Sunday, August 29, 2010

Freezer Cooking - Menu Plan Aug 30

With the weekend fairly open, I decided to sit down with my cookbooks and favorite websites and create some menus for the upcoming weeks. I didn't have anything fancy in mind - just some meals in the fridge, some in the freezer and my mind at ease.

A few years ago I was in a freezer cooking group with some awesome cooks like Karen Riggenbach, Holly Mason and Elizabeth Baker. Karen & Holly always knew just what to do and I took advantage of the opportunity to learn how to cook under their tutelage as well as use the time to bond with some fantastic women that I love and admire. Our little group hasn't cooked together in quite some time even though I still have a tub of spices and condiments in my basement just in case the group should ever decide to cook again. Then again, maybe most of that stuff needs to be just thrown out by now.

I learned about freezer cooking when I attended Hearts at Home, a Christ-centered organization for moms. Since cooking has never been a favorite activity of mine, I decided to give it a try. I bought a book called the "Freezer Cooking Manual" from 30 day Gourmet.  I planned my first freezer cooking day and just happened to mention it to my friend, Elizabeth, who joined me on my first adventure into freezer cooking. Our group expanded to include Karen & Holly and we eventually purchased a software package from 30 day Gourmet called Advantage Cooking. The Advantage Cooking software will create various worksheets for you to use such as a grocery shopping list, recipe inventory to keep track of what you have in the freezer, and even sorts recipes by appliances used (i.e. crock pot or stove top).

On Saturday, I spent the day trolling through recipes. This is what I came up with.

Beef EntreesQuantityServings
Crock Pot Enchiladas2serves 8
Make-ahead Chimichangas2makes 16
Roast2use for French Dip Sandwiches
Sweet & Sour Meatballs1serves 4-6
Breads and BreakfastQuantityServings
Breakfast Burritos2makes 12
Orange Rainsin Bran Muffns112
Sausage & Cheese Breakfast Casserole112
Sweet Potato Pancakes1serves 4
Pork and Fish EntreesQuantityServings
English Pizzas1serves 6
Poultry EntreesQuantityServings
Cashew Chicken2serves 6
Crockpot Sweet & Sour Chicken w/mango2
Grilled Sesame Chicken2serves 6
Sides and SaladsQuantityServings
Broccoli Casserole2serves 4-6
Fruit and Nut Cous Cous1serves 6
Snacks and DessertsQuantityServings
Good-for-You Granola1makes 12 cups
Soups and SandwichesQuantityServings
Mango gazpacho w/shrimp and avocado1serves 2

Now, not everything got made today, but Camo-Man prepared the Sausage & Cheese Breakfast Casserole so I can just pop it in the oven in the morning. We made up 2 meals each of crock pot enchiladas, Make-ahead Chimichangas, Cashew Chicken, Grilled Sesame Chicken, and sweet & sour meatballs and proudly stored them in the freezer until they are needed. I also whipped up the Good-For-You Granola for a snack as well. Tomorrow we're going to have Crockpot Sweet & Sour Chicken with mango. I'll put one in the crock pot in the morning and one in the freezer for later. Tomorrow night and Wednesday we'll cook up the breakfast burritos (since I bought the wrong sausage anyway), orange raisin bran muffins and sweet potato pancakes.

My plan may not be perfect, but it's a start. I feel so much better knowing I have something on hand to feed my family - something nutritious and easily prepared. For some reason, I'm not one of those women who have a long list of tried and true recipe to fall back on. I rarely make the same thing twice. Why? Because I'll find some recipe, make it and then never find it again. The Advantage Cooking software has helped me plan meals and organize my recipes. I only wish I could nutritional information out of it as well, but maybe that will be in the next upgrade.

So that's my plan and I'm sticking to it. What do you have planned for dinner this week?

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