I have several blogs that I read and something that seems to be a really popular theme lately is what is referred to as a "Baking Day." This is a day where you make a to-do list of items to bake for the freezer, to be taken out later when you want to eat them. Items such as pancakes, muffins, quick breads, etc. are perfect for this. It's a great idea because, in the long run, it saves you a lot of time in the kitchen and the items end up being a lot cheaper than any other on-the-go breakfast item (not to mention much healthier!).
I don't necessarily do "Baking Day," but I do a general "Cooking Day" pretty much each weekend. My main method of meal preparation is to do freezer meals. These are meals that I cook in large batches and then freeze in individual portions (enough for a meal for a family of four) to be taken out later for dinner. I started this while in preparation for maternity leave with my first child and have been cooking this way ever since! It's saved me tons of money, time and stress. My typical freezer meals are spaghetti sauce, gumbo, taco meat, various kinds of soup, beef stew, BBQ pulled pork, red beans, white beans, lasagna, muffins, pancakes, banana bread, etc. Another bonus of cooking in bulk is that I get to purchase in bulk! And I can purchase things cheaper in season and cook for the next few months. If you want to give freezer meals a try slowly, then just get in the habit of cooking larger meals and freezing the extra. If you do this at least a couple times a week, you will fill your freezer quicker than you'd realize!
On Sunday, I make my menu for the week. I usually write it down on a menu pad I have on the fridge, but I will admit that sometimes I just make a mental menu. I then go to my freezer and take out the items that we will eat for the week. I put them all in a pan and put in the fridge to defrost. Having a menu plan for the week helps me to remember to defrost things in time, eliminates the constant "what are we having for dinner?" question, and it helps me to make sure that I am using things before they expire and rotate my food storage.
This weekend I've "cooked" a couple of things. Yesterday (and I'm finishing up today), I dehydrated two large batches of mushrooms. I've dehydrated many things but never mushrooms so this is a first for me. I also have a large basket of apples (they are on sale for $1 per pound at Wal-Mart right now) to dehydrate, but I don't know if I'll have time for that today (I may do them over night and just put up in the morning before I go to work). I cooked a large breakfast casserole this morning, and once it cools, I will wrap individual servings in plastic wrap and put in my freezer breakfast bin (a container just for breakfast things). Tonight I plan to do some blueberry pancakes, too.
So, you get the idea. Why don't you give it a try? Schedule a Baking Day or just a general Cooking Day and save yourself some time during the week! If your kids are old enough, get them involved!
Juju Mommy blogs at The Dollar Stretcher as Stretching Dollars Mommy Style. The blog is devoted to being a frugal manager of one's home. She shares tips with you for cool coupons and how to use them, freebies and how to get them, plus other ways to save around the home.
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