Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Freezer Binge Cooking - Day 1

Last night, Ryan and I had an amazing night of Game of Thrones, cleaning, and going to bed early (our favorite kind of crazy night). The trick? Having. Dinner. READY.

Some time back, Ryan was out of town and I spent a full day making a bunch of big batch meals to freeze - it was a glorious day of watching all of Season 2 of Luther on my iPad, hanging with the dog and feeling monstrously productive.

As the days are getting longer and I would much rather spend my evenings relaxing and not prepping meals, I have decided to do a Freezer Binge Cooking Day this weekend. Because I was hungry when I picked the recipes am feeling ambitious, I am going to try my hand at no less than FIVE freezable meals. They are as follows, with links:


Primavera Lasagna

This one is the most complex of the bunch, but is great when you have a full day to commit to cooking. As lasagnas go, this one is one of the healthier recipes you can find.

Curry Chickpeas with Dill 

This dish is an absolutely delicious, simple dinner. It is very easy-to-follow for Indian novices as well, which was important to me as I am only now teaching myself Indian cuisine at home.

Black Eyed Peas in a Goan Curry

Also from 5 Spices, 50 Dishes: Simple Indian Recipes Using Five Common Spices by Ruta Kahate
Handy Online Version

This was one of the other early dishes I made from this cookbook. In the description, this is called out as a common breakfast dish. If you like spicy food, as I do, it is nice to mix up the same 'ol breakfasts with something with more character.


Beef-Stuffed Cabbage

from Smitten Kitchen

The ultimate comfort food? Definitely in the running. I will cook these as the recipe recommends, then heat up the thawed versions in some marinara sauce on low temperature, covered.

White Chicken Chili

from Pioneer Woman

Another phenomenal use for a Costco chicken, and this recipe serves about 6 (amply) or 8 (modestly). Super hearty.

The Preparation 

The written prep day is my absolute favorite, compulsive day where I go through and make a huge shopping list and cooking strategy. Writing all these lists out by hand is my preferred method as it gives me an opportunity to wrap my head around the recipes' ingredients, preparation steps and time so I will have digested it (no pun intended) by the time I reach my cook day. Here is my personal method:

Nerd, anyone?
  1. Create a shopping list divided by store, and organized into total quantities of an item for ALL recipes. I use an online tool,, for this as it will allow you to create a shopping list which is automatically organized into store categories, and can be categorized further by store.
  2. Organize to-be-prepped ingredients in format of (specific recipe quantity) (ingredient) -> (preparation method), with the recipe it corresponds to noted on the right. 
  3. Using the above list, I can take everything that has the same method of prep and move into one task (e.g. if I am grating carrots, ginger and mozzarella, I will do all of the grating at one time while I have the grater out and then portion out per recipe later)
  4. Review printed copy of recipes, and make notes on how long I realistically think each step will take, whether it cooks on the stove or in the oven and what dish it needs (e.g. if I am making chili in my big Dutch Oven and it takes 2 1/2 hours, I will start that first so it will be done by the time I need it to cook my stuffed cabbage).
  5. Do one last read-through of recipes to ensure there isn't some major step I'm missing (e.g. let beans soak 6-8 hours or let frozen spinach thaw).
  6. If I am feeling VERY Type-A, I re-write the recipes with my own shorthand. I retain information better by writing it out by hand, so this by this stage I can usually just reference the recipes quickly for quantities.
This is the type of amazing control and strategizing that makes me feel like I am a superwoman, dominating the kitchen and planning the eff out of my friggin' weeknight dinners. I am Martha! I am Ina Garten! I am... well, organized for a change. Let's see how this goes...

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