so I decided to get ahead of the game by preparing meals and freezing them so that the kids could just pop something into the oven if I hadn't made it home from work or church yet that day. I have most of the meals completed, with a few extra things that were added as I went along (trying to also have lunches covered so I don't have to eat fast food so much) that need to be done tomorrow. It was certainly nice tonight to have dinner on the table without much effort:) I have only done the once a month cooking a couple times in my life, but I think I might keep up with it this time. I want to be able to enjoy my evenings with happy, full kids and hubby. This is the way to get those results. I haven't got it down to a science, but what I do have, I'd love to share with those that need help getting ahead in the dinner dept. Send me an email or comment on where to send my menus and I'll be glad to share.
I started with a very large grocery shopping trip that took quite a few hours. This particular trip, I did not have time to clip coupons and ad match, but you can really save yourself money by doing these two things. Be careful not to fall in the trap of buying things you don't need or won't use just because you have a coupon for it. It's not saving you money if you can't utilize it and end up throwing it out. I usually shop at Walmart and they will always price match sales from other stores as long as it's the same item/same brand. Some stores will match meats, etc. even if it's not the same brand, but you will have to check this in advance with your local store. Take a friend or family member along with you, as you will need help loading and unloading groceries. Unloading will take almost as long as that shopping trip if you don't have helpers. Now, you've had a long day. Time to go to bed and start fresh in the morning.
Now, the next few days you will spend cooking the foods you have bought. I start with cooking meats at once. My chicken, I put in the crock pot on low for about 5 hours with a can of broth and it came out perfect for shredding. I cooked up all my bacon. I did not cook my fish in advance because it doesn't refreeze that great. For those meals, I just get all the dry ingredients together and put them in a gallon size Ziploc, write what it's for, and freeze it with the fish package. Then I move dish by dish, using tinfoil throwaway pans, Ziploc bags, and inexpensive throwaway plastic containers with lids (I reuse the plastic containers, but throw out the pans and bags--easy clean up). I portion out the prepared foods, cut cheeses, and mixed dry ingredients and bake meals that do better previously baked and cover the rest with foil or bag it, and move along to the next meal. This process actually takes 2-3 days for me (going on day 3 of cooking, but that's because I keep adding more stuff:))
At the left is my Christmas Tree of bacon. It's so beautiful my friend decided she needed to celebrate every morning with a bacon Christmas tree:) On the right is an example of a packaged meal with all the ingredients ready to freeze. All I have to do is thaw the bag and throw everything into the skillet the day we are going to eat it! Be sure to have any ingredients that need to be included set aside or marked in the cabinet so they don't get used for other things in the meantime. This particular meal needs tomato soup from the cabinet, so I will set
a can aside that is for this meal. Below are some Sammy sandwiches
that my kids eat up before I even have a chance to put them on the