Thursday, February 16, 2012

Well prepared

It dawned on me the other day that if I knocked out a bunch of meals for the freezer I could get by with "not cooking" much more often. Because I am as easily fooled as the average toddler, taking a meal out of the freezer feels like someone else made it for me, even if that someone else was me, earlier!

So last Monday, I made:
a small turkey stir fry (marinated cooked meat, chopped but raw veggies, ready to stir fry)
a large turkey stir fry
a large taco casserole
small taco casserole (two)
a large beef stew, crockpot ready (marinated meat, chopped veggies)
ten beef and bean burritos to warm in the oven
eleven bean and cheese burritos to warm in the oven
a large turkey broccoli casserole
a small turkey broccoli casserole
two turkey pot pies
four bags of spaghetti sauce + meatballs
four bags of plain meatballs for soup
two small lasagnes
one large lasagne (for tonight)
five servings of turkey soup

Then I collapsed and Eric took me out for a nice quiet small dinner and a glass of wine.

Yesterday I made a couple more things, because I had the ingredients, and I still need to make a bean/cheese/rice bake to use up the beans in the jar in the fridge. I also have stuff to make sausage/lentil soup, and I made another batch of spaghetti sauce last night, and froze six muffin tins full so the big kid can make easy pasta for herself.

That was the last batch of homemade sauce from last summer's tomatoes, though, because this

is, alas, the last jar of tomatoes from last year. I didn't have that many, and I'm kind of sad, but strongly looking forward to this year's tomatoes, which I promise to manage more carefully. I love having all the stuff made, and I'd like to do it again -- with my own tomatoes! The "raw pack as you have them" approach worked really well -- maybe I'll remember vinegar and salt this time for all of the jars -- and I ended up using them much more efficiently by not saving them for one bigger canning session.

The weirdest thing about the big cooking day was that it didn't cost much more to make that many meals than it had cost to make a week's worth usually. Of course, all of the meat had been purchased before and kept in the freezer, so that helped, but the other stuff was not much, mostly pantry items like noodles and cheese and onions. I had beans, spices, and oils, so that was easy. . . I must be sort of wasting food most weeks, or at least wasting my money.

Guess we'll find out.


Daphne said...

I often make more than I need for a meal and freeze it if it takes a while to make. I don't bother with stirfries, but things like chicken pot pie filling gets made in quantity and frozen in servings of two.

Erin said...

Whoa, great job! I know whenever I'm able to do some freezer cooking, I feel less stressed!

GrafixMuse said...

Bravo! I need to get myself organized and complete a weekend meal preparation myself. I used to do this regularly, but have fallen out of the habit.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I do these sort of marathon meal prep sessions when I have a lot of the harvest to use up at once (*looks at the pile of winter squash on the floor waiting to be turned into something edible*). I'm with you, and the end of an exhausting day, it's wonderful to pull a homemade meal out of the freezer. It's usually better, and definitely faster, than eating out! I think I'm going to try that pack 'em as you get 'em approach to tomatoes this year too.

Stefaneener said...

Daphne, the stir fry is an experiment. Chopping doesn't take long, really. I still have to get on that last potpie.

Erin, I'm hoping!

GrafixMuse, I can see both how it could become and stop being a habit.

CVS, well, if I go out I'm also away from the kids : )

kitsapFG said...

You are doing what is calleed "Once A Month Cooking" (OAMC) - which is actually a very efficient way to cook and buy food. You have the kitchen in shambles but once done it cleans up and does not go there again until the next big effort. You buy the ingredients in bulk and do many meals out of what would have been one meal plus leftovers that may or may not get eaten. The covenience of reaching into the freezer for something already prepared when you dont' have the time or energy to cook is a real positive. In short, it is all good!

Stefaneener said...

kitsapFG, yes, I remember reading about this long ago. It seemed more wild-hairish to me. But I'm enjoying it so far. Today's project is grading, plus a vat of lentil soup, plus some breads. Let's see if I get them all done.

Kristin Sherman Olnes said...

Wonderful accomplishment! It is so nice that you cook for your family from scratch and they have the health and the brains to prove it! I used to cook like that, but stopped (unknowingly until I read your post). It is a very good but draining undertaking, but in the long run, easier. So nice to hear that you went out for a quiet meal with Eric after all of your hard work.

Sarah at Habitat Design said...

Hi Stefani,
My name is Sarah and I work at Habitat Design. We're hosting a little garden bloggers event this Thursday and Michelle of From Seed To Table recommended we invite you! Sorry it's extremely late notice, but if you're free this Thurs, we'd LOVE for you to join us in Palo Alto! You can read more about our gathering here: and if you have any questions please email me at Thanks!