Freezer Cooking News from Nanci
Happy August everyone!
Funny how life changes. I can remember being anxious to get back to school when I was a kid because I missed my friends. Once I got out of college and began teaching, my back-to-school perspective changed. A teacher’s view is totally different. It’s all about imparting wisdom and challenging young minds!
When I became a mom and was home with three kids under 5, I can remember envying the moms whose kids were going off to school. I saw the looks of relief on their faces:) Then I became that relieved mom (except for about 5 years of homeschooling:)) and boy did those years fly by. Now I’ve come full circle and live both roles – mom and teacher.
So I’m figuring that this is my 42nd year to experience “back to school” in some fashion. This year I will go kicking and screaming. The summer was too short! My kids are fun to have around now! I didn’t finish my “to do” list!
We are so hard on ourselves, aren’t we? I have been bemoaning the end of summer for a few weeks now (teachers report on August 12th). I’ve been staying up late, running around like a chicken with its head cut off and muttering about all of the stuff I didn’t get done. Yesterday, I had a moment of inspiration. I thought that maybe I should actually write down everything I DID get done. Of course, these are the big things. Moms never put “vacuum living room” or “stop everything and run to Walmart for shampoo” on their lists of accomplishments. We just DO those things. Over and over and over again.
I’m sharing my list to encourage you. Each one of you has a list a proverbial mile long of what you accomplish each day or each summer. If you wrote it all down it would fill a book. Maybe your list includes changing 20 diapers a day or taking care of your aging parents. Just know that you are valuable and what you do is important!
So here’s “What I Did Over Summer Vacation”. (Maybe the English teacher will give me extra credit points eh?)
- cleaned out my dresser and closet
- updated my wardrobe
- cleaned out Bob’s dresser and closet
- updated Bob’s wardrobe
- organized my greeting cards
- bought all birthday cards for next year
- cleaned out Jenna’s room
- gave a van full of stuff to Goodwill
- cleaned the basement to make room for Kaytee’s “not taking to college” stuff
- researched scholarships for Becky
- finalized all of Kaytee’s college loans & scholarships
- set up online bill pay with our monthly bills
- gathered medical bills and faxed to Medical Spending Account
- got all 6 of us to the dentist
- did Kaytee’s cavity follow up app’t
- went to Adam’s orthodontist appointments
- researched prices to yank Becky’s wisdom teeth
- went to 2 of Kaytee’s dermatology appointments
- took Kaytee to eye doctor for new contacts
- took myself to eye doctor for exam and bifocals (ouch!)
- helped Kaytee open new bank account & close old one
- helped Becky complete safe driver stuff for State Farm
- helped Becky look for a car, test car, pay for car, and fix car
- helped Becky insure car and do plates and registration
- renewed my driver’s license
FUN & FAMILY
- helped Becky get ready for a week of camp counseling in Wisconsin
- spent a long weekend in Michigan visiting family & attending cousin’s wedding celebrated my 26th wedding anniversary
- vacationed in Alaska for 10 days
- sat in airports on standby for 2 days
- hosted my sister from Maine for 6 days
- helped Becky get ready for a week at CIY (Christ in Youth) in Illinois
- helped Becky study for SAT
- hosted my mother-in-law, niece and nephew from Michigan for 4 days
- went to Brickyard qualifications for a day of sun and speed
- took Jenna and her friend to the pool several times
- watched about 50 episodes of Gilmore Girls with Becky
- supervised several of Adam’s “band” practices
- took Adam to buy the 6th Harry Potter book at 1 a.m.
- got my first ever manicure and pedicure!
- shopped with Kaytee for school
- shopped with Becky for school
- shopped with Jenna for school
- got Becky’s senior pictures taken
- made lots of special breakfasts (homemade donuts or pancakes)
- made lots of cookies, brownies and other sweet treats
- made lots of lunches & dinners
- slept in lots of days
- connected with friends
- read The Negotiator by Dee Henderson (recommend it!)
- read new Janet Evanovich book (don’t recommend it!)
- watched the 1932 version of “Of Mice & Men”
- watched the Harry Potter movies (1,2, & 3)
- bought posters, pillows, etc. for my classroom
30 DAY GOURMET
- cleaned out my office
- hired Becky to make 100 of each CD before school starts
- hired Adam to shred pre-2000 orders and haul old filing cabinet out
- hired Jenna to fold and bag aprons
- switched to UPS online
- switched to stamps.com
- sent the postage meter back
- fixed Becky’s computer
- bought Becky a new printer and set her up to do CD’s and labels
- upgraded my system to XP
- reorganized monthly newsletter
That makes me feel better. I will never get it all done. I am a hopeless list maker and I always put too much on the list. I have learned the value of doing things the EASIEST way possible though. Like online bill paying and direct deposit and e-mail. If your current methods aren’t working, try something NEW! I realized this summer that I really need to get a handle on snacks around here. My kids have slowly slipped into junk food junkie mode. They can drive themselves to McDonald’s (or pay their sister to drive them). There are vending machines everywhere they go. They are bombarded with TV ads for fast food. They can quickly forget what “real food” is.
I really believe in the adage that a parent’s values are more “caught than taught”. One of the best ways that we can keep the art of cooking and baking alive is to model it for our kids. I don’t make my kids help anymore (other than carrying groceries) but I really think that just seeing me in the kitchen with an apron on doing actual COOKING rubs off on them. When Becky went to a week-long conference on a college campus recently they were given a food debit card to use for their meals. She had her choice of 5 or 6 fast food restaurants. At first, she said, it seemed like heaven. On her way home, she called from the church bus and begged me to cook her a “real” dinner that night. She was so tired of fast food. Music to a mother’s ears!:)
SNACK & LUNCH RECIPES
So my big push this past week was FOOD. When I re-did the family budget this summer I realized that we are spending too much money on snacks and school lunches – whether that means lunches bought at school or those Michelina lunches that I was buying too many of. I did a big cooking day earlier this week and had the kids taste-test everything before it went into the freezer.
