Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Baby Prep - Bulk Cooking

Bulk Cooking Day 1 - The Supplies

After reading my friend Lauren's post about food prepping for baby Eloise, I remembered that I never posted an update on how filling the freezer was going.  The process went really well and a lot smoother than I thought it would.  There were a couple of bumps, but nothing too horrible.  It went faster than I thought it would, and I feel like food-wise we are fairly ready for this little boy to come.

 Bulk Cooking Day 2 - The Supplies

I did most of the cooking in two days.  The first day I tackled everything on my own, but the second day AJ really stepped in and helped between his own projects.  It probably shouldn't have taken two whole days, but we had to wait a month in between because of our budget.  The first shopping trip cost about $90 for everything in February.  The second trip cost about $110 in March.  Both trips were about half a month's grocery budget for us, thus the reason we split it over two months.  The only down side to having them a month apart was that I was a month further along, and starting to really feel the exhaustion of spending a whole day in the kitchen.  Sadly, I only got a picture of day 2 supplies in the cart.  We were so busy cooking I forgot to take pictures.

I used an edited version of Once A Month Mom's recipes from all over last year.  Her site is WONDERFUL!!! It has the recipes, shopping list, labels for the bags/ food, and cooking instructions all for FREE!  She has even expanded to have GF, Whole Foods, Vegetarian, Diet, and Baby Food menus.  I am totally in love with her site and plan on using it even after Bug arrives, even if we don't do the huge quantities that we are doing now (she has half menus, too).  I did edit her things somewhat. I saved the excel files she puts out, and then cut the meals that we won't eat or can't eat and then combined the shopping list with menus from other months.  That took a bit of work, but it made the shopping so much easier.  I knew if I needed 4lbs of chicken that I would be using 4lbs of chicken.

Pizza Casserole, Pumpkin Pancakes, and Blueberry Vanilla Muffins

Here is a breakdown of what we have ready to be either thawed and eaten, thawed and cooked (on these all the prep work is done, but some of the items don't freeze well once cooked), or cooked frozen:

Breakfast/ Snack Items:
  • Baked Oatmeal - 2 meals/ 12 servings
  • Apple Cinnamon Pancakes - 3 meals/ 12 servings
  • Pumpkin Pancakes - 4 meals/ 16 servings
  • Raspberry Lemon Muffins - 4 bags of 15 muffins
  • Blueberry Vanilla Muffins - 2 bags of 15 muffins
  • Banana Bread Muffins - 3 bags of 15 muffins

Grand Total Number of Meals: 17

    Dinner Items (all meals are designed to serve at least 4):

    • Bacon and Bleu Cheese Burgers - 3 meals
    • Flounder with Spinach and Tomatoes - 4 meals
    • Stuffed Shells - 5 meals
    • Pizza Casserole - 4 meals
    • Apple Pie Pork Chops - 4 meals
    • Lemon Chicken - 3 meals
    • Chicken Pomodoro - 4 meals
    • Shepard's Pie - 2 meals

    Grand Total Number of Meals: 29
    Grand Total Number of Servings: 116

      We have a few other things in the freezer that can be turned into meals fairly easily, but most of those items are things we keep in the freezer all the time - hamburger meat, spaghetti sauce with meat, frozen broccoli, assorted frozen veggies, bacon, hot dogs, and stew meat.  There is also a good selection of chopped up fruit for smoothies - bananas, strawberries, and some medley mixes we picked up at Sam's Club.  We also have a fairly well stocked pantry with the supplies on hand to make taco soup, black beans and rice, tacos, and a lot of the other staples in our world. 

      The Upright Baby Prep Freezer - Fully Stocked

      There are a couple of things that I wish I had been able to stock up on, and depending on energy levels this week and what Bug decides to do about emerging I might still try to do some of them.  They are things like French Toast, more Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chips (I have eaten all the ones I made before), and Lactation Cookies.  I really thought there was more I wanted to pre-cook, but looking back at my list I made it seems like I got most of it done, or the things that are left are easy things that we can throw together - Taco Soup, Broccoli and Cheese Baked Potatoes, Spaghetti or Ziti, or any number of beef or pork roast with veggies, or BBQ.

      We did have a couple of missteps in this process.  I didn't use some chicken as fast as I should have (at least for my personal preference), but I still used it in a meal called Cranberry Chicken and Rice. It sounded like a good idea, but when I got it all put together it really was yucky looking.  We still put it in the freezer, but about two weeks later I decided I didn't want to chance it with the meat and it was just too gross looking and I wouldn't eat it even if it was ok.  Well, we pulled them out of the freezer, but then got distracted in the garage and forgot to put them in the trash.  About three days later I went in the garage and it was starting to smell like something had crawled in and died.  Luckily, I saw the bags of food laying on the shelf above the chest freezer and threw them out.  I was very glad they were bagged up in Ziplocks because I can't imagine the mess (or the smell) had they just been wrapped in foil.  The other missteps haven't been nearly as gross.  Most of them consist of eating all of something before I should have (the banana muffins) or choosing not to cook one of the recipes and use the meat for something else.  We did have a few of the veggies go bad before I could cook with them like a butternut squash.  I learned they don't like being in the fridge for a week. 

      All in all I am very happy with this process and the amount of food we have gotten for the amount of money and time spent.  I am happy to know we won't starve (not that we were going to anyways) or just be eating junk for the first few weeks.  It also makes me very happy to walk out in the garage and know that we have a whole freezer of food ready to go.  There are a few things that will still have to be bought when the time comes like buns and fries and other side dishes, but those are a lot easier to tackle or send AJ to deal with when we need them.


      AL said...

      wow! this is a great idea! I might have to follow suit :-)

      ashley @ twentysixcats said...

      Yeah, I did NONE of this when we had Savannah. :-) I had zero meals in the freezer. Which explains that we ate out every. single. meal. for the whole first month she was born, except for the five meals that people generously brought us. :-)

      Lauren Valentine said...

      Wow Molly! Can we come over for dinner? ; ) I cannot imagine doing it myself!

      Joanna said...

      I stocked the freezer pretty well- we still have some of the meals in there! We were provided meals by friends and family for the better part of a month. The big thing with us was making sure Josh knew *where* the easy-to-fix meals were in the freezers, so he could do the prep.

      Molly said...

      Al - I totally recommend it and it wasn't that hard. I just didn't want to live on PB&J after the baby came.

      Ashley - The only close places to us to eat are fast food and AJ's tummy doesn't do well with to much of that. Our church is great at bringing meals, but we are really far away from most people.

      Lauren - YES! Besides, you might get a frozen meal brought to you when Eloise is born :D

      Joanna - Our church is great at taking people meals, but we decided not to have them make a sign up for us. We are really far out, and the person who normally sets all that up is Lauren (who is due 3 weeks after me), so we decided not to worry about it. Having all the meals in one freezer makes it easy to locate them and they are labeled/ numbered if there are multibags. The next big task is printing out all the cooking instructions for AJ, and posting them on the freezer with a cross off inventory so we know what we have left.