Sunday, March 14, 2010

Once-A-Month Cooking: Installment 3

Cooking time!

I was too impatient to wait for the weekend to begin my cooking adventures, so I decided to cook in the evenings after work (YES! I'm insane) by meat type which was how the cooking schedule was broken up for the meal plan I chose anyway. Day 1 was beef dishes, day 2 was fish and miscellaneous dishes, day 3 was pork dishes, and the last day were the chicken dishes.
Meals ready for the freezer

Day 1 of cooking I was able to finish 9 meals with the help of A.R. before I couldn't stand any longer and my swollen tree trunk calves and cankles needed a break. After night one of cooking, it was VERY clear that this was an adventure I shouldn't have waited for my 9th month of pregnancy to undertake!! A.R. got home from school and jumped right in to save me...I think he was a little scared of my nesting :). Day 1 of cooking took 3 1/2 hours and I made the following meals: Green Chile Enchiladas, Baked Beans & Hamburgers, Grandma's Chili, French Dip, Marinated Flank Steak, Shish Kabobs, Rosie's Meat Loaf, Jack Burgers, and a Sicilian Meat Roll. There was actually two additional beef meals, but I just didn't have the stamina to finish all the meals.
Meals labeled & ready for the freezer

On Day 2 of cooking I had hoped to cook for only 2 hours so I could put up my feet for a little while before bed time. Day 1 had thoroughly exhausted me and made me a little sore from being on my feet so long, so going to work the next day was a real struggle. I finished the beef dishes on Day 2 and cooked the miscellaneous and fish dishes in 2 1/2 hours. Once again after his class got out, A.R. came home and rescued me by helping out. I made the Mexican Stroganoff and Three-Bean Taco Chili first, then I made the Crustless Spinach Quiche, marinated and froze the Grilled Salmon, and a recipe called Dawn's Lasagna. To make things easier on Day 3, A.R. browned the sausage for me that would be required for some of the pork dishes and I refridgerated it in ziplock bags in the fridge over night.

One thing I was pleasantly surprised by at this point was that some of the dishes really didn't require much prep work before freezing. Some of the steaks just needed a marinade made which we poured in the freezer bags with them and then froze. Also, the lasagna was really easy to prep for freezing as I didn't have to boil the noodles in advance. Those dishes that did require some prep work and cooking (chilis, enchiladas, beef stew, stroganoff, etc.) all smelled absolutely delishous!

Day 3 was the pork dishes and I made all dishes in the plan except for the Ham dishes which I eliminated as A.R. isn't a fan of cooked ham. I made Cranberry Pork (marinated it and it froze it so it is now crock pot ready), Split Pea Soup from scratch (my first homemade soup ever!!), Italian Shepherd's Pie, and Bird's Nest Pie. Cooking time on Day 3 took 1 1/2 hours.

After Day 3 of cooking during the week I gave up and decided to wait for the weekend to finish the last of the meals and make the chicken dishes. A.R. was on board again as my sous chef and we were able to finish up the meals in 2 hours. We made Chicken Tetrazinni, Sweet & Sour Chicken (I tasted it and it was DELISH!), Chicken a la King, Southwestern Chicken Soup, Lemon Chicken, Chicken and Rice Pilaf, and Oriental Chicken.

Our total cooking time: 9 1/2 hours- the book said it would take 6-8 hours if you followed the prep schedule which we did not. I think if we had cooked the meats in advance (like we did with the sausage) along with pre-chopped all the veggies our cooking time would've been decreased. I was also slowed down being 9 months pregnant, swollen, and tired!

I must say our freezer smells AMAZING when you open it now and I feel so much better having so many meals ready to cook. We've already eaten a couple of the meals which I will review in later blog posts. If the meals taste as good as they smell in our freezer we'll definitely try Once-A-Month cooking again, but not until AFTER I have this baby!


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