Batch Freezer Cooking, 4 Tips to Get it Done

Freezer Batch Cooking

Does batch freezer cooking meal plans overwhelm you? The unknown of completing the process for the first time often overwhelms me on a large project. Then the hardest part for me, just getting the process started.

Gain Experience and Motivation with Batch Freezer Cooking:

  1. Schedule a dinner out at Chipotle and then tackle the grocery shopping. In other words create some rewards for getting the job done. I hate shopping. I often imagine the big conveyer belt in the sky just dropping down and my groceries rolling off the belt into my pantry. If I have motivated myself to get the food purchased for the batch freezer cooking…I will not let the food go to waste. Having the food purchased starts the timer on getting the job done.
  2. Hiring teenagers to help. I used to joke that I should have grown an extra set of arms when I gave birth to my second child. Which in hindsight I am glad I did not because my brain could not keep up with the multitasking of another set of hands. Thankfully I have a house full of teenagers. If you do not have teenagers, find some at your local church. My daughter helps me with prep work and my boys are on clean up duty.
  3. Cook one batch a day. Sometimes my schedule does not allow for a huge block of time to prepare. I have found breaking up the tasks to be helpful.
    1. For example with batch freezer cooking for breakfast I would give each day of the week a food to prepare. Monday I will cook and prepare all the Egg and Sausage English Muffins. Tuesday I will cook a triple batch of pancakes. Wednesday I will assemble the yogurt smoothie bags, especially since the yogurt needs to freeze in the ice cube trays first. Thursday I will assemble the oatmeal bags. Friday an extra batch of muffins can be done. Whatever I am preparing that morning my kids will have for breakfast.
    2. For dinner batch freezer cooking I break down the jobs  similar to breakfast. Mondays I will cook and assemble all the hamburger meals. Tuesday I will do the chicken meals. Wednesday I will do the soup meals. Thursday I like to do some smaller vegan meals for myself. Hopefully everything is done so I can take Friday night off!
  4. Gather friends to serve others.This one was my favorite idea. I had really wanted to purchase a prepared batch freezer cooking plan. A friend at church wanted to prepare some meals for 3 expecting mothers and I had a reason for buying a prepared plan. If the ladies get together we could cook 21 freezer meals and give each woman 7 meals for the freezer. A ladies event was created that day.
    1. I decided to purchase the crockpot meal plan from 5 Dollar Dinners. I divided up the shopping list among the women. I printed out the labels and recipes. I made sure the women brought their own cutting boards and knives. First we gathered on a Sunday afternoon and prepped all the ingredients. Then while things were cooling we gathered and ate dinner together. After the meal we assembled the freezer the bags. We did invite the expectant mothers to join us but they did not need to help. It took about 4 hours to get everything done, which included stopping to eat dinner. It was a great evening of fellowship and awesome to send home 7 crockpot freezer meals ready for when the new babies are born. (Yes the plan is for 20 meals but we were able to get an extra meal out of the ingredients to keep the numbers even) 

Living off a 50 pound Bag of Potatoes

4 Weeks of Potato Recipes to use a 50 pound bag of potatoes

This month’s goal…creatively feed my family by utilizing one 50 pound bag of potatoes. My kids were surprised that I could buy 50 pounds of potatoes for $10.00.

I asked my kids for their favorite potato dishes, their input always helps with getting them on board with my crazy ideas.

Since I am a homeschooling mom, I have assigned them the task of calculating the cost of each meal. I started a Pinterest board for potato recipes and invited my daughter to pin any recipes she finds.

I should note that food allergies require my meals to be gluten and dairy free. I either substituted various dairy free options or selected meals that were already gluten and diary free. I tend to keep things simple and do not spend a huge amount of time on finding substitutions, so you will not find a gluten dairy free chicken and dumplings recipe in my menu.

I selected 5 meals each week, my kids would mutiny if I gave up Taco Tuesday and Sundays are left over meals. Thus choosing 5 meals gives me a weeks worth of meal planning. I tried really hard to mix up the recipes to avoid the dreaded “I will not eat another potato again.”

We ate these meals for 4 weeks, this is just not a list of things you could do…we cut the food budget and ate potatoes for 4 straight weeks. 

