Cooking ahead is a planned family activity at our house and we do it a couple of weekends a year. Everyone works...even the 6yo who has trash detail.
Typically in a weekend we will start with making 60-80lbs of master hamburger mix (browned with onions & garlic) and cooking/deboning 20 whole chickens. The electric roasters (4) & crockpots (3) start Friday night with 10 of the chickens plus onions, diced carrots, celery & basic seasonings. Plus we do all of the dicing and chopping for the planned cooking. Saturday morning first thing the chicken meat is deboned and put in 3cup portions in the freezer. Stock is drained, put in the fridge to chill, fat removed and then put in the square 4c freezer containers. Not a ton because it is really concentrated by then.
Then the 16qt & 8qt roasters become hamburger browning devices while the others receive another round of chicken & veggies. 1/2 of the hb mix is ziplocked in 3c bags for the freezer...fast meals and takes up less space in the freezer than uncooked hb. Last fall I was lucky enough to have 2 deer given to me so we used one of them for a fall hb mix cook. Anyway, then I get out the 1/2 size deep aluminum steam table pans and start putting together casseroles. The casserole goes into a gallon ziplock and then is laid in a pan and frozen. That way the casseroles are guaranteed to fit in the pans when the come out of the freezer and they stack nicely in the freezer. The only thing that is put directly in pans in the freezer is the lasagna. None of the casseroles are pre-baked and I don't use "no bake" pasta...just add extra sauce. they go from the freezer, add 2 cups water and bake for 2 hours. Doesn't sound like much of a time savings, but trust me, with active teens it is easy for someone to pop in the oven right after school and we come home, eat and go.
Here are the casseroles we usually make with the hb mix: 6 lasagna, 6 hb/pasta/cheese/red sauce, 3 hb/pasta/peas/cream of chicken, 3 hb/pasta/mushrooms/cream of mushroom.
As soon as the hb is browned, the last 5 chickens go into the roasters. Usually they are about 3 hours behind the morning's batch. As these last 10 chickens finish, they are deboned and the stock dealt with. the chicken meat is put in a big tub in the fridge until after church Sunday. then we put together the chicken casseroles: 3 lasagna, 6 chk/pasta/cheese/red sauce, 3 chk/pasta/peas/cream of chicken, 3 chk/pasta/mushrooms/cream of mushroom.
At the end of the weekend, we usually have 10 lasagna and about 24 other casseroles plus about 20 3c bags of hb mix and 20 bags chicken meat. Paired with a salad and crusty bread, each casserole will make a hearty family dinner plus a couple of lunches.
Needless to say, everyone is exhausted and sleeps very well Sunday night!