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Aug 16 2011

The Wifey Guest Post – Once a Month Cooking.

Thanks hubby for letting me steal your blog for the night.  For those of you that know us, you know that we tend to be pretty busy.  We also tend to be a little lazy when we do have some free time to sit at home on the couch.  Anyone who knows us also knows that I am the cook of the house.  Don’t get me wrong, the hubby can grill, but if you ask him to cook you might end up with 1 1/2 cups of flour in your meal versus the 1 1/2 teaspoon the recipe calls for (he can blog this story later 😆 ).

I have been so busy lately with work and E’s swim lessons, that we were either eating crappy food because we were too lazy to cook, I was having to rush around to get a meal on the table so we could all eat together or we were feeding E one meal and Jason and I were eating at 9pm.  None of these options were working for me, my waistline or our wallet anymore.  I wanted to be chasing E around the living making him laugh…not stuck in the kitchen with him under my feet while I worried that he was going to pull a hot pot on top of him.  So last week, I got the bright idea that I was going to spend all day Sunday in the kitchen cooking enough meals for 1 month.  That can’t be so bad right?

I spent a little time each day looking for recipes that I could get a meal and at least some leftovers out of, plus would freeze well.  Now that I look back on the choices I made, I realize that we sit heavy in Italian & Mexican dishes, but hey that is what we like…which could be why we are quickly outgrowing our clothes  😥  The difference is that my recipes are heart healthy and low-fat ( well at least most of them…I had to throw a few guilty pleasures in there).

I learned a few things as I went along.  First, the next time I decide to do this, I will do my shopping the day before.  Our weekend plans didn’t allow it this time, but it definitely is a must.  Second, I will add a few more meals to what I plan because my freezer actually has more room in it than I thought once we got all the crappy frozen food out of there.

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The adventure started early Saturday morning with a trip to the farmer’s market where I got all of the vegetables I needed (minus the fresh beets) for $24.  When you see how many vegetables I used, you will be amazed at this price.  Then on Sunday, we were off to the store for the rest of the ingredients.  Here is what our cart looked like when we were done:

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I put my workout clothes on because really, this was a marathon!

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My plan was to make 2 batches of heart healthy classic lasagna (taken from my heart healthy cookbook) and a batch of Meat Sauce for spaghetti (one of E’s favorites – that kid is totally Italian).  Since the sauce for both of these needed to simmer, I got started here.

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Peeling carrots for the Lasagna!

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While the sauces simmered, I got started on the heart healthy Chicken a la King (taken from my heart healthy cookbook).

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Two things happened at this point…I hit my groove and the music blasting through the house got really good.  Nothing like a little dancing and singing while you are cooking.  😆

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Once the Chicken a la King was done, the sauce for the lasagna had simmered long enough and I was able to get both of them out of the kitchen and on the table to cool.  It was on to the next dish, Hamburger Buddy (also from my heart healthy cookbook).

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We are making progress!

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Up next, Crock pot Enchiladas.  For this one, I just cooked the meat & veggie mixture.  This one I put in the fridge because I wanted this on Monday for dinner.  I assembled everything in the crock pot Monday morning and it was ready to eat when we got home from swim lessons.  The amount of vegetables in this dish were insane and I had extra squash, so I fried it up for a little snack on Monday.  And…the enchiladas were DELISH!

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Lightened up Chicken Divan

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At this point, I was about 5 hours in and starting to lose my steam.  But I had to keep plugging away because my favorite Chicken noodle & corn soup needed finishing.  I cooked a whole chicken while my sauces were simmering earlier in the day.  That part was a little tricky with 3 big pots on the stove but hey, we made it work.  I let the chicken cool and I picked the meat off the bones…and had homemade chicken broth for my soup.  I threw it all back in the pot with noodles, diced hard boiled eggs and white corn.  This is a soup my mom always had in the freezer growing up and I still love it to this day.  I think this one even made Jason a soup eater!  I didn’t use all the chicken in the soup so I make chicken salad with the leftovers.

