Saturday, July 31, 2010

2 week cooking update

Wow.  It's the day after cooking for the 2 week cooking challenge and I think I'm still worn out from it.

Since Justin and Elijah were out of the house yesterday morning, I just decided to go for it.  I did all of my shopping and all of the cooking/preparing for the 2 weeks.  And I was so tired afterwards.  I don't think I sat down from 9:00 to 3:30.  Because I was crazy and stood in the kitchen for about an hour double checking my shopping list and adding to it for a few recipes that I swapped out.  Should have sat down!

I did have a few items on hand already, so I had to figure all of that out, then I headed out to shop!

I shopped at our Ingles where the boneless chicken breasts were at least supposed to be $1.98 a pound, but they were all out.  Rain check in hand (which will be nice for my next shopping trip), I bought the chicken at our local butcher shop where I can always count on it to be inexpensive.  In total, I spent $106.62, which included several other things that I already needed to buy, on top of the 2 week cooking ingredients.  I was pretty pleased with this, because our weekly budget for groceries is $60.00 and I ended up with 2 extra quart size bags of chicken and 2 bags of ground beef in my freezer for later use!

I followed the FANTASTIC outline that Jennifer at Saving and Giving so graciously provided.  I'm not sure if I would have dove into this project if she hadn't done all of the work of preparing a meal plan, recipes, shopping list, and even detailed instructions for the cooking order.  How much easier could it get?  I definitely suggest starting this way if you are thinking about trying out some freezer meal cooking!

I did change out a few meals because Justin and I don't eat (most) beans.  I know we're weird, but before you judge, we were brave and are trying out the Southwest Chicken Roll-Ups with refried (gag me) beans.  I'm being daring!  A recipe for Crockpot Bean Casserole, however, was NOT going to happen!

Anyway...I digress.  I checked out some recipes from my friend Terra's blog and added them in the plan.  I think the most daunting part of the whole project (although the most helpful because someone else planned it!) is that every recipe was new for me.  So I had/have no idea what to expect.  And I'm not the best cook in the world, so I completely misunderstood directions for Terra's Chicken Junks recipe.  This almost caused a breakdown in the overall easy cooking system.  But I persevered!

Here is our meal plan for the next 2 weeks!  (only changed slightly from the original)

I've linked the recipes of Terra's to her blog.  All of the other recipes, you can find here.

Sunday, August 1 - Stouffer's Lasagna (Already in my freezer, so I'm including it! haha!)
Monday, August 2 - Fried Chicken Salad (Tyson fried chicken strips also already in my freezer!)
Tuesday, August 3 - Mini (Italian) Meatloaves (doubled this recipe for later, too!)
Wednesday, August 4 - Chicken Junks
Thursday, August 5 - Chicken Parmesan (doubled 'cause we're planning for company that night)
Friday, August 6 - Southwest Chicken Roll-Ups
Saturday, August 7 - Ground Beef Stroganoff

Sunday, August 8 - Homemade Pizza
Monday, August 9 - Baked Ziti (This looked so yummy, it was hard not to taste test!)
Tuesday, August 10 - Chicken Stir Fry
Wednesday, August 11 - Popcorn Shrimp, Salad, Baked Potato (Again, shrimp was already in freezer)
Thursday, August 12 - Chicken Fettucini Alfredo
Friday, August 13 - Grilled BBQ Chicken
Saturday, August 14 - Homemade Pizza

Sunday, August 15 - Eating Out because it's Justin's Birthday!  ...And I'll be celebrating all these great meals I made for my family (and my husband's birthday)!

Overall, I thought this whole cooking experience was great because of how well Jennifer had it planned out for me.  Yesterday morning, as I was going through my freezer to see what I needed to use, I was re-inspired to make some food for Elijah, which I hadn't done in months.  Now he has some yummy pureed "fruit medley" and peas and carrots to enjoy.  

Also, I realized how simple it would really be just to do this on an ongoing basis.  I'm not sure if I would do the bulk shopping/cooking/prepping again (I'll let you know in two weeks).  But I definitely know I could make things easier by doubling meals to freeze or just prepping stuff the night before.  Great experience!

...And it all fit in my little freezer!


Rebecca said...

ok- so this might be a dumb question... but, do you cook everything before you freeze it?

Erin said...

Not dumb at all. I had no idea what to expect! Actually, not everything was cooked before hand. The majority of the meat was, but a lot of the recipes just called for doing the bulk of the prep work.

I'm excited about the Baked Ziti because the noodles are already cooked, and mixed in with the sauce mixture. Basically, I will just have to defrost it, then "squeeze it" out of the freezer bag, into a baking dish to bake the night of.

The BBQ chicken prep was just to put two chicken breasts in a bag with the BBQ sauce, then put in the freezer to be ready to thaw the night of and grill.

That's why I thought this really was very practical. 3 1/2 hours of prep work already done means that I won't have to expect very much prep time for meals of the next two weeks!

Jennifer said...

WAY TO GO, Erin!! (By the way, your freezer looks SO much more organized than mine... I'm jealous.) I can't believe you shopped and cooked all in the same day. I would have been totally exhausted, so hats off to you! I hoep you enjoy not having to cook again for a couple of weeks. The heavy lifting is DONE. Woo-hoo!

Erin said...

THANKS so much for "pushing" me to do this! I WAS definitely exhausted from doing everything in one day, but so glad that it was over! ...And my freezer is so small that I guess I don't have the luxury of letting it get too crazy! I can only fit so much in there :)

Casey said...

Some of those recipes sound great! WTG for taking on this huge task!