Sunday, August 14, 2011

Getting My Chef On

I will openly admit that while I embrace some facets of of domestic life (cleaning, laundry, baby butt wiping), I miserably fail at others such as meal planning and food budgeting.

This is an issue we've talked about for years. Jeremy is clearly not only a better chef than me but far more creative when it comes to menu. I am not creative nor often heavily motivated to try. Therefore, we spend way too much on impulse buys at the grocery, and way too much on eating out.

Seriously, if you knew how much money we spent per month on dining out, you would stop being my friend.

So an effort to right all these wrongs, I spent ALL day yesterday stocking up our freezer with pre-cooked food. Freezer cooking!...a novel idea that I have never really tried (aside from spaghetti sauce and the rogue container of leftover soup).

Oh no, this cooking was hardcore.
On the days when we are too tired or busy to cook, I'm hoping this will be our answer instead of Chinese delivery. Praying that this STICKS!

I made my first ever lasagnas. I guess I thought they would be alot harder. I made four small ones (6 cups as opposed to 12), and lined the baking dish with foil. One they were cool and set up, I just pulled the whole thing out and wrapped it tight in foil.

I made four bags of taco meat, using Grammie and Grampie's super special taco seasoning. Way better than old el paso. Just add tortillas, cheese and lettuce and we are good to go!

Jeremy is very anti frozen chicken nuggets and I totally get that (I mean, what ARE all of those mystery ingredients). But seeing as how the kids love them so, I made a homemade batch using organic chicken and whole wheat flour. Sooooo tasty. Tessa says better than McD's. God I hope so.

Following a friend's advice, I let them cool and then laid them all out on a cookie sheet to freeze. Once they were fully frozen, then I portioned them into ziplocs. That was they don't stick together upon freezing. Brilliant!

As a side note, I turned these into last night's dinner....keeping a marinara bubbling away all afternoon on the back burner. My marinara is SO easy....cook up one onion and lots of garlic cloves, add pureed maters (skins and all because I'm lazy), a handful of fresh basil, one tablespoon of salt, one tablespoon of sugar. Let simmer for hours and hours. Done.

Once we have more maters, there will be lots of this being made and frozen, plus Jeremy's Ragu. We have about 2 million yellow tomato flowers out there. C'mon already!

It's a beautiful thing when this....

Turns into this! 24 oz of home grown pesto made and frozen. Ka-chow!

Jeremy taught me how to make REAL mac and cheese this way. You make a roux (or in Indiana terms, a gravy paste) of butter and flour, add milk and cheese and more milk and more cheese. Proceed like you are making sausage gravy, then add cooked noodles.
Beautiful. Portioned into 3 cup bags. I'm hoping this reheats well and we have some very satisfied children. If it doesn't work I might cry, then back to the drawing board.

I also made 12 runzas to wrap and freeze. I'm thinking these should reheat well and be a good quick lunch.

I didn't get pictures of it but somewhere in here I had a bubbling cauldron of chicken noodle soup that equaled 7 quarts.
Somewhere in there I made meringue cookies after seeing them on my friend Brittani's blog (and realizing I had an over abundance of eggs). They were popular. Let's just say they didn't make it to the cookie jar.

And although it's mostly unrelated to this project, I cut some of our herbs to start drying.

So that was a LONG day, and I'm not hoping to have days like that very often. But now we have a base to start from and more importantly I proved to myself that I CAN do it. And I even did most of it with out the advice of our resident culinary expert, as he was out at the park with the kids. And that was a very satisfying feeling.

So to my blog audience I must ask....what do you like to freezer cook? I need more ideas, LOTS more ideas. Help!


erin said...

Hey domestic mama! I cook up stew and chili and I precook and split all my hamburger up too then freeze it. And as much as I know you don't like meatballs or meatloaf the fam might like a different version. You could make chicken or turkey balls then throw some of that pesto or marinara over them. Any "meat" ball is good cause I sneak in veggies this way. chopped carrots, zucchini, spinach, peppers etc. That's my 2 since :)

phasejumper said...

Wow! That's a lot of work! Definitely keep us updated on the Mac n cheese! Thanks for the mention- I feel famous!

Love, Strength, Hope said...

I like to make stuffed shells, corn chowder, lobster chowder, tortilla soup, meat loaf and shepards pie.
Good job!!