Saturday, February 4, 2012

once-a-month baking day

People often ask me, "How do you do it?" Organization is key. Being married to an administrator helps. A LOT. For years we've talked about doing "once-a-month cooking" or at least making extra meals to freeze. But we didn't have a big freezer until now, nor did we have a need to be this organized. So, in hopes that this method might help somebody else out there in cyberspace . . . here's what we did this morning.

Some of our favorite homemade and (relatively) healthy foods are wheat bread, baked oatmeal, bran muffins, and whole wheat peanut butter cookies. Life is way too full to bake as often as we want to eat baked goods, so Danny devised a method to make it easier to bake with limited time.

We put all the dry ingredients for a batch of homemade bread in a ziplock and store it in the freezer. When it's time to bake, we only have to add water, butter and yeast. We use a breadmaker for the bread and make about 2 loaves/week. (Making a loaf of bread is one of Eliana's chores on Saturday. It's easy enough for a 10-year-old to do it!) What you see in the photo is 10 "loaves" of bread all ready to go. We reuse the bags each month to cut down on waste. Baked oatmeal works the same way. I made pancake mix this morning as well, so we have a container of dry pancake mix that's ready for water, eggs, and oil.

Cookies and muffins are different. We make a double batch of our favorite healthy cookie recipe every couple of months and freeze the cookies in large freezer bags. At our house we have cookies for snack on Sunday afternoons. (They're so healthy, though, that I confess we had nothing but cookies for lunch today while they were hot and fresh.) They're made with whole wheat flour, wheat germ, oats, powdered milk, and natural peanut butter. Yum!

Danny found a method online for making muffins ahead of time. We mix up 6 batches of muffins all at once and then freeze the batter in quart-size freezer bags. The night before we want muffins, we move one bag from the freezer to the fridge, and it's thawed by morning. In the morning we cut off one of the bottom corners of the freezer bag and sqeeze the batter into muffin tins and bake. So easy! Nothing beats fresh hot muffins, especially Raspberry Bran muffins! Obviously the muffin bags can't be reused, but the rest can.

I did a big batch of muffin batter last weekend, and this morning we did the rest:

  • 10 bags of bread mix
  • 6 bags of baked oatmeal mix
  • 1 large batch of pancake mix (for 3 meals)
  • 8 dozen cookies
We slept in, lazed around for a while, and were still done by noon! Yes, we made a colossal mess, but we'll be eating the results for up to 2 months. It requires planning ahead to make sure we have enough ingredients on hand. (We got tired of trying to find aluminum-free baking powder around here, so we order it from Amazon). In case you're curious, most of our favorite recipes come from the More With Less Cookbook. It's a Mennonite cookbook that focuses on healthy and affordable meals that families will actually eat. We're delighted to have found a way to keep using these recipes, even with limited time for baking. Hope some of you will find ways to do it, too!

No comments:

Post a Comment