Saturday, June 2, 2012


I may have gone a bit nuts today.  I just posted a bunch of posts on the things that our family makes for ourselves.  The recipes were developed out of a need to cut back on our budget, but I have to say that I can't imagine switching back.  After seeing how fast and easy these things are to make for yourself, not to mention how much money you can save and how much safer a lot of these things are for our children, we are pretty happy with making our own household cleaners.

These are all just the recipes I use, but if you search online, you will find plenty of other options too.  I am so happy that our need pushed me to learn more about the things we were using for our home.

All Purpose Cleaner

I don't have time to mess around with a ton of cleaners at my house.  I want something that will clean up a mess and disinfect.  I want my kids to be able to help me clean without me being afraid they will breath, drink or get it in their eye.

So here is what I use for an all purpose cleaner.

1/2 Tablespoon Baking Soda
1/4 Cup Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Dish Soap

Mix the soap and vinegar together first in the bottle.  I put them in and then swirl the bottle until it is pretty well mixed. Then drop in the Baking Soda.  Yes, this will react for a little while.  Just set it in your sink until it is done bubbling over.  Now, add water until the bottle is almost full.  Swirl it around a bit.  Put the sprayer back on.  Clean away!

Window Cleaner

Have you also found that just because it is blue, doesn't mean it leaves your windows and mirrors clean and streak free?  And while Windex is better than most brands, I was still never all that impressed.
I have found that I do appreciate this easy cleaner for washing windows and mirrors.  It is also not a bad way to go for cleaning stinky messes up.

1 part water
1 part vinegar

Pour the water and vinegar into a spray bottle.  Put the lid on. Shake it up.  Clean away!

Dishwasher Detergent

I think this works as well as, if not better than the detergents I have purchased at the store.  It is only two ingredients, and super easy to make, not to mention a LOT cheaper than the stuff you can buy at the store.

Mix equal parts Borax and Washing Soda.  Done.

Use 1 tablespoon of this mix for each load. I put it in the cup in the dishwasher, then I pour 1/4 cup vinegar over it and start the machine.

We also use vinegar in the rinse cycle.

If you are going to do a load of dishes that need more "scrubbing power" add  some Kosher Salt.

Laundry Detergent

Well, I am in a tip giving mood.  So, if anyone cares, you can see how I have begun to make a few more things than just food.  I did a bit of research online, and here are some things we now make at home rather than buy at the store.

My laundry detergent is easy peasy.  It can be made in a whopping 15 minutes, although it does take a few hours to cool.

Tools needed:
1 stock pot (big enough to hold a gallon of water)
1 big wooden spoon
1 grater (actually chose to use a cheese grater that makes fancy shredded cheese, but I wonder if a food processor would do the same thing)
1 measuring cup (I use one that holds 4 gallons)

1/2 gallon of boiling water
1/2 bar of soap (i.e. dove body soap- or you can use 1/4 of a bar of Fels Naphtha)
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 gallon of cold water

mix the finely shredded soap with the boiling water.  Stir until the soap dissolves.  Stir in the borax and washing soda.  Mix it all together and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat. Mix in  the cold water.  Stir until it is all mixed up. If you store it in another container go ahead and pour it into your container for storage.  I use the stock pot to store  mine.  Let it cool for a few hours, stirring it whenever you think of it (if you don't stir it, I find that it gets pretty clumpy on top and watery on bottom).  When it is cool to the touch, stir it one last time and break up clumps, and it is ready to be used.

I use 1/2 cup of this detergent for a load...if I have greasy laundry, I might use a bit more.  We have found that this takes even motor oil out of my husband's jeans!  All in all, I am pretty happy with my homemade detergent, especially since it only costs a few pennies for a load! 

**the next batch I make, I am going to boil lavender into the boiling water, strain it, and then use the scented water.  I am just curious to see how well that would do.**

50 Meals in 1 Night

Every so often, I spend one night cooking like a mad woman.  I am pretty busy with things like being a mama to 4, wife to 1, and an independent business owner.  Yes, this means I have a list of priorities, and every day I start with my 6 most important things to-do list.  And no, cleaning the house and cooking do not make the list...ever.

