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Chewin' the News from 30 Day Gourmet
Freezer Cooking News from Nanci
“Shop the Sales” and Bag It Cooking Day
Kitchen Fun with Carol
Freezer Cook of the Month Contest Winner
Bonus Recipes
Closing Comments from Carol

Freezer Cooking News from Nanci

Is your summer flying by like mine? Don’t they always? Ours has been great so far. I have graduated 2 kids, spent a fantastic week in the Outer Banks, moved our daughter Becky to DC, attended a week long “camp” for AP English teachers, and cleaned my pantry and refrigerator. It doesn’t get any better than that, right? I always think of the 4th of July as the halfway mark since my first day of school is August 11th. Since it poured rain here the whole day, I decided to have a quick cooking day instead.

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“Shop the Sales” and Bag It Cooking Day

Grocery stores always run great deals the week of a major holiday. It’s too late for you to grab the 4th of July specials but the same low prices will come around again on Labor Day. Plan now to take advantage of that.

I spent $160 and “bagged” the meat for 31 entrees with about 156 servings. That’s $1 per entrée!!

And I did it all in about 5 hours. I basically just followed the 5 steps that are outlined in the Freezer Cooking Manual (go figure).

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*Gather Grocery Store Ads (you can usually view them online as well)
I based my choices solely on the grocery store ads and the season. Meats in marinade are great for summertime. We love to put the meat on the grill and round out the meal with some fresh sweet corn or homemade mashed potatoes. I take a quick look through the ads and jot down the big sales.

  • chicken breast (boneless, skinless) - $1.87 lb. – Kroger
  • pork ribs - $1.69 lb. – Kroger
  • round steak - $3.49 lb. - Kroger
  • ground beef - $1.28 lb. – Marsh
  • pork tenderloin - $2.99 lb. – Marsh
  • spare ribs - $1.68 lb. – Marsh

*Choose RecipesWhen choosing recipes, I generally go to the RECIPES section of our website, choose a category (poultry, for example) and then scroll through the list to see what sounds good. It’s best to make at least 2 of each recipe to save time. Looking at the recipes on the website also saves time because I can quickly see the ingredient list and the cooking method and make a decision. Once I have my list of recipes, I have a huge 3 ring binder full of 30 Day Gourmet recipes sorted by the same categories as our RECIPES section of the website. I pull the recipes out so that I can create my shopping list. Here’s a list of the recipes that I decided on:

  1. Chicken breasts in Caesar Marinade – 1 recipe – 6 servings
  2. Debbie’s Chicken in Marinade – 3 recipes – 18 servings
  3. Oriental Sesame Chicken Strips – 2 recipes – 8 servings
  4. Boneless BBQ Chicken Bites – 1 recipe – 6 servings
  5. Chicken Quesadilla meat – 1 recipe – 6 servings (I don’t use a recipe for this. I just boil 1 chicken breast for every 1 C. of shredded meat that I want. Once the meat is boiled, I shred it and cook it in a frying pan on medium with some taco seasoning mix and water.)
  6. Pork in Marinade – 4 recipes – 24 servings
  7. Polynesian BBQ Pork Marinade – 3 recipes – 18 servings
  8. Beef Teriyaki – 2 recipes – 8 servings
  9. Steaks in Marinade – 4 recipes – 18 servings
  10. Swiss Steak – 1 recipe – 6 servings (these came in a sale pkg. – I coated them with flour, flash froze them to keep the flour on and then bagged them with the sauce)
  11. Burger patties – 1 recipe – 6 servings (these came in a sale pkg. – I just bagged them)
  12. Cooked ground beef – 8 recipes – 32 servings (cooked the beef in 2 batches and bagged in 1 lb./3 C. portions)

*Make Shopping List

  • Take a quick inventory of your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. I do this with the printed recipes in hand. Since I would be planning, shopping and cooking in a space of 5 hours, I just pulled the usable inventory out and set it on my counter. If you are doing a big cooking day or cooking with a friend, use Worksheet A from the manual.
  • Make a list of the recipes you will be making either using Worksheet C from the manual or on a separate piece of paper. Later on, you’ll need to remember how many of each recipe you planned for. At the least, write down the recipe title and how many of each you plan to assemble.
  • Create a shopping list from your recipes. I use Worksheet D from the manual. Many of you use our software. Some of you have other nifty gadgets to make your list with. Whichever you use, be specific about how much of each ingredient you need to buy. No need to purchase a gallon of Dijon mustard if you only need a tablespoon. ?

