So I've mentioned before that I'm not into once a month cooking...too much work and I never have a full day to do nothing but cook. But I do like having meals planned and ready for us. So instead, I do a baking day about once a month or once every 3 weeks where I spend a few hours getting "meal pieces" ready. Not whole meals, just parts. Sides, desserts, meats, ect. Just nothing put all the way together.
To accomplish this meal I do planning the night before. Here's what I do to get ready.
First I make a list of all the recipes I want to make. I go through recipe books, Pinterest, or anywhere else I can find inspiration and recipes! Then after I make the list I write down my abbreviated version of the recipes all on one sheet of paper. That makes it easy to see all the recipes in one place and it means that I only have one recipe book to look at while working in the kitchen instead of a bunch hanging around and creating clutter.
Then I got through my recipes and make a shopping list in case there is anything I need. Normally I try and plan these trips around what I already have on hand but there may be a few more things I need to be able to finish my recipes. I want to make sure I have it all before I get started.
Then I go through the recipes and figure out what I need to make in what order. I start with the things that will take the longest first (anything that needs to be in the crockpot, anything that needs to rise, ect) I always make sure that I'm working on something else while a dish is baking so I can make the most of my kitchen time, that also ensures that my oven is never empty and turned on...
Then it's the big baking day! Prepare to be busy for a few hours straight. Once you get your oven on and going you will want to keep on the list so you don't waste electricity. When items are done, make sure you cool them completely before you put in freezer bags or containers. Label the bags with what the item is and the date on which you baked it. Try and keep it in the main freezer you use so you know it will get used up and not fall in the back of a deep freeze.
After I finish all my baking I can then continue on with my weekly meal plans, but I base them around things I've already made and frozen. I often fry up hamburger ahead of time and freeze, or bake buns, or any number of simple things that could translate into one of many many easy meals. Some of my favorite things to make are tortillas, meatballs, or sausage. Each of those makes a fast and easy meal that I don't have to put much planning or effort into to get on the table. I also like to cook chicken and roasts ahead of time and then put into meal sized bags so I don't have to cook the meat part of meals later. (Plus if you keep cooked meat and baked buns in the freezer you will always at last have simple sandwiches!)
For more make ahead recipes...check out my Make Ahead Recipes page.
How do you do freezer cooking?
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