Saturday, October 05, 2013

Freezer Cooking

I've been wanting to do a "freezer cooking" session for a while now. It's so helpful to have things 'on hand' to make for dinner. Even if I have to be a *little*bit prepared & think about it the night before, it's GREAT to have something to throw in the crockpot or in the oven. Makes my after-work life a lot easier.

A few weeks ago, a friend/co-worker of mine (Colleen) & I were chatting (both of our daughters are in the same ballet class) and it hit me. We are SO BUSY. We don't even do much, but with working full time & juggling other people's schedules, it can be a lot. And I hate the 'ANY DINNER IDEAS?!' question. Blech. So I asked her if she wanted to set up a freezer cooking day (plus, her husband has had some tough medical stuff going on this year & she could use a BREAK!)

Meanwhile, another friend/co-worker (Jess) had heard about the plan and asked if she could join it. Perfect! In this case, 3 is better than 2 for sure! We set a date and set about getting it together.

I am a planner. I am a STRONG Virgo & I love. to. plan. SO...I had no problem just taking this by the reins and going with it. I searched the internet & Pinterest for interesting/yummy/non-veggie* containing freezer meals & made a plan (yay! Plans!).

*I love veggies. It's just that the last time I did freezer cooking I spent a lot of time/money chopping, prepping, etc veggies that went into meals in the crock pot, that then cooked for 8+ hours and turned to mush and were nasty. So I vowed not to do that again. I searched for recipes that were 1) fairly simple, 2) sounded tasty; 3) weren't heavy on veggies  you can ALWAYS add fresh veggies later. Like a bowl of carrot sticks. BOOM.  you're good to go. Anyhow...I digress....

The plan was:

Freezer Friendly Bean & Cheese Burritos
Crock-Pot Beef Stroganoff
Pioneer Woman's Twice Baked Potatoes
Crock-Pot Nacho Chicken

Various quick breads (zucchini & pumpkin and maybe apple or banana...)

Freezer cooking supplies...never mind the frozen pizzas in the back for my family! ha!
I did some major grocery shopping Friday evening (figured it was easier for one person to deal with the shopping & just tell the others what was owed). My cart was FULL. I predicted it would be about $300 for the whole thing. I think it was $300.68!! DANG! I'm getting good! Then I had coupons so it went down a bit $388 for a total. Whohooo.
*Most of the Groceries!*

Seriously $96 for what we got. Awesome. I can spend $45 at a grocery store in about 7 minutes, so this is very cool.

That being said - I have never purchased 12lbs of stew meat, 24 cans of cream of anything soup, 24 cans of Rotel or refried beans or 36 chicken breasts all at once!

The ladies came over about 10:30 am and we sorta muddled through things. Colleen is a master raw-meat handler (which is awesome because Jess & I AREN'T). Jess tackled chopping onions (which I'd rather not do)...and I sorta did some stuff in between. Like bad math (seriously - missed 12 CANS of soup THAT I WAS SUPPOSED TO BUY - gah! This is why I work in a library people!)

Partners in crime - Colleen on meat trimming duty!
It was so fun to prep, to chat, to learn more about each other; to help, suggest, wonder & execute recipes for our families. It was interesting to hear about the genesis of said families. It was great to be totally productive & totally social at the same time. THAT was the best part. (for a few weeks the best part will be having dinner ready to go!).
Jess on potato washing duty!
Dahlia & I mixing up taco seasoning. What is UP with my hair? Freak. 

Yup - a bunch of potatoes.
It took about 8 hours. AND we didn't get to any baking! I really didn't know what to expect so I think we did *pretty* good. The weather will be crappy tomorrow so I'm going to bake then & share with my cohorts. Who can use a few loaves of zucchini bread, pumpkin bread or whatever else comes out of my oven?
Dahlia insisted on helping. She wrote the contents on the bag & packaged up my burritos for me!

I will definitely do this again. It was a lot of fun. Like a quilting bee, but with snacks & meals prepped. I hope they had as good of a time as I did!

Putting together the Twice Baked Potatoes. It *might* be a hard cider in the foreground. What of it?!

August also wanted to help. He rinsed out some cans & dishes. Sweet kiddo. 

Burrito Assembly Line
In process....

Twice Baked Potato assembly & burrito packaging.