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Friday, November 14, 2008

A Meal Machine

For those of you who know me best...... you better take a seat before reading this post. Mom, especially you for I fear that I may have gone against a long standing unwritten family rule. You know the one that cast the women of our family into the category of hopelessly bad cooks by causing us to believe we have a bad cooking gene, or something!?

Well, folks I do believe I have been delivered from the generational curse of bad cooking! hahahahaha It's not just bad cooking that runs in my family. It's lack of vision, preparation, passion, vigor. I come from a long line of women that would rather attend a political march and get tear gassed than spend a prolonged amount of time in the kitchen. It's not that the desire isn't there. It's just that we have some SERIOUS handicaps related to meal preparation to overcome and have never found the zeal to begin the laborious process of jumping the hurdles before us. I think my mom and Grams would agree we're a family with "issues" (said lovingly and jokingly) and cooking has always been the least of our worries.

Many of you have fond memories of childhoods filled with glorious bonding moments revolving around Grandma's freshly baked homemade pie, or perhaps getting special lessons from your mother on how to perfectly prepare the family's famous secret recipe handed down generations. Not. Me. There was NONE of that. That is not to say my mom and Grams aren't wonderful nurturing women. They just preferred to flex their mothering muscles outside the kitchen.

In my grandmother's defence, she not so much a bad cook as much as, maybe, a simplistic one. Her childhood was extremely difficult. She was a child of the depression with a father who, I am told, had a tendency to drink the family's grocery money away. She grew up thankful for each and every meal. She was contented with simplicity. Her husband being older than her by... If I remember correctly 13 years!!!.... (that's another interesting story. I believe I will have to do a whole post on my Grams, Evelyn in the near future) required a bland diet for his health. Grams didn't require as much variety in her diet to be content so often times meals were repeated with frequency and bland in nature, although the preparation wasn't laking.

My mother's issues lie in the preparation. She has some vision with regard to the type of meals she'd like to prepare but it never fails that something happens to throw things off kilter. It could be that whenever we're around (which is when she suddenly feels the spark of inspiration to cook something new) she ends up spending more time investing in her family relationally, being that she's a quality time love language person, than watching over her cooking meal as an acts of service love language person would do. She admits to me that she actually had no clue how to cook a hot dog when she first got married. She tells the story of the first day my father asked her to make him some for lunch. She stood in the kitchen and pondered how long they needed to cook. Best she could figure, thirty minutes boiling should do the trick. When my father finally came in and asked what the hold up was she learned that hot dogs are precooked and just need to be reheated. Ya know, I've got many more stories but the Bible says to honor your mother and father so I'll just stick with the one example ;)

So here I am. Striking out on my own. Entering uncharted territory.

Yesterday I discovered the MOST amazing thing. Now, I am sure this will not be new to you, but to me it was a revelation. Wanna know what it was.... Freezer cooking. Not just making a meal here and there and freezing it but OAMC. (Once A Month Cooking) I have heard little bits and pieces about it on people's blogs but never really payed much attention before, thinking that OAMC freezer cooking was reserved for the top echelon of uber-organized domestic queens. Sure it must require hours of advance planning and a battle tested strategy of attack. Apparently, NOT........ And, I've been missing out all this time!

So I armed myself with 11 fairly straight forward recipes and decided I would start with four this week. I did our usual grocery shopping and purchased all the ingredients for each of the four freezer meals in duplicate so I could make a meal to eat this week and freeze the others for when Dustin and I are away.

Last night I made 2 out of the 4 recipes and had 4 meals total. Two to eat this week and 2 to freeze. It took me an hour and a half to make 4 meals! Wahhoooo. Life will never be the same again! I am in love! And the best part is that our grocery bill didn't increase. It was roughly the same we usually pay because many of the items we needed were two-for deals or we were able to buy super bulk and save more.

I know those of you veteran freezer cooks must be laughing at this point. Seems so simple, and it is. I don't know why I didn't try this before. I'm not sayin' that from this point on our family will subsist on frozen fare alone but I do plan to keep a stock of prepared meals for my convenience from now on.

... I seriously feel like a domestic genius right about now. Just let me have my moment ;-)
(Ahem, I can hear you giggling)

8 comments:

the Steiger's said...

I was not giggling. It took me a long time to find out about freezer cooking and now I love it. It saves so much time.
love, Lenka

Suz... said...

O.k., love that you are doing this...I'm working on making a dozen pies to freeze...much easier to have company over-dessert is made!
Freezer cooking was fabulous when I made baby food, too...it took a couple hours and I had ALL of Brandon's food for the month. Might want to consider for your Jonas boy - I'll help! :)

kangaj1 said...

Love it! We do this too!

Julie said...

I'm going to try and do this too. Forward me you four recipes. I'd love to see what you cooked up.

Mark & Mel Harpold said...

Jen:
I'm not giggling but feeling inspired!!! I have always wanted to do this and I just don't know where to start! Can you give any advice. What kind of recipes are good for freezing? Where do you find them? How does the process work?
Thanks
Mel

Rob & Candy said...

I might be giggling!

Stacey said...

I need to figure this out, too. Thanks for inspiring me today!

E said...

I think these were the posts I missed while out of town...loving the freezer cooking ideas. I have a great one for turkey picante pot pie and lots of others...but the organization and full planning thing overwhelms me sometimes. I'm getting better and really hope to get a good handle on freezing things in '09. A girl's gotta have goals...

Erica