Our househelp who knows how to cook left a month ago. We have a new one though but cooking is not exactly one of her skills. So I’m now back to being in charge with the family meals. For the past few months, I’ve been wishing for extra hours. Everyday is a struggle to juggle work, feeding Kenya, having time for Bryce, a little exercise and of course, trying to find time for my beloved blog. Most of the time, I don’t have an hour or two to prepare our meals and so we often resort to take-aways. I hate it because 1) I’m not sure how the food was prepared 2) It’s greasy, it’s unhealthy and it’s boring 3) It’s expensive 4) I don’t like Bryce being exposed to fast foods 5) Hubby and I are trying to eat clean.
I used to freeze meals but just one or two dishes, usually it is chili con carne or laing (taro leaves in spicy coconut cream) which freezes well and seems to get better over time. One day, I came across this thing called once-a-month cooking. It’s not exactly cooking all dishes in one day but rather preparing your month-worth meals in one day so that all you have to do is take the frozen meal out of the freezer the night before and then just dump it in the slow cooker or pop it in the oven when you’re ready to cook.
It sounds like the answer to my prayer so I made my own freezer meal plan–Filipino style! Did you know that it took me more than 5 hours to come up with the first set of recipes?! Haha! I had to consider prep time (I don’t have the whole day), family’s taste, available ingredients and my househelp’s ability to cook it on her own.
I have 3 dishes ready for the slow cooker, 3 for frying or baking and 3 for microwave (already cooked,when I’m feeling too lazy to even turn on the oven or slow cooker.) By the way, I think every household should have a slow cooker. I am so grateful to my Ninang Baby who introduced me to slow cooker. Life became so much easier and yummier when you can dump all ingredients at once in the pot before you hit the bed and wake up with a freshly cooked meal.
So here’s how I tackled the challenge. We went grocery shopping (my grocery list for my freezer meal plan) Tuesday night and marinated the pork for adobo right after dinner. I started quite late the following morning at 10am instead of the planned 8am. I cooked the adobo first and while it was simmering, I browned the beef for the stew and prepared the veggies. By 11am, the beef stew was all good in the slow cooker. I had to take a break to feed Kenya and went back to work at 11:45. I was done with the three slow cooker-ready meals after an hour. It would have been faster if I bought ready-made alfredo sauce but it was P190.00 a jar and I needed two! Being cheapo me, I decided to just make my own. Another break for lunch and then finished the tapa by 3pm. Another feeding and I fell asleep with Kenya and Bryce. I did the meatloaf the following day and decided not to cook the chili anymore since I don’t have enough space in the freezer.
Each prepared meal is good for 2-3 meals and can feed 3 adults and 1 fuzzy eater kid; this should be enough for two weeks. But since we’re going to have salad night every Tuesday and Friday and fish/veggies 2-3 times a week (to be bought from the local wet market on the same day), I think I could stretch this for a whole month! Our grocery cost for these including my pantry essentials and some other home stuff and toilettries: P6,957.59. Pretty cheap if our next grocery trip will be a month from now considering our average weekly grocery bill is P3,000.
Now I wish I have a bigger freezer so I can store frozen pasta, bread, more breakfast meals like burrito and home-made corned beef. Oops, I just realized, we don’t have room for ice cream!!!
I’ll let you know how my freezer cooking go…