Saturday, July 08, 2006

Freezing Protocol.

Due to popular demand, I will explain my Cook & Freeze process. Although I have to admit, after Elisa's comment, I was even more intrigued by 'My Girlfriend's Kitchen' and other such companies.
I had been interested in that idea before, and is basically where the concept for my own cooking came from. (It was my mom's wonderfully insightful idea-) I was interested, but had reservations, such as the Point-Worthiness of such menus, whether it was cost-prohibitive, whether they would be good, etc. So after your comment Elisa, I looked them up online, and at least 2 of my concerns may have been unfounded. Get this- they actually point it all out for you, and it's not bad! And it's not that expensive- but probably still less expensive for me just to do it myself. But now I want to hear from you Elisa- what your experience with them has been like, and if anyone else has ever done one of those prep- and- take home meal assemblies. Please share.
Anyway, my cooking frenzies came about because I am a spaz. I have a great character flaw that is I am an all-or-nothing kind of girl. If you know me at all, you know this is true. I don't believe it necessarily has to be a flaw, but unfortunately with me, it tends to be. I believe it is my mission on this earth to achieve balance! Anyway, I want to provide healthy meals for my family, but I can't stand cooking everyday. I used to love it, but I think I got out of the habit and now it's just a chore. I'm also a neat freak and can't stand to have the kitchen a mess and clean it up everyday. Thus, the conception of the idea to do a hellish day of cooking that would last us for a couple/few weeks. I've only done it a handful of times, so my technique could use some refining, but I'm learning as I go. My latest version is like this:
Day 1: Make menu plans and grocery list. I also go through the recipes and write out all the prep work that needs doing per meal, like 1 chopped onion, 1 diced pepper, as well as for all of the meat.
Day 2: Grocery shopping. That night after Bella is in bed, I do all the prep work of chopping etc. Then I put them in separate containers for each recipe.
Day 3: Mega cooking. Then I try to clean it up that night.
Previously I have done all the cooking and prep one day, and cleaned the next, but it's too much. This is my latest tweak, to do the prep work ahead of time and take advantage of Bella sleeping.
It is a bit of a commitment, but for the next couple/few weeks I am so glad I did it, and Timm is ecstatic- Right, Timm?
I have found that most things freeze well, with some notable exceptions, rice being one of them. It tends to lose all flavor and merely maintain it's texture. Usually I make the entire meal, cooked and all, and then dish it into 2 servings per container, since it's just for Timm and I. The day before I get out whatever we're going to eat the next day and let it thaw in the fridge for 24-36 hours. Sometimes if I make a casserole or something similar, I assemble the whole thing, and freeze it uncooked. It just depends on what I'm making, and the whole process has been experimental. I just make it and freeze it, and note if it turns out okay. Usually it does.
My main problem is all the parameters I have to deal with. First of all, it has to be Point-Worthy, so I draw on either Cooking Light or Weight Watchers recipes (which are surprisingly good!) Then It has to be low, or gluten-free. Timm has siliac-sprue and cannot digest gluten, so I try to eliminate any pasta, wheat etc. or at least keep it an infrequent part of our meals. I'm pretty easy as far as ingredients, but Timm doesn't like any kind of squash and isn't fond of broccoli, corn... SHeesh! Sometimes I just make it and he has to pick around. It's too hard to work within so many parameters! I have started to keep a list of good recipes we both like that freeze well so the planning stage isn't so excrutiating for me.
I would like to know if anyone else has any experience with this and can give me some tips!
p.s. I know there is a book about doing just this at Deseret Book, but I don't know the name. My neighbor has it, but I haven't gotten it due to the diet factor. My fondest wish would be if Weight Watchers would put one out. If I published one I would be rich. Alas...

8 comments:

michelle said...

Hey, that's a great idea! Just keep taking notes and trying new things, and pretty soon you can be the one to write the book! Your latest get-rich scheme just might work...

Amie said...

I have also done this - or something similar and taught once a month cooking in our ward twice. I have done up to 25 meals at a time. I don't want to take over your blog so I will try to stop there but maybe we can exchange more details at 7 Peaks sometime. If I am freezing rice, I use brown rice, we like it better anyway but I have liked the recipes I use it in....maybe I just like that it is already done?

One thing that I find more point worthy is that instead of cooking the whole meal (since casseroles, enchiladas, etc tend to freeze well but are also high points) I just precook all the meat. This way I am more likely to make salads, fajitas, cook fresh rice, etc and use more fresh vegetables instead of good sauces. I notice a huge time and mess reduction by just having the meat cooked and separated into a meal sized portion for our family.

I'm sure I will be back, I love to talk about this....

I also know people who do My Girlfriend's Kitchen and love it. I am so cheap that I don't spend much when I do it.

katie said...

Dinners Ready is the name of the book. And if you are like me I find ways to make it healthy. They have the greatest crockpot ribs bbq ever. One thing I have found that is easier for me is if I make the sauces the day before. I also do this with a friend which it makes a lot easier as well. we sit down plan the menu for the month, than we split it up. We cook at our homes for the first day, then get together to swap or put together. I don't like a lot of casseroles, and with you not able to do the pasta thing would be hard. I would ask in your ward if anyone has the book and maybe just borrow it to see what you could use.
I would love some of the weight watchers recipes. I love oamc, it is my life saver.

Jill said...

I love this idea, but feel intimidated and uncommitted. Also, I have very little freezer space. What's a girl to do?

michelle said...

Katie, I want the recipe for crockpot bbq ribs!!

jt said...

Amie- I welcome any and all advice on the subject! Feel free to "take over my blog"!

dpw said...

I have two such books: Quick Cuisine: a Once-a-Month Approach to Cooking, and The Once-a-Week Cooking Plan. Neither are particularly point worthy, but could probably be adjusted to better fit a point-counter's needs.

I tried this way of cooking meals about 12-14 years ago (briefly) and loved it when I did it. Unfortunately, as my life has become busier I haven't stuck with it--a seeming contradiction. You're inspiring me, however, to try again. I know that, in the long run, it would make my life SSoooo much easier, especially now that Mark's working a second job and often has to eat on the fly. As always, thanks for the inspiration!

jenn said...

What do you freeze everything in? And if it is already cooked, how do you warm it up? I'm ready for your book!

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