You Asked: Bulk Cooking, Gutter Shelves and Comments

Ashley @ The Rowser Family asked, “I want to hear more about bulk freezer cooking. Do you just cook many meals at once and freeze? are there some meals or even ingredients that are better suited for freezing?

This is another question that I’ve been saving for a full post.  (Oh the shame!  Now everyone knows that I procrastinate and that I have a busy and full life. :) )  On bulk cooking day we prepare about 20 recipes.  Each family will get two meals per recipe.

The women that I do this with are very organized and have developed a system and computer program that they hope to put into an eBook to distribute to help others start  their own groups.  (They are also busy moms of many, so it may take them some time, but I know that a lot of the work has been done.)

The first step is to select the recipes that we will prepare.  The computer program compiles the shopping list and converts a lot of the measurements for us.  We shop 2-3 of us together and buy many ingredients by the case which gives us an even bigger discount than you typically receive.  (Ask about buying meat by the case at Costco or Sam’s, you can save a lot of money.)

After shopping we figure out what the prep assignments will be and each family comes and gets the things that they will prepare before cook day.  Ingredients are prepared, divided and labeled by recipe.   (For example, one family will cook and shred the chicken, another will brown ground beef, and another will prep the veggies, etc.)

The night before cook day we (actually it is usually sweet Sofie) divide out the non-perishable ingredients by recipe, set up the work space and do any last minute prep.

I blogged a bit about the actual cook day with pictures.  We start at 6 am and usually finish up around lunch time.  Then each family packs up their food, usually around 40 meals and takes it home to stack in their freezer.

As far as good recipes and ingredients, we experiment and keep lots of notes.  At the end of each cook day we talk about how the prep went, if we should change a recipe to make it easier (layer instead of roll enchiladas), if we should adjust any ingredient amounts, etc. and we make notes of those things for the next time.  We also collaborate on recipes and have a HUGE store of  that we draw from.  We also always try at least a few new recipes each cook day.  Some we like and keep and others, not so much.   I do have well over a hundred recipes and will share some of my favorites, just keep reminding me. :)

I’ve started posting some of our bulk cooking recipes:  Beef recipes.

Melissa at Swanky Baby Gear had a couple questions about the rain gutter book shelf tutorial.  She asked what types of  brackets and the end caps we used and for a picture of the end caps.

We purchased both the brackets and the end caps with the gutters.  You will have to get the type appropriate for the specific rain gutters that you choose.  Here are some close up pictures.

end cap End cap

bracket

Bracket

Andrea @ Life in the Fullest has 6 children and wondered, “Do you ever get those looks from people or even comments?  I am curious as to what would be a good response.  I want to keep it Christlike but it really bothers me, especially when people make comments within hearing of the children.

Yes, Andrea we get both the looks and comments and they can be tiring.  Here are a few things that I remind myself often.

  • This person does not realize that I get questions and hear comments about our family from nearly everyone we meet.  To him, his comment is unique, original and probably the first time he has ever said something like this, even though I’ve heard it or something similar hundreds of times.
  • This may be the first time this person has seen a family as large as ours and they are honestly curious.
  • God has given us our children for many reasons and one is to give us hundreds of opportunities to bear witness to Him when people ask about our family.
  • If this is the only time this person sees a large family, what do I want them to take away?

The first thing that I always do is smile, even if the comment is thoughtless.  Then I always try to use the opportunity to point to God’s goodness and faithfulness.

“Are they all yours?” I respond, “Yes, God has truly blessed us.”

“You have your hands full.”  I reply, “I’m so thankful for God’s blessing.”

“Don’t you know what causes that?”  I respond, “Yes, God’s blessing.”

The comments being made in front of our children don’t bother me nearly as much as the comments people will make in front of their own children.  You know the comments like, “I don’t know how you manage nine, the two I have drive me crazy.”

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29 Responses to You Asked: Bulk Cooking, Gutter Shelves and Comments
  1. Dawn @ Olive Plants
    October 22, 2009 | 8:50 am

    Thank you for the extra info on bulk cooking. I have never seen it done as a group before and think that is such a smart way to work together. I’m praying about approaching the ladies at my church about doing something similar. None of us has a kitchen large enough for us to work at once, so I’m thinking everyone makes enough of one recipe at home to share with everyone else. Then when we trade off we would all have as many meals as members of the group. I really appreciate you sharing about this.
    Oh, and your large family is beautiful. I don’t have that blessing so I don’t get those exact comments but there are other aspects of our set-apart life that get remarks. It’s all part of being salt and light, and you seem to handle it beautifully.
    Blessings.

