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Baking Day: Lasagna, Ziti, and a picture of the fruits of my labors

After the girls went to bed last night, I quickly whipped up three pans of lasagna and three pans of Ziti.

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The lasagna recipe was a new one ( to see it) that highly recommended. I'm curious to see how it tastes. It was easy to make and less expensive than usual lasagna since I can often get cream cheese for $0.50 per package (with a sale and a coupon)–which beats the price of cottage cheese or ricotta cheese that I'd usually use in lasagna.

I don't have a recipe for the Ziti because I just made it up on the fly using ground turkey, pasta sauce, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, noodles, and spices. I've learned that a great way to be frugal in the kitchen is to learn to be creative and flexible with ingredients!

After finishing up the pans of Ziti and Lasagna, I called it a day. I didn't get to quite everything on my list, but I did get a lot done yesterday–and that's a very good feeling! In fact, I was surprised at how much I'd gotten done when I laid everything out on the table to take a final picture:

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5 batches of Whole-Wheat Waffles
3 bags of browned ground turkey (we'll use this for homemade pizza or possibly pair it with pinto beans to make chili)
1 bag of cooked chopped chicken
1 batch of
5 bags of cooked Pinto Beans
3 pans of
3 pans of Ziti
3 meals of Chicken Tetrazinni
1 bag of Southwest Roll-ups

It was about seven hours' worth of work total to make all of that and I'm figuring it will make at least 20 dinners and 8-10 breakfasts. That is totally worth it to me for seven hours of work. Plus, it means I don't have to worry about "What's for Dinner?" many nights for the next month nor do I have to mess up my kitchen as much!

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Did you have a chance to do any baking or cooking this week? If so, post about it
on your blog and leave your link below to your direct blog post. I'd
love it especially if you could share pictures and recipes so I can get
more ideas for my next Baking Day projects! And I'm guessing many
others would be inspired as well.

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85 Comments

  • says:

    I am so impressed with what you accomplished in such a short amount of time. Blogging and caring for sick little ones as you go…I am in awe! Thanks for sharing your recipes and the inspiration to provide healthy and delicious food for my family.

  • denise says:

    This would only last a week with our grown kids. You’ll look back and say, ” Wow this use to last us close to a month when you were little!”

  • says:

    Good for you great Job! I bet your hubby and kiddos are proud of there mommy!:)

  • Shelly says:

    Awesome! I love your blog because you don’t just focus on deals (honestly, I do not need any more candles, lol!), but you offer a wide variety of money saving ideas. Cooking at home, stockpiling, and filling your freezer should be a top priority in everyone’s frugal plan. You did great!

  • Lindy says:

    AWESOME, AWESOME JOB! I’m a SAHM who cooked every meal from “scratch” Oct 07 – Oct 08. Unfortunately, I got “burned out” and went the total opposite. Coincidently, it was the same time (Oct ’08) that I started couponing! I spent alot of money over that year cooking that way. But, I know I’ve spent “more” money eating out this last year. Although, couponing and prepared foods has helped me save a TON of money, I wish more coupons were geared towards produce and healthy foods. This comiing year, I HOPE to be able to balance the two!

  • says:

    You are my hero. All that food in one day is something I might be able to do but then to homeschool you children in the middle of it…that is AMAZING!!

  • says:

    Holy cow, lady! I am impressed. I enjoy cooking and baking so much that I don’t usually want to get it out of the way so much ahead of time, but if I ever decide to do it, you’ll be the inspiration!

  • Kim Mustola says:

    Holy Cow I’m so inspired. I have to buy a big freezer to save time and money now!!

  • says:

    Watching the tweets yesterday was just making me tired! But, I was inspired to join in next time. If you think of it in advance, could you announce the #bakingday a week or so early? That way I have time to get all of the supplies/ingredients over a weekend or something. Since I don’t have a batch cooking partner, I think it would be just as fun doing this with all of you on !!

