Whew! I did it!!! I made twenty-five meals plus some breakfasts in about 6 hours. Wahooo!
I started my cooking day at 6:30AM. Yes, I know that’s early. However, the Princess is up at 6:00 usually – even on a Saturday. I figured since I was up, I might as well get started. I had my plan in place. I just had to execute it.
The plan actually started Thursday night. That’s the night I went shopping. I twittered that I was shopping for the cook off and even got encouragement from the Once A Month Mom herself. I felt so honored.
I came home with my goodies, and immediately put all the chicken in the crock pot to cook overnight. It is recommended that you put water in with the chicken. I don’t use water. I use Kraft Zesty Italian dressing that I get on sale and with coupons. So, I always have lots in my pantry. For a full crock pot of chicken, I used a whole bottle of dressing. I really like the flavor it gives the chicken. I had never done chicken overnight before. It worked well. The only issue was that the house smelled SERIOUSLY of chicken the next morning. If I had been pregnant and smelling that on an empty stomach, I would have been heaving. As it was, I was slightly queasy. But, the chicken was done! I shredded it Friday morning and put it in the fridge.
My plan was to make the granola Friday night, but that didn’t happen. I had an INSANE work week and was just plain beat by Friday night. I did manage to get the ground beef into the crock pots, and that cooked overnight to be ready in the morning. We had the same smell issue the next morning, but it wasn’t as disturbing as the chicken. And, I was thankful that all the ground beef was cooked. I think in the future, I’ll cook the meat during the day before so as not to deal with the smell issue and then just refrigerate until I am ready to cook.
I had chosen recipes with very little chopping of veggies needed. This was just perchance. I didn’t plan it that way. I did need some onions, but I cheated and just used frozen ones I had purchased at Publix. They’re not as strong in flavor as fresh chopped onions, which My Sweetie actually prefers. I also needed some chopped garlic. Again, I cheated and used the stuff from the jar. So, the only real chopping I had to do on cooking day was some green onions.
I started the morning making pancakes. I had originally planned on making Banana Pancakes, but the Princess wanted some pancakes for breakfast, and I knew she wouldn’t eat the banana ones. So, I just made plain ones using the same recipe. I did however use half wheat flour and half unbleached – trying to get them a bit healthier. They were very good!! We had some for breakfast, and I got 4 BAGS for the freezer.
After I had fed the family, I quickly mixed up a Quiche and put it in the oven. Once it had cooled, I cut it into six pieces for six breakfasts for me at the office. Next, I mixed up the Granola and got that into the oven. That granola – it BE GOOD! My Sweetie had some last night, and I had some this morning with my yogurt. Yummy! It made enough to fill a Tupperware large oval modular mate.
I started the meal preparation off easy by making the two dishes I had chosen that just needed marinades and then went straight to the freezer. I whipped up the Pork Chop Marinade from The Big Cook cookbook and the Asian Pork Loin Marinade from the $5 Dinners cookbook. That was a quick six meals prepared.
I then moved on to the ground beef portion of the morning. I made a triple batch of Ziti. (The noodles had been boiling while the marinade prep was happening.) It made six pans to give away – I usually give away ziti to those who need a meal. I also made one large pan for small group Monday night. I’m really thankful I remembered I was in charge of food this week! Because I added a bit more meat to the small group pan (those men love some meat), I only had enough meat to make two batches of Sloppy Joes (from The Big Cook).
Once I had used up all my ground beef, I pulled out my massive container of shredded chicken. I mixed the topping for the Chicken Ranch Pizza, but didn’t use tomatoes. The House of Hills is not a fan of tomatoes in their natural state. Add a bit of sugar and make some ketchup – then we’re happy. I filled four quart baggies with topping. I then combined everything but the black beans together for Chicken and Black Bean Quesadillas. I already have black beans in the freezer, so I’ll just pull a bag of this mixture and a bag of black beans when I’m ready to make the quesadillas. I made enough for six meals.
My final project for the day was Pizza Crusts. They were so EASY to make. I will never buy pizza crust again. And, I used half whole wheat and half unbleached flour, making them better for us than the ones at the store. Those went into the freezer, and I can’t wait to use them.
That was it! During that whole cooking morning, I also helped the Princess do her project for school, made lunch,did two loads of laundry, and cleaned the kitchen as I went. I took my apron off at 1:00, six-and-half hours after I had put it on. 25 MEALS IN SIX HOURS. Not bad for a day’s work. It would take me much longer than that if I made them individually.
How much did these meals cost me? More than they should have. I did the bulk of my shopping on the Thursday before cooking at Publix. I had some coupons, but I wasn’t shopping smart. I was shopping because I needed stuff. NOT the best way to shop. If I had planned better, I would have gotten the pork loin and ground beef at BJs. I would have gone to the Tyson factory and picked up frozen chicken breasts for pennies a piece. I would have been watching the sales all month for what I needed. I would have decided what I was going to cook at the beginning of the month instead of days before. That’s the way Once A Month Mom teaches us. I did not obey teacher. So, I paid more.
I spent $160 on stuff for the cooking day at Publix on Thursday. I already had the pork chops in my fridge and used baking supplies from the pantry. So, let’s say a total of $180 spent. That’s $7.20 a meal. Not bad, but it could be SO MUCH BETTER. I’ve challenged myself that next month I’ll get it cheaper.
Oh yes, I will be doing this next month, and the next one, and the next one. Why? Because it just makes sense to me. I’d rather cook for six hours one day than twenty-five spread out throughout the month. I’d rather have a meal in my freezer to give a friend in need than spend a small fortune picking her up something at the store. And the biggest reason, I HATE not knowing what’s for dinner. HATE IT! I LOVE making my meal plan for the week and just figuring out what I’m going to pull from the freezer. That makes me SO HAPPY and calm and peaceful. Ahhhhh…
If you’ve never cooked in bulk, I recommend you try it. It could change your life – really.
I almost forgot. The coolest thing about doing the cooking THIS WEEKEND!! I can enter this post in the Cook Off contest going on over at Once A Month Mom. I might win a food processor! I SO NEED ONE!
There were going to be pictures right here, but for some reason my computer is NOT cooperating with me at the moment. I will add them when I can.