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A Manual For Busy Families to Cook Once and Eat All Month Using The Freezer.Saving Time, and Money, Eating Healthy and Wholesome Meals, While Enjoying Dinner Time With Their Family Again!
TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS JUST A PERSONAL NOTE WHAT’S FOR DINNER?…THE DAILY DILEMMA SAVING MONEY ON YOUR GROCERIES WHY DOING A COOK-A-THON SAVES YOU TIME HEALTH BENEFITS OF DOING A COOK-A-THON KEEP YOUR SANITY AND GET ORGANIZED EQUIPMENT STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE BEING EFFICIENT FREEZING THAWING AND COOKING HOW LONG CAN YOU FREEZE WHAT TO FREEZE AND WHAT NOT TO FREEZE DOWNLOADABLE PDF’S: WHATCHA COOKING CATEGORIZED GROCERY LIST WHAT TO PREP LIST FREEZER INVENTORY CHECKLIST MONTHLY CALENDAR Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 7 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I just want to say thank you to my crazy life. In the midst of all the chaos of being the mom of 4, running this way and that way, having imbalance, stress and mayhem….In reality it helped stop me for a minute to find a better solution. I’m grateful for my curiosity into freezer cooking and I’m grateful for my love of being in the kitchen. I am thankful to my lovey for supporting me and being patient with me, while I was trying to figure out how to put this all together and make it work. I’m grateful for my family who have been patient and kind and most of all my best guinea pigs. Taste testing all of my trials and errors, haha! There were definitely some doozies! I’m thankful for the flexibility of being able to stay home and at the same time help as many families as I can answer “The What’s for Dinner Dilemma?” dilemma, once and for all. My heart is full when I know I can help others! Especially to save time, money and headaches! I’m grateful for my cooking partners and all that we’ve learned. I’m grateful for the people (YOU) who want to listen and learn from me! May You Become a Cook-A-Thon Master and Reap the Rewards for You and Your Family! With Much Love, Blaga Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 8 JUST A PERSONAL NOTE First and foremost don’t get overwhelmed with the final numbers! ➢ A thousand mile journey always starts with the first step ➢ You’ll have a map, a plan and a real simple step-by-step guide to follow ➢ Practice makes perfect ➢ The more you do it, the more efficient you will get at it ➢ Be flexible: o With yourself o With your meal plan o With your ingredients o And with your time ➢ Decide how big a Cook-a-thon you want to do; 5-10 meals (beginner), 10-20 meals (intermediate), 20-30+ (pro) ➢ Know it doesn’t matter really which one you start with, because it’s all the same! ➢ The only thing that is holding you back is your time commitment ➢ ANY AMOUNT OF MEALS YOU PUT IN THE FREEZER IS A VICTORY!! ➢ Decide how busy you are? Are you on the run every weekday/ weekend with the kids/family or do you have time to cook a meal from the beginning? (This will be a good indicator of how many meals you need to make) ➢ Do you have a big change coming up? A baby, visitors, one parent being away for work? ➢ Cook-a-thons are designed to make your life easier…trust me you’ll be glad to invest your time and skills to reap the rewards of more time, more money and less stress at dinner time! Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 9 WHAT’S FOR DINNER ?… THE DAILY DILEMMA Hi my name is Blaga Goertzen. I am a mama of 4 and a family of 6! If you are anything like me, you’re busy!! Between after school activities, meetings, sports etc. you are either eating on the run, rushing thru dinner to get to your next activity, or as you come in your family is walking out and dinner time is just chaos! You forgot to take something out the night before, or throw something in your slow cooker and before you know it you are eating grilled cheese and soup for the 1000th time, or you are eating out. I know, I know…I’ve been there and I completely understand! Every day, the dreaded question; “What are we going to have for Dinner? It’s a never ending frustrating and exhausting battle. I am here to tell you that it can get better! You can get to a point in your life where you know what you are having for dinner, you have healthy options in your freezer, you have extra time to share a family conversation at dinner time. You're saving time, money and you actually look forward to the supper hour! I’ve created this Cook-A-Thon manual for mom’s and dad’s alike. I’ve created it so in the midst of our busy lives I can help you find peace in dealing with “The What’s For Dinner Dilemma!” This manual is simple and straight forward, and a powerful concept. If you take action this manual will potentially change your perspective and the way dinner comes together in your family, once and for all. Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 10 SAVING MONEY ON YOUR GROCERIES How does a Cook-a-Thon help you save money? Well let me explain! First of all you’re buying in bulk, so you get more for less. I like to share the pork chop story. We buy pork tenderloin from Costco, and cut our own pork chops and they are 1- 1.5’’ thick. We usually get 25-28 pork chops for about $18. Now let’s compare that to the pre-packaged pork chops. You’re getting about half the amount for the same price. Also shopping in bulk goes for anything really! It’s really incredible to think actually, you should try it! You can use generic brands instead of name brands and save 25%. Because you are cooking and adding flavor, having name brand diced tomatoes won’t change your flavor, I don’t think. What it will do is lessen your grocery bill. When you make a grocery list and you stick to it, you can save money on groceries as well. When you buy the produce, the meat, the cheese and do the work yourself (ie. shred cheese), you also save. For example a bag of cheese is $12.48, a medium block of cheese is $ 9.98. But by shredding it yourself you get way more for a lot less! Remember by doing Cook-a–Thon you are saving on average 1 hour of prep/cooking/cleaning. So why not spend a few minutes during prep day and dice your own pepper, shred your own cheese, cut your own broccoli, etc. The time will go buy fast and again you will be putting money back into your own pocket. Now don’t get me wrong, there is just some things that need to be brand name. In my opinion ketchup, mustard, and canned soups (Campbell’s) are a few of those things. Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 11 Also there is some things I splurge on now when doing a Cook-a-Thon. The main one is meatballs; I can’t be bothered with making them homemade. It’s just not worth it to me and some things will most likely be like that with you too. So I figure since I save in other areas, I can have 1 or 2 splurge items! Of course there is other ways to save too, such as getting items on sale and coupons. I like to write down the prices when I shop, so I have a rough idea of how much everything is. I like to be mindful of prices when I’m shopping. Because what I’ve found is the wholesale clubs…Costco, Sam’s Club, Wholesalers, isn’t always cheaper. So just be aware, and price compare! One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is never shop hungry!! Because you end up putting everything in your cart, at least I do! Making English muffins and burritos (etc.) from scratch will save you money because you’re eliminating the price of packaging. When you have yummy meals in the freezer and they only have to be warmed up or put in the slow cooker, the probability of you eating them is high. So you spend less money eating out. Got unexpected company…no problem! Pull out an extra meal! Your guests will appreciate a home cooked meal and you don’t have to splurge on take-out. My favorite thing about Cook-a-Thon is you’ve done most of you shopping for the month, so you only have to buy your fresh fruits, veggies, milk and bread, weekly or biweekly depending on your family’s needs. That means you’re going to the grocery store less often, so you’re spending less! But there is always something that ends up in my cart even though it’s not what I originally went out to get. Now I need to be honest, adjusting to this once a month cooking business was strange. I was so used to going to the grocery store weekly, or even 2x/week. Now it is normal for me to go twice a month! I would look at my freezer inventory and still have meals left, and always have food left in my pantry, fridge and cupboards. I could create meals for the next month with all that food Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 12 and money that I had saved!! Then I would transfer what we didn’t eat this month into next month’s plan and, Ta Da Done! (Half a month’s meal meal plan complete!) Then it would take me a moment to realize, wow!! I don’t have to go to the grocery store and spend money. I have enough left for another 2 weeks, or whatever the scenario is. That was a magical experience! It felt so good knowing: 1. I was organized 2. My family was fed 3. I saved money 4. And my meals are planned! Peace of mind! Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 13 WHY DOING A COOK-A-THON SAVES YOU TIME By completing a Cook-a-Thon you’ll find that you have more time!! I save on average an hour per day in the kitchen. That’s 365 hours in a year!! Wowee! Seriously life changing! The prepping time is minimized because it’s all done on prep day or on the night before the Cook-a-Thon. So now you might just have to boil pasta, potatoes, make rice, or create a side. Pretty simple and because you don’t have to make much else your dishes are minimal! Most meals are already in a tin foil containers, that will be thrown away when done or in Ziploc bags so you’ll dump the meal in your slow cooker or baking dish and away you go, that means for most meals you only have to dirty one pot/dish!! The meals that are slow cooker ready only need to be thawed and then cooked! Sometimes you can put it in frozen if you need to (ps. I’ve done this when I forgot to take my meal out beforehand) and it still turns out great! So you have nothing to do in the morning to prepare you slow cooker meal except turn on your slow cooker. Wow when I first started doing Cook-a-Thons it took me awhile to get used to. I didn’t need to be in the kitchen 30mins-1 hour prior to dinner, because everything was already nearly done. I needed maybe 10 minutes to get dinner complete, and on the table! It felt really weird, but SO lovely! I could actually take a breather, hang with my family and really tune in to listen about how their days were. We could play games, or read a book, or even go for a bike ride! Cook-a-Thon’s changed the dynamic of our supper time! You can have the same experience! You’ll be so pleased with the new found time and minimized chores before supper time. Trust me!! Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 14 HEALTH BENEFITS OF DOING A COOK-A-THON.LET’S START WITH YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE PUTTING INTO THE MEALS! If you have special dietary requirements you can make the switch. Need less sodium, buy ingredients with less sodium. Want wholesome pasta or brown or wild rice, then it’s easy to buy what your family needs and desires. There will be no added preservatives or anything extra that comes with buying convenience processed foods. You can monitor the fat content. And choose the freshest ingredients possible! At the same time you can add ingredients and take out ingredients based on your family’s preferences. Eating out will be less, which automatically says “healthier!” Less fat, less salt, less msg, and less calories. No more temptation of “I’ll just have fries with that and a large coke”. If you are on a diet, you can plan your meals accordingly. Need fewer carbohydrates, then serve with more vegetables. Or pick meals that accommodate what you need! (You get the idea) We are cooking like maniacs to be healthier, more efficient, organized and to save time and money! So why not save on “the unhealthy” while we’re at it! It’s a win, win all the way around! Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 15 KEEP YOUR SANITY AND GET ORGANIZED Nothing like starting the month with a plan! Trust me it’s worth the Sunday (or any day) afternoon effort! For me, once a month, I sit down and I meal plan. Most months I plan my freezer meals (majority) and then all my other meals around that. And then another month’s usually every 2nd or 3rd month, I just do a meal plan around what I have! This is where your Freezer Inventory Sheet comes in handy! (at back of the manual) You will be amazed how far your freezer meals will go! Remember I said “Meal Planning and Cook-A-Thon’s are flexible!” So naturally I have meals left over from last month or the month before. Because we went out for dinner, we were invited for dinner, we just seriously didn’t have time to have a meal, because we we running in every which direction, and just grabbed whatever, or I cooked from scratch. Either way whether you are starting with a clean slate or working off what you have, a plan takes your sanity and organization to a whole new level. You don’t have the stress of thinking “What should we have for dinner, or oh I need to stop and get? Or oh I don’t have…” There’s a million little decisions that have to be made around supper time. Instead do yourself a favor and “Brain Dump”. Get it all out, write it all down, so you have a clear roadmap. From there you can simplify and write your master grocery list! Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 16 One plan, one list and one shop! Doesn’t that just sound so much simpler all ready? We are all busy, and we all face our unique challenges. So take the time to make your life easier by eliminating one huge problem; The What’s For Dinner Dilemma Trust me once you start, you’ll never be able to go a month without a plan. Once you’ve experienced order, flow and enjoyable dinner hours, you will never believe you lived without it. Start small, start big…It’s your choice! Just start! “Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction, ends up being the biggest step of your life!~ Author Unknown Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 17 EQUIPMENT Cutting Boards Sharp knives Pots and Pans Small Mixing Bowls Whisk Measuring Cups Wooden Spoon Sharpie (your new best friend) Food Processor (not necessary) Cheese Grater Vegetable Peeler Tin Foil Wax Paper Large Ziploc Bags Tin Foil Trays Non-Stick Cooking Spray Freezer Paper (not necessary) Cooler (if travelling) Hand Towels Slow Cooker Pen/Paper You’re Plan Comfortable shoes and lots of Coffee!! Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 18 STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE Let’s Get Started Getting Started: o Well I like to start with a cup of coffee/tea!! o Pick your date and partner(s), or do it solo o Take out a notebook and pen o Decide how big of Cook-a-thon you would like to do, based on how busy you are, and how much time you have, and how much freezer space you have o Then start picking recipes o I usually start with a couple or few of our family favorites, like spaghetti sauce, pork chops in mushroom soup, lasagna taco meat, etc. o Then move onto picking recipes from your cookbooks, the internet, Pinterest, or wherever else! o I like to have a hard copy of the recipe, so either write it out, photo copy it or print it o Write the recipe name on the whatcha cooking list (in the back of the manual) Grocery List Process o Now take your recipes, one by one and write the name of recipe on categorized grocery list o Then write down each ingredient also on the categorized grocery list (even if you have the ingredient), recipe by recipe o When writing out ingredients; write it down, then use tally’s or actual numbers and add up total ex. Mushroom soup IIII = 4 or chicken breast 4 lbs + 2,2,2 =10 lbs (ps. I usually circle the totals) o I like using different colors on my grocery list o When done writing all the ingredients go thru with a different color if you like and write an estimated cost. This just gives you an indication of what to expect for amount, so you can always take out recipes or add, depending on what your budget allows o Then take your shopping list and go to the pantry/fridge/freezer and cross off any item(s) you already have (This is the best part!) o This is where I usually write out another categorized shopping list, with the items I have removed so I don’t get confused and I have a cleaner shopping list to work from, but this isn’t necessary if you don’t want ( I do it cause maybe it’s my OCD lol!!) o Finally go thru the shopping list and write where you will be purchasing the items; Costco, local grocery store etc. Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 19 Prepping: o Before you go shopping you will need to go through each recipe and figure out what needs to be done for prepping. ie: chopping, shredding, dicing, cooking etc. o I suggest this so you can separate the groceries as need be on who is doing what when you go shopping. o The person hosting the Cook-a-Thon will take majority of the groceries home, except for the groceries that need prepping by the other person o You prep at your own homes and then bring it to the cook-a-thon the following day o So write down what needs to be done on the prep list and decide who is going to do what Shopping Day: o If you are shopping with a partner(s) decide on the time and place to meet. Morning is best because it will give you time to prep for the rest of the day o Go in two separate vehicles, so you can separate the groceries based on who is doing what o Grab a coffee and list and get ready to shop! This is the fun part! o We usually hit 2 stores; Costco for wholesale items and the local grocery store for all the other items o Cook-a-thon host, organize your ingredients on your counters or table in groups such as; soups, pastas, sauces, etc. Now that the shopping is all done, it is time to start the prepping. This is where my equivalent chart comes in handy. Also it’s a good idea to use the equivalent chart when calculating ingredients. For example, one cup of diced onions = 1 medium onion So once everything is chopped, diced, shredded, browned etc. it makes it easier come cook day because you can just measure out what you need for each meal! Easy Peasy!! No need to do the prep work for each meal! This is what makes the Cook-a-thon so awesome! Because you are saving time right off the hop!! Cook-a-thon Day: The day is finally here!! Congratulations you have made it this far, way to go!! So let’s get cooking! o Decide on start time, early if possible and have coffee on! o Partner show up with all prepped food and other ingredients you need to bring o Partner bring favorite knife, large bowls, slow cooker and other equipment if needed (Check out Supply list) o Have your marathon clothes on with comfy slippers or runners as you will be on your feet majority of the day and cooking up a storm Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 20 o Partner bring a cooler o Host have kitchen cleaned and ready o Take out bowls, measuring cups, spoons, spatulas, tin foil tins, Ziploc bags, and tin foil and sharpies o Fill sink with hot soapy water so you can wash as you go and be ready for the next recipe o Start with cooking similar meals; spaghetti sauce, lasagna, chilli etc. o Then move onto meals that need baking, cooking ahead of time so they have time to cool o Many meals can be placed in Ziploc bags o Label the bags with Sharpie before pouring in the meal, it's way easier trust me! o Write the recipe name, baking/cooking instructions, quantity and date o Use a bucket to put the Ziploc in and then pour in the ingredients. The bucket acts as a holder and it's way less messy(I use potato salad containers!) o Use a large measuring cup like a 4 cup to distribute the meals into the bags/tin foil trays, so you can measure up the meals equally o Seal the bag, taking out as much air as possible and freeze If using tin foil trays for some meals: o Spray with cooking spray first o Place freezer paper or wax paper on top o Then wrap with tin foil o Label and freeze o Continue working your way down your Whatcha