Sunday, August 18, 2013

Beginner Freezer Cooking

We meal plan and budget our groceries every week. We, also, like to cook at home and limit our eating out. It doesn't always work like it should, especially when we get busy. So... since our schedule is about to get even crazier than usual, I thought I'd give freezer cooking a try. I spent all day Saturday shopping and cooking and freezing meals. I posted pictures as I went and some of my Facebook & Instagram friends asked how I did it, so here's a little breakdown of how I went about it!

I started researching Friday night by going on PW's blog post about this. I had watched her Freezer Cooking episode the other day and that is what really got me thinking about trying this! I, also, looked on Pinterest and jotted down ideas of what I wanted to make! I narrowed down the list and wrote out my final list. (As you can see, I'm old school and prefer to make my lists with real paper & pens. Ha!)

I made out my grocery list and set a budget of $200. First thing Saturday morning, Em and I went to Wal-Mart and loaded up! I spent $200.26!

Here's what I bought:

About 10 lbs of 85/15 ground beef
3 lb. boneless pork loin
3 lb. cube steak
2 pkg. of smoked sausage (1 turkey sausage/ 1 reg)
2 whole chickens
2 pkg. frozen chicken breasts
1 lb. breakfast sausage
1 pkg. turkey bacon
1 pkg. frozen peas
2- 4 c. pkg. of shredded cheddar cheese
1- 16 oz. container of hvy whipping cream
2- 2 pk. premade rolled pie crust
18 ct. organic eggs
2- 24 oz. jars of salsa
1 box whole wheat spaghetti
2 cans of diced tomatoes
5 green bell peppers
1 pkg. of tri-color bell peppers
1 lb. zucchini
1 lb. yellow squash
1 pkg. celery hearts
1 pkg. whole carrots
6 lbs. yellow onions
3- 10 ct. whole wheat tortillas
1 pkg. corn tortillas
3- 49.5 oz. cans of chicken broth
2 cans of Rotel
4 cans of Cream of Mushroom soup
2- 2 pk. loaf pans
2- 2 pk. 9x13 cake pans
1- 3 pk. round pie pans
1 gallon freezer Ziplocks
1 pint freezer Ziplocks
1 Saran wrap
1 75 ft. foil

I didn't buy any season or sauces because I already had everything!

After unloading everything, I put the two chickens in the oven to roast right away. I didn't even bother seasoning them! I, also, cooked the bacon in the oven, since it was already on! Then I got to work chopping. I chopped all the onions, peppers, and celery by hand, but I used my food processor for the carrots & squash. (I did not use ALL the celery & carrots!) Since the pepper steak called for sliced peppers & onions, not chopped, I went ahead and put those in the labeled bags, also.

Once all the prep was done, I measured out the veg for the gumbo (doubled my usual recipe) and put that aside. Then I sauteed the rest in the THREE biggest skillets I have. I seasoned them with S&P and garlic pwd. while they were cooking. When everything was softened, I pulled out some to cool for the meatloaf mix, and set aside some for the chicken pot pie & chicken spaghetti. I, then, added 7 lbs. of the HB meat to the veggies, seasoned it, and browned it all. One of the skillets, I designated as the enchilada meat and added chili pwd. & cumin. Unfortunately, I did almost everything by eye, so I can't help you with measurements!

I, then, left it all to cool, while I mixed up my meatloafs. I placed them in the loaf pans, wrapped with foil, labeled, then wrapped with plastic wrap. (I did not put any sauce on the meatloafs, I will put that on before baking!) Then I went ahead and made up my crockpot "packets"! Sliced up the cube steak, added that and seasoning to the 3 bags of sliced peppers for the Pepper Steak. Recipe HERE. Added chicken breasts, salsa, chili pwd., & cumin to 3 bags for shredded chicken. Mixed up the marinade & sliced the pork loin into 2 for the Spicy Pulled Pork, added to two labeled bags (PW's first cookbook, can't find the recipe online right now!) This is about the time I ran my first load of dishes in the DW!

Then I pulled all the chicken from the whole roasted chickens. I started the chicken & sausage gumbo (adapted from Prejean's recipe) and the chicken pot pie (PW's recipe!) at the same time. When those were done and cooling, I bagged up all the extra HB meat in 2 c. bags., it made 6! I overshot my planned amount, but it'll get used! Then I made the enchiladas in 2 of the foil cake pans (minus the sauce, which will be added before cooking), wrapped in foil, labeled, then wrapped in plastic. Then I mixed up the chicken spaghetti (PW's recipe, but I used Rotel instead of pimentos!), and repeated the wrapping process with the last 2 foil cake pans. Meanwhile, my wonderful hubby grilled up a whole package of chicken breasts for me! We just seasoned this with an all purpose seasoning. I bagged them up 2 breasts to a bag, it made 4 bags. I divided the chicken pot pie filling into the 3 round pans. The pans came with cardboard lids. I used the lid to cut around on my pie crust. Placed the crust, cut vents, added the lids, labeled, and wrapped in plastic! THEN, I dished out the gumbo in 3 gallon bags! BE SURE TO LABEL YOUR BAGS FIRST! I had a little bit of sauteed veggies left, so I bagged them, too! Then I ran ANOTHER load of dishes.

With everything in the extra freezer in the garage (Clinton cleaned it out for me!), I cooked up some crumbled breakfast sausage and 12 scrambled eggs. I wrapped up the breakfast burritos, 5 with sausage & 5 with the turkey bacon I had cooked earlier. I had leftover of both meats. I could have just cooked up more eggs, but I was SO done by then. I just bagged up the meat for later use. The burritos were wrapped individually in plastic wrapped and labeled. Then I placed them all in a gallon bag.

Then I ran the 3rd load of dishes. Cleaned the kitchen. Unloaded and loaded the 4th load of dishes and finally, I was done!

End product-
Ready for oven/reheat dishes-
2 meatloafs
2 beef enchiladas
2 chicken spaghettis
3 chicken pot pies
3 chicken & sausage gumbos
10 breakfast burritos
Ready for crockpot-
2 PW's pulled pork
3 shredded chicken
3 pepper steak
6 bags of cooked HB (for spaghetti, tacos, etc)
4 bags of grilled chicken (for salad, quesadillas, etc)
1 bag of extra sautéed vegetables.

That adds up to 20 dinners, 10 breakfasts, & 11 partial meal prep items! I am super proud of myself, but honestly, I will not attempt to do so many at one time again. I think I'd rather split it into two days instead. I was SO TIRED!

Disclaimer- I have not tasted any of the finished dishes POST-FREEZER yet, so if they don't turn out, don't blame me! ;)
Disclaimer #2- Em pretty much had free reign on the house during all of this, and yup, she DESTROYED it!

I'm back... in the kitchen.

So apparently I took a summer break from the blog. As usual, I've been blogging mentally, just not literally. Sorry about that, you missed some good ones! Ha! But if you follow me on Instagram (@kaylacheatwood) or on Twitter (@kaylacheatwood),  you know that I've been playing "little miss homemaker" lately.

Trying to cook/ eat healthier...

Crockpot Lemon Rosemary Chicken & Balsamic Pasta Salad with Spinach

Spinach & Red Pepper Fritatta- Breakfast for Dinner

Packing cutesy little lunches for Emma (I'm really loving this, its so fun!)


And family movie theme nights, as a means of counting down to our next cruise. Six weeks, woot woot!

Peter Pan- Pirate Ship Pizza

Peter Pan- fruit swords

Tangled- Pulled Pork & Gouda Braid & Frying Pan cake!

I'll be posting tomorrow about my big marathon freezer cooking session from yesterday! See you then!