One big morning of shopping…one crazy-busy afternoon of baking and cooking…and one slightly calmer morning to finish up.
And a whole lot of big messes!
All in all, I'm very pleased with how my fill-the-freezer frenzy went. I didn't end up making everything on my list (no marinated fajita steak because I forgot to buy the meat and no spiced nuts because I decided I didn't need them), but here's the breakdown of what I did end up with:
- Stir Fry Chicken – 2 meals
- Marinated Pork Chops – 3 meals
- Taco Meat – 2 meals
- Shredded Beef – 2 meals (plus dinner Friday night) – will share what I call my White Girl Barbacoa recipe soon!
- Tuscan Lemon Chicken – 2 meals
- Chicken Stock - 2 quarts
- Enchilada Sauce – 2 quarts
- Applesauce – 2 quarts
- Kidney Beans – 2 bags (2 c. each)
- Black Beans – 2 bags (2 c. each)
- Tortillas – 40
- BRC Burritos - 8
- Chicken Burritos – 10
- Breakfast Cake – 1, froze half
- Banana Nut Muffins – 2 dozen
- Blueberry Muffins – 2 dozen
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough – enough for 4 dozen cookies
- Brown Rice – 3 bags (3.5 c each)
- Ranch Mix – 1 jar
- Almond Milk (an experiment) – 2 quarts
- Sandwich Rolls (another experiment) – one dozen
- Calzones (supposed to be an experiment, ended up as lunch) – 4
- Macaroni and cheese - 2 trays
All together, components for about a dozen meals. Not too shabby!
A few thoughts…
I couldn't have done this without Tom or the tortilla press. He worked on tortillas for about 2 hours (maybe more), freeing me up to work on other items. The press made the tortillas a little bit thicker than I'd expected – but they're still great for tacos and I'm going to try making flat bread pizzas out of them, too.
Next time, I will definitely buy more frozen blueberries – between smoothies, blueberry muffins and Tom's love for them, we've almost gone through the big BJ's sized bag since Friday. Also, blueberry muffins work great with sucanat instead of white sugar.
I'm no longer afraid of coconut oil – these healthier chocolate chip cookies are amazing. Next month, I'll be replacing all of the oils in my baking with coconut!
Planning dinners that used foods we'd already prepped that day was a blessing. I was wiped out by Friday evening, and all I had to do was pull out a little of the shredded beef and homemade tortillas. Not exactly the best presentation, but they were delicious!
To quote Caleb, "speriments are good". My experiments all worked out pretty well – we love the homemade almond milk and it's at least a third cheaper making it at home than buying it at the grocery store. My bread dough works great for little sandwich rolls, which I'll definitely be making more of considering my test batch is almost gone. I realized recently that I buy loaves of bread at the grocery store and then throw them away because we don't eat them. I guess I'm just so programmed to buy bread that I didn't realize the waste! I always have bread dough in the fridge, and the kids prefer rolls to sliced bread anyway.
And I don't know why, but it's just really fun to make your own almond milk. I have a feeling we're going to be seeing soaking almonds in our kitchen on at least a weekly basis! We decided not to strain ours since we knew we'd be using it within a day or two and would have thrown the almond meal in the smoothies.
Calzones were another experiment. These four were gobbled up as soon as they'd cooled enough to eat, and on that level they were a success. I had hoped to see how they'd freeze, but didn't quite get the chance. And I need to work on sealing them a bit better – as Hanna pointed out, these all look like they're "puking on each other"…not exactly the response I want to hear about food. I still might make these for my next baking day but if I have my bread dough ready, they only take a few minutes to throw together and I can use all sorts of leftovers for fillings. They're definitely going in my "we need pizza now!" file.
Next time, though, I'll remember not experiment with my experiments before I've made them at least once following the recipe. The macaroni and cheese was okay with spelt pasta, but Tom and the kids would have really loved it with regular. That's how I'll do it next time.
A few notes as I'm looking toward next month…I'm interested to see exactly how long all of this will last us. I need to find another easy meal for Tom's lunch. We both like burritos, but not 3 or 4 times a week. I threw all of my recipes and notes from this round into my homemaking binder for next time. I also created a little freezer inventory sheet and am crossing things off as we eat them.