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Friday, January 23, 2015 not the movie :)

Years ago, when I heard about the idea of making a month's worth of meals in a day, I was intrigued.  Then I thought about the practicalities...with a family of 10, that would fill up a HUGE freezer!  Also, the idea of spending an entire day planning and grocery shopping for those meals and another entire day in the kitchen preparing them sounded like torture!  The less time I spend in the kitchen, the better!

But...I came up with a compromise that worked for my large family and works even better for smaller families!  I don't prepare complete meals but I do make some things in large quantity for throwing together into a dinner later.  Things that take a relatively long time to cook, I'll make at least double and sometimes more to freeze for later.  It takes no extra time to make 8 cups of rice than it takes to make 4 cups.

Here's an example - I had a dinner in mind but my husband said he felt like Cashew Chicken.  He also said it probably would take too long IF we had all the ingredients.  I just smiled and headed into the kitchen.  I pulled out a quart freezer bag of cooked chicken breast cubes, a freezer bag of cooked brown rice, and a handful of toasted cashews from the freezer.  With the addition of a can of chicken broth, some Asian spices, chopped onion, garlic and celery, some thickener and soy sauce, my Cashew Chicken was ready to eat in 15 minutes.  Super easy, super fast and didn't taste like it had been in the freezer  :)

Some of the best things to make in quantity and freeze in portions are beef, chicken, and ham.  I'll take two fairly large beef roasts and cook them in the crock pot.  When finished cooking, I'll take one roast and divide it in half.  One half goes in a freezer bag as is...that will be for a pot roast later.  The other half gets cut in cubes for stew or soups and divided in more freezer bags.  The other roast I'll shred for BBQ beef, taco or burrito meat, and beef and gravy.  Again, it gets divided into several freezer bags.  Chicken is prepared similarly...several chicken breasts cooked or grilled then frozen for teriyaki chicken, stir fry, pot get the idea.  With the meat already cooked, the rest of the meal is easy and quick to prepare.  I also regularly freeze brown rice as it takes fairly long to cook and sometimes, I don't have that much time.  It freezes wonderfully. 

When freezing, I like using freezer bags because they are compact and stackable.  Rigid containers sometimes leave too much airspace and therefore, take up extra space.  Always label what is in the bag, how much and when it was prepared.  

Whatever you cook regularly is a possible candidate for making in bulk and freezing.  It saves on energy and time, which is a great help for a busy mom!  If unexpected visitors arrive just in time for dinner, it's so easy to pull out another bag of meat, thaw it and add to your meal.  What could be easier?  Ok, calling out for pizza...   :)



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