Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mother's Little Helper

If you are female, chances are you bear the brunt of household responsibilities, and we won't even get into the parenting duties resting on our shoulders! If, like me, you are trying to juggle a thousand and one things, figuring out what to put on the table every night is beyond a pain in the rear. I love to cook, however, now that I'm writing full time I find myself longing for the food of the future a la the Jetson's cartoon. You know, Jane pushes a series of buttons and out pop a plethora of food pills ... sigh, a girl can dream, can't I?

OK, back to the real world. I've devised a system; not the greatest, and it still doesn't take all the pressure of "what's to eat?" away, but I thought I'd share.
My biggest time and stress saver? Cook once, eat twice, or more! Here's what I mean. Let's say I go to the grocery store and lean ground beef is on sale. Instead of buying one or two pounds, I buy maybe six pounds (or whatever I can afford that particular week:) and then I buy ingredients to turn that six pounds of hamburger into meals.
For my family those hamburger meals will probably be:
Chili
Spaghetti sauce
Meatloaf
Hamburger patties
Taco Meat
Now, here's the thing. I go home with my ingredients and I cook those meals. I used to just package the meat into one pound packages and freeze, but then I had to remember to thaw that meat and then I had to cook it. My freezer was full of meat but I was still relying on take-out!
By cooking the meat into dishes that freeze well, I have "TV" dinners ready to go.
I do this with chicken too. Whole chickens are on sale here quite often. If you freeze bone-on chicken, it tends to turn the meat black. But, if you roast the chickens, two at a time (saves on electricity), you can pick the meat off the bone and freeze for chicken and dumplings, chicken and rice, soups, and pot pie.
I also have a dry erase calendar hanging on the fridge. Every day has a meal assigned to it so I know at a glance what to pull from the freezer. Life is so much easier when I don't have to worry about what to feed the family! The only problem I've found is that I forget what is in the freezer. My next organizing project will be hanging a dry erase board in the laundry room above the freezer so I can keep a running inventory: I've been buying way too many items lately only to find they are already in the freezer!
Oh! I almost forgot. I make double batches of things like chili, meatloaf, spaghetti sauce and I freeze leftovers like rice and vegetables: pull out cooked rice and veggies, add a can of cream of chicken soup and some cheddar cheese and you've got a quick and tasty casserole!

Below are a few websites devoted to cooking for the month. They tell you what freezes well, how long it will keep, how to reheat, and suggest recipes.
1. Frugal Mom : this site gives a great overview of how to cook for the month.
2. Organized Home: this site has lots of great tips on more than just Feeding the Freezer!
3. Busy Cooks: lots of tips and recipes

Let me know if you decide to try my less stress method and definitely share your secrets to "buying more time"!

6 comments:

  1. Hey Ciara! Glad you like them ... now if only feeding my freezer would add extra hours to the clock; I always find something else to do with the hours saved by not having to cook :(

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  2. Hi Rachel! I would love to know what recipes are typically English :) Shepherd's Pie and Yorkshire Pudding are in my meal rotations but I'm always open to more, especially those popular in my favorite country!

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  3. Very impressive! I'm hungry now. But VERY impressive! ;-)

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  4. Thanks for posting, Rachel! It seems there really isn't enough time in a day anymore.

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