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The last 3 meals are crock pot meals so they were assembly only.  I took all of the ingredients for each meal (including the meat & any water or broth needed) and threw it all in one ziplock bag.  I just threw the ziplock bag in the freezer and when I am ready to eat it, I will throw the frozen hunk in the crockpot and let it cook.  Quick and easy prep on both ends.

Lemon Chicken

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Mexican Chicken

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Goulash (this recipe made two bags which will give me about 4-6 servings for each bag.)

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I also put Jason to work.  I had him grill up some chicken tenderloins to put on salad and in sandwiches for lunches.  When these cooled I just threw them in a ziplock and put them in the freezer.  I also put eggs in a muffin tin and baked them for 20 minutes. I wrapped them each individually and put them in the freezer.  They make the perfect egg for an egg muffin.  Just a little warming up in the microwave, a piece of cheese and an English muffin.  Cheap and much healthier than McDonalds!

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The finished product.

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Survey says….21 guaranteed dinners (I hope) with probably some additional leftovers for lunch.  I know it doesn’t look like it, but most of these dishes will give us 2 meals.  Yes, we do eat and enjoy leftovers in our house.  😉

So, will I do this again? ABSOLUTELY!!!  I want E to know what a home cooked meal is and to enjoy family dinners.  I know we don’t have much time before we are off running to soccer, football, baseball, swimming or water polo (hopefully!) practice.  No matter how busy my 3 brothers and I were growing up, one thing was constant and that was we always had a delicious home cooked meal on the table.  I didn’t understand then why we rarely ate out or why my friends loved dinners at my house but I fully appreciate all the yummy meals my mom had on the table for us.

And the best part about all of this…..Jason is on dishes for the next month  😀

P.S. If anyone wants recipes, let me know and I can send them your way.

 

8 comments

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  1. Jackie @ MomJovi

    I’m impresses, amazed and inspired! I NEVER thought to do that for make-ahead crockpot meals. So genius! I would crockpot more but I never have time in the mornings. This is a PERFECT solution. Wow. That was just a lightbulb moment for me!

    Very cool!

    1. The Wifey

      Jackie – I would love to take the credit for it, but I can’t. When looking for meal ideas for my big cook-off, I found a blog talking about the crock pot meals. It was a big duh moment for me!!

      http://mamaandbabylove.blogspot.com/2011/04/freezer-cooking-with-slow-cooker.html

  2. MelissaMangs

    I am so impressed and inspired and all of those meals are favorites in our house. I would love to get those recipes if you don’t mind sharing. Hope you are enjoying all those amazing meals 🙂

  3. Kate (This Place is Now a Home)

    Wow! This is amazing! I would love all of the recipes as well. Thank you so much!

  4. Doreen

    I would love these recipes. It all sounds soo yummy!!

  5. The Wifey

    Melissa, Kate & Doreen – Thanks! I will get the recipes over to all of you soon. I have to clean them up a little because I tend to write things out in my own little way ;o)

  6. Amy D

    WOW!! This is AMAZING! And fun! I would love to do this. Did you eat stuff Wed and Thurs? How was it?! I have questions!!!

  7. The Wifey

    With our leftovers, our date night on Friday and our dinner with my brother we have only eaten two meals from this so far. I do have some chicken soup thawing for dinner tonight. The enchiladas were so good and we actually were able to eat another meal and then a lunch for me too! But I have to say, the spaghetti sauce was AMAZING!!!!!

    For those of you who aren’t yet on pinterest – you should get there 🙂 It is where I found some of the recipes and I actually stumbled across this other blog with some more recipes and ideas to try out next time!

    http://joelens.blogspot.com/2010/11/10-crockpot-recipes-for-stress-free.html

    http://aturtleslifeforme.blogspot.com/2011/06/freezer-meals-on-cheap.html

    Enjoy!!!

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