Wednesdays are simplicity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
I am tired of cooking.
There, I said it out loud. Putting healthy meals on the table, day in and day out, is time-consuming and can be a bit tedious. Fast food isn’t a healthy option, and prepared meals from the grocery are not much better.
So I’ve been experimenting over the past few years, with ways to make this easier.
I’ve tried The Weeknight Survival Cookbook, which was great but overwhelmed us with food. I’ve tried doing “planned leftovers”, which worked to a point. I’ve tried crock pot cooking, which is great if the times work, and even breakfast-for-dinner.
Make Ahead Meals
My most recent experiment is make-ahead meals. I make double of a recipe and freeze half. This method of preparing food is not the full-blown Once A Month Cooking (OAMC), where you spend a weekend making an entire month’s worth of food (it’s exhausting. I’ve tried it.) Rather, it is a make-one-freeze-one strategy. This fits my cooking style better, and doesn’t require a major effort on my part.
The effort for make-ahead meals is no greater than to make one meal. The ingredients are doubled, but with the use of my food chopper, even chopping veggies doesn’t take noticeably more effort.
The make-ahead meal ingredients don’t seem to be more costly than the ones I would normally make. The ingredients are able to be frozen well, though.
I do try to make ingredient substitutions to healthier choices when I can. Lower fat soups, real cheese instead of “cheese food”, whole grain pastas and leaner cuts of meat are all valid for my purposes.
I’m picky about the quality of food that I serve. Most freezer recipes I have tried have ended up with mushy veggies and tasteless entrees. In order to try a new recipe, it has to come from a source I trust.
I have a whole bunch of cookbooks from Taste Of Home that offer make-one-freeze-one recipes. While these recipes may not be something that everyone has lying around, I did find a selection of the Taste of Home recipes compiled into a single volume at Taste of Home: Freezer Pleasers.
So far I have done three sets of dinners. A crab/pasta dish, chicken and pasta dish and a beef soup/casserole starter all live in my freezer. They have all tasted great the first night, and the freezer versions held up well.
Photo by fdecomite