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Eating at home is one of the healthiest and inexpensive ways to eat. The problem with eating at home, though, is that there is usually some prep work to be done. If the prep work isn’t done, it can mean the difference between eating at home, or getting pizza delivered.
Here are some strategies on how I get around these things:
Use The Menu Planner
I have written before about how I constructed my menu planner. On the menu planner sheets, I use the first of the three boxes for the date, and any events going on that day. The big box in the middle is the food I have planned, and the right-most box is where I make notes of things that need to be done.
For instance, if I am going to serve split pea soup with fresh bread on Tuesday, I know that I cannot soak the peas and make the bread in the time between when I get home from work and dinner. Monday’s right-most box will hold a note to soak the peas and make the bread.
Using My Task List
I will be the first to confess that if I leave my reminders on my menu planner, I will still be in the “it’s one hour until dinner and I forgot to defrost” mode. So I use my task list to remind me of what I need to do.
Once my menu is planned, I take those right-most column items and enter them into Remember the Milk. They are set with a day, and a time. So I know that if I need to get the crockpot going before I leave for work, there will be an alarm to remind me to do so.
Using Make-Ahead Techniques
Another favorite of mine is to make it so I really don’t have to do much cooking on the weeknights. If I can do most of my cooking on the weekend, this eliminates the need to remember to prep. One of my favorite methods is following The Weeknight Survival Cookbook.
The methods in the The Weeknight Survival Cookbook have you prep most of your food on Sunday, and then working off the leftovers for the week. You might grill a half dozen chicken breasts, prepare two pounds of broccoli and three pounds of potatoes, then work with quick ingredients to make these into meals throughout the rest of the week. The cookbook lays out what you have to cook when, as well as gives you a shopping list. (Warning: these recipes make a ton of food, and even eating the leftovers as lunches for two adults, we still have extra)
Another method is to do this on a smaller scale. For instance, if I cook a whole chicken in the crockpot on Sunday, we will eat off of it that night, then I will have two meals worth of cooked chicken for the week. I can make this into chicken pot pie, or stir fry, or anything that is quick that calls for cooked chicken.
By thinking through what needs to be done, putting a few reminders up, and making food ahead of time, I am able to eat at home most of the time. This means we eat outside the home only when we want to, rather than as a product of unpreparedness.
Do you have any techniques that you use to make food prep easier? Share below.
Photo by yurilong