I really do practice what I preach. I make a menu for the week with a corresponding grocery list, then I shop and I come home and organize. And, ideally, I prep some foods on the weekend to save time during the week. Preparing foods ahead of time is a luxury, not a necessity. However, in our life right now, it’s becoming more of a necessity.
My friend and I have started running after work on Wednesdays. This change in my schedule has created the need for crock pot meals because there is no way that I can run after work and then cook dinner. Well, I could, but that would create utter chaos in our house. While I just get crabby and short-tempered when I am hungry, 2 year old and 6 month old little girls simply won’t stand for late dinners. The ease of coming home to a dinner that’s pretty much ready to serve is so wonderful on Wednesdays that I have a renewed commitment to cooking on the weekend for the week.
You’ve got to plan ahead and be well equipped to do this. My Christmas present this year from Mom was a massive supply of Pyrex. I had to reorganize my pantry to hold it!
Here’s my “container shelf”. That’s about 1/2 full, the rest are in the dishwasher. But you see, I still have enough to prep, cook and store food for the week without having to do dishes. Perfect!
With my list of recipes for the week in hand, I go through and think about what I could do on the weekend to save time.
What’s on my menu this week?
- Marinated fish and chicken with baked sweet potatoes, “creamed” spinach and salad
- Creamy Chicken Lasagna and salad
- Curried Lentils with Paneer and salad
- Slow Braised Red Chili Beef with bell peppers and zucchini, brown rice, corn tortillas, shredded cabbage and avocado
What can be prepared ahead of time?
- Marinate the salmon and chicken. I used coriander, cumin, vegetable broth, and a little honey.
- “Bake” the sweet potatoes in the microwave and then heat them in the oven for the baked feeling on the day you plan to eat them. BTW–sweet potatoes were Dena’s fourth food this week! She loved ’em!
- Make the “creamed” spinach, which is basically blending tofu, lemon and garlic and pouring over frozen spinach. I used frozen spinach instead of fresh.
- To cook the salmon, chicken, sweet potatoes and spinach, just throw it all a 375 degree oven and bake until done. About 15 minutes for the chicken, fish and spinach, and 30 minutes for the spinach.
- Cut up veggies for salad. This week we had broccoli, carrots, celery, jicama and cabbage
- Make the lasagna. Just bake it when you need it. You could also make two and freeze one for future use.
- Make the lentils. I did this last night because we are having them tonight. I made a note on my menu plan to remind myself that I need to do that.
- Make the sauce for the braised beef. Cover the beef roast with the sauce and then freeze. Take it out the day before you need it. I am putting it in the slow cooker rather than the cook method described in the recipe.
- I have brown rice in the freezer that I will pull out to use this week. This could be done the night before or on the weekend if you don’t have any frozen.
All in all, I think I was in the kitchen for about 3 hours. But I did have my little helpers, some breaks to play and feed the kiddos. On my own it would have taken about half that time. The time investment was well worth it. I would much rather take my time and play in the kitchen and cooking on the weekend affords me that luxury. So this week, my stress level is down and we’ve had time to come home and play with the neighbors and sit outside for a bit before dinner. Let’s see if I can keep it up!
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