I have another pet peeve with cooking, when recipes call for 2 tablespoons of something, or 2 cups of a 2 and ½ cup package. I tend to cook recipes where I use it all or skip it. It bugs me to waste food and I am too distracted to remember to use the open can of tomato puree from yesterday’s meal.

4 Weeks of Eating A 50 Pound Bag of Potatoes Meals

Week 1 of Eating a 50 Pound Bag of Potatoes Meals:

Week 2 of Eating a 50 Pound Bag of Potatoes Meals:

Week 3 of Eating a 50 Pound Bag of Potatoes Meals:

Week 4 of Eating a 50 Pound Bag of Potatoes Meals: Disclaimer my son went into the hospital during week 4, so this actually became week 5 of meal planning. Since he came home Christmas Eve, we were given 2 spiral hams. Thus we ate 5 days of ham and potato combinations resulting in putting my family over the edge of the potato eating frenzy.

Potato Meals

Here is a printable of the 4 Weeks of Potato Meals

Follow Stacey Lane’s board Cooking with Potatoes on Pinterest. [Read more…]

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Missing Ingredients

Chocolate chip cookies

My daughter and her friend love watching various cooking shows as much as they love cooking. Usually I teach their weekly cooking class based on one of the various cook-off shows.

I find two similar recipes that reflect the topic of their Culture Culinary History lessons they watch each week.

In keeping with the Christmas celebrations I decided to focus on baking chocolate chip cookies.

Two things I wanted them to learn in baking Chocolate Chip Cookies:

  1. The basic cookie recipe can be altered to reflect the way you like your cookies to taste.
  2. If you are ever in the kitchen halfway through a recipe and discover you are out of brown sugar, there is still hope to finish the recipe by improvising.

Now I did not have $25,000 for the girls to use in their version of Cutthroat Kitchen, but I went with the idea of limiting the ingredients to affect the outcome of the cookies.  [Read more…]

Inspired Thanksgiving Giveaway

It’s that time of year where we take a moment to pause and count our blessings.

I have been so blessed by the blogging community that I jumped at the opportunity to bless you the readers of Layered Soul.

Of course your chances to win would be greater if this was just for the readers of Layered Soul, Sorry!

Please follow the directions at the bottom of the post for a chance to win, and maybe the winner will be a reader of Layered Soul.

thanksgiving

During this season of Thanksgiving, the Inspired Bloggers Network is full of gratitude for our readers. Without the faithful support of those who follow us on our blogs and social media, we would be unable to do what we love. So, thank you!

red pot

 Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French (Dutch) Oven, Cherry

 

Inspired Thanksgiving Giveaway Bundle #1

1 – Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French (Dutch) Oven, Cherry

1 – $100 Walmart Gift Card

To enter both giveaways, please complete the Rafflecopter information below and then click on over to enter for a chance to win Bundle #2: KitchenAid Stand Mixer and $100 Walmart Gift Card. [Read more…]

Mystery of History CookBook, Volume 2

Mystery of History Cookbook

One afternoon I was walking around the office and found a draft copy of the Mystery of History Cookbook. I quickly asked permission to take some of the recipes for a test drive. My daughter wants to attend our local college to become a pastry chef. This would be a perfect mother and daughter fun activity. My boss gave me permission; yes, there are perks to the job!

*Food Allergies. I have had good luck replacing white flour with gluten free flour. I have been able to tweak the recipes to keep them dairy free. Not ever recipe works but if your children have food allergies some of these recipes are easily adaptable.

The first thing we did was “oh” and “ah” over the photos. Then we began picking recipes that sounded good. [Read more…]

Moon Phase Cookie Project, Gluten and Dairy Free

Moon Phase Cookie Project

Boys + food + school = happy learning. I am always looking for ways to work this formula.

Most people are familiar with the moon phase cookie project where Oreo cookies are used to demonstrate the phases of the moon. In order to serve this snack, I needed to come up with a gluten and dairy free option.

Thankfully one of the fondant recipes my daughter uses in her cupcake business is gluten and dairy free.

I really love the simplicity of the marshmallow fondant recipe. It takes about 15 minutes to make. [Read more…]

Serving Crockpot Meals to Your Friends and Family

Serving Crockpot Meals in Times of Need

Have you ever delivered crockpot meals to others? My family eats crockpot meals all the time, but I never thought about bringing crockpot meals to someone. I always think of meat and vegetable meals or casseroles.

