Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Batch Meal Prep Day Review

Yesterday, I completed my Batch Meal Prep Day. I'm going to explain the meal prep process in this post, so this will be long read, but I don't want to leave out important details.

A few important notes before we dive into the meal prep:
  • This is not a budget meal planning post. Although I don't want to spend money unnecessarily, my main purpose was to have healthy meals at the ready for our family. I purchased organic meat and vegetables when available and not ridiculously cost-prohibitive. My personal philosophy is that I make the best choice I can, given my budget and what's available, and I don't stress about the rest!
  • I had help. I did NOT do this on my own and there's no way I could have accomplished all I did without my husband's help. Not only did he keep the kids occupied, but he also stepped in to wash dishes, chop veggies or meat, or act as sous chef when needed. Yep, I'm a blessed girl! If he hadn't helped, I would not have attempted a batch cooking session of this magnitude. I would have divided the work over a few days.
  • We all have different definitions of healthy and that's okay. We do not eat paleo (yet). But I'm transitioning to dairy-free, so paleo recipes are safe for me, that's why I used a lot of them. I used old fashioned oats in Mom's Meatloaf.  If you're gluten free, dairy free, paleo, GAPS, whatever, that's great for you. But that's not us so you won't find that here. You'll have to adjust accordingly. ;)
    The best I could find on my shopping day...I made the best choice I could and I won't stress about it not being grass fed. ;)
Now, let's get started!! I ended up with 28 Main Dishes for our small family (2 adults, 2 children), 2 condiments and 2 side dishes. In the summer, the main portion of our meals is fresh produce, so I'm able to stretch meat out to cover more meals. Links to the recipes I followed and how many meals I expect to get from each are included below:
Success!!! :) Not pictured is the Ghee and some of the Tropical Meatloaf muffins...we had some for lunch. :)
3 cups of Ghee
2 pints of Ketchup
18 Mini "Mom's Meatloaves" (2 meals)
2 quart bags of Taco Meat (approx. 3 cups per bag; 2 meals total)
4 quart bags of Green Chicken (4 meals)

I used ground turkey, boneless skinless chicken breasts (instead of chicken thighs), ground beef and sirloin steak (found on sale.) The chicken and ground beef were both organic, the others were "humanely raised." I purchased all the meat and a lot of the vegetables at Costco. The rest of the ingredients were purchased at Trader Joe's, Aldi and Price Chopper (a local grocery store chain.) Some of the packages of meat were larger than what the recipe called for (1.5 lb. instead of 1 lb.) so I increased the other ingredients to get more meals.
I had one pack of ground turkey and one pack of chicken breasts left over (as well as lots of veggies) for more meals.

There was very little actual cooking involved, mostly just mixing up marinades, chopping vegetables and meat, and assembling the meals in bags. I chopped all the vegetables first to speed up assembly time.
Vegetables chopped and ready to go!

You'll notice that I grouped meals together based on ingredients. I made all the ground beef recipes together, then the ground turkey, etc. I put out mixing bowls, divided the meat between them and then followed the recipe (printed and put in front of each bowl for easy reference.) I had a pen to check off ingredients as I added them so I wouldn't forget anything. ;) I cleaned up well between each type of meat.

Ground Turkey recipes in process
For all of the burgers/sliders, I used the method shown below. After making the meat mixture, I would smash it out on a cutting mat into a rectangle and section it off into evenly sized portions. I formed them into patties, put the sliders on a baking sheet lined with freezer paper and "flash froze" them for at least 30 minutes (sometimes more, depended on what I was working on.) Once they were stiff, I would place them into labeled freezer bags and pop them into the freezer.

For the Mini Mom's Meatloaves, I followed my Mom's instructions. I'm sorry there's no real recipe, but here's what I included: Ground beef, homemade ketchup, chopped green and red pepper, chopped onion, old fashioned oats (the only grain in today's cooking session), salt and pepper. I bake the mixture in muffin cups at 375 until done. Once finished baking, I let them cool for a bit, then I follow the freezing directions outlined above (flash freeze, then into freezer bags.) I did the same thing for the Mini Tropical Meatloaves.

Mom's Meatloaf in the making
For the Taco Meat, I browned the ground beef with chopped onion, shredded carrots, garlic and taco seasoning. Once cool, I spooned it into bags and popped them into the freezer. The meat loaf recipes and taco meat were the only things cooked today...everything else went into the freezer raw and will be cooked as needed. I'll also add fresh or steamed vegetables, a salad, etc. to fill out the meal.

I have another post about how to plan and execute your own Batch Cooking Day that will publish tomorrow. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask in the comments!



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