Challenge Accepted-20 meals in 4 hours!!

Posted by admin on August 27, 2014

Last week, we did a 20 meals in 4 hours cooking challenge!!  Whew!!  What a whirlwind!!  But first I have to tell you what my focus is for this week-MY KITCHEN! Inevitably, my house becomes a disaster in the summer time, for many reasons I’m sure-we’re all home more, we do big cleanings of the kids’ rooms, and even though we’re all home, we’re super busy, so who has time to clean? We do an "ok" job keeping up, but it’s not the same. The kitchen probably takes the worst hit!! Lots of grocery shopping, and crazy last minute cooking sessions without cleaning afterwards, and heading out the door for the next activity, or HECK even just plain laziness some days has really taken it’s toll on my kitchen!!  I am so glad to have the meals ready to go...it has made my days of cleaning, shopping, planning, etc. such a breeze!! So, now for the 20 meals in 4 hours challenge that we did last week!! The nice thing I did for myself before I took on this mammoth mission was I cleaned my refrigerator completely!! The rest of my kitchen was ok, but I knew, if I didn’t at least do THAT before hand, I would be in trouble!! And boy, after hauling in all those groceries, I have to say I was so glad that I had done that already!!  There was actually room for all the material for 20 meals!!  What a beautiful thing!! I did have to modify a few things in them, but not too much:

  1. I didn't really have the counter space to do ALL 20 meals at once (I probably should've cleaned the entire kitchen before doing this, but that's looking at it from my perfectionist perspective, so we'll do away with that :-) ), so I ended up taking Stephanie@Stockpilingmoms advice and breaking up the meal by the types of meat they were having in them.  This helped me to only have to get out what I needed for that set of meals.  I will share with you my breakdown, in hopes that this will help you when you do yours in a minute!!
  2. There were a couple of the 20 meals I decided to not completely make/freeze.  Sometimes, just having ideas is enough :)  And I have to admit that there were a couple of them that just seemed like they would be so easy to prepare on the day of, that I figured having the ingredients, and perhaps cooked meat ready for it would be more than enough!!

Without further ado, here's my breakdown of the 20 meals, in the order I did them in: Whole Chicken Meals (I roasted the chickens while I was working on the Whole Chicken Breast recipes, then I chucked the chicken meat after it cooled, and these meals were actually the last to be prepped).  ALSO, I ended up with extra meat, so I am using some of it for salads throughout the week, and am freezing some.  BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE,  I also used the chicken leftovers to make my chicken broth for the recipes that needed it, and froze the rest!!  Whole Chickens are amazing!!:

  • Chicken Casserole (I don't know if I'll freeze whole casseroles again, so far, they seem to turn out soupy, so I don't know if I'm doing something wrong here, or WHAT!?!  If anyone has suggestions, I would love to here them :-) )
  • Chicken Divan (I ended up just making this on the day of cooking.  With all the prep it took with making a cheese sauce, I figured I might as well just pop it in the oven, since I was bad and didn't already have something cooking for dinner anyways...'twas delicious!!).

Whole Chicken Breast Meals:

  • Crockpot Cranberry Orange Chicken
  • Crockpot Cilantro Lime Chicken
  • Crockpot Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Thighs:

  • Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore

Cubed Chicken Meals:

  • Crockpot Honey Rosemary Chicken
  • Crockpot Mexican Chicken (I remember my friend DaLynn Harrsch telling me about a similar recipe she used to do in her crockpot, when we were teaching together.  She said it was the best thing ever, and they would do all kinds of things with it.  I'll see if I can get her to comment with HOW they used the meat :-) )
  • Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken
  • Crockpot Chicken w/Apple and Sweet Potato

Raw Ground Beef:

  • Meatloaf (we had enough for 2, yay!!)-I did this meatloaf instead from Budgetbytes.com.  If I make ANY OTHER meatloaf, my family, EVEN more so, my kids are like, "YOU MADE MEATLOAF?  Is it the Thai Meatloaf?  No?  WHHHHHHYYYY?" So, you see, this meatloaf must be made :-)  To quote my son, "It's like candy meatloaf!!"  Try it.  You must!!  You won't regret it, except don't eat it if you are weighing in at Weight Watchers the next day, because you'll inevitably eat two large pieces and then you'll inevitably weigh 2 lbs more than you would've if you hadn't eaten "said" meatloaf the night before-this may or may not have happened to me :-) 'Nough Said :-)

Beef Chuck:

  • Crockpot French Dip, we made 2 of these, just as Stephanie did :-)

Cooked Ground Beef:

  • Crockpot Taco Soup-I only cooked/froze the ground beef on this one.  The rest of the recipe was just pouring spices and cans of beans, corn, and tomato products into the Crockpot, which I knew I could do the morning of :-) Again, sometimes it's just good enough to have the idea and stuff to cook a meal.

Veggies only:

  • Crockpot Veggies in a bag

Meals I didn't cook ahead of time.  I'm not a huge fan of frozen pasta, and I watch a lot of Kitchen Nightmares (one of my shameless joys :-) ), and OH BOY!!  I see Gordon Ramsay shaming a LOT of restaurant owners for freezing their pasta.  So, hey, I won't judge if you decide that this is the way to go for you, but these recipes were pretty simple, so I figured I'd just have the materials, and make them the day of:

  • Cheesy Rigatoni
  • Baked Ziti

There you have it!!  I can see that I will need to do a separate post, because I so badly wanted to tell you how each of the 20 meals tasted, and give tips, and tell you how we have benefitted from these meals; however, that would just be too much in one post, so I will end here, and hope that this was helpful!!  Thanks again to Stephanie@stockpilingmoms for putting together the challenge!!  She did a fabulous job with putting all the recipes together with a shopping list!!  Amazing!! Have you tried a cooking challenge?  Which ones?  I'm already looking for my next!!  How did it go?  Were the meals tasty?  Are you going to try the 20 meal challenge?  Leave me a comment and let us know of any tips or if you have any questions.  I will do my best to answer :-)

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