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My “quick run” to the local Kroger, Marsh and Walmart ended up taking almost 2 hours. Why??? Because I chose to try a few new recipes that called for 2 ingredients I had never purchased before. Who knew that combing through the aisles of 3 stores looking for Anchovy paste and Chinese 5 spice powder would take so long.

A few shopping tips:

  • Take a cooler if you’re going to be leaving perishables in the car for very long.
  • Don’t use those crazy U-scans when you buy meat. Sheesh! The bar codes wouldn’t scan and the “helper guy” had to do it all by hand keying in each number. Learned my lesson.
  • Have the butcher slice your pork tenderloins.
  • Don’t forget your little “discount” card. I saved 31% at one store and %15 at another by using my member discount.

Here’s a picture of all of the meat I bought:

Since I chose mostly marinade recipes, I didn’t have to buy much else. Here are the rest of the groceries:

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Since I planned, shopped and cooked in one day I didn’t really do any prep work this time. On second thought, cleaning my pantry and refrigerator out the day before counts I think. (Not that I’m going to be storing my entrees there!)

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I didn’t really start “cooking” until 9 pm (I’m a nightowl, can you tell?) and I finished about 12:30 a.m. Here’s how the 3.5 hours went:

  • Put the pork & steak in the refrigerator.
  • Cook up the ground beef in 2 batches.
  • Boil 3 chicken breasts for Chicken Quesadillas.
  • Divide the chicken for Chicken breasts in Caesar Marinade & Debbie’s Chicken in Marinade into freezer bags & label them. Make the 2 marinade recipes & pour. Seal and freeze.
  • Shred chicken, cook with taco seasoning mix & water. Cool. Label qt. bag, fill, seal and freeze.
  • Cut 2.5 lbs. chicken into strips for Oriental Sesame Chicken Strips. Divide into freezer bags & label them. Make marinade and pour. Seal and freeze.
  • Cut chicken for BBQ Boneless Chicken Bites. Put into labeled freezer bag. Make marinade & pour. Seal and freeze.
  • Divide pork for Pork in Marinade & Polynesian BBQ Pork Marinade into freezer bags & label them. Make the 2 marinade recipes & pour it. Seal and freeze.
  • Label bags for cooked and cooled ground beef. Fill, seal and freeze.
  • Put burger patties into individual flip top baggies. Put all 6 burgers into labeled freezer bag. Seal & freeze.
  • Label bag for Swiss Steak. Coat steaks with flour mixed with some salt and pepper. Flash freeze steaks so flour stays on. Combine sauce ingredients. Put steaks in gallon freezer bag. Put sauce in quart size freezer bag. Put sauce bag inside gallon bag. Seal and freeze.
  • Divide steaks for Steaks in Marinade recipe into labeled freezer bags. Make marinade & pour. Seal and freeze.
  • Cut strips for Beef Teriyaki recipe and divide into labeled freezer bags. Make marinade & pour. Seal and freeze.

All done!!!!!!!!!!!

Here’s a picture of several of the bagged meats in marinade lined up on the counter.

This picture is of most of my entrees.

Wrapping It Up
I hope this was informative and helpful for you. A lot of people have the wrong idea that freezer cooking means 50 casseroles in your freezer OR a 24 hour day of freezing tons of food. WRONG! Make it work for you. And by the way, having this food in my freezer doesn’t mean:

  • I won’t be going out to eat in the next 35 days. Are you kidding me?
  • I will eat meat every day for the next 35 days. No way. It will probably take us 2-3 months to eat all of these entrees.
  • I will throw half of this away because no one actually eats the stuff from their freezer. NO! It will taste great! The only thing I pre-cooked is the ground beef for tacos, sloppy joes, etc. and the chicken for quesadillas. Everything else is FRESH!

Next time, I’ll be sharing some of the emails I got from you about how you have been or are currently teaching your kids to cook. Thanks for all of the great insights!

We’re all about helping you succeed in your own freezer cooking. Be sure to become a fan of our new facebook page. As always, has tons of info and recipes available to you for free. If you like what you see, consider purchasing our books and/or software.

Here's a quick list of our items. Free shipping on orders over $50. Gift wrap only $1.


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Kitchen Fun with Carol

Hello everyone! I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July holiday. We cooked out on the grill a lot over the weekend. We had steaks, grilled chicken, brats, hot dogs and grilled corn. You name it and we probably made it over the weekend. What fun!