Soo, I have had to get a bit more creative with getting everything done.  And, about once every 6 months or so, I spend 12 glorious hours slaving away over a hot stove.  In those 12 hours, my goal is to prep and freeze 50 meals.  Yes that is a big fat 50.   And in case you are wondering, I do stay up all night cooking.  After all, it would be crazy to do this with all 4 kids wanting to "help".

I am telling you all of this because my friends have asked how I do this every time I do it.  I have a word doc on my computer that gives me structure and a plan for the whole event, and I gladly share it with whoever might want it.  So, if you want it, here you go.

My disclaimer though: This is not professionally assembled.  It is merely the chicken scratch outline that keeps me on track.  I am a fairly decent cook, and when I cook I more or less just feel how much of everything to put in.  These recipes are a rough idea...but if you are reading it and thinking, "Oh my goodness...that much salt?  really?", you might want to proceed with caution.  let me know if you see anything that doesn't add up, or a recipe that is a bit off.  I could probably use a bit of editing help!

Happy cooking and good luck!


PS- Here are the labels I made for my meals!


Lasagna Noodles
10 boxes

Crushed Tomatoes
150 oz

Chopped Green Chilies
8 oz

Chopped Jalapenos
8 oz


Refried Beans
7 cups

Tomato Sauce
5 cups

Chicken Broth
2 ½ cups

Special K, Rice Crispies, or Ritz Crackers
5 cups

Bread Crumbs
5 cups

BBQ Sauce
5 cups

10 Tbls

3 cups

5 Tbls

Chili Powder

Taco Seasoning
20 TBLS (10 pkts)

Olive oil
3/4 cup

Italian Seasoning
3 cups

½ cup

½ cup

Seasoned Salt
5 Tbls

3 cup

Cottage Cheese
10 lbs

Shredded Mozzerella  Cheese
15 lbs

Grated Parmesan Cheese
7 cups

7 ½  sticks

Cream Cheese
40 oz

Heavy Cream
18 cups

Shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
10 cups

Shredded Cheddar Cheese
6 lb

Macaroni Noodles (elbow, penne, spirals, bowtie, whatever)
6 lbs

12 cups


Ground Beef
22 lbs


Chicken Breast

Chuck Roast

Stew Meat
10 cups


Frozen Mixed Veggies
25 cups

Green Bell Peppers

5 bulbs


Frozen Meal List

To Complete Meals
Corn Bread Mix
Spaghetti Noodles
Chips and Salsa
Taco Shells
Hamburger Buns
Canned/ Frozen Fruit
Sour cream
Fave Spaghetti Sauce
Garlic Bread
Mixed Veggies

