Before I get started with the power cooking, I don't want to forget to share a little about the great posts we've had here for you this month. If you missed the big kitchen reveal or any of the other great tips on organizing your cupboards and drawers and cords you can find them here.
Several months ago I bought this pressure cooker on sale, and I've been learning how to use it to make beans and rice and stews and all sorts of delicious things. I've grown to love the speed and flavor that cooking under pressure brings and I've gotten over my fear that it will "blow up" on me!
Last week I decided that my schedule is so full and my budget so tight that I simply must get my meals organized so that I can make a healthy home cooked meal in less time than it takes to go through the drive through at our neighborhood In 'n Out! Pressure cooker freezer meals seemed like the perfect solution.
1. A two year old.
2. A messy kitchen after a busy weekend
3.A messy house
4. Company coming for dinner
5. Needing to drop off and pick up kids and hubby from the train station at various times
6. My own tired self
I share these to be fully honest because the reality is, if you wait until all the home-stars are aligned and organized perfectly before you try to get your meals planned, you'll never get it done. Sometimes you just have to start somewhere. This is real life friends, its messy and never looks like it does on The food network or HGTV! These challenges made the task more difficult, but they were not obstacles that could not be overcome.
1. Planning (1-2 hours)
I sat on my phone and searched for pressure cooker freezer meals and found this great website. I wrote out the recipe for 10 meals that had similar ingredients, but different flavor profiles. I made sure they were things my family were likely to enjoy. I was sure to include the freezing and cooking instructions.
2. Next I used the recipes to make a shopping list. I organized my list by type of food. (ex. "meats" "canned goods" "condiments" "produce" etc) I color coded the items to be able to see which store I would buy each thing from and still have just 1 list to read off of.
3. Finally I made a master meal list with the cooking times so that I could keep track of which meals I had left in the freezer and how long I should set the timer for in each one.
Planning was the longest part of the process believe it or not. I went slow, had a second cup of coffee and got interrupted about 1000 times by my kids. Don't let that deter you. Maybe doing this step the night before you plan to shop would make it easier for you.
Cleaning/Shopping: (1 hour 15 mins)
A clean Fridge is super important! Before You leave to shop clean out your fridge so that you can put your cool ingredients away as soon as you get home. I left my 17 year old at home to finish cleaning the kitchen. I Took the two year old (and her doll and a snack and a cup of milk) to the store with me and brought my color coded list to mark off what I picked up as I shopped. Hint: If you are good at stockpiling sale items you will be ahead of the game on the shopping and you'll wan to choose recipes that match with your stockpile.
Cooking: (2 hours)
The cooking didn't take that long, because there wasn't a lot to actually cook! The hardest part was chopping all 7 onions I would need to make all the recipes! After that it was a lot of assembly line prep directly into the plastic freezer bags.
Here is the way I prepared the meals for freezing.
1. Labeled every freezer bag with a sharpie and set aside with the corresponding recipe.
2. Washed and chopped all fresh ingredients and put in bowls for easy assembly
3. Cooked any meat that needed to be fully cooked before freezing then set aside to cool while I prepared all the rest.
4. Assembled all the Whole chicken breast/thigh recipes
5. Assembled all the chopped chicken recipes
6. Assembled all the beef recipes
7. Assembled the cooked meat recipes
The important thing here is to be sure you let out any excess air from your freezer bags and lay them flat in your freezer.
Was it worth it?
This took about 5 hours all together, however on this particular day that 5 hours was split up in the midst of a lot of other obligations. I was TIRED at 10 pm when everything finally went in the freezer and I didn't quite get the kitchen fully clean until the next day. If I didn't have all the other obligations and If I planned the day before and cooked on another day I would say it is actually quite easy. If you haven't done this sort of cooking before, I would definitely recommend you give it a try. The best part of all is how several times since doing this, my kids asked "whats for dinner?" and I answered "I don't know, lets see." We pull something out of the freezer and 30 mins later dinner is actually done!
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