Several of you already know that I purchased 120 pounds of chicken from Zaycon Foods last week. I find that I love getting chicken this way- when it is fresh, it is so much easier to just get the job done.
Just before the last chicken event, Frugal Living NW hosted a giveaway for the ebook 40 Simple Ways to Use 40 Pounds of Chicken- and I won a copy! It is well laid out and makes "dealing with" so much chicken simple. I am not new to bulk cooking for the freezer, but this e-book and a 40 lb. case of chicken from Zaycon Foods would be a great way to start.
Here is the process I followed this time. (I am already brainstorming ways to streamline even further.)
Finalize menu plan and draft grocery list using Advantage Cooking recipe software.
Afternoon: Prepare marinades, measuring ingredients directly into the labeled ziploc baggies. I also prepared the bread crumb mixtures for Almond Chicken and Parmesan Chicken.
Morning: Make a pot of coffee and wait for my husband to return home with the chicken.
9:30 am Ready, set, GO! Madelyn and I worked as a team. She separated and trimmed the breasts of fat. I filleted them and put them into the waiting ziploc bags.
We immediately put the contents of one 10 lb bag in my covered roasting pan and popped it into a 325 oven. Then we ignored it for several hours while we worked on the dishes requiring raw chicken.
My goal was 4 lbs of meat per meal. I have a baby scale, tray style, that I use in my midwifery practice that occasionally gets dragged into kitchen duty. A kitchen scale is much more flexible because it doesn't lock onto a weight but will keep up with you as you add weight. Since my scale isn't that sophisticated, I had to weigh each bag with marinade before I added any chicken, mentally note the weight, and then check the weight again when I thought I was close to 4 pounds of chicken, then add or subtract as necessary and check again. (Yes, a kitchen scale is on my wish list.)
If you have ever tried filling ziploc bags, you know that they just aren't the most cooperative container out there. I find that an empty #10 can is the perfect bag holder. Just make sure that the edges aren't ragged from your can opener. My children were not sad to be asked to empty a can of peaches just so I could use the can.
For dishes, like Parmesan Chicken, that I don't want to get all smooshed in a bag I used Full Size Foil Steam Table Pans and Formed Steam Table Pan Lids that I purchased from Cash-n-Carry. The cost was less than $2.00 per meal. Our family is now at a size when I have to use several pans to feed us all at once. I don't have enough glass pans to use for freezing and the since I need 2 half size pans, I find this solution almost as economical as buying pans Dollar Tree and certainly easier. Since I bulk cook for convenience as well as frugality, this works for me.
We stopped to clean up at 12:15 since I had to leave for an appointment at 1 pm. At that time, all of the raw chicken was trimmed, sliced, portioned into bags and stacked carefully in the freezer. I took the chicken out of the oven and left it too cool. Upon returning from my appointment, it was simple enough to shred the chicken and portion it into the remaining bags. We're talking 10 minutes, tops.
In the end, Madelyn and I (with a little help from Bryan) put up 30 meals in approximately 3.5 hours, even with interruptions from uncooperative toddlers.
My freezer now holds:
2 Honey Curry Chicken
3 Parmesan Chicken
2 Almond Chicken*
5 BBQ Chicken**
2 Thai Chicken Satay*
2 Soy Thyme*
2 Chipotle Chicken*
4 Teriyaki Chicken**
4 Sweet Salsa Dump Chicken
2 Chicken Fajita Burritos Filling*
2 plain, shredded chicken
* from the 40 Simple Ways to Use 40 Pounds of Chicken ebook from Frugal Living NW.
(The links to the ebook and Amazon are affiliate links. I earn a small commission from each sale. Thank you for supporting my blog and my family!)