Monday, September 2, 2013

Freezer Cooking with Friends

I love to cook, but find weeknight cooking tedious.  Having to come up with what we are going to eat after a long day is annoying.  I like having time to cook and being creative with it.  After realizing this about myself I experimented with once a week cooking using Rachel Ray's recipes and it was awesome, but time consuming.  I lost a whole day 4x a month and just didn't have the time to do it that often.  Then I found Once a Month Mom's website that had monthly menu options depending on your diet needs and I knew that I had to try it.  We are trying to follow a whole foods diet and that was one of the options, so it was perfect!  The first time I did it I did 4 of the dinners and it was awesome.  Then I did it again with my sisters and it went well.  This last cooking day I did it with 2 friends, 6 meals, 8 hrs, and $110 investment for each of us.  Here are the tips that I have for freezer cooking with friends:

1.  Meet together ahead of time to pick the menu, come up with the grocery list, split the list, and choose your date/time frame. Customize the menus to your diet needs.  We didn't like mushrooms, so we omitted them from one recipe.  Another recipe called for Orzo, but we decided to use a low carb spaghetti instead. The stuffed zucchini recipe called for no meat, we added some.

2.  Split up the grocery list by stores/friends.  One of us went to Costco and bought the bulk items, one went to the grocery store, and the third has a young baby and got to sit out the shopping :)  Plan on having ziploc bags and aluminum pans.

3.  Chop everything FIRST! This will save you time and help keep things clean and organized.
48 cups of chopped tomatoes were needed for our day. 

Your food processor is your friend, use it!
All of our ingredients chopped
4.  Finish one recipe before you start another.  With three or more people in the kitchen things can keep crazy and you might try and get ahead by having one person work on one recipe while another does a different one, but I promise things will get left out or missed.  It is much better to focus on one at a time.

5.  Label every dish with not only the name, but cooking directions too.

6.  Pick simple recipes that have a limited number of ingredients.

7.  Have each person bring a cooler to store their food in until they head home.  We were lucking enough that the house we cooked at had an extra freezer and we were able to put our dinners in the freezer and then take them home.

8.  Use some convenience items.  We used prechopped garlic because we needed such a HUGE amount.  If you aren't a fan of prechopped then buy the cloves already peeled and chop them in the food processor.

This one day will be tough.  Your back will hurt and you will exhausted.  However, the laughter and memories made are totally worth it.  Not to mention knowing that after a tough day all you have to do is come home and put something in the oven is totally worth all of the effort.


Cheesy Artichoke Chicken
Shrimp and Feta Bake
Asian Meatballs
Peachy BBQ Pork
Stuffed Zucchini
Citrus grilled chicken

Click on each of these recipes to see the complete ingredients/directions.

If you decided to do a freezer cooking with friends day, please come back and let me know how it went!

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