Raid My Larder (More suggestive than it sounds…)

Last week I was talking up home cooking and meal plans as time and money savers.  I borrowed cookbooks from the library and found two new recipes to add to my limited culinary oeuvre.

On Sunday morning, I stumbled into my kitchen at the virtually pre-dawn hour of 7am to commence my day of meal prep.  8 hours later, battle weary and haggard, I emerged victorious, with more than 30 meals ready to heat and eat.

Discounting the debacle with some baby peas that went airborne, the day was an overwhelming success.

I prepared double and triple batches of some staples–Turkey Chili, Beef Stew, Shepherds Pie, Chicken Soup–and two new treats.  Chicken Empanadas and Chicken Enchiladas are now available at Cafe Book, Line, and Sinker!

I got super-crafty with the empanadas by adding corn to the chicken and cheese mix.  I baked some bone-in chicken breasts and then shredded the meat  for the filling.  Using premade pie crusts, I cut the dough into 5-inch circles and filled them.  I folded and ‘forked’ the empanada shut and placed them in bags with explicit prep instructions.  (Type-A personality much?)

I split the over-sized batches into smaller tins that will still provide us with dinner AND leftovers.

Kindly ignore the fact that I spelled enchiladas wrong. Thanks.

The rundown of the main event:

  • 5 lbs. ground turkey meat (2.5 for chili and 2.5 for Shepherd’s Pie)
  • 6 lbs. chicken breast (2 for empanadas, 2 for enchiladas, and 2 for chicken soup)
  • 4 lbs. beef (for beef stew)
  • 7 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes (5 lbs. for Shepherd’s Pie and 2 lbs. for stew)

I spent $229 at the grocery store on produce, meats, and dairy but had the staples (butter, salt, etc) at home.  All told, it works out to about $7 per meal.

Spending almost an entire day in the kitchen wasn’t easy, but it will save so much time and money that it was ultimately worth it.


  • At 2010.08.25 09:50, Jane Steen said:

    Oh, you put me to shame. I do actually cook from scratch about five days a week (very simple meals) but my freezers are a disorganized mess. I could definitely carve out some more writing time by making bigger batches of favorites like chili and freezing them, but right now I wouldn’t have room for them. Except in the freezer with the hamsicles (deceased hamsters waiting for a suitable grave, don’t worry they’re encased in boxes!) and nobody, somehow, really likes storing food in that one.
    .-= Jane Steen´s last blog ..5 Ways to Make Your Twitter Time More Productive =-.

    • At 2010.08.25 14:40, nat @book, line, and sinker said:

      ha! i’m not quite as virtuous as i seem. prior to this marathon cooking session, my freezer was a receptacle for a bottle of vodka, some assorted frozen veggies, a few frozen pizzas, and a gel face mask. (but no hamsicles–you trumped me with that one!)

    • At 2010.08.25 09:54, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

      I am totally impressed! I plan to make some empanadas before I go to my parents – I bake them ahead of time and then it takes no time at all to heat them up.

      • At 2010.08.25 10:21, Coffee and a Book Chick said:

        Oh, my — I am so impressed!! If I had an ounce of this drive to cook from scratch — and I should be cooking from scratch more since I’m a vegetarian! I’ve been so bad about it lately — you should check out the site, really fun nutrition site!
        .-= Coffee and a Book Chick´s last blog ..The Handmaids Tale- by Margaret Atwood – Read-Along- Week 1 =-.

        • At 2010.08.25 11:04, Chrisbookarama said:

          Wow! That’s actually a great idea. There are so many days I wished I had a freezer full of prepared meals. I call those pizza days.
          .-= Chrisbookarama´s last blog ..Inconceivable! The Princess Bride Readalong =-.

          • At 2010.08.25 12:10, Steph said:

            What a marathon cooking session! I’m definitely impressed! I’ll often make large quantities when I cook, but I don’t make more than one dish at a time. That clearly takes dedication.

            I hope your new meals are a success; they’ll certainly making eating for the next month a breeze!
            .-= Steph´s last blog ..Simply Indiespensible =-.

            • At 2010.08.25 13:29, g said:

              way to go nat. ant will survive during your absences now, huh?

              • At 2010.08.25 14:38, nat @book, line, and sinker said:

                lol. you know it. in the last two days, he’s already eaten 3 of the meals–he took one for lunch and had 2 for dinner. at this rate, i’ll be out of food by next week.

                thanks for the card and JS article. loved it.