  1. Put the chicken in the oven and start baking it.  I like to put it on a broiling pan and cover it with tin foil….it will take at least 2 batches, maybe 3 to get it all cooked, so get started right away.
  2. Start browning the hamburger.  I like to use a stock pot and my pampered chef mix’n chop to get the job done.  Put a lid on the pot and it cooks fairly quickly. Drain the meat into a large mixing bowl using a colander.  Like the chicken, this will need to be done in a couple of batches, so get started right away
  3. Start the roast beef in a crock pot on high.  Let this cook away the whole time and put the beef enchiladas together at the end.
  4. Mix together the cheese mixes for the lasagna and chicken roll ups.  Put these mixes in the fridge until you are ready for them.
  5. Mix up the meat balls and start making balls.  As soon as the chicken is done cooking, start putting meatballs in the oven.
  6. As the chicken comes out of the oven, let it cool a bit and then start shredding.
  7. Using 2 stock pots, start 5 lbs of ground beef for the taco meat and 5 lbs for the sloppy joes.  Season each appropriately and let simmer.
  8. Now you should have meatballs in the oven, tacos and sloppy joes on the stove, cheese mixes in the fridge, and chicken on the counter shredded and cooling.
  9. Make the pie crusts (I mix mine up and put it in the freezer before rolling it out, so by the end of this step my pie dough is in the freezer).
  10. Chop up the potatoes for beef stew
  11. Take a cooking break and wash all the dishes that are not currently in use.
  12. Bag and freeze Tacos and Sloppy Joes.  Meat balls will also be starting to go in the freezer (freeze on cookie sheets and then put in gallon sized ziplock bags.
                                          DONE: TACOS, SLOPPY JOES
  1. In a big stock pan, start water for Lasagna Noodles.
  2. In a big skillet, start the Lasagana Sauce.
  3. In a medium sized skillet, start browning the sausage.
  4. While the noodles, sausage, and sauce cook (and meatballs finish baking), assemble the beef stew bags.  There is no “cooking” for the beef stew, only assembly. 
  1. Drain the sausage and the Lasagna Noodles.
  2. Assemble the Lasaganas.
  1. Wash a large stock pot and large skillet.
  2. Start water to make the Mac and Cheese Noodles in the stock pot.
  3. Roll out pie crust bottoms for Chicken Pot Pies
  4. Start making Mac and Cheese Sauce in the large skillet.
  5. Mix the Mac and Cheeses.
  1. Wash the dirty and empty dishes again.
  2. Start the gravy for the Chicken Pot Pies in a large stock pot.
  3. Roll out pie crust Tops.
  4. Assemble Chicken Pot Pies
  1. Start both sauces for Chicken Roll Ups and Chicken Enchilada sauces.
  2. Start cooking lasagna noodles for the chicken roll ups.
  3. Assemble the Chicken Enchiladas.
  1. Start the enchilada sauce for beef enchiladas
  2. Assemble Chicken Roll Ups.
  1. Assemble Beef Enchiladas
  1. Wash a stock pot
  2. Start the Clean Up Soup
  3. Wash all the dishes.
  4. Ladle soup into sandwich sized zip lock bags and freeze.


5 lbs ground beef
5 cups bread crumbs
5 eggs
2 onions chopped fine
5 cloves garlic chopped fine
5 TBLS worchestershire sauce
5 TBLS Italian Seasoning

Mix together (I just use my hands…gross but it does the job).  Form into 1 inch balls.  Place on a cookie sheet (can be almost touching).  Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until browned through.  Cool.  Freeze on cookie sheets.  Once frozen, remove them and put them in gallon ziplocks and freeze.  Makes around 150 meatballs.

Sloppy Joes

5 lbs ground beef browned and drained
5 cups BBQ sauce
5 Tbls Worchestershire sauce
3 cups ketchup
5 Tbls prepared mustard

Mix everything in a crock pot.  Cook on low for 4 hours, adding Ketchup as needed and stirring periodically.  Cool. Divide into 5 parts. Bag in a sandwich size zip lock. Lay flat and freeze.

Taco Meat

5 lbs ground beef browned and drained
10 Tbls Taco Seasoning (5 Packets)

Put meat and seasoning in a skillet, cover with water.  Simmer until the water is gone.  Cool and bag in a sandwich size zip lock. Lay flat and freeze.

Beef Stew
10 cups Stew Meat
10 14.5oz cans Diced or Crushed Tomatos
10 potatos in bite sized chunks
10 cups mixed frozen veggies
2 ½ medium white onions chopped
1 bulb of garlic crushed
5 Tbls Seasoned Salt

Open 5 gallon sized ziplock bags.  Put the following into each bag:
2 cups stew meat
2 cans of tomatoes
2 potatoes
2-3 cups frozen  veggies
½ of an onion chopped
2 TBLS garlic crushed
1 Tbls seasoned salt
Seal each bag. Lable. Lay it out flat to freeze. 