I highly recommend Carol’s ebook Freezer Lunches to Go. It has great recipes along with tips and loads of ideas. Click here to check out a free sampler including three recipes. Download it now for only $6.95.
You can also check the “Recipes” section of our site to find great lunch and snack recipes that can be frozen.
Here’s what I made:
Pizza Burgers from the website
We all love these. The kids will use them more for after-school snacks than lunches since they are best reheated in the oven or toaster oven.
Awesome Mac ‘n Cheese from the website
Kids these days don’t know what REAL Mac ‘n Cheese tastes like so I made one batch and tried this out on the kids before freezing any. On cooking day I actually had 4 extra kids here (Adam’s band and a friend of Jenna’s) so I got a good sampling of teens. They ate the whole pan! I think the Velveeta gives it that “Kraft” taste. I froze individual servings to reheat in the microwave.
Pepperoni Sticks from the Freezer Lunches to Go ebook – I put cheese dip and spaghetti sauce in small Ziploc containers and put them in the fridge for the kids to grab to go with the breadsticks
Chicken Pockets from the Freezer Lunches to Go ebook – The crust using the crescent rolls is great! I did an egg wash so that they had that shiny look. I did a quick price comparison on these and the popular “Hot Pockets”. You can make them for about .50 each. Hot Pockets are about $1.00 each. Bob and I love the chicken and cream cheese filling in these but the kids didn’t care for it. I substituted their favorite “hot pocket” fillings.
Becky’s Turkey, Bacon & Cheese Pockets
4 pockets – 1/4 C. honey mustard (she likes the O’Charley’s brand we buy at Walmart), 4 slices turkey diced , 4 slices white American cheese diced, 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (makes 1 C. filling. 1/4 C. filling for each pocket)
Easy Chicken Fettuccine
I adapted this recipe from a recipe-of-the-month winner. Adam likes the Michelina’s Fettuccine but they are $1 and at 8 oz. each it takes 2-3 of them to fill him up. I made him 20 oz. servings for the same $1 price. Our homemade version has lots more chicken, broccoli and cheese in it also. The store-bought ones are primarily noodles. I use the shredded Parmesan & Romano cheese. It costs a little more than the grated cheese but tastes better in this recipe I think.
Tara’s Favorite Muffins
I set out to make a muffin that could replace the Entenmann’s Little Bites Chocolate Chip Muffins that Adam loves. They are $2.50 for a box of 25 making them .10 a piece. He eats 5 at a time easily. So I tried using this recipe adding 1 C. of chocolate chips. I reduced the oven temperature to 350 degrees and baked the muffins for about 12 minutes. They came out great! The trick is not to over bake them. If a kid sees anything that looks DARK they declare it BURNED you know?! I made 60 mini-muffins for about .05 each. Yeah!
July – best month in 2 years!
Thanks to the weekly newsletter format and the special sale, business doubled in July. Thank you to everyone who ordered! Please pass the word to your friends. Our newsletter is FREE! Tell your friends to sign up. Recommend us in your e-mails and Christmas letters:)
800# no longer available – sorry folks but I have dropped the phone line. I know that doesn’t seem very professional to many of you but here are my reasons:
- I am rarely here during business hours.
- My # is one off from the “Just for Men” hair replacement product that is advertised on TV. I was getting tons of their calls and even though the voice mail clearly said “30 Day Gourmet” they were still leaving their addresses and asking me to send them a free sample.
- My basic phone bill for the business line was running over $100 a month.
- Since we got cable in the house (the office is in the basement) I really didn’t need a separate line for the computer anymore.
I know that it isn’t smart business to reveal the exact size of your company to anyone but hey – what’s the big deal? I run the whole business out of my basement office. I process the orders, answer the e-mail, coordinate the newsletter with Carol, Tammy & Shelley by e-mail, keep the products stocked, and pay the bills. When I get mail addressed to the “customer service” department or the “business manager” I just laugh. I am all of those departments! I fill about 150 orders each month. I also send books to Amazon and to distributors who fill orders for bookstores.
The best way to reach me is by e-mail. I try to respond within a day or two. You can reach me, the ebook authors, our webmaster and our software support team through the Contact Us page.
Emails from Happy Customers
Freezer cooking has changed my life, and I am so grateful for your book. I started about 2 1/2 years ago when my twin boys were just over 1. I work full-time outside the home, and my husband is a full-time student training to become an elementary teacher. He loves it too because it gives him (a non-cooker) a chance to help with dinner since he gets it started most evenings.
Several months ago I purchased your “e-book” Co-op Cuisine from the internet, and started a freezer cooking co-op. Your book helped me tremendously in the start-up of our group. It was the only good resource I found about a cooking co-op. So thank you for taking the time to write it and share your experience with all of us.
I run a cooking program through my church and have had approx. 12 women in the group. Not the same women cook every month but there are three of us that have remained the same every month since I started. My church has asked me to run this program as a way to bring more women together in fellowship with one another each month. It has worked wonderfully. Women come together and talk, cook and have fun. We meet new people each month. My church loves it, I love it, the ladies love it and it is by far the best idea I have been able to offer my church. Everyone thinks this cooking once a month is just the grandest idea there is. Thanks for coming up with it.
Closing Comments from Nanci
That’s all for this month. Tomorrow I report back to school and shift into teacher mode. In a few weeks, I will be knee deep in The Scarlet Letter and planning our December musical. Next Wednesday, I drive our eldest to college. Oh my. On Monday, our youngest starts middle school. Life is a vapor friends. Carpe Diem!!