Wednesday, December 31, 2014


In the midst of my big freezer cooking plans, I am also planning my January menu.  I do this on my calendar and then go grocery shopping.  I haven't done a "big shop" in a few weeks cause I hate shopping in december so this weekend is going to be a doozy.  This plan includes only dinner meals (the big family meal of the day).  Lunches and breakfasts are a completely different ballgame.  They are boring and I haven't found a good way to keep them simple and make them interesting....but I'm working on it.

One of the goals I have for 2015 is to remember recipes we like so I can make them again.  I am creating a home binder for this but I figure an online option won't this is January.  I've already put them in my calendar....but here is my list.  Links included to online recipes so I can find them again.

1. snacks (cheese, summer sausage, crackers, fruit) -This is my big freezer prep day with friends so I won't be cooking supper.
2. eat out - grocery shopping
3. taco chili (from the freezer)
4. salad bar (french dressing)
5. egg scramble
6. italian sausage (from the freezer)
7. date night/birthday night at awana
8. pancakes (L birthday dinner)
9. pork chops - sweet potatoes - roasted cauli and broccoli (I'll use the pork chop recipe here or here)
10. turkey dinner - mashed potatoes - green beans (this makes great leftovers for future meals)
12. turkey fried rice (using leftover turkey)
13. shepherds pie (using leftover mashed potatoes)
14. biscuits n gravy
15. chicken lickin (from the freezer)
16. pizza 
17. Ponderosa meal (this is what we call it when we empty the fridge of all leftovers and scavenge for dinner)
21. sloppy joe with fries
22. turkey pot pie (with leftover turkey)
23. ham n beans
24. cornish pasties  - I use a recipe with ground beef but this covers the basics and the history
25. fried fish - slaw - corn
27. nacho chicken (from the freezer)

The days at the end of the month are intentionally not left fully filled in because there is always a meal or two (or five) that I didn't make ( made something else cause I always have some staples on hand or ate out or something else came up- so I plan to not follow things exactly).  So I sub it into a day later in the month.  Plus there are several meals that will be in the freezer that aren't on the menu.  I can use those in a pinch as well.   I will also hit the store midmonth to grab little things (milk, produce, stuff I forgot, etc).

In my pantry/fridge/freezer, I almost always have things for tuna burgers or tuna casserole, or hot dogs and in the winter chili and/or other soups.  I also have my canned veggies (green beans and corn) and meat from our deer, and pork.  I keep pasta, dry beans, rice, dry milk powder, and grains like oats and flour in bulk in the pantry.  We have egg chickens and buy eggs from a friend with more chickens than they need for eggs.  So although I do need to buy some things....I could go several weeks and we would not go hungry.  But we might not eat what we want.  Although there may be a time that we eat what we have because that's all we can get, we are not at that point so I do this so we have variety and enjoy our meals.

I'll try to report back at the end of the month and let you all know how it goes.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Freezer Prep Cooking with Friends - part 2- The Plan!

So a quick recap.....

I found 4 friends who want to prep with me (still working on a name).  And determined nobody had any food allergies and were pretty much game for trying new things.  (YAY!)  Then I got to searching.  Seriously, LOTS of recipes!  LOTS!

Reviewing what we will prep this can be found here

Italian Sausage
Bean Enchiladas
Taco chili
nacho chicken
cowboy beef n beans
chili dogs
chicken lickin
veggie chili
bean and potato soup
german potato soup

Here is my grocery list.  I also did a cost analysis using prices from Aldi and Walmart (so I could give the other moms an accurate estimate of cost).  That is going to be different depending on where you live so I took that part out for this doc  Across the top are the meals we prepped for.  Down the sides are all the ingredients we would have to buy.  I did not include spices as I keep those in bulk in my kitchen.  This doc gives the ingredients for ONE family.  So I multiplied everything by 5 at the store.  :)  If you are shopping for multiple families don't forget to check bulk options and compare price per unit.  It was cheaper per unit to buy a BIG can (like 7 lbs I think) of baked beans but the tomato sauce was cheaper per unit in little 8 oz cans.  Do not try to apply logic while in is futile.

 I've been working on the plan since about Thanksgiving to find recipes that offered variety and options and stayed at my goal price point. After doing the shopping this weekend, my time and work paid off and I stayed RIGHT on budget.  Each family will spend $55 total or $5 per meal which is at or less than $1/serving.  Several of the meals are complete.  A few do have some basics that will be needed for serving.

Here is the list of spices needed for all of these recipes....

bay leaf
caraway seeds (we are likely leaving this out)
dried minced onion
chili powder
ground ginger
garlic salt
red pepper flakes
onion powder
garlic powder
cajun seasoning

Monday, December 29, 2014

Freezer Prep Cooking with Friends- part 1 - The recipes!

I thought it would be fun to get together with several other moms and get some good food in the freezer for those days that you just don't have it in you to cook a meal.  I found 4 interested mommas (we need a cool name now) and got to work.

 I chose meals after discussing with the 4 others any food allergies and what they like or dislike.  Thankfully everyone was game to try new things. So after searching the interwebs, hitting some cookbooks, and getting some family favs from some of the moms.  Then doing some math to figure cost for each meal that were contenders....these are the 11 meals we (By 'we' I mean 'I')settled on.

Italian Sausage
Bean Enchiladas
Taco chili
nacho chicken
cowboy beef n beans
chili dogs
chicken lickin
veggie chili
bean and potato soup
german potato soup

All non-linked recipes can be found here  (I am working on the link for the italian sausage)

Although this makes for a short (fairly boring) blog post....this was actually quite challenging.  There are a LOT of recipes out there.  I was trying for variety and low cost.  Also mostly healthy.  Not all of these meet all of the criteria.  But I think it is pretty good all around.  Only 3 of the recipes have I tried before.  I have had similar recipes of 2 more.  The rest are all gambles.  :)

Up next.  the grocery list....this part took a LONG time!