Have you ever grilled corn on the cob? We have tried several different methods and they all seem to have great results. One of our favorites is to grill the corn right in the husks. Take the corn and soak it in the sink for at least 15 minutes before cooking it. We usually soak it for a half an hour. This gives the husks a little more moisture for steaming the corn inside the husks. Heat your grill to a medium heat. Place the husks on the grill and let them cook. You need to turn them about every 5-10 minutes so the corn inside does not char. When the husks are charred, the corn is done. Remove it from the grill with tongs. We use a dish towel to grab the husks and pull them off the corn cobs. Once all the husks and silk strands have been removed from the corn, run them under warm water to finish removing any stray silk strands and any ash that got on the cobs. Now you are ready to eat! Give it a try. It's a fun way to cook corn.

Lessons Learned in My Summer Cooking Session
In many ways my cooking day was very similar to Nanci's. I have been working on my summer menu. I try to have a lot of marinades in the freezer for those days it is just too hot to cook inside. I also like to have a lot of meals that are quick to make so you can "dine and dash" off to your next activity. It is a great way to save money if you know you can have dinner on the table quickly. You can just throw something together and not spend money on fast food. We have done this several times this summer and we are already seeing the financial benefits.

I also used meat that was on sale for my cooking day but some of it was purchased on sale a month or two ago and placed in the freezer for this cooking day. I am always watching for a great deal on meat. As a part of my weekly food budget I am constantly accumulating meat in the freezer for my next cooking day. I also stock up on dry goods, such as pastas, flour and sugar. For example, I will stock up on boneless, skinless chicken breasts if I find them for 1.80 a pound or less or chuck roast for 1.99 a pound. I also had frozen ground chuck (on sale for 1.25 a pound) and sausage (1.49 a pound) that I thawed in the refrigerator a day or two before my cooking day.

A common question I get about marinade is whether you can add marinade to frozen meats. The answer is a definite YES! I buy a lot of boneless, skinless chicken breast that is frozen. It is perfect for marinades. Frozen marinades begin to work on the meat once it begins to thaw so adding marinade to frozen meat does not harm the meat or affect the end flavor of the recipe.

In the past I have described how I usually go through my previous years menus to decide what to make each season. This time I focused on what I had in my pantry, freezer and refrigerator instead. I wanted to use up my stock in order to save money so I picked recipes that would use the ingredients that I already had on hand. The Advantage Cooking Software can help with this as well. Let's say you got a great deal on chuck roast. Go to the Ingredient tab, choose Chuck Roast, and then click on the recipes tab. You will see all the recipes that use chuck roast.

I also used the Advantage Cooking Software to plan my grocery shopping trip. A very useful feature is the ability to save the reports to an Excel spreadsheet. This is nice because you can remove ingredients that you already have on hand so that you don't purchase them again.

Here is my list of recipes from my cooking day. I made a total of 33 entrees.


Soups and Sandwiches

  • Iowa State Fair Guinea Grinders - 1 recipe packaged as 12 individual servings for lunches
  • Wedding Soup - 1 recipe packaged in 8 individual servings for lunches and 1 dinner portion (12 servings)
  • Tuscan White Bean Soup - 1 recipe/6 servings
  • Sloppy Joes - 3 recipes flash frozen in muffin tins for individual servings (18 servings)


  • Lasagna Roll-ups - 2 recipes/8 servings
  • Cranberry Chuck Roast - 1 recipe/6 servings
  • Beef Kabobs - 2 recipes/8 servings
  • Rosemary-Sage London Broil - 1 recipe/6 servings



Meats in Marinade - 3 recipes/ 12 servings


Lentil Rice Casserole - 2 recipes/8 servings

Breads and Breakfast

Now for the lessons that I learned this last cooking day.

