Friday, September 7, 2012

Investment Cooking – An All Day Session

Investment cooking is an allotted amount of time I set aside to prepare meals, condiments, desserts, breads, etc.  This allotment of time can be one full day, a half day or just an hour or two. 

Every few months I like to plan for and execute a day of investment cooking.  I like to focus on items that take a long time to cook/bake or are more time consuming to prepare.  I also like to make a few freezer meals to have on hand for the unexpected.  Throw in a few homemade condiments and loaves of bread and we are all set. 

I have done half days and what I like to call mini-sessions where I time myself for one hour.  I usually do mini-sessions in between my full day sessions. 

This is what I made at my latest all day investment cooking session: 
  1. Pinto beans – cook and freeze in 1 cup increments to add to recipes
  2. Black beans – cook and freeze in 1 cup increments to add to recipes
  3. Whole wheat bread – 2 loaves for the freezer
  4. Honey oatmeal bread – to eat now
  5. Soup – Italian black bean, navy bean & chicken vegetable – freeze in 4 cup increments; plus some for tonight’s supper
  6. Cookie dough – chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter – wrap in logs to freeze for future use; 12 cookies each
  7. Lasagna – freeze two 8”X8” pans for future use.
  8. Meatballs – freeze on cookie sheet, transfer to zipper bag
  9. Turkey broth – freeze in 2 cup and 1 cup increments to add to recipes
  10. Salad dressing – 1 pint buttermilk, 1 pint French 
The evening before I will: 
  • double check and make sure I have everything I need to get the job done.
  • clean my kitchen, all but the floor, clearing off my countertops so I have plenty of workspace.
  • set out the slow cookers I plan to use, any bowls, utensils, measuring cups and spoons, plus the food storage containers and bags I will need.  I include a Sharpie marker too.
  • measure out, pick over and wash the beans I will be cooking.  Place them in bowls with cold water and leave to soak overnight.
  • frozen foods come out of the freezer and are set on dinner plates in the refrigerator.  In the morning if they aren’t quite thawed I can finish this in the microwave with the auto defrost mode. 
The next day I will: 
  • rinse the beans and put them in the slow cookers with fresh water to begin cooking
  • if I happen to be hungry, eat breakfast – cereal & milk
  • start my first loaf of bread dough in the bread machine (as soon as it is finished I begin another one right away)
  • defrost any items still frozen.
  • get my children involved grating cheese, forming meatballs, washing dishes, etc.
  • start the pasta sauce on the stove, simmer for 20 minutes, set aside to cool
  • place chicken parts in slow cooker or pot on stove to begin stewing for soup; add carrots, onion and celery to flavor chicken and broth.
  • mix up meatloaf, shape, wrap, label and freeze.
  • mix up meatballs, shape, place on baking sheet, freeze, place in zipper freezer bag, label, return to freezer.
  • bake loaves of bread as they are complete.
  • once chicken is finished, set aside and allow to cool.
  • begin turkey broth on stove
  • assemble lasagna in two 8”X8” pans, wrap, label and freeze.
  • remove chicken from stew pot, pick and place in bowl, remove veggies for compost, strain remaining broth.  Chop up chicken.  Return broth and chicken back to pot, add fresh chopped veggies, simmer until veggies are tender, season to taste, remove soup to freezer containers and allow to cool.  Save enough for tonight’s supper.
  • heat up last night’s leftover pizza in microwave for lunch.
  • mix up cookie dough, divide into three parts, roll into logs, wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper, freeze, place in zipper freezer bags, label and return to freezer.  Make sure I leave enough dough to bake about a dozen cookies in between bread loaves.  Eat a couple when they come out of the oven.  I need fortification.
  • check beans.  If tender, allow to cool and place in freezer containers.  Label and put in freezer.
  • finish baking bread.
  • make salad dressing, place in refrigerator.
  • wash the last of the dishes, fix a bowl of soup and a nice slice of bread and butter.  Eat my deserved supper.  Have another cookie for dessert.  Put my feet up and watch TV.
  • mop the kitchen floor tomorrow. 
A huge part of my plan is to make sure I have everything I need on hand, not only food but storage containers and bags too.  Setting everything out before I get started helps me make sure I have everything at my fingertips.  Cleaning as I go minimizes the workload and final clean up.  I reuse as many bowls, utensils and pots as possible so I don’t end up using everything in my kitchen and having to wash a ton of dishes. 

I also make sure I update my freezer inventory sheet.

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