We have all been there before. Whether you’re eight months pregnant or have your hands full with extracurricular activities and busy kids at home, we can all benefit from a “Big Cook!” Not only is a Big Cook a great excuse to get friends together, but by the end of the day you have a fully stocked freezer of ready to pop in the oven meals. Personally, I know there are several days where I get busy during the day and realize around 3 o’clock that I forgot to pull something out of the freezer for dinner. Then I’m stuck quickly de-frosting something in the microwave or calling my husband and suggesting it’s a good night to eat out.
I had the opportunity to join some girlfriends yesterday for a Big Cook. It was my first experience doing one, but some of the girls were well seasoned in this area. One of the girls emailed us a grocery list a couple of weeks in advance and we were all assigned items to bring the day of the Big Cook. We met at 10a.m. and had successfully prepared 80 meals by 4p.m.! BBQ Pork, Tricolor Chicken and Pasta, Taco Toss, and Zippy Pork Chops were just a few among our menu. Our day began by organizing all of our ingredients into one area. Then we came up with a game plan as to what we were each going to be doing. I browned 15 pounds of hamburger, while some were mixing the sauces for the burger meals and others labeling the bags the meals were being placed into with the meal title and cooking instructions. We continued this system through the pork and chicken dishes as well. Throughout the day, we took turns washing dishes and dividing the meals among everyone. At the end of the day, we each had 10 different dishes and 20 meals for four people (two of each dish)! When it was all complete and clean up was over, we sat down with our receipts and added all the expenses together and divided by how many people were taking food home. The average cost came out to about $9 per meal. Not too bad when you consider the fact that each meal is for four people. That’s about $2.25 per person per meal!
The idea for The Big Cook came from three busy mom’s named Joanne Smith, Lorelei Thomas and Deanna Siemens. They decided one day to get together and cook in mass in order to prepare meals to freeze for future evenings. They developed fast and healthy meals that could easily be frozen for future use. The idea took off and in 1997 they published the cookbook titled The Big Cook. This is one of those products I saw and said to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that!?” It’s such a great idea and there is an enormous market of mothers and fathers that would benefit from this style of cooking.
My husband and I are pretty adventurous with cooking and I wouldn’t go as far to say that we will rely on this method completely, but for those days you really just don’t feel like cooking or don’t know WHAT to cook, it’s great to know you have meals ready to go in the freezer! Another great thing about this style of cooking is it allows us to focus more time and energy on the side dishes that surround the entrée. For me, I usually spend most of my time preparing the entrée and then add simple vegis and rice or potato with it. With The Big Cook in my life now, I can focus more on some new side dishes.
Overall, The Big Cook is a great concept for any family. I am already looking forward to the next event and I hope that you adopt the idea among your friends and family and give it a try. So fun and so easy! Happy cooking!