  • Cortney says:

    WOW! Thank you for being such an inspiration! Thanks to you we have saved so much money instituting a baking day, menu planning around sales and with coupons, and diligently budgeting. If it were not for your site and all your helpful information i’m unsure how we would have made it through my husbands layoff. You have been a Godsend. Not only is the fruit of your labor blessing your family but so many others you have never met through your insightful advice and encouraging example. God Bless!!!

  • Tabitha says:

    Whoa, I’m doing well when I can get one recipe doubled. Always on the lookout for great tasting, easy to freeze recipes. Let us know how the lasagna turns out.

    Tomorrow is spaghetti sauce for me.

  • says:

    Wow, you did a lot of cooking. I hadn’t ever used cream cheese in lasagna. I’ll have to try that.

  • Abby H says:

    For those of you worried about the canned pumpkin shorage,I make homemade pumpkin puree from thepioneerwoman.com. I have used it like the canned and works great!

  • says:

    Well Done!
    Talking of ground turkey, have you ever tried turkey spaghetti? It’s yum, but a lighter meal than spaghetti bolognaise.

    To make, I add lots of cinnimon, 1 onion, parsley, basil, and a tin of chopped tomatoes OR a lot of fresh tomatoes INSTEAD of a thick sauce, serve over spaghetti pasta.

    Claire

  • Becky says:

    Just wanted to let you know this is the lasagna recipe I’ve been using the past few months and it’s awesome. It’s so good I haven’t used another lasagna recipe since I saw this one in the magazine. Never tried to freeze it though. Did you just assemble it and then freeze it?

  • Julia says:

    I don’t ever buy canned pumpkin, I just cook and puree it. I’m sure there are lots of ways to do it: I cut up the pumpkin, steam it (I’m sure you could also halve the pumpkin and bake it face down on a cookie sheet) and puree it in the food processor. It’s runnier than canned, so I have lined a colander with paper towels (I need to get some cheesecloth, I think) and pressed out some of the excess moisture. I use it for pumpkin spice cake, pumpkin bars and pumpkin pie and it has worked fine – I will definitely be trying the muffins!

    Also, I don’t even restrict myself to buying pie pumpkins – we scrape as much flesh out of our jack-o-lanterns as possible when we carve them, and I cook that.

    Julia

  • Carissa says:

    Wow, that is AMAZING!!! I wish I had 1/8th of your ambition!
    Oh, and some freezer space. 🙂

  • Debbie says:

    Compare to you, I’m very lazy. You’ve inspired me to cook a little more!

  • says:

    Hubby and I are saving up for a deep freeze. It would make life so much easier and then I could really put away some meals.I made an extra stuffed shells meal, and it filled my reg, freezer. I think a deep freeze would be a worthy investment for us. Terrific job,Crystal!

  • Cherie says:

    Very impressive! I am going to try the pumpkin chocolate chip muffins this weekend. They look yummy.

  • says:

    Great Job! I am envious of your freezer size! I would love to do this stuff but can’t until I get a separate freezer!

  • Susan says:

    You are such an inspiration! The pictures you include and steps in the process make us realize that we to can do this! Recently I spent a few weekends cooking up various different meals and casseroles for my grandmother who was bedridden due to a bad fall (and refused to leave her house to recouperate) so I know it is possible, I just need to find time to do this for myself. Everytime I read an article like this one I get re-motivated and energized! Thank you and…. I’m off to BJ’s tomorrow so wish me luck finding some good buys!

  • says:

    How do you organize your freezer once all the baking and cooking is finished? Do you keep a list taped to the freezer door showing what is in the freezer?

  • says:

    Very cool! How often do you do this?

  • says:

    To Christy who asked about real pumpkins… it works GREAT for cooking! We use one for decorating and eating both — just leave it out for decoration until we’re ready to carve it, carve it the day of (or evening before and refrigerate), put it out for one evening to show off our handiwork, and bring it in before the slugs get to it!