  1. I brought my recycling bins into the house and placed them right next to the trash can. It made recycling easy and convenient since I did not have to run out to the garage every time.
  2. When you are going over your shopping list and crossing off the items that are in your pantry, make sure you actually find the items that you "think" you have. Actually it is best to get everything out that you need so you know where it is. In the middle of my cooking day I was unable to find the shredded coconut that I knew I had. I looked everywhere. I looked where it is usually stored. I looked where is it never stored and I still could not find it. I ended up running to the store in the middle of my cooking session which is a real waste of time. The kicker - I found it a week after my cooking day when cleaning out my pantry.
  3. Test your equipment before cooking day. I had two slow cookers. I use one for my everyday cooking and the other is generally only used for cooking day. My cooking day slow cooker decided to quit working in the middle of making soup. Luckily I figured it out before too much time had past so no harm was done.
  4. Make sure you have a place in the refrigerator to cool the food and a place in the freezer to safely put the food when it is ready to freeze. Now that I look back at the day, it was actually very comical! We placed the individual servings of Wedding Soup in the refrigerator freezer for lunches. When we went back later to put the breakfast burritos in the freezer, a container of soup fell on the floor and went everywhere in the kitchen. We promptly mopped up the mess. My son came home from work, ate a partial bowl of soup and put the remaining soup in the fridge (Of course the fridge is packed with food at the time). I opened the fridge and for the second time in one day soup came flying out of the fridge. It was too much excitement for one cooking day!

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Freezer Cook of the Month Contest Winner

Our Freezer Cook of the Month is Beth from Indianapolis, IN. Beth has a great story about using 30 Day Gourmet to save money on her vacation.

Let's hear Beth's story:

My husband and I were wanting to go on a cruise with our large group of friends from church. Turns out, it is just too expensive. So we decided to go back to Gulf Shores Alabama (one of our favorite places). I complained that I love it there, but despise spending so much time grocery shopping and cooking, so my dear husband said that we will just eat out most meals. It would still be cheaper than a cruise. He gained brownie points, but practical me can't see spending that much money. I have recently found a lovely group of women to do co-op cooking with (and they are great cooks!). I decided I was going to bring my freezer meals on the trip. My husband works for a pharmaceutical company and they had a damaged Styrofoam cooler that was going to get thrown away, so he brought it home and we packed it chuck full of meals for every night of our vacation. We stopped at an ice company on our way out of town and bought a small sheet of dry ice. Two 100 degrees days later, I unpacked this food proudly and proclaimed it 'rock solid!' I was just tickled pink! As unappetizing as chicken pot pie sounds when it is hot outside, it really hit the spot when we were starving one evening after boogie boarding all day long! We were even able to share it with another family. Tonight we are sharing with another family that is running out of meals. I just hope I use all of mine up before we leave for home! We saved a bundle of money, I didn't have to spend the entire first day grocery shopping and I shove it in the oven and return to the pool for a time. I love freezer cooking and rave about it all the time. I used to do it alone, but am so thankful for a new group of friends as well as brand new recipes. I really appreciate having the support and networking of 30 Day Gourmet.



Currently eating well in Gulf Shores, Alabama!

What a great story! Thanks for sharing while on vacation. This is just another example of how to use 30 Day Gourmet to save time and money.

So, how do you make 30 Day Gourmet work for you? How do you use it to help you deal with a challenge in your life? How do you use it to help others? Do you have a funny cooking story to share? Email me at or post your story on the Cook's Corner Message Board to be entered in our contest.

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Bonus Recipes

Caramel Apple Dip

Here is a great dip for fruit, such as apples, or even celery. You can freezer it in little individual containers and send it for lunches during the school year.


Click here to view/print this recipe!




Caramel Sauce

I am including this recipe for homemade caramel sauce in case you would to try your hand at making it yourself. This is a wonderful sauce that is easy to make and is very delicious. It is much better than most store bought versions. Use it in the Caramel Apple Dip recipe above or use it plain on ice cream.


Click here to view/print this recipe!


Chicken Pizza Rollups

I cook this recipe on the grill using a cast iron skillet on days when it is too hot to use the oven. I got "two thumps up" when I served this recipe for the first time to my family. It was an instant hit and I will definitely be adding it to the menu our next cooking day.


Click here to view/print this recipe!

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Closing Comments from Carol

I hope you enjoy the recipes. Calling all cooks - this is your last chance to submit your summertime recipes to share with everyone in the August newsletter. Also, think about your favorite ways to use up summer produce. Post your favorite recipes on the Cook's Corner Message Board or email me at

Next month I will share my gardening and summer produce update. Need some inspiration? Check out Chella's posting of her fresh produce cooking day. You don't have to have a garden to benefit from an abundance of summertime fruits and vegetables.

Do you have any other topics that you would like to cover? Do you have any cooking questions that need to be answered? Email me at I enjoy hearing from you!

Enjoy your summer, everyone. See you next month.


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