Thursday, September 2, 2010

day 226: overview of "mega cooking"--the "cycle" method part i of ii

day 226: overview of “mega cooking” –the “cycle” method part i of ii

Yesterday I told about how we began the “freezer cooking” lifestyle twenty years ago. I say "we" because it has truly always been a family affair. The kids and I used to have “big cooking days” once every five weeks in which we would put an entire “cycle” of meals in the “new meals” freezer—while we were using the dishes out of the “old meals” freezer. It isn't uncommon at all for Ray, the kids, and I to gather in the kitchen for half an hour or little more and whip up six bags of sloppy joes or four pans of chicken enchiladas, etc.

A word about cycles: I broke our mega cooking (that’s what we call it today—sometimes we do freezer meals; sometimes we cook in bulk for a banquet or gathering for our daughter’s disability ministry; sometimes we cook large amounts to give to others in need; etc.) down into cycles:

1. Crumbled beef cycle

2. Shaped cycle

3. Shredded chicken cycle

4. Chicken breast cycle

5. Side dish cycle

6. Dessert cycle

Pros to the cycle method:

1. You can do whatever cycle is on sale at the time. This helps the budget tremendously as you just buy all of the type of meat that is on sale—and do all of that type at once.

2. You are using one method overall. With the crumbled ground meat cycle, you cook and cook ground beef or turkey and use that in all of the recipes. With the shredded chicken, you shred up mountains of chicken and use all that. By not mixing methods, things go very quickly. (For example, you are not browning ground meat and shredding chicken all at one time.)

3. It is efficient. I have always looked for ways to work more efficiently in our home and now in my writing career. The “cycle” cooking that I created is an efficiency expert’s dream.

Cons to the cycle method:

1. If you do not have other “cycles” in your freezer at the time, you will only have one type of meat made up ahead of time. You either have to eat all “ground beef,” for example or just use your freezer meals twice a week and cook from scratch the rest of the time. (See “crazy” note below!)

2. It is not as exciting as planning many varied entrees—but I always preferred efficiency over variety!

Crazy note: I have to admit how I started the “cycle” cooking! I bought and bought ahead for weeks—from all cycles. Then, I took a week off from school and cooked two weekends and all week, practically day and night, and did all the cycles—one cycle per day—in one week. Thus, I had a freezer full of six months’ worth of dishes (assuming you don’t use freezer entrees all the time, which we did not, though we used them often) to eat from—and another freezer that I added “new” ones to as I did each cycle each month. At the end of the six months of using the first set, I had another six months’ worth. It was craziness, and I don’t recommend it. (Remember—I LOVE projects! LOL!) However, it was incredibly rewarding. Thereafter, I just kept adding to the “new freezer dishes” and used the “old freezer dishes.” (Note that some do not keep freezer dishes that long; we didn’t have trouble keeping them frozen for that long.)

Tomorrow—details of each cooking cycle. Thanks for joining us as we organize our homes and lives!

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