    To use the pumpkin, just halve it, take out the seeds, and bake it until it’s soft… I forget how long that took, a couple hours? Then use a spoon to scrape the flesh into storage containers — I freeze mine in two cup portions. Don’t worry if it’s stringy… once you cook bake with it, the texture won’t be a problem. Last year’s pumpkin gave us enough for a big bowl of soup and enough leftovers to make FOURTEEN loaves of pumpkin bread!!

    Discard the rind… but you can bake the seeds separately for a snack, or at least dry them to put out for the birds if you don’t like pumpkin seeds.

  • says:

    Wow – that is really impressive!!

  • Linda Dirks says:

    I use real pumpkin all of the time. Just cook it like squash, then scoop out and mash. Use in the same amounts as you would for canned. If you like it really smooth, you can use a hand blender or mixer to smooth it out. It is a little more watery, but that should just make the muffins more moist. I make pumpkin bread a lot and use real pumkin and it is awesome.

  • says:

    Crystal,

    I had the same questions as many others. Do you freeze the lasagna uncooked and then put frozen into the oven, or do you let it thaw? I’ve never frozen uncooked lasagna or ziti before but it sounds like a great idea.

  • Katie says:

    Hi Crystal,

    Way to go!! Please could you post on what you can and can’t freeze(I know you’re constantly asked for stuff). I get so confused with freezing stuff.

    Thanks, Thanks – your achievements continually encouragement to achieve more.

  • Becky says:

    Inspiring!

    You’ve inspired me to finally get off my butt and restock my own freezer – as well as given me a few new recipes! Between your inspiration and Jewel’s Fav4 sale on Chicken breasts at a stock-up price this week, I made a ton! I ended up with:

    -about 2 dozen Chocolate-chip pumpkin muffins (after I ate a few and gave a few to my sister) (thanks for the excellent & easy recipe!)
    -16 Sweet-Potato biscuits
    -2 bags of your chicken tetrazzini (thanks for the recipe – similar to 1 I’ve made before)
    -2 bags of sweet & sour chicken (a big fave!)
    -1 bag of crock-pot dump chicken
    -6 balls of pizza dough
    -1 HUGE pot of Cream of Mushroom soup

    Thanks for the much-needed motivation!

  • Christine says:

    For the post that asked about Ziploc bags, I find that if you make sure that your bags are freezer quality and not the regular variety, you will have much better results. For my baking, such as bread and muffins, I like to use bread bags (purchased from King Arthur Flour or a local co-op) to wrap my baked goods and then put them in a freezer bag. I can fit 3-8×4 loaves in a 2-gallon bag. I usually bake six at a time, leaving me several to freeze, one to eat right away, and at least one to give away. Hope that is helpful!

  • says:

    are you willing to share your ziti recipe?

  • jean says:

    baking is one of my favorite activities. I love to make brownies and freeze for later use. When I make them, I use a box mix and instead of the water and oil that is on the recipe, I put in pureed spinach….if the total water and oil is 1 cup, I substitute 1 cup of pureed spinach….i steam the spinach and then add water to it so it blends up nicely…….i put 2 cups of pureed spinach in a plastic bag and freeze it for later use..(i always make a double batch of brownies). One cannot taste the spinach and i feel like i’m giving the kids a healthful treat.

  • Lorie says:

    THAT’S IT! I’M DOING IT! My own baking day. I figure if I get nothing more done than pre-cooking a bunch of ground beef, chicken, beans, & rice then it’ll help tremendously with preparing dinner. I normally like to cook but lately I’ve been in a rut & nothing has been inspiring me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m pregnant with #3 or what but I’ve got to do something to lift this burden a bit. Thanks for all the inspiration.

  • says:

    What did you family think of the new lasagna recipe? I am always afraid to try new lasagna recipes as its my hubby favorite meal. But it can be so expensive to make I only make it every 6 weeks or so.

    ********************
    December212012 here: We ended up really liking it. In fact, my husband commented a few times about how good it was!

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