Friday, April 3, 2009

Group Freezer Cooking - Planning

There are many ways to do group freezer cooking. I will describe how we run our group and maybe (if mom duties don't interfere too much) I will give some other options.

There is alot that needs to happen before everyone shows up on my door step on cooking day! The first and most obvious thing is we need to decide is a date and time to cook. Luckily for us, we are all stay at home moms so we can do this during the week when the older kids are in school, the husbands are at work and we don't use up precious weekend family time.

Next we need to decide on a menu, how many and what types of meals to prepare. We all offer up suggestions based on meals we have successfully frozen for our own families and recipes we've come across that look promising. The internet is a great source of freezer recipes!

After several months of freezer cooking with the same women, we've determined a good formula is one dish per mom. Four moms means four meals for each family. This is mainly due to time restrictions. We only have so much time before the babies/toddlers/preschoolers that are with us start melting down and needing meals/naps/attention.

We also try to find a good mix of recipes. We like to make one breakfast dish and then we just make sure the others are varied- one pork, one chicken, one casserole, etc. We don't want to end up having 4 different forms of beef in our freezer!

Then we need to check each recipe for preparation instructions. If all the recipes need "stove time" (such as pasta that needs to be boiled, veggies sauteed, meat browned, etc) we may have a problem since I only have one stove! Sometimes, though, these types of things are the first step in the recipe and someone can volunteer to do some prep work the night before.

Other prep work that can be done the night before is cleaning and chopping veggies or shredding cheese. Often, the person who does the grocery shopping will offer to do it since she already has the groceries.

Speaking of groceries- that is another process that must be decided. It works out best for us to have one person do the majority of the shopping, usually the day before cooking day. I try to make myself available that day so the shopper can come directly to my house to drop off the food. This way we only need to unload the bags/cooler once and we can double check to see if something is missing before cooking day. The grocery shopper rotates in our group, although I try not to volunteer because I'm doing other things to get my house and kitchen ready the day before cooking day. (More on this to come)

Before grocery shopping can be done, we need a shopping list. I am usually the one who makes it up, but not for any special reason. I look over the recipes, double or quadruple them as needed and make a list of ingredients. I make sure we don't have something in our pantry bin before I add it to the list. I also check our supplies of zipper freezer bags, aluminum foil, etc and add those items to the list as necessary.

After all this prep work, cooking day is sure to go smoothly!

See also: Group Freezer Cooking - Cooking Day; Group Freezer Cooking - Host Kitchen

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