Do you plan meals ahead?

My life can quickly get overrun with commitments, demands, and my energy spent in at least 2 different directions. Unlike the life my mom knew, of being home and able to start dinner in the afternoon before anyone returned home, my life doesn’t even resemble that. I work a day job, and together with my husband we run a full time business from our studio in the evenings and weekends. Time to just prepare a meal is rare.

So i have discovered the joy of doing kitchen prep for the week on a sunday afternoon. I am usually thinking of having salads made, a pot of soup on to cook, roast a chicken, or a pork loin, and pickle some vegetables…. And pack everything up in the fridge for easy access as we work through the week. The benefit of this plan is that we have ready made food that can quickly be pulled together, warmed up, and we can eat, or take containers to the studio for a dinner on the fly. A second benefit is doing this preparation saves us money, we are eating healthier, and we are able to spend less time getting our meals together. Who doesn’t love saving a bit of money!!

Here are a few things i love to do:

  • Soup – we love simple brothy soups and they are so easy peasy…. I buy chicken legs and thighs (cost effective) and into a large dutch oven i saute 1 onion, 3 carrots cut into bite size pieces, 4 stalks of celery cut into bite size pieces, 1-2 pieces of garlic and a pinch of rosemary. i add the chicken pieces, cover with water, add a bay leaf and let this go on simmer for at least 2 hours. (I have found that putting the dutch oven in the oven at a low oven (250 degrees) all night also produces amazing soup – if you dont have the time to keep checking and stirring it). When done strain out the chicken, debone, and add the meat back to the soup. I package them in containers that will allow us to heat up enough for one meal per container, or smaller pint size for lunches.
  • Hard boiled eggs – i hard boil a dozen eggs – to be added to salads, or grabbed as a breakfast on the fly. Hint- to prevent the shells from sticking to the egg add 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the water you are boiling your eggs in. Works every time.
  • Roast or pork loin – roast your favorite cut of meat and plan to use it in several different meals. Sliced and served with vegetables one night, shredded on a salad, or thin sliced on a sandwich… in the summer we think about grilling chops, chicken, vegetables…. which can be part of our meals for the week as well.
  • Salads – we love lots of greens – so i keep a good amount of them on hand. I use pint containers, and fill them with all of the dry ingredients for salad – lettuce, other vegetables, meats… leaving the wet ingredients (dressing, pickles, etc) in a seperate container. Easy to grab and go when packing lunches.
  • Bacon – This was the greatest revelation when i learned that back can be cooked on a cookie sheet (actually jelly roll pan because of the sides) in the oven. 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes… the grease drains away, the bacon is crisp… and can be stored in a container in the refrigerator to be used on salads, or pulling together breakfast sandwiches.

Looking for more food prep inspiration? Check out this link which offers a nice variety of offerings.