Cook-a-polooza Jan 2018

Patch and I held another cook-a-palooza a little over a week ago.  Essentially, we choose a bunch of recipes (focused on dinners), make a list, and shop.  Then, on cook day, we cook, prepare, assemble, and freeze a large number of meals.  We started doing this about a year-and-a-half ago, after our fifth child was born.  We have been consistently holding our cook-a-palooza days 3-4 times a year.  I think we are finally hitting our stride concerning which recipes work best.  We are definitely still a tad overambitious, but we accomplished a lot.  And, after 7 days of not having to cook a meal from scratch, yet still eating a home cooked meal, I’m loving it!

Let me take you through the process.  The planning began here:

While at our family lakehouse, we talked about which recipes we’d like to make.  We used cookbooks, other blogs, websites, and one recipe from memory.  Here is the list of recipes we used (including links if applicable):

Thai Chicken/Tofu Noodle Soup
Stuffed Shells (My own recipe–I need to write it down!)
Broccoli Garlic Quiche
Caramelized Shallot and Gruyere Quiche (we did not make the crust)
Slow Cooker Black Bean Enchiladas                                                                                                   
Orange-Glazed Chicken (Williams-Sonoma One Pot of the Day book)                                     Japanese Turkey Meatballs – Instant Pot
Mahimahi with Onions Capers and Lemons (We substituted with Tilapia to save on cost)
                                                                                                                                                               Quinoa Black Bean Crockpot Stuffed Peppers
Bagel Bombs
Potato Leek Soup

For the first time we used a website/app called Pepperplate.  It has been wonderful! With this site, we were able to automatically upload or enter in the recipes depending on the source.  It then generated a shopping list for our planned recipes.  When we shopped, I was able to check off the items as we went.  The shopping list was organized by section.  It was very easy to follow and helped me feel a little less crazy.  After a marathon night of shopping at Costco and Meijer…

We woke up and began our day of marathon cooking and prepping.  The kids were involved in every step of the process.

We try to choose recipes with a variety of flavors that are relatively healthy, but that we hope will generally appeal to the kids.  So, far this round has proven to be most successful (the recipes taste great and have been given the thumbs up by most of the kids)!

The process takes the entire day and goes into the early hours of the next day (Patch was up until 3am!).  But, the time we save on our weeknights, is well worth that sacrifice.

Here’s the tilapia with garlic, lemons, and capers–before and after.  This one was a big hit with the kids.

                              

Maddie made her bagel bombs, which the kids have been fighting over, as she tries to ration them.

I don’t want to sugar coat things.  This is by no means a tidy process.  I almost had a heart attack when I came down to see my kitchen in this state the next morning. (It’s still painful to look at!) But, we cleaned it up, and now I’m having a glass of wine while our enchiladas cook in the slow cooker.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with freezing meals ahead!

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