Ok. I love to be organized, but sometimes I just feel overwhelmed! Then I tend to spin in circles and get nothing done. That’s how meal planning has been for me.
I love to cook, in my dreams I’ve been to cooking school in Italy and written several cookbooks and am a cooking guru star! Oh. Did mention that was a dream. Well, maybe someday . . .
In real life, even though I love to cook, I tend to spend the least amount of time possible in the kitchen. There is always so much to do . . . laundry piled high, kids to pick up, shopping, budgeting, pay the bills, tend to Prince Charming you know the drill . . . By 4pm I am exhausted and still don’t know whats for supper! I often hang on the fridge door nervously waiting for supper to hop out and say “Hello, here I am”!
One month I decided to do freezer cooking I spent a week planning, making my shopping list and then shopping. Then one day I made all the meals for the entire month and put them in the freezer. This was great however . . . I spent the entire day from sun up to sun down cooking. If that isn’t one way to murder your love of cooking I don’t know what is! Next time I vowed to prep one day then cook another and do only two weeks at a time. As a Mom and head chef around here my gut feeling was that this might not be the healthiest way to eat. I mean EVERYTHING was frozen, not to mention dairy didn’t freeze so well.
Ok maybe I’m too picky. That may come from a heritage of cooks, my Great Great Grandparents owned a restaurant in Paris, my Uncle had a restaurant and every other relative had some sort of food passion!
Here’s what I have learned
Instead of the full on freezer meal ordeal, pre prep! Plan your meals for a week or two weeks, spend one day shopping and then one day prepping. It is a HUGE relief just to know what dinner will be, and a few steps ready to go makes a huge difference. When I brown ground beef or turkey for a recipe I will brown 3 pounds instead of 1, then I have it already done for the next meal and all I have to do is add the fresh veggies and whatever else it has that makes it special. When I cook chicken breast, I cook a lot! Just lay it all out on a pan season a tad and viola! Chicken salad, chicken quesadilla, chicken enchilada, chicken and pasta . . . you get the idea.
Just changing my thinking has helped me save a lot of time in the kitchen and still be able to put healthy, yummy meals on the table.
What works for you?
Happy cooking friends!
P.S. I took the photo above at an old homestead we recently hiked to. The last time this kitchen had been used was sometime in the 1950’s. The photo is of a shelf in the kitchen left just the way it was, if only those cans could speak!