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Monday, February 4, 2013

Pinterest Project - Meal Prep Day

     I decided in my quest to spend more time on things that matter the most, I need to try to cook more efficiently.  The older kids here are very critical of my cooking, and difficult to please in the food department. I guess this is common among teenagers, but since I didn't expect it, I have had some difficulty adjusting to their negativity.  I am not a bad cook, really, and I like to look up new recipes and experiment with old recipes too.  I try to cook healthy foods though, and they are more interested in fried foods and fast food. Many days though, cooking seems like more of a chore than the delight like it used to be.  Being a full time parent to 2 babies and 3 older children in a pretty large house zaps more time and energy than you might think.  Cooking in the evenings about half of the time is fun and enjoyable and the other half of the time is just work.  I saw several pinterest ideas about how to prepare many meals at once and freeze them for later use, and I decided to do it.  It was an all-day endeavor the first week in January.  We grocery shopped on a Wednesday and I made the mistake of freezing the meats we were going to use.  I would not do that next time.  Because Jonah had a doctor's appointment that morning, the cooking project didn't begin until 2pm on Thursday.  I would also start much earlier the next time I do this, but it was the last day we had the relief parents at the house to help with the kids, and I was so excited to start the project that I just pulled out all these vegetables and washed them, then cut them up. Washing and cutting a ton of vegetables took about two and a half hours.

Then I stopped, pumped, made dinner for that night, ate dinner, and began again.  I also do not recommend stopping the project for three hours and then starting again.  However, this time when I continued, one of our sweet girls jumped in gladly to help and it went much faster adding all of the ingredients to the bags.  I made recipes from a combination of sites to try to achieve meals our kids would eat so here is the list/links/recipes I used:

This mom is very good at explaining the best techniques to go about this huge cooking day, and I used her recipes for Sausage and Bean Supper, Chicken Tortilla Soup, and Chicken Taco Soup: Loving My Nest Blog. These were all liked, however the taco soup didn't go as well as I'd hoped.  I'm not sure why.  They love Taco Bell food, and that soup tasted great!

Then I also made the Hawaiian Chicken and Teriyaki Pork Chops from this lovely blog, which I intend to use more of for sure! Saving You Dinero. The Hawaiian chicken was the family favorite of the entire house.  However, the portions weren't quite enough for us, so when I thawed it in the crock pot I also added sliced sausage and everyone loved it!  I did the same thing with the pork chops, but they weren't as fabulous.

And last but not least I also made the Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken and Stephanie's Goulash from this neato blog:  Mama and Baby Love  These taste healthy.  In my home, that means only John and I like them.  However, since I made 2 bags of each, I am just going to add some more seasonings/sauces to them the next time.  The BBQ chicken just needs some actual BBQ sauce and I think everyone will like it.  The goulash tastes like spaghetti sauce but with larger sliced veggies.  The kids weren't impressed.  I think she has a great base though to start, but we needed more flavor for these picky eaters.

I also made my regular pot roast with potatoes, carrots, and the onion seasoning pouch.  All in all, I got 15 frozen meals which required few if any side items, and very little clean up for about a total of 7 hours of work.  I was exhausted going to bed at midnight that night.  However, after using over half of these, I can tell you, IT WAS WORTH IT!!!!

I feel like I have so much more time every single day.  I still cook a regular meal about once or twice a week, and we have a meal at church on Wednesdays, and we do leftover on Sundays, so all in all, I have a ton more free time.  In that free time, I have accomplished several other projects I will explain very soon! If you have been thinking about doing this all day project you should!  I wish I had done it on a Saturday at the beginning of every month while I was teaching.  It would have made life much easier for John and I to eat healthy meals. We used our last bag on January 30th, and I am currently putting together a grocery list to go tomorrow and have my big prep day this week!

OK, this is the gross part.  There was one recipe that called for chicken thighs, but I found this big bag of leg quarters and decided it was cheaper to buy them and then cut off all the fat/skin myself.  I would not do that next time unless they are boneless, because putting chicken in the crock pot all day with bones means you have to pick lots of bones out of your food.  However, this is the fat and skin I pulled off that chicken!

Gross! This picture has been inspiring me in my quest to eat healthier and exercise more.  This is chicken fat, but it looks the same in our bodies.  Nasty, yellow fatty deposits just under the skin that could be burned through exercise, have got to go!  If we really do value our bodies as a temple of the Holy Spirit, then it's our responsibility to eliminate as much of this as possible.  I know this next verse is specifically about avoiding sexual sin, but I feel like it is totally applicable for also avoiding the sin of gluttony, and it often inspires me:

1 Corinthians 6:19:
19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.


  1. I think I will start cooking one or two weekends a month and not having to cook/eat frozen food every night! I know it's a lot more efficient for a big family than for 1 person, but still seems like a good idea...

  2. I love having home made meals in the freezer! You can freeze just about everything! I've found that making/prepping two meals at a time is great. I fix one for dinner that night and package the other for the freezer. It doesn't take much longer than making one dish.

  3. Ghazal, you could use the smaller zip-lock bags (like the quart size) to freeze individual portions in, after cooking a normal amount, then you'll have 5 or more servings of that item.

    Ashlea - that is a great idea! We made spaghetti tonight and I wish I had just doubled the sauce and put it in the freezer!