5 Boxes of Lasagna Noodles

Meat Mixture: 7 lbs ground beef browned and drained
                        2 lbs sausage browned and drained

Cheese Mixture: 5 lbs cottage cheese
                            3 lbs shredded mozzarella
                            2 cups grated parmesan cheese
                           1 ½ tsp salt
                           1 Tbls black pepper
                            ¼ cup Italian seasoning

Sauce (make 2 batches): ¼ cup olive oil
                                        1 big white onion finely chopped
                                        4-5 cloves of garlic minced
                                        70 oz crushed tomatoes (if you want to used diced just mash                                                                                         them up before you put them in)
                                    Herbs of your choice to taste ( I use about ¼ cup of Italian                                                                                                    seasoning and call it good for this)
 5 cups Shredded Mozzerella

Cook the noodles according to the package instructions.  Heat the olive oil for the sauce in a large skillet or even in a stock pan.  Add the onions and garlic and cook until they become translucent.  Add in the tomatoes and herbs as well as salt and pepper to taste.  Let the sauce simmer while you mix up your cheese and meat mixtures.  Set out 5 9x13 pans.  Put ¼ cup of sauce in the bottom of each pan and shake the pan to spread the sauce around the bottom of the pan.  I do each layer in all the pans as I go so that they are all finished at the same time.  Layer the mixtures in the following order: Noodles, cheese, meat, sauce, noodles, cheese, meat, sauce, noodles, (use up the cheese and meat if you have any left), sauce.  Sprinkle the top of each pan with a cup of shredded mozzarella (use more if you are a cheese loving family).  I put two layers of foil over the top of each pan. 
Label and Freeze.

Mac and Cheese

6 lbs of Macaroni noodles- elbow, penne, spirals, bowtie…whatever you want
2 ½ sticks butter
1 cup flour
12 cups milk
2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 stick of butter
5 cups crushed up special K, rice crispies, or ritz crackers

cook the noodles according to package instructions. And divide evenly into 5 9x13 pans.   In a large sauce pan, melt the butter.  Stir in the flour and let it bubble for 30 seconds to a minute—do not let bit brown.  Slowly whisk in the milk.  Keep stirring and cooking the milk until it starts to thicken. Stir in the cheeses.  Stir until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from the heat and divide the sauce evenly into each of the 9x13 pans.  Stir the noodles and sauce in each pan then use your spoon to spread the noodles out evenly.  Melt 1 stick of butter in a skillet stir in the cereal or crackers and toast for 1-2 minutes.  Sprinkle the cereal or cracker mixture on top of the noodles.  Cover with 2 layers of foil.
Label and freeze.

Chicken Pot Pies

Pie Crusts ( I make my grandmother’s recipe, but you go ahead and use what ever recipe you want…just make enough for 12 pies)
15 cups of chopped frozen veggies (I buy the big bags of mixed veggies at Sam’s Club)
10 cups cooked and shredded chicken breast
Gravy:                  1 stick of butter
                           8 Tbls flour
                           6 cups heavy cream
                           1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
                           2 ½ cups chicken broth
                           Salt and Pepper to taste
Make your pie crusts dough.  Melt the butter in a large skillet.  Stir in the 8 Tbls flour and let it soak up the butter and then let it bubble for about 30 seconds (do not let it brown).  Slowly , slowly stir in the heavy cream.  When that starts to thicken up to the consistency of applesauce, stir in the shredded parmesan cheese.  When the cheese is melted in, whisk in the chicken broth.  Set this gravy aside to cool a bit while you assemble the rest of the dishes.
Set out 5 9x13 pans.  Roll out 5 crust bottoms (how much dough you need will really depend on how deep your 9x13 pan is). Place the crust bottoms in your pans.  Spread 3 cups or so of veggies over each pie crust bottom.  Evenly divide up the chicken and sprinkle chicken over the veggies.  Ladle about 2 cups of gravy over the top of the chicken.  Roll out the remaining pie crust to make 5 tops.  Cover each 9x13 with a pie crust top.  Pinch the pie crust top and the pie crust bottoms together to seal them.  Cover with 2 layers of foil.  Label and Freeze.

