Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Working Mama Wednesday - Batch Cooking

Taking the lead from my girl Brit, my previous posts on how bad we're doing eating out, and the frigid temparatures in the DFW area that prevented me from going out to eat on Tuesday night, I spent some time cooking several meals that my family can eat without much trouble over the next few weeks.  This was so much fun and as a working mama will do wonders for my sanity (not to mention my pocket book and family's nutrition).  From 5:30 - 9:30ish I made enough food for at least 10 meals, plus leftovers.  Of course, during that time I also made and served a separate dinner, gave the kiddos a bath, put them to bed, and did plenty of rounding up, cuddling, and correcting - normal stuff for a mom with 3 kiddos literally running around - so the actual time I spent on all this with clean-up was about 2 hours.  Super duper.  Essentially it took me as long to prepare for and clean up from 11 meals as it usually does to do 1.  I'll take that. 

Here's what I ended up with:

From the Betty Crocker's Fix-It-Fast: Family Favorites Cookbook:
  • Super-Easy Chicken Manicotti
  • Gingered Apricot Chicken Breasts
  • Almond-Stuffed Pork Chops (1 recipe = 2 meals for us)
  • Rice and Onion Chicken Casserole
From the Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook:
  • Creamy Pork Chops
  • Spicy Pork Chops
Additionally, I prepared:
  • Generic pork chops - for broiling with seasoned salt, steak seasoning, salt & pepper
  • 2 meal/servings of cut chicken breast - for all those recipes that call for "canned chicken breast" that my frugalness & natural tendency gets freaked out about.
  • Pancakes - the green tub has an extra batch I made at breakfast time for my hubby to eat in the mornings if he so chooses.

My kitchen during the cooking - Yikes!

With all of this food, it will probably take us a good 3 weeks to get through the 10 meals.  I plan to supplement these pre-prepped meals with easy-to-cook standards like spaghetti, chicken nuggets, and burritos.  Additionally, I already had a meal of chicken spaghetti in the freezer and am in the process of making baked potato soup (with extra to freeze).  This should limit our eating out to 1-2 times per week instead of 4-5.  Love it!

This really was super easy, but I learned a few things:
  1. I need to organize my freezer and pantry - they have become way out-of-hand and we got the call from the "random" licensing inspector (took care of the pantry today!).  As you can see, the freezer space is limited.
  2. My freezer doesn't hold a 13 x 9 inch pan.  Note the top shelf of the freezer - not sure that's safe but I'm planning to use on Friday, which meant thaw on Thursday night so we should be ok.
  3. I had way too much fundraiser cookie dough in the refrigerator!  You can see one shelf with two tubs and some more in the door.  This doesn't count the box I went through during the day when I made cookies for my husband to take to work to share with his buddies who had to go out in the cold. 

And here's the kitchen before I was done - remember I mentioned clean-up time was included in the total-time I spent cooking.  I had a paper to write before midnight so I had to leave it as it was here, but as you can see it wasn't too bad!  Now, if only I can be cool enough to keep this up.

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