Ok a little confession…I usually want to run when someone comes looking for me to sign up for a meal. Not that I don’t want to serve but because I know the dinner evening hour is my busiest time of day. Not only am I getting dinner ready for my own family, but our nights our fairly busy with activities and teens working; add to that we live about 20 to 30 minutes away from our friends and church family. So trying to orchestrate getting the meal delivered usually puts me over the edge. [Read more…]

Cupcakes for Missions Continues

cupcakenats

In case you missed my first blog post on Cupcakes, Missions and Social Media.

My daughter continues to receive orders for cupcakes, even after funding her first 3-week mission trip back in April. These cupcakes have allowed her to fund and attend another mission trip.

This week she is serving a special needs camp in Pennsylvania. A group of teens are scrubbing dishes, setting tables, and cleaning bathrooms to help serve the staff and campers.

Since her cupcakes are homemade people like to comment on them. Some of her customers take her cupcakes to public parties and have been able to share how they purchased them to support missions. It has been a great way to start a conversation about Jesus!

She has baked well over 500 cupcakes since January and she continues to love baking them. I love to see her heart grow in the serving of others. She starts high school in September and I am already working on getting her high school credit for all her work.

I am blessed to be able to encourage her and thankful that her family rallies around her by washing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen. May the Lord continue to show me the potential of each of my children.

I am getting ready to do my first on-line book club. The book is 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential and I can not wait to get started.

Thank you to all of “YOU” who have ordered cupcakes!!

stacey

Political Map Done With Cupcakes

 

Political Map

My daughter decided to make a political map of South America for extra credit for her geography class. It was the last co-op class of the year and we wanted to celebrate the kids hard work with North Star Geography.

Creating a Political Map with Cupcakes:

  • My daughter can get 20 cupcakes per box of cake mix. This time we placed them together and treated them like a cake. She used black icing to create an outline of the country borders. She did her best to copy the outline from her atlas.
  • Once we outlined the countries we choose different colors of icing to fill in each country. It did take a little planning to make sure the same color did not get used for any countries sharing borders.
  • Next some blue icing for the oceans. We did decide to layer the icing so the gaps between cupcakes would be hidden. Most people don’t turn down a little extra butter cream icing. We really like the way the political map looked connected.
  • Now once the design is done, using toothpicks and address labels, we labeled the countries of South America.

For a little bonus we told her co-op that they had to name the capitals in order to enjoy a cupcake!

Of course creating a political map was easier then creating a topographical map but we might be up for the challenge over the summer. Yes the kids did know the capitals and were more then happy to answer the questions for cupcakes.

I recently have seen a periodic table done in cupcakes on Pinterest. Almost make me wonder if we could create an entire unit study on cupcake based lesson plans.

Political Cupcakes

 

Build Your Own Fort

 

Build Your Own Fort

My boys have a great amount of experience with building forts. Mainly our forts have been constructed out of blankets and other household materials. Today I chose a different medium to build your own fort, I thought it was time to get the boys in the kitchen.

We are studying the French and Indian War in All American History Jr. I thought it would be a great time to build a fort that resembled one that could have been constructed out of trees found in the New World.

Build Your Own Fort: Mashed Potatoes and Baby Carrots

  • cookie sheet covered with foil
  • mashed potatoes
  • baby carrots
  • peas (optional)

I thought it was a great time to teach the boys how to peal and dice potatoes. They loved the chance at being in the kitchen.

While the potatoes were cooking I read the lesson to them about the war. Then I covered a large cookie sheet with foil and flipped it upside to provide a base for the fort.

Once the potatoes were mashed, we built the perimeter for our fort. We constructed a thick layer of mashed potatoes in the shape of a rectangle.

Then taking baby carrots and placing them in the mashed potatoes we made the walls of our fort. If needed, we added extra mashed potatoes to help the carrots stand up. I am sure you could sharpen your carrots if you wanted a more authentic looking fort.

My boys could not wait for dinner! Yes, I was going to serve their fort with our baked chicken. I am sure you are wondering what happened to the peas that I had listed as optional. Well my husband came home and found this fort constructed out of food and he decided to cook some peas. He then attacked the fort with his form of cannon balls. The boys were up in arms over this.