Chicken Rollups

5 packages lasagna noodles cooked
     5 lbs cottage cheese
     5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
     ½ cup Italian seasoning
     10 cups cooked and shredded chicken breast
½ cup olive oil
2 ½ white onions minced
10 cloves garlic minced
5 cans crushed tomatos
5 Tbls Italian seasoning
1 Tbls black pepper
     1 stick butter
     8 Tbls flour
     5 cups heavy cream
     2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
8 cups shredded mozzarella

Rinse the cooked noodles in cool water.  Drain and set aside. In a large bowl, mic the cottage cheese, 5 cups mozzarella, Italian seasoning, and chicken breast.  Set the chicken mixture aside.  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, add the onion and garlic.  Cook until translucent.  Stir in the tomatos, Italian seasoning and pepper.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt 1 stick of butter in another skillet.  Stir in the butter and let it bubble for 1 minute.  Slowly stir in the heavy cream.  When it starts to thicken up add in the parmesan cheese and stir until melted. 
Mix both the red sauce and the cream sauce together (in one of the skillets or in a large mixing bowl).  Stir until they are pretty well blended and set aside.
Set out 5 9x13 pans.  Lay out the noodles and cut them in half so they aren’t as long.  Put approximately 2 TBLS of the chicken mixture on each noodle.  Roll the noodles up and put seam side down in the 9x13 pans.  Keep going until the bottom of the pan is covered with chicken roll ups.  Pour 1/5 of the sauce over each pan of roll ups.  Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top.  Cover with 2 layers of foil.  Lable and Freeze

Chicken Enchiladas

7 cups shredded chicken breast
2 sticks of butter
40 oz cream cheese
5 cups heavy cream
2 4oz cans of chopped green chilies
2 4 oz cans of chopped jalapenos (or less if you don’t like foods with heat)
40 tortillas
2 cups heavy cream
10 cups Monterrey Jack cheese (or shredded cheddar if you buy it in bulk at Sam’s Club like I do)

Melt the butter and cream cheese in a very large skillet or stock pot.  Stir in the heavy cream.  Add the chicken, jalapenos, and green chilies.  Stir until smooth.  Fill the tortillas with the cheesey chicken filling.  Fold them and lay them seam side down in the 9x 13 pan.  Once all of the tortillas are wrapped, pour additional cream over top of the tortillas and sprinkle cheese over it all.  Cover with two layers of foil.
Lable and Freeze

Beef Enchiladas

7 lbs chuck roast cooked and shreaded
10 Tbls taco seasoning (I make my own, so if you use packets I would use 5 packets)
7 cups (or 3-4 cans) refried beans
5 cups tomato sauce
5 TBLS chili powder
2 green bell peppers chopped very fine
2 onions chopped very fine
40 tortillas
1 lb shredded cheddar cheese

Put the meat in large skillet, dump the taco seasoning on top, add enough water to cover the meat.  Simmer the meat until the water is gone.  Meanwhile in a large pot, mix the tomato sauce, chili powder, green pepper, and onion.  Simmer for 10 minutes then allow to cool so that it is not painful to the touch. Stir the meat and refried beans together in a large mixing bowl. Set out 5 9x13 pans.  One at a time, dip the tortillas in the tomato sauce.  Fill with the meat mixture and place seam side down in a 9x13 pan. Once all of the tortillas are filled, pour the remaining sauce over top of the enchiladas.  Sprinkle on the shredded cheese.  Cover with two layers of foil.  Lable and Freeze

Clean Up Soup
my own term for using up the ingredients left over from all of the other meals.

Make sure all the meat is cooked.
Put all the remaining meat and veggies in a stockpot.
Look at what is in the pot, add onion, garlic, crushed tomatoes and herbs/ spices to make something you might like.
Pour in enough chicken broth to make the soup soupy.
Bring to a boil.
Simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Cool.  Divide into sandwich size ziplock bags.  Lay flat and freeze.