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    The ladies I cook with swear that they’ve done it in tiny, tiny kitchens, but I can’t imagine. Another idea is to use a living or family room. Most of what we are doing on cook day doesn’t require the sink, stove or oven and our hostess moves all of the furniture out of her family room and much of the prep is done in there. I’m just mentioning because it is a lot of fun to do it together.

    Also, we’ve had a lady drive several hours to come cook with our group. ;)

    Great point about every Christian standing out from the world and having to face disapproval. Thanks Dawn!

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  2. Tristan from the Crew
    October 22, 2009 | 8:59 am

    Okay Kimberly, when you get a free minute (hahaha) could you just list the meals without recipes? We’ve done bulk cooking in the past but it’s been a while and I would love to do a lot of bulk cooking for winter and just need some idea starters.

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    I hate to even tell you this Tristan because now you will know how severe my procrastination-itis is. All of the recipes are on my computer. (Well not all but more than 100). I may even be able to cut and past into a post, but haven’t tried yet. What I really want to do is figure out how to allow readers to download the recipe file from my site. I’m sure it’s possible, but just haven’t done my research.

    Anyway, I’ll try to get recipes or at least meals up next week.

    [Reply]

  3. Morgan
    October 22, 2009 | 9:14 am

    Kimberly, the bulk cooking reminds me of a place we go here called Let’s Dish. It’s essentially the same thing, you go, they have all the ingredients for one meal at a station, you put it together, and take it home and pop it in you freezer. I’m sure your method is a lot cheaper though! Its so awesome that you have a group of families to do that with, I’m sure it saves you all lots of time and money.

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    We had something similar to that here that I looked into when we found out we were expecting number 8 and before I’d joined the bulk cooking group.

    [Reply]

  4. Chantelle
    October 22, 2009 | 10:23 am

    Thank you for the extra information on bulk cooking. I would love to know what meals are usually included in your menu and seem to work the best. You have such a great outlook on people asking about your family. My sister and her husband have seven girls, so in addition to the large family comments, she also has to hear “Still trying for that boy?”, “Too bad it’s another girl.”, etc. I just hold my breath, while she smiles and tells them that she is blessed with whatever God gives her.

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    Meals and/or recipes are coming hopefully by next week (see my response to Tristan). :)

    My sister-in-law got a lot of that and she only had 4 girls before God sent them a boy. God does teach us a lot through others and patience is a good thing.

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  5. kim nunes
    October 22, 2009 | 10:48 am

    wow! the bulk cooking sounds amazing. so much more fun to do it in a group while you can chat then alone, and then you have more of a variety. great idea! i hope that i can get this started for my family.

    concerning the large family comments… i only have two little ones as of right now, so i haven’t gotten some of them, but even i receive the “hands full.” i just smile and say yeah. honestly juggling the two of them along with groceries etc. is a hands full situation. i don’t know if they read it off of my face or ? but it hasn’t bothered me. on the flip side, if i hadn’t read this then i could’ve been one of those people. not that i would make a nasty comment, but for someone that sometimes struggle with my two i could see myself saying, “i don’t know how you do it.” meaning.. really tell me how you do it :) i need advice. you guys are so blessed, you are right in saying it kimberly, and i can’t speak for everyone but for me it is inspiring. sometimes when i feel overwhelmed it is so encouraging for me to see other moms and what they are going through, be it victories or challenges. anyway, i am sorry that you get comments about those who are so dear to you, i know it must be hard. i have a dear friend who has adopted from ethiopia, and with a multiracial (and honestly even adopting) family they get lots of comments too. some totatlly uncalled for and others meaning well but still inserting foot in mouth and delivering blows to their hearts. anyway all of that to say that a lot of times people don’t understand, and although they don’t mean to offend they do.

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    The people that make comments when they are simply interested in our family do not bother me at all. I have even asked someone, “Are they all yours?” because it’s a good conversation starter and I enjoy meeting other large families. So don’t worry about asking, so long as you convey that you are positive about the family size. It’s the people who are incredulous and obviously think that you must either be stupid or some type of freak that help me develop my patience.

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  6. Phoebe @ Cents to Get Debt Free
    October 22, 2009 | 2:38 pm

    Thank you so much for the information on bulk cooking. I decided a few weeks ago to ask some women from my church if they would be interested in doing something like that. They were all excited, but told me they had never heard of it before, so I basically needed to head it all up and get everything organized, recipes figured out. Patiently waiting for some of your recipes. ;) I know you’re busy!

    I love your big family, wish we could have one, and have great respect for you on how you handle those thoughtless questions/comments.

