A friend who reads my blog asked me to give more info on mega-cooking. One of my favorite subjects! (I’m always out to snag someone to join me for a morning or afternoon of doubling and tripling meals!)
In years past, several other homeschool moms and I borrowed a huge, well-equipped church kitchen in which to mix and assemble our family-sized meals. The kitchen we used had four ovens, two sinks, every utensil/bowl/baking necessity, and best of all a queen-bed sized island in the middle that made for some exceptional female bonding while we worked! (Wink…)
Armed with the grocery sales ads and our favorite recipes, the six of us would gather after a homeschool day meeting and quickly map out our strategy. This would include decisions on whether to go with ground beef or chicken dishes (whichever was on sale), whether to triple two recipes or double three recipes, and what steps we’d do at home in preparing to assemble. Sometimes, when we were feeling really conscientious, we’d plan an activity for the kids to do while we cooked. (One mom would have kid-duty while the rest of us assembled her meals.) But most of the time, we just let them run hog wild in the gym. Hey, we could watch them while we worked!
When you’ve mega-cooked for awhile, you gather a repertoire of family favorites. I’ve assembled mine in a binder. Each recipe is written or typed out on typing paper, and I have three columns as follows:
3x 2x 1x Ingredient
Under the “3x” I put the tripled amount of whatever ingredient is first on the recipe. “2x” stands for the doubled amount, and “1x” is the normal recipe amounts. So for meatballs, it might look something like this:
3x 2x 1x Ingredients
6 lbs 4 lbs 2lbs ground beef
And so on, listing each ingredient’s amount in its column. It makes a handy reference when shopping list time rolls around.
Also, there are a couple ways to go when deciding how to freeze your meals. You can line your 9×13” baking dishes with foil, freeze, then pop the frozen lasagnas or casseroles out and store in 2 gallon Ziplocs. Or you can buy foil pans at Dollar General, sometimes 3 for a dollar! If you go the Ziploc route, seal the zippered line all the way up against a drinking straw, and then suction the air out of the bag by inhaling on the straw a few times. This wards off freezer-burn, and the bags stack better in your freezer. Don’t forget your Sharpie pen to label everything as to its contents and the date!
We always cooked our meats prior to our cooking sprees, and usually were at the clean-up stage after two hours of work. On a chicken day, we’d come home with two 9×13” pans of chicken-veggie lasagna, two 9” chicken shepherd pies, and Chicken Tetrazini or Chicken Crescent Bundles. On a beef day, we’d do bierocks, meatballs or mini-meatloaves, and two pans of beef lasagna. Pretty good to have six meals to show for two hours of “friend time”. Especially when you think that most of us spend anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour on meal prep/baking each evening for supper!
You needn’t limit it to main dishes either. Sometimes, we’d make 8 dozen cookies, or frozen fruit salads.
Our homeschool group meets at a different church now (smaller facilities), and we haven’t mega-cooked together in ages. I keep thinking I need to put out feelers at my church, to see if any of the other mommies want to dig up their favorite recipes and gather together to share the cook-load.
By the way, I do have a few other posts under the mega-cooking category over on my sidebar. I’ll try to add to them here and there, so if you’re wanting a particular recipe that I mentioned, let me know in comments!