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Topic: Once a Month Cooking - Freezer Meals - Need Help!!!!  (Read 2189 times)
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« on: November 30, 2006 06:57:34 AM »

I want to start doing the once or twice a month cooking and freezing all of the meals.  Does anyone do this?  Any suggestions on menus and where to begin.  Does anyone know of any good websites that help plan once a month cooking?

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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2006 11:18:33 AM »

You can take a lot of your existing recipes and modify them slightly for freezer cooking... the only things to avoid are potatoes, since the freezing process does bad things to the texture.

I tend to make most of my meals the day of, but if I make soups and stews, I make a point of making a huge batch so I can freeze leftovers in single-serve containers for lunches and the occasional dinner when I feel lazy.  My favourites are legume-based dishes like chili, lentil soup, baked beans.  I also do minestrone soup (minus pasta, which I add in when the soup gets reheated), curries, beef stew (minus potatoes... I boil those separately the day of and stir into the reheated stew).

My mom also used to make several lasagnas at once and keep them in the freezer.  Just leave out the top layer of cheese, bake for half the time suggested on the recipe, then freeze.  On the day you're planning on serving, add the top layer of shredded cheese and bake for the last half of the cook time on the recipe.

Here's a great site to get you started: http://www.realfood4realpeople.com/oamc.html
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2006 11:27:08 AM »

Just a suggestion: limiting yourself to once or twice a month cooking only is a bit on the extreme side. 

I don't know what your situation is, but maybe cooking once a week would be a good way to test this version of cooking out.  Remember- leftovers keep in the fridge 4 days top.

Also- some foods (like frozen stir fry mix, and other veggies) can be so easily cooked as is.  Like just tossing frozen vegetables into cooking pasta water.  Cooking them and freezing again, will likely degrade their texture and flavor significantly.

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« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2006 12:05:44 PM »

I tried this a while back- But I am not very organized and it was just too much for me, so I just do a few of our favorite things in bulk when I make them. Then I only have to thaw it out later on. Also, I do not have enough freezer space for all of that food either!  Mostly I do chili, shredded beef for sandwiches, spagetti sauce, ground beef for taco salads and enchiladas, baked ziti. 
I got these books from the library when I tried this and here are their websites:
-Frozen Assets: How to cook for a day and eat for a month
by Deborah Taylor-Hough http://members.aol.com/oamcloop/
The Freezer Cooking Manual
by Nanci Slagle and Tara Wohlenhaus http://www.30daygourmet.com/

I also had these bookmarked:
http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5402.pdf (tips on freezing foods)

When I was looking around, there are many people who are committed to do this- search google and yahoo groups. 

« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2006 12:08:57 PM »

I like to keep individual portions of chili in the freezer so if I can't make a fresh lunch I can just grab one of them.  I always add a couple of cups of mushrooms and a bunch of diced zucchini to my chili so that that it has more vegetable content than just the tomato.  I find both the mushrooms and zucchini freeze quite well.

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« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2006 02:40:20 PM »

You might want to consider just making some basic things in bulk once a month that you can use for a variety of dishes.  Things that take a lot of time but that are versatile are good candidates for this.  Stock would be a good example of this.  You could make a big pot of it and freeze it in small quantities.  You can use it for soup (add veggies and maybe some cooked chicken) or the base for sauces or in lots of dishes. 

If time is the main issue, you might want to invest in a crock pot.  You can do all the prep work the night before, toss it in the pot in the morning and let it slow cook all day while you're at work.  When you get home dinner is all ready for you.  FlyLady's site has more info and lots of crock pot recipes.

« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2006 06:00:59 AM »

I wish I had the freezer space to cook a month at a time.
But what I like to do is get 2 or 3 crock pots going at the same time. One with Soup, one with stew & one with red sauce.
I usually do a chicken veggie soup. (leaving out the pasta as was suggested here & cooking pasta in the soup it self as I heat it to eat it. So I cook my soups with lots of stock.)
A very meatty stew with lots of carrots, peas, etc.
Then either a red sauce or chilli. I make the red sause really thick with very basic seasonings, black pepper, garlic & maybe a little pinch of salt, so that before I add the more itialion spices I can freeze some & use that as a started for chilil next time.
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« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2006 12:21:12 PM »

in addition to all those other great ideas previously mentioned, here are a few more things you could try:

*shephard's pie (everyone has their own special recipe to make this.)

*Meat pies (sort of like the shephards pie but in individual serving sizes.  I buy puff pastry at the store because I am pie crust challenged.  I can get 2 pies per sheet if i roll it out a bit first. You just stick whatever raw meat and veggies you want inside. I make a bunch of these ahead of time and stick them in the freezer.  I think i cook mine for about 45 min at 350 or 375.  Depends on your oven and crust you use. They really need to be thawed in the fridge before you cook them or the outside gets browned before the inside is cooked.) 

* mini pizzas.  (these are my husband's fav to take to work for lunch.  I use pitas for crust.  Add whatever sauce and toppings you like, then cook them until they are heated through and the cheese is melty.  I let them cool, then stick them in the freezer.  You can reheat them either in the oven or microwave.

*waffles.  Hey why not breakfast for dinner!  Whenever I make waffles i always  make extra.  I either reheat them in the toaster or in a skillet.  There are all kinds of different waffle recipes out there.  you could do a similar thing with french toast

*meat loaf.  Mix up all your fav ingredients.  Line your meat loaf pan with tinfoil.  stick in the raw meat.  freeze.  once the meat is frozen you can take the pan out.  When you're ready to cook it, just stick it back in the pan and with the foil you've got easy clean up.  this is especially good to do if you are making multiple meatloaves or mini meatloaves.

*hamburgers.  We often make fancy burgers with all kinds of goodies like mushrooms or cheese in them.  We'll make extra and freeze the uncooked preshaped patties.

I second the crock pot idea.  They are wonderful!  you don't even have to thaw the meat most of the time.  Just toss and go!

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« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2006 03:01:26 PM »

I belong to a once a month (or so) cooking list on yahoogroups, and basically what most people do is cook tons of meat products at the same time (like for ground beef, cook some that can be used for tacos, make meatballs, make hamburgers, make meatloaf, and freeze them, store them. repeat for chicken, pork, turkey, whatever.)  Some people cook pastas for their meals, but cook it to where it's not quite al dente, because it will soften whenever you reheat the food, and if you cook it to al dente, it'll be soft and gross.  Potatoes can be frozen, but they have to be cooked first, otherwise they get dark and icky.  So, you can bake potatoes, halve them and scoop out the innards, mix with cheese, sour cream, bacon bits, etc, repile it into the shells, and freeze them.  I think the key is flash freezing, which is having the items separate on a cookie sheet in the freezer until they're frozen, then store them in the bag.  This keeps everything from sticking together.  Some of the ladies on the list even freeze rice and ground beef this way, so they can scoop it out.  Others just place the amount they usually use for a meal into a bag and freeze it that way.
Oh, and this is a VERY good thing for the holidays, especially if you're making lots of cookies. 

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 and I'll stare straight into the sun and I won't close my eyes 'til I understand or go blind." Thrice
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« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2006 04:10:29 PM »

Luckie-Strike, how well does this work for you?  Does the food taste as good as if you made it the same day?

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