Thursday, July 31, 2008

Can't have your Cake and eat it too?

Well, if that is true I have found the next best thing!

I call it: Foundational Cooking because it lays the foundation for any meal you want cook over the next several days or months. I used to cook in large batches that would last for a full month and believe it or not, it stored easily in my Side-by-Side leaving room for ice, junk food, and other things.

AND, at it's root is a LOT of Free Time for catching up on what is really important in life, Your Family and your Magazine/Blog time! I had some great family time today when my guys dropped off their laundry, so Magazine/Blog time is my choice for the next hour.

I might call a friend to chit chat and I can almost hear the question: "What are you up to?" and I'll say I'm busy cooking. "Whatcha cooking?" Me: "Tacos, lasagna, stew, stir-fry, Chicken Alfredo and probably a King Ranch Chicken, not sure what else yet."

All because I threw 5 pounds of ground beef in to simmer in water. And 10 pounds of chicken are simmering in the roaster...outside, where it's already hot.

I takes less than 15 minutes getting it started and about the same time packaging the Foundational Meats. That's half an hour I'll slave away. The rest of the time I'll be reading and chatting on the phone. See that Victoria book? Oh Man, that is one fabulous book! Its by Victoria and it's called "Intimate Home". My Mom picked it up at Half Priced Books or a Thrift store for me and I love to leaf through it. I believe that style of decorating is Timeless. This is pure ME time, to unwind, dream, think.

I didn't find out about Foundational Cooking until my younger son was 13. I had tried OAMC and never had time to do the power cooking. Maybe I didn't know how to make time to power cook. You don't know what you don't know, ya know?

What I found is that Foundational Cooking gives me the best of both worlds. I actually do cook up the meats on a couple different days, sometimes 3 during the month. It is a very simple approach to avoiding eating out, or ordering pizza, or sliding by to grab something from the deli or fast food joints. PLUS, it saves MONEY like you wouldn't believe!!

Basically, I put into seasoned hot water ground beef for the week/month. I break it up into large chunks, bring to a boil, then turn heat down and let it simmer till the meat is brown. Then drain it, some ladies will want to keep the broth, I don't unless it's cool enough outside to separate the fat from the good broth. Once drained I spray the meat with the veggie sprayer to cool it so its easy to work with.

After it cools a bit, I'll pull out quality freezer bags and store enough meat in one bag for one family meal. If you have a small family, you may only want a half pound of meat, that is 1 cup of cooked ground beef, 2 cups is one pound. OR you may want to put it all in one or two Gallon size bags and measure it out when it's time to make lunch/dinner/potluck for church, etc. Find what works for you best.

Once you have the meat in the bags, let the meat finish cooling. Make sure it's cooled off so your freezer doesn't have to do that for you. Once cooled, lay the bag flat, press as much air out of it as you can, then seal. You now have flat bags that will stack perfectly on top of one another in your freezer.

It's easy to see how you can put a month's worth of meats in your Side by Side.

Same with the chicken. I usually pile Bone In Skin On Chicken Breasts into casserole dishes then place in the pre-heated roaster. Using both the bottom and top wracks. I'll get them started at 350* for about an hour, then turn heat down to 250* for another hour.

Check to make sure they are done, bring them inside, drain the casseroles, and set the chicken in a large dish to cool. I leave the skin on as protection in the freezer. Once cooled I'll place enough chicken breast in a bag for one meal. You can do the same as above and put them in a larger container and pull out one by one.
I prefer the smaller bags because the breasts can stick together when frozen.

The frozen ground beef will thaw quickly, the chicken takes a little longer. If you had the time, you could always debone the chicken and chop it or slice it, then bag and freeze. There is so much flexibility to this method!


When my ground beef was done, I bagged it and laid them flat on the counter to cool down. One of the bags is for dinner tonight, stew and corn bread. The other bags will go into the freezer. Thought it would be interesting to time myself at throwing dinner together. Keep in mind I have just rearranged half my!

It took right at 5 minutes to grab a bag of ground meat out of the freezer, put it in a clean stew pot, open 6 cans of veggies and 4 bullion cubes then add water to cover the ingredients. I reset the timer while I made corn bread from scratch and heated the butter in the oven. Total time on this meal was 16 minutes. I probably could have shaved a minute but I had to look for my bowl scrapper. If ever I find that thing again I am going to hang it on the wall!


Now, if you are still with me because you think this might be something you want to try. Then consider this....if you add taco seasoning and water to the freezer bag along with the cooked ground beef, you have saved a step for next week/month. squish it together once the bag is closed, then freezer. Just use quality freezer bags or Vacuum sealer. Think of the additions you can make at this point. Spaghetti sauce, Sloppy Joe mix. Now you have dinner minus the pasta or rice and salad. You may have to open a can or steam some veggies.

If you cube the Chicken you cooked, bagged it, then simply pour in your stir fry recipe, your teryaki recipe, fajita mix. See? This Foundation Cooking is simple and keeps you from having to ask yourself at 3:00pm. What can I cook for supper? I truly hate that question.

However, when I have a stocked freezer of Foundation meats, I am ready to cook for the pickiest eater! And now, you are too!

I hope this helps someone get a grip on the supper monster!



  1. I sure wish I were disciplined enough to do that!!! But I come home from work and probably 4 nights a week we go out!

  2. Excellent suggestions! I hardly ever cook these days as there is nobody here to eat, but if I DID this would work beautifully. Will remember this for the future. : )

  3. Thanks for the inspiration Mels! Now that the Prodigal Son and wife are moving in I will need to do more of this type of thing. Hmmmm, sirloin steaks are on sale this weekend so I think I'll slice some for fajitas (bag and freeze), freeze some whole (vacuum pack them) and cube some for a stir fry. I usually do my chicken breasts in the crockpot (boneless, skinless). It sure will be interesting having two more adults living here.

  4. Wow..that is a great idea!! I knew I could never do the OAMC but this sounds do-able. I constantly have that "what are we going to have for dinner" thing going and half the time we end up eating out cause I don't know. Thanks for this idea.

  5. I do the same thing, sort of! It's only my dear hubby and I, and whenever we make any kind of meat, there is always way too much, so I just divide whatever is left, and bag it, and freeze it! We almost always have ham, chicken, hamburger, and beef in the freezer. Not to mention soups and spaghetti sauce, as whenever I make those, I make big batches.

    If I just want a piece of meat to go along with potatoes and another veggie, I just take the meat out of the freezer at the last minute, stick it in a frying pan with a little water, put a lid on, and it's done when the potatoes and veggies are done!

    So easy! I like how you do your ground beef, I'm going to try making it that way!

    Thanks for sharing these great tips!

  6. What a great idea! And this is why I can't get through all the pink saturday blogs....I start wandering around and get interested in your blog!
    Now I'll check out P.S Hugs, Nancy.

  7. I have been reading your blog and loving every minute..or has it been an hour...holly cow. You are very much, a multi tasker...the queen for sure.
    Love all your pinks & the meat tips.
    Thanks for posting your Pink Saturday on Friday
    Claudie from Canada