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    Oh no, the pressure. What if I actually do post them and they are horrible? :)

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  7. Fruitful Harvest
    October 22, 2009 | 3:51 pm

    I made the rain gutter shelves and they turned out great~ I posted about it last month….and a link to your blog!
    I also can relate to comments people make about having a large family!
    I was at a dinner/awards thing for hubbys work. My hubby was voted by his peirs as employee of the year! Anyways, one of the guys he works with made a comment about if we planned on having any more kiddos. He also said,some negative remarks.
    We were both standing there, hubby and I. I want more and hubby is not sure….but we do leave it up to GOD. We do not use anything to stop another blessing for coming. My hubby stayed quiet as I answered his coworkers question. I was not to bothered by the conversation but guess what?????

    The fellow that made the remards was and said to my hubby on Monday….”I was bothered by my own comments to you and your wife. All weekend I could not help but think of what I said! I’m sorry if I hurt you. If anyone should have a big family it is you! I’ve seen you with your kids and you seem to be a great father~ You are very blessed!” WOW!

    Sometimes people just don’t realise how their words really sound and my feel badly….and are to ashamed to appoligise!

    Blessings,
    Georgiann

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    I’m glad that you like your shelves!

    You are absolutely right. Sometimes you can see it on people’s face as soon as they say something. It’s like, “Oh that sounded bad” and it’s not as if they really meant it, they just weren’t thinking it through.

    I’m hoping to post about how little things we say can have a big affect on the lives of others. (Don’t hold your breath on that one though, I have a lot of posts that I’m supposed to be doing.)

    [Reply]

  8. Amanda
    October 22, 2009 | 10:15 pm

    What a great post!! LOTS of wonderful information!

    Blessings-
    Amanda

    [Reply]

  9. Mama Mirage
    October 22, 2009 | 11:52 pm

    A week and a half ago I was driving home from my parents’ home which is 6 hours away by car. Well, 6 hours with normal stops. My sis was coming back with me in her own car with her 5 year old and her 6 week old baby. 6 hour drive + 6 week old baby = 8 hour drive. Anyway, at one point, just about half an hour before the halfway mark, she had to pull over to nurse the baby in the car on the side of the road (she had a bottle but he kept spitting it all back up so she had to nurse him and change his soggy outfit). Well I had to use the restroom so she told me on the walkie talkie to keep going and she’d meet me at the gas station half way point. So I got to the gas station and staggered in with a purse, two diaper bags, a 1 year old hanging from the crook of my arm by his head and one arm, and a pinkie finger in the hood of my 3 year old’s sweater in case she should get distracted and start trotting off. An older woman opened the door for us and after I heartily thanked her, she joked, “Wow you’ve got your hands full! All you need is one more!” I smiled brightly and said enthusiastically, “Oh yes! I’d love another!” and her smile faded into disbelief and horror. She gasped and sputtered, “Oh! No, no!” at my back as I headed for the restroom. It bothered me because this was the third time in as many days that I’ve gotten comments eluding to my having too many kids and I only have TWO! Then I see news about abortion rates and babies left in dumpsters and born in toilets and people ragging on the Duggars as if it’s really any of their business to attempt to control Mrs. Duggar’s fertility. And it makes me so sad I could cry just thinking about it. I don’t know how you Mamas of large broods keep a civil tongue in your head with these people but God bless you for it!

    Kimberly I’m so looking forward to some freezer recipes! Yummy! I won a do-ahead meals cookbook on another blog a month ago but I got it and it’s strange things like imitation crab appetizers. I need practical meals. Real meals for real people. What good is a cookbook of silly dinner party entrees for a working class average family?! Lol!

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    Just after the birth of our first son, (3 kids 2 1/2 yrs and younger) I was at the post office and the woman behind me in line said, “Well, at least you finally had your boy and now you can stop having babies.” I did like you, smiled and said, “Oh, I hope God blesses us with a lot more children.” She was taken aback.

    Now I’m really getting nervous about the recipes, what if no one likes them? :)

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  10. Deb
    October 23, 2009 | 1:10 pm

    Kimberly – did you ever try that Chicken and Black Bean Chile recipe I sent you? I am in the middle of my own Big Fall Cook, as well. It is such a satisfying feeling knowing that I have a freezer full of food! I have an incredible (and EASY – only 3 ingredients!) meatloaf recipe I would be happy to share as well, if you are interested.

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    We haven’t we cook every two months and I double cooked this time so I have freezer meals coming out of my ears, but I am going to pass the recipe on to Sofie for next cook day. Thanks!

    They have a favorite meatloaf recipe, but if you already have it on your computer I would like to have it for our use. If not, please don’t go to any trouble on my account.

    [Reply]

  11. Christina
    October 23, 2009 | 4:29 pm

    I have just started getting “those” comments from people. My DH and I have three wonderful children and one more on the way. The one I hear most frequently is
    “Oh my you have your hands full!” I never really knew what to say and the other day I saw this great shirt. It said something along the lines of “My hands are full and so is my heart” I thought that was such a nice way to kindly express to people that I love my family and the bussyness it brings to my life.