              • At 2010.08.25 13:51, Meg said:

                You’re my hero! And what an accomplishment. If you’re ever interested in trekking down to Maryland, we could definitely use your services. Every day it’s the same question: “What are we going to do about dinner?”

                Not what are we making for dinner, of course, but what are we doing about it. Sometimes I wish we could just skip the whole enterprise altogether.


                • At 2010.08.25 14:40, nat @book, line, and sinker said:

                  i will actually be in the neighborhood at the end of september scouting places for our spring school trip. we just might have to get together!!!

                  ps. gerry, ny is RIDICULOUSLY far away…it’s basically not even in ny. and you can tell S i said so. hahah.

                  • At 2010.08.25 14:42, Meg said:

                    YAY!!! I would love to get together! Keep me updated and we’ll work it out 🙂

                    And yes, Gerry is quite far away… an hour outside of Buffalo, which I used to think was “in the middle of nowhere.” This adds a whole new dimension, that’s for sure!
                    .-= Meg´s last blog ..Book review- ‘Bright Lights- Big Ass’ by Jen Lancaster =-.

                • At 2010.08.25 14:17, Kathleen said:

                  You have inspired me to make some meals this weekend to have on hand for next week and subsequent weeks. My sister does this all the time and swears that you not only save time but loads of money too!

                  • At 2010.08.25 19:19, softdrink said:

                    Feel free to stop by and fill up my freezer. 😀
                    .-= softdrink´s last blog ..Mockingjay =-.

                    • At 2010.08.26 12:34, Ti said:

                      I like your version of enchillladas best. En-chill-adas… see? It’s like they are chilling in the freezer.

                      I think you did very well and you are so organized too, with the labeling and all.
                      .-= Ti´s last blog ..Review- Invisible =-.

                      • At 2010.08.26 12:41, Beth F said:

                        I have done of this before — do you get the mailing list “Friendly Freezer” — it’s a yahoo group? They are freezer queens there and I’ve learned tons and tons from that list over the years. I really need to spend a weekend cooking.
                        .-= Beth F´s last blog ..Audiobook Review Database- Audiobook Jukebox =-.

                        • At 2010.08.26 20:01, bybee said:

                          I applaud your effort and execution. Got starry-eyed when I saw the empanadas. So ….good…whimper…

                          • At 2010.08.26 21:36, Colleen (Books in the City) said:

                            You are my inspiration! I never have time to cook (or even assemble) on weekdays and having meals on hand is a perfect solution! I think I will spend some time this weekend planning and cooking – thanks for the motivation!
                            .-= Colleen (Books in the City)´s last blog ..Waiting on Wednesday- August 25- 2010 =-.

                            • At 2010.08.27 17:40, Care said:

                              Peas debacle?
                              I really admire your efforts! I’m sure you’ll enjoy the time savings.
                              My soln is to just let the hub cook.

                              • At 2010.08.28 20:53, Jenners said:

                                Wow! I’m totally impressed. My mom tried to get me to do this but I just couldn’t face spending an entire day in the kitchen. I’ll take your entire freezer please!
                                .-= Jenners´s last blog ..SM5S- Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer =-.

                                • At 2010.08.28 23:01, Lisa said:

                                  That’s an impressive feat! And how great to be able to pull something out every night for a month and not have to worry about coming home and cooking. The toughest thing will be deciding which delicious meal to pull out!
                                  .-= Lisa´s last blog ..All Things In Common =-.

                                  • At 2010.08.29 20:54, caite@a lovely shore breeze said:

                                    oh, that is way too organized and efficient for me…lol

                                    • At 2010.09.01 09:27, Andi said:

                                      GREAT idea! I really need to do this at our house. The kids would have stuff on hand to heat up, and I wouldn’t have to plan so much on a daily/nightly basis.
                                      .-= Andi´s last blog ..Bloodchild is Bloody Fantastic! and RIP V! =-.

                                      • At 2010.09.16 15:58, Aths said:

                                        Wow! I am impressed! It would take me a lot and lot of willpower to spend a day in the kitchen. Usually, I look for quick meals, or I cook when I’m in the mood, which is very rare! Can you send poor me some of those samples, if you still have them? 😉 JK!
                                        .-= Aths´s last blog ..BBAW New Treasure – When recommendations pull you out of your comfort zone =-.

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