Big cook – nesting edition

For the past six weeks or so, I have had to put one of nature’s strongest instincts on hold for the holidays.  My mind was furiously making lists of things needed to do to make things just right to welcome a new baby, but I simply had to wait until I made it through everything that goes with having lots of kids at Christmas. There were plays and baking, shopping, wrapping, company and parties and as I look back, I’m not sure how I made it 😉  It was a grand time though!

As we said farewell to the last out of town guests, a wave of nesting came crashing down on our home – more specifically on me (but you know when it hits momma, it hits everyone.)  Decorations put away, closets cleaned out, baby bed set up, baby clothes washed, floors scoured, laundry caught up. And that was just the first day – kidding – more like the first week. Yesterday I even managed what my friend Tricia has termed a big cook.  I was amazed because It only took me about 1 hour and a half, maybe 2 total.

It was a group effort. My oldest and her friend entertained the kids wonderfully. My sweet neighbor dropped off some aluminum pans for freezing that I had forgotten to buy. My back cooperated 🙂 And for our efforts, we now have:

  • Two batches of meatballs, from the Betty Crocker cookbook, for subs and spaghetti
  • Two meatloafs, also from Betty Crocker, simple and delicious
  • Two pans of my friend Kim’s chicken spaghetti (I add the rotel)
  • A pan of baked ziti – noodles, sauce, meat, cheese – nothing fancy.
  • A pot of chicken riddle soup for today, from the Kid’s in the Kitchen Cookbook by Pampered Chef
  • And homemade chicken nuggets with a new family favorite – pastina pilaf  (on the back of the ronzoni pastina box)-  for last night’s dinner

If you haven’t tried a big cook, I highly recommend it. For not that much more time spent one dinner, you can make several.  Ease in with two, even, which means only cooking every other night.

Pointers to speed things up:

Streamline: I tried to make things that were somewhat similar, like the meatballs and meatloaf that share a lot of the same ingredients.

Prep: I had already pre-chopped my carrots and celery when I brought them home for the store, cutting some in sticks for snacks and the rest chopped and portioned for the soup and pastina. I also had slow cooked my chicken breasts and shredded them the day before for the chicken spaghetti and soup, saving a couple of raw breasts for the nuggets.

Strategize: Pick a time where you can be focused. My husband gets home a little later on Fridays which meant I had a little extra time before dinner, and with the teens helping with the younger ones, I was able to work undistracted. Saturday mornings can be a great time for this. Maybe there’s a project the kids can help the man with while you cook it up. Of course, the kids can help you, too. I prefer to do that one at a time, though, rather than a free-for-all 🙂 When you’ve already made the bulk of the dinner, it actually makes having the kids in the kitchen during the week to help make the side dishes and such much more doable. Our kids each have a designated night that they help.

Now I can open the freezer and gaze at the fruits of my labor and know that there will be nights when I sigh with relief that dinner is already taken care of.

What do you think? Have you done a big cook?  Are you ready to try one if you haven’t?

9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Debby on January 8, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    What a great idea. I honestly don’t know how you do it though. Last night as I was cooking one dinner with Jessica running around the kitchen and following me out to the grill I was about to pull my hair out roots and all (that may not of been a bad thing considering the grey and all). Anyway my mind nowadays can only wrap itself around one thing at a time well one thing plus Jessica that is. I really take my hat off to you being able to manage getting things in the freezer ready for when you can’t get a meal cooked.


    • Posted by Kerri on January 8, 2011 at 7:53 pm

      Debby – you can do it! Jessica can have some extra daddy time or a grown-up playmate over to entertain and you can sock away a few meals. Try just two at a time.

      And you make me laugh with the hair-pulling. You need your own blog!


  2. You know I LOVE it!! What a great feeling – having all that socked away!

    I’m doing Big Cook over here too! Double batch of shells last night. Hot chocolate mix, double batch of chocolate chip cookies – rolled into dough balls and frozen, freezer mashed potatoes. AND mixing up a new round of homemade laundry detergent (the last round has lasted since July!). Love all your stream-lining and children helping tips. And I’m gonna have to try these recipes you recommend!

    It really is a future vacation.


    • Posted by Kerri on January 8, 2011 at 7:55 pm

      You know you are always an inspiration to me! Next time I definitely need to do a sweet tooth edition of the big cook. Talk about happiness in the freezer!


  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Christan Resz and Kerri Edger. Kerri Edger said: Big cook – nesting edition: […]


  4. Posted by Kendra on January 8, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Wow! You ARE superwoman! All that cooking in one day. I am thoroughly impressed.


  5. Posted by Terri Levine on January 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    I continue to be amazed by all that you do! I would love to do a big cook one day, but am so unfamiliar on how to freeze where it won’t taste frozen! Maybe I can talk to you about it one day when you get your basket — after the baby comes of course!


    • Posted by Kerri on January 8, 2011 at 7:56 pm

      Yes, let’s talk about it one day! I bet you would be a natural with all you already juggle and would be giving me tips in no time 🙂


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