Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Weekly food prep

I do a lot of cooking on the weekend, or on one designated week night.

I'm out of the house by 7:15 every morning, and I don't get home until after 6, closer to 8 when I go right to the gym. The very last thing I feel like doing when I walk in the door is putting a meal together. Cooking in bulk has allowed me to largely avoid cooking during the week. If you're not a family that likes leftovers, this is not a strategy for you.

I could eat the same thing every day for six days in a row. MFD can't. He requires variety. So I make a few dishes, and we can eat whatever we feel like during the week.

I am by no means an expert on this. There are once a month cookers out there, you can google them and they'll set you up to cook once a MONTH. Amazing. I'm not there yet. I spend one to three hours cooking for the week on a Saturday or Sunday. I'm sharing how I go about it in hopes that it saves someone else at least one night of cleanup or a half hour of time.

In case you haven't heard this 548 times, breakfast is important. If you don't eat it, you should. It's easy to stop and buy something on the way in to work, but I'm the type of person that thinks, "I know how much it costs to make that and you're charging me what?" That totally chaps my ass.

The easy option is cereal (I keep some at work), or Kind bars that I make in bulk. I also like to make a broccoli egg bake or zucchini pie, because I can portion both out for the week and package it up on Sunday. Done and done. Sometimes I like non-breakfast foods for breakfast, so I eat PB&J or a turkey burger.

Here's a resource for 25 make ahead back to school (or work) breakfasts. It contains clickable links. No more excuses that you don't have time for breakfast!

In the fall and winter, I make Sunday soup every week and that serves as lunch. I often just concoct soups, or try to recreate my Mom-Mom's. Sometimes I go loosely off of a recipe. I try to avoid anything with a cream of _______ soup component, or I make my own cream of _______ soup. In the past few years, I've been more cognizant of making my own stuff where I can.

Summer is usually a salad - I only chop and mix two days of those at a time so they don't get hinky - or a sandwich: PB&J, egg/tuna/salmon/chicken salad. When making one of those, I make enough for the week. The fallback is lunchmeat, which I try to avoid even though I love it like I love my label maker.

Are you looking for something outside of the box? Here's a kid lunch box idea list (adultify the portion sizes), lunch ideas from Easy Lunchboxes, Lunch Roundup with all real food, and Project Lunchbox - 30 days of healthy meals (there's a downloadable PDF that you can throw on your fridge).

I also try to cut up my fruit and veggies for the week on the weekend, so I know I have healthy snacks on hand and I don't reach for the delicious and not nutritious Doritos.

Thar she blows. Dinner. The big one. Everyone loves a good, healthy dinner. No one wants to slave over it after a long day doing whatever.

Things you need to know - my pantry is always pretty stocked, I'm not afraid to look for a suitable substitute or omit something altogether if I don't have an ingredient, and I only buy meat on sale. I also try to take advantage of the bounty of the season.

When deciding what to make that week, I check the meat in my freezer. I check out what produce is on sale, and then I hit pinterest or allrecipes or lean on of my favorites from years gone by.

Before I start making something, I always think, "can I freeze this?" If I can and I have room in my freezer, I'll double the recipe and freeze it in those tin pans. Then I'm off. I usually make two to three sides/casseroley things. That way, they can either 1) stand alone; 2) be paired with a salad or a baked potato; 3) served with a meat.

For example, last week I made broccoli with orzo and an antipasta pasta salad that had cheese and salami in it. The pasta salad was heavier, so I ate that alone. The broccoli with orzo was lighter, so I had that with some chicken. I had both with raw veggies and some fruit.

In the summer I tend to stick to sides that incorporate pasta and fresh veggies, quinoa and veggies, or salads. In the winter, I make casseroles or potato dishes.

Meats - grill it all on Sunday or bake some chicken. If you bake the chicken without a distinctive sauce, you can turn that chicken into chicken tacos or chicken salad later in the week. Or do your meat in the crockpot on the weekend so it's just waiting to be eaten. I will also often either just pick up a rotisserie chicken, which can be used a zillion (or at least 52) ways, or I make my own roast chicken.

If I run out of food by Wednesday, I rely on one of the meals I've frozen, or I throw something in the crockpot.

Freezer Foods
Here are some other blogs and resources I use if I have time and I want to make some backup meals:
Stocking the Freezer, Freezer Friendly Meals, and tips on what you can and can't freeze.

I hope you got a good idea or two and can save yourself some time. It's time for me to take my apron off.

Now, good day. I SAID GOOD DAY!


Tell me what you think, leave a comment! I'll reply to you via email if you have an email associated with yourself, otherwise, check back here for my reply. Thank you and good day. I SAID GOOD DAY.

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