cooking list o Cook chicken with chicken, beef with beef and so on o Take a break and EAT! *** Remember incorporate your families preferences when preparing the meals! If you want more cheese, or a different spice- do it! You have to like it! * If you are planning to make burritos, English muffins or anything else like that, clear off your work space and create an assembly line (super-efficient) * Wrap burritos, English muffins in wax paper then stick them all in labeled Ziploc bag * Always have one partner do one recipe, and you can do another, makes it faster (this is where the printed recipes come in handy) Wrapping it up: Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 21 o Write down the recipe and quantity on your Freezer Inventory Checklist plus what to have on hand for the meal o I also like to write the the total number of meals made beside each recipe on my Whatcha cooking List so it’s easy to reference o Separate extra meals if there are any o Separate leftover perishable ingredients o Separate all other ingredients, pasta, rice etc. o Designate a bin for left over ingredients like spices to roll over into your next cook o Clean up o Complete Cook-a-thon Review sheet o Figure out money if you need to with your partner, so your each paying the same amount *** Take a deep breathe, and look at what you just accomplished!! *** Be proud!! You did it!!! Now you have whole nutritious meals for you and your family!! You're saving time, you're saving money and have solved the “What’s for dinner dilemma” once and for all! Well at least for this month, haha!! o Last but not least take out your agenda, take out your Monthly Calendar Meal Planning Sheets, and meal plan what meals will be used on what days. Bon Appetite! Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 22 BEING EFFICIENT Over the years I have WASTED a lot of time, a lot of money, and a lot of food. And I have also SAVED a lot of time and money. But let me say it hasn’t come with trial and error. Sometimes I felt like I had myself in too deep. 60 meals, 1 day, tired feet, and a disaster of a kitchen that seemed to have no end. However those feelings were short lived as I learned to be more efficient. I learned systems that worked. Systems that that save me time, headaches and chaos. So let me share!!! I found it’s super important to organize the groceries from the very beginning. Like with like. I also found it’s easier to chop all vegetables all at one shot and store in container or Ziploc bag. I usually store them flat in Ziploc bags. It tends to save me lots of space. Since I’m lacking in space due to all my groceries I have bought all ready. Grate all your cheese, and store each type of cheese in a separate baggie. This way if you have left over cheese it’s easy to share with your cooking partner or simply just freeze it. Brown all your meat with onion and store in bowls. Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 23 Then just assemble with what you need. I find it’s easier to cook/assemble meals just like your groceries. Like with like. This way there is no contamination. Label bags first, it's just the easiest way. Pour liquids like soup, pasta sauces, etc, into a Ziploc placed into a container like a ice cream bucket or other tall container (I personally like the potato salad containers from Costco). That way you don’t risk it falling over. When doing wraps, line them up and create an assembly line. Put one ingredient on and then the next and the next. If working with a cooking partner, give them one recipe to assemble, while you work on another. Preferably chicken with chicken and beef with beef and so on. Keep a sink full of hot soapy water, and wash dishes as you go. These are the simple tactics I’ve learned that help you cut your time in the kitchen! And as you do it more and more you’ll learn your own skills and cut your time even more. Sometimes I amaze myself, and you will too! Like the other day I bought 1 box of chicken at Costco and I made 4 meals in 15 mins. Prepped, packed, sealed and frozen. I’m not saying this to brag, but to show you anything is possible! And when you learn this system you will be just as efficient, giving you more time for you and your family. Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 24 FREEZING The freezer; the Ultimate Treasure Chest!! Love the freezer! You can buy items when on sale, and stock up, saving you money. You can buy items in bulk, separate them and freeze them, again saving you money. You can fill your freezer to accommodate any meal from breakfast, to lunch, to snacks, to dinner, dessert, and even appetizers. Possibilities are endless! And of course we use it to fill with our own treasure of meals! A deep chest freezer is good, or an upright freezer! Even your fridge freezer is efficient. I personally prefer the upright freezer. Just easier to see at a glance what I have and I like how the meals sit flat, one on top of another. So stacking is a breeze. The only downer about the upright is; you need to defrost yearly. However I guess it’s a good excuse to clean it out, and use what you have. I also own a deep chest freezer as well. I like the deep freeze it’s better for larger items, like large boxes of waffles, pails of ice cream and appetizers, and such. We also use the deep freeze for the ½ of beef we purchase yearly. Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 25 When using the deep freeze I like to use each compartment for different things. Likewise for the upright! Each shelf is categorized. I also recommend rotating your food/meals. So if you put new meals in, bring the old meals out and place on top so they can get used first. Periodically I like to just do a clean out, as sometimes there’s stuff that got forgotten about, and is passed it's time. I like to freeze majority of my meals in Ziploc bags. I also use the Ziploc bags to separate meat, buns, etc. This gives a lot of extra space, doesn’t use up all your baking dishes, and it doesn’t require you to buy “freezing dishes”. Also the meals tend to lay flat and super nice in the Ziploc bag. If using the meals for travelling , camping or even sending them with someone (spouse, grandparents, friends, children, etc.). The bags sit nice in a cooler... they are like gigantic ice packs! I also freeze some meals in the tinfoil trays. I feel it’s super important to constantly upgrade your freezer inventory list. Especially after a cook-a-thon! Just so you know exactly which meals you have, and you can meal plan off that sheet as opposed to physically doing inventory from the freezer. (because it’s cold in there.) Please know that you can also do Cook-A-Thon’s, even if you don’t have an upright or deep freeze. You can use your fridge freezer! You just have to make as many meals as you think can fit in your space. Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 26 One thing I did learn, is to make sure your contents are cool before putting in Ziploc bags to freeze. Or else the bags can potentially stick together or it can weaken the bag and cause holes. Which is not great! As for the timing of how long you can freeze items, I’ve included an “How long can you freeze” portion in this manual. I’ve learned the following items don’t freeze well: · Rice · Pasta · Cucumbers · Tomatoes · Lettuce · Uncooked Potatoes There is also an in depth “What to Freeze and What Not to Freeze” portion in the manual. The #1 Thing never to freeze is….uncooked potatoes!!! Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 27 THAWING AND COOKING You’ve made all these yummy meals, frozen them, thawed them (one at a time, of course) and now it’s cook day!! This is Where the Magic Begins! Most meals are designed to be cooked in a baking dish or in a slow cooker. You can use a reusable baking dish and wash afterwards, or you can use the throw away tin foil trays if you think it’s going to be tough to clean, or you just don’t want to be bothered, or have the time. Either way it makes cleanup a breeze. As for the rest of the meals, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s better to boil up some pasta, rice or potatoes on the day of, as its way fresher and better tasting. I’ve had too many bad experiences of mushy and not great sides. Again super simple though right?! No other prep, just cooking and eating! Can you see where you’re already saving so much time? Let me tell you, the 1st time I experienced my first freezer meal, I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself! My prep, cook and clean up went from like 1 hour/ night to max 10 Mins and that’s even sweeping the kitchen floor! Incredible! Enjoy the simplicity! Enjoy the greatness and enjoy your family! Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 28 HOW LONG CAN YOU FREEZE FOOD FREEZER TIME Beef 12 months Bread 12-15 months Broths 5 months Burritos 3 months Butter, Salted 9 months Butter, Unsalted 5-6 months Buttermilk for baking 3 months Cheese, grated 4-6 months Chicken 9 months Chocolate bars 10-12 months Chocolate chips 8-12 months Cookie Dough 3 months Diced onions 3-6 months English Muffins 3 months Fish, lean (cod, flounder) 6 months Fish, fatty (salmon) 2 months Fish, Shellfish (clams, crab, lobster) 2-4 months Frozen Fruit 6-12 months Frozen Vegetables 8-10 months French Toast 2-3 months Full meals 4-6 meals Herbs in Olive Oil 3 months Lunch Meats 1-2 months Milk 3-6 months Nuts 12 months Pancakes 1-2 months Pasta cooked al dente (leftovers) 1-2 months Pasta sauce tomato based 4-6 months Pesto 6 months Pork Chops 4-6 months Soups 2-3 months Tortillas 1-2 months Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 29 What To Freeze and What NOT to Freeze What TO Freeze: •Baked goods •Bread •Broths ~ leave room in container for expansion •Burritos •Butter, margarine •Buttermilk for baking ~ freeze in ice cube trays •Cheese, grated •Chocolate bars •Chocolate chips •Cookie Dough •Diced onions ~ freeze in cup portions •English Muffins •Fish •Fresh corn on the cob ~ husk and all •Frozen Vegetables •French Toast •Full meals •Herbs in Olive Oil ~ freeze in ice cube tray, store in ziploc bag •Lunch Meats •Meats (Beef, Pork, Poultry,lamb, veal) •Milk •Nuts •Pancakes ~ freeze with wax paper in between each one •Pasta cooked al dente •Pasta sauce and tomato paste •Pesto •Soups ~ leave room in container for expansion •Tortillas Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 30 What NOT to Freeze: •Apples •Bean sprouts •Blocks of cheese (best to grate first) •Cottage Cheese •Crumb toppings ~ on casseroles, mac and cheese or pies •Cucumbers •Custards •Fried foods •Grapefruits •Grapes •Hard boiled eggs ~ go rubbery •Lemons •Lettuce •Limes •Mayonnaise •Oranges •Potatoes •Radishes •Raw eggs in shells ~ expand and crack •Radishes •Salad greens •Sauces made with cornstarch and flour •Soft Varieties, Cream Cheese •Sour Cream •Tomatoes •Watermelon Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 31 DOWNLOADABLE PDF’S: Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 32 WHATCHA COOKING 1. 2. 3 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. Date: Participants: Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 33 CATEGORIZED GROCERY LIST RECIPES: SOURCE: Meats Produce Dairy Bakery Frozen Spices Pantry Other Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 34 WHAT TO PREP LIST The night before… Dice/ chop vegetables Shred cheese Brown ground beef Run onions thru food Processor Make any marinades Make pasta sauce The Day of… Who... Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 35 FREEZER INVENTORY CHECKLIST Recipe 1 2 3 4 5 Needed for Serving Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 36 Cook-A-Thon Review Date: Participants: Meals… Total # Meals: Rating: Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 37 Breakfasts/Lunches: The Details: Approximate Cost: Actual Cost: Average Meal Price: Time: Special Notes…What we learned, substitutes, too much, not enough, etc. What to do differently… Next Cook-A-Thon: Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 38 MONTHLY CALENDAR Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 39 16 MEALS…1 HOUR AND 40 MINUTES 1. Sweet and Sour Meatballs x 2 2. Teriyaki Meatballs x 2 3. Spaghetti Sauce 4. Chicken Fajita x 2 5. Lemon Chicken 6. Parmesan Chicken 7. Honey Mustard BBQ Chicken 8. Chicken Hurry 9. Taco meat 10. Ranch Pork Chops 11. Seasoned Pork Chops x 2 12. Mushroom soup pork chops 13. French Onion Soup Pork Chops Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 40 RECIPES Please note all recipes serve 6 with usually a lot extra!! #1 Sweet and Sour Meatballs (recipe from sixsisters.com) Ingredients 1 (10 oz) jar sweet and sour sauce ¼ cup brown sugar ¼ cup soy sauce ½ t galic powder 2 lbs frozen meatballs (20) 1 medium red bell pepper, cubed 1 medium green pepper, cubed ( or any color) 1 medium onion, cubed 1 (20 oz) can pineapple chunks Instructions 1. Label the freezer bag: Sweet and Sour Meatballs ~ Thaw ~ Cook in sauce pan until warm, or slow cooker low 7-8 hours or high 4-5 hours 2. Combine all ingredients 3. Seal and freeze 4. To Cook: Heat thru in a sauce pan, or do in slow cooker. Make sure to spray inside of slow cooker before putting everything in 5. Serve over rice Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 41 # 2. Teriyaki Meatballs (recipe from Fabulesslyfrugal.com) Ingredients 20 Frozen meatballs~ I used the Italian style from Costco ½ cup soy sauce 1 ¾ cups water 1 t ground ginger 1 t garlic powder ½ cup packed brown sugar 3 T cornstarch ½ cup cold water Instructions 1. In a medium bowl mix the soy sauce, 1 ¾ cups water, ginger, garlic powder, and brown sugar together. In a separate small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch into the ½ cup cold water. Set bowls aside 2. Label Freezer bag: Teriyaki Meatballs (20) Thaw and Cook in Slow Cooker on low 6-7 hours or in saucepan until warmed thru. (P.S. USE A SHARPIE!!!) 3. Count 20 meatballs, and pour the sauce and cornstarch in bag 4. If you have extra peppers or onions you can chop and put in there but not necessary 5. Seal and Freeze ( make sure you get as much air as possible out) 6. Serve over rice with a salad Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 42 # 3 Spaghetti Sauce (A family favorite) Ingredients 2 lbs ground beef Garlic Diced onion Salt Pepper Italian seasoning 2 jars spaghetti sauce ½ t cinnamon Instructions 1. Brown the ground beef with garlic and onion 2. Add the spaghetti sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and cinnamon 3. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 mins # 4. Chicken Fajitas Ingredients 3 skinless/boneless chicken breast Fajita mix 1 green pepper cut into strips 1 red pepper cut into strips 1 onion sliced Instructions 1. Cut the chicken breast into strips 2. Cut veggies into strips 3. Label bag: Chicken Fajita~ Thaw and Fry in frying pan- Serve on Tortillas with Sour cream and Salsa 4. Put chicken in one bag and veggies all in another bag, then combine bags in large freezer bag 5. Seal and Freeze 6. To Cook: Thaw, saute meat and fajita mix, then add onions and peppers. Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 43 7. Serve on tortillas with sour cream and salsa # 5. Lemon and Garlic Chicken Ingredients Used 6 chicken breast( can use drumsticks or thighs if you prefer) 2-3 cloves minced garlic 4 T olive oil 2 T fresh or dried parsley 3 T lemon juice 1/4t pepper Instructions 1. Label bag: Lemon and Garlic Chicken~ Thaw and bake 350 Degrees for 45-60 minutes 2. Put chicken in bag and follow with all other ingredients 3. Seal and Freeze 4. To Cook: Spray baking dish, bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes till juices run clear 5. Serve with mashed potatoes and salad # 6. Parmesan Chicken (Recipe from fabulesslyfrugal.com) Ingredients 6 chicken breasts ¾ C melted butter 3 C seasoned bread crumbs 2 ½ C mozzarella cheese 24 oz spaghetti sauce 1 ½ C parmesan cheese Instructions 1. Mix together Parmesan cheese and crumbs in a bowl. In a separate bowl melt butter. Dip each chicken breast in butter then roll in bread crumb mixture until completely covered in crumbs. Repeat with each breast. Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 44 2. Open Spaghetti sauce and spread on the bottom of the foil pan 3. Place breaded chicken on top and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese over the chicken. Cover with foil and freeze 4. To Cook: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, cover with foil and bake for about 45 mins 5. To Serve: Serve over spaghetti noodles with butter #7. Honey Mustard BBQ Chicken Ingredients 8 Drumsticks ( can use chicken breast and/or thighs if you prefer) ¼ cup apple cider vinegar ¼ cup brown sugar 1 cup chicken stock ½ cup honey mustard ½ t Cajun seasoning Salt and pepper Instructions 1. Label large freezer bag: Honey Mustard BBQ Chicken~ Thaw~ Grill till no longer pink 2. Put chicken in bag 3. Mix all other ingredients together and pour into bag 4. Seal and Freeze 5. To Cook: Grill on BBQ or can fry on medium high 6. Serve: With potatoes and a salad Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 45 # 8. Chicken Hurry Ingredients 8 Drumsticks ( can use chicken breast or thighs if you prefer) ½ cup ketchup ¼ cup water ¼ cup packed brown sugar 3 T dry onion soup mix Instructions 1. Label large freezer bag: Chicken Hurry~ Thaw~ bake at 350 D for an hour, or in the crockpot on low 4-6 hours 2. Place chicken in bag 3. Mix all other ingredients and pour into bag 4. Seal and freeze 5. To Cook: Bake at 350 for 1 hour 6. Serve: with mashed potatoes and side of vegetables # 9. Taco Meat Ingredients Ground beef Taco Seasoning A bit of water Instructions 1. Label Freezer Bag: Taco Meat 2. Brown ground beef 3. Follow instructions from seasoning 4. To Cook: Warm it up in a fry pan 5. Serve: for hard tacos, soft tacos or taco salad Pork Tenderloin cut into pork chops done 4 different ways Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 46 # 10. Ranch Pork Chops Ingredients 8 pork chops 1 package of hidden valley ranch dressing packet 1 cup milk 1 cup mayonnaise 2 T minced garlic #11. Seasoned Pork Chops Ingredients 8 pork chops Seasoning salt or your favorite seasoning # 12. French Onion Soup Pork Chops Ingredients 8 pork chops French onion soup pack # 13. Mushroom Soup and Pork chops Ingredients 8 pork chops 2 cans mushroom soup Instructions 1. Label freezer bag: Name ~ Thaw ~ Bake at 350 for 45 mins 2. Combine all ingredients, seal and freeze 3. To Cook: Bake at 350 for 45 mins 4. Serve: with rice and creamed corn or frozen corn and peas Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 47 Shopping List Recipes : 1. Sweet and Sour Meatballs 2. Teriyaki Meatballs 3. Spaghetti Sauce 4. Chicken Fajita 5. Lemon Chicken 6. Parmesan Chicken 7. Honey Mustard BBQ Chicken 8. Chicken Hurry 9. Ranch Pork Chops 10. Seasoned Pork Chops 11. French Onion Soup Pork Chops 12. Mushroom Soup Pork Chops 13. Taco Meat Produce ~6 cloves garlic ~3 onion ~Green and red peppers 2 of each ~red onion Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 48 Dairy ~ 1 cup melted butter ~1 cup sour cream ~1 cup milk ~2 eggs ~8 ½ cups mozzarella cheese ~ 2 Cups parmesan Meats ~28 Chicken Breast ~16 lbs ground beef ~1 bag 2.72 Kg meatballs ~1 Pork tenderloin( bought ours at Costco) or 24 pork chops ~ tray of chicken drumsticks Bakery ~4 cups seasoned bread crumbs ~tortillas Frozen Spices ~6 T cornstarch ~Fajita packet ~1 t pepper ~Taco seasoning ~2 t ground ginger ~2 t garlic powder ~1 packet ranch dressing Cook-A-Thon Magic Page 49 Pantry ~3 ½ cups packed brown sugar ~1 can pinapple chunks (20 oz) ~3 cups ketchup ~spaghetti sauce 2 jars ~spaghetti ~2 Sweet and sour sauce ~2 Campbell\s cream of mushroom soup ~mayo ~Honey mustar ~ 8T olive oil ~6 T lemon juice ~1 cup soy sauce Other ~large freezer bags ~2 tin foil trays oes and salad # 6. Parmesan Chicken (Recipe from fabulesslyfrugal.com) Ingredients 6 chicken breasts ¾ C melted butter 3 C seasoned bread crumbs 2 ½ C mozzarella cheese 24 oz spaghetti sauce 1 ½ C parmesan cheese Instructions 1. Mix together Parmesan cheese and crumbs in a bowl. In a separate bowl melt butter. Dip each chicken breast in butter then roll in bread crumb mixture until completely covered in crumbs. Repeat with each breast. Cook-A-Thon