    [Reply]

  12. Smockity Frocks
    October 23, 2009 | 11:07 pm

    Great reminders on how to respond to curious folks. I’m headed to my 25th high school reunion tomorrow and I’m a little nervous about how people will respond to my pregnancy. A smile is a great start!

    [Reply]

  13. Mama Mirage
    October 24, 2009 | 12:18 am

    Oh no, don’t worry about if people like your recipes, silly! ;) Not everyone is gonna like every recipe, but I’m sure that most people will find at least one to be just the perfect thing. :) I know speaking for myself I don’t need anything fancy. Just things that don’t require alot of steps or hard to find ingredients, are not expensive, and freeze well. Right now the only thing I freeze regularly is stroganoff. I’ve discovered that I can just make it with rice rather than noodles, make a double batch, and before I add the peas and sour cream I take out half and freeze it. Then when I thaw it to use later it will get peas and fresh sour cream and so it will taste as fresh as if I just made it. But I only make stroganoff twice a month so the first time I make double and the second time I get it out of the freezer. So I only have 1 freezer meal a month. I’d love to have more recipes for things that freeze well so I can have more than just 1 freezer meal per month! Lol! So yes at this point anything would help out and I’m sure your recipes are great and there’s no need to worry.

    [Reply]

  14. Meagan
    November 3, 2009 | 3:02 pm

    I love the last sentence in the bulk cooking with picture post… “If only I could remember to take dinner out of the freezer.” So true. Even with premade dinners ready it is still a challenge to get them out of the freezer some days.

    I love the idea of lots of families coming together to make meals for two months… Trying to find the space to make all of them at once would be rather interesting though! Our house isn’t quite big enough.

    It is kind of the same as some of those supper supper places though where the employees prep everything and then anyone can go in and cook their own meals in the professional kitchen. It costs more than I would like to pay though, when I have a perfectly good kitchen….

    [Reply]

  15. Lesley
    December 19, 2009 | 12:23 am

    I love your blog. You inspire me in so many ways – I have a young family and am considering more than a few children…( I am posting this question here since I don’t exactly know where else to post it – *smile and shrug* anyway – As I have read about your family and homeschooliing, I am curious about your own personal reading preferences, other than the Bible. I have been lent a copy of “The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie omartian, and bought a copy of ” Captivating” (? – I forgot the title!) oh well, Do you have any favorite and inspiring reading which Bible studies could be done from?

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I’m more of a Bible reading type of person, but a few of my favorites have been The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective by Martha Peace, Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss and many things by Elizabeth Elliot.

    Oh, for these types of questions, feel free to begin a discussion in the Raising Olives Community, but leaving them in the comments section is fine also.

    [Reply]

  16. Lisle
    March 28, 2010 | 10:17 pm

    The most well-received response I ever came up with for the question of “Do you know what causes that?” was “Well, we used to think it was sex, but then we’d have HUNDREDS of children!” I used it first on my boss, and then for every other asker of the question. Stops ‘em dead in their tracks, and most never ask again. ;^) It’s odd to me that those near me who know my beliefs would still ask that question.

    I love that you love your large family.

    [Reply]

  17. kp
    April 16, 2010 | 10:07 am

    I was just talking to my man about the group-bulk-cooking idea the other day! I would totally do it here if I knew more local moms.

    [Reply]

  18. Elizabeth
    February 11, 2012 | 11:16 pm

    Hi,
    I’m so inspired by your blog! I am a single mom of 4 and I raise my brother…making 5. I’m Active Duty Air Force and I’m always trying to find new ideas to help me manage my home and time better. I am starting the Daniel Fast next week and I pray when I am done this challange of mine will have made significant progress. I love the family closet idea and the cutter book shelves. I find all my free time is playing catch up with cleaning, laundry, meal planning etc. so any ideas or tricks I would love to hear them! I do have someone who helps me clean once a week (such a blessing) I still find myself feeling overwhelmed often, trying to balance it all! My biggest weakness is organization and sadly I know I need it sooo bad! I’m on a mission to get my house organized one room at a time! Anyways, thank you so much, love, love, love your blog!

    [Reply]

  19. Tamara
    July 31, 2012 | 9:06 pm

    Thank you for sharing photos of the rain gutter bracket – I found one similar to that, but the screw goes in at an angle and I’m certain there would be needless spackling. I will look around for the type you show. Many thanks for the detailed tutorial; including the perfectionist tips.

    Group cooking sounds incredible and is so simple yet totally genius. I only have two children, but feel like I live in the kitchen some days. On days when I get dinner from the freezer, I love it.

    Keep it up, all of it!
    :)

    [Reply]

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