I have done what I call "Power Cooking" for years, but it was always for myself. (Chicken breasts, sweet potatoes, etc. so I could have healthy food to eat during the week.)
I never thought of doing it for my family! Ha! Well, people have inspired me - and I thought I would finally give it a go. :) I have teenage boys in sports/school activities, a husband who works late, a 9 year-old and a 2 year-old who can't wait that long for dinner. It was really hard to make dinner when everyone eats at different times!
So after reading lots of blogs and checking out books from the library - I decided to start small and just try the 2 week meal idea first.
My family is not big on repeats, unless I have a few weeks in between, so I actually printed out a blank calendar and made a 6 week menu. I made 11 meals for the freezer (we'll have baked potatoes, hoagies, etc. on the other nights, so I didn't need to freeze anything for that.) So some of the meals that I had doubled, will actually be used later in the month.
Note: These are not complete meals that you just take out of the freezer and cook.
I decided I wanted to use my family's favorite meals, that I would be making normally, but just figure out a way to make them easier and have most of the cooking done ahead of time.
These look really gross, sorry - I took the picture after everything was frozen. I was worried that they would sit out too long otherwise.
Next time I do my power cooking, I think I will do a whole month (yikes!) and see how that works. :o
Here is my menu:
Pork Tenderloin (2 meals)
Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup - I froze just after you shred the chicken, before you add noodles and milk.
Beef Enchiladas (Just the filling, because the tortillas get really soggy if you make it first and freeze it. Trust me - yuck!)
Chicken Marinade (2 meals worth) - I just froze the chicken right in the marinade, so it will marinate as it thaws and then we just throw it on the grill!
Pasta e' Fagioli Soup - As with the chicken soup, I froze it before adding the pasta. I will just let both soups simmer and warm up awhile first.
Baked Potatoes with Chili
Lasagna (2 pans) - Assemble and freeze in a disposable pan. Easy peasy.
Chicken & Wild Rice Soup (I froze the chicken and veggies to assemble in the crock pot.)
Tacos (Meat only) - Brown meat, add seasonings, cool and freeze.
California Wild Rice Salad (I froze the cooked, shredded chicken only, for this recipe.)
Potato and Ham Chowder - Could freeze the chopped onions and ham - I didn't.
Homemade Mac-n-Cheese (my kiddos LOVE it)
1 night to eat out - when I do my next day of Power Cooking!!
I even went crazy and cooked bacon to freeze and also made cookies! (I freeze the dough in balls, so we can just pop them in the oven anytime.)
Okay, so I just made the oatmeal cookies today - whatever. haha :) I think I will always freeze extra any time I am in the 'baking mood', especially for the holidays!
So you see that nothing repeats, and I actually have some meals to use for next time! Yay!
I am really excited to do this again - it's kind of fun to have all the hard work over and done with.
It only took me about 4 hours, but I will say that my back was killing me and the kitchen was a total mess! haha
Which is why I plan on eating out the night I do my power cooking! :)
Have fun cooking, everyone!!