I'm a big believer in organizing when it comes to cooking. Little is as stressful as figuring out what you're going to eat at 5:30 every night, especially when you haven't gone grocery shopping in a while.
When we are organized, meals tend to be healthier, tastier, and easier! Which means that we have to think about it ahead of time.
I try to plan my meals on Sunday, or Monday morning if that doesn't work out. But there are two kitchen appliances that make my life so much easier: the freezer and the crockpot.
I love the crockpot because I can make dinner in the morning while I'm homeschooling! Often from 3:30-5:00 we like to go to the YMCA to work out, so cooking then is out of the question. But this way we can work out and still come home to dinner!
The other appliance that I don't think we use to its full advantage is the freezer. I don't just mean stocking up on meat (we buy half a cow every other year, and chickens from friends who raise them), but by making meals ahead of time. Whenever I cook, I try to make double (like spaghetti sauce, stews, casseroles, etc), so that I always have a meal in the freezer! This prevents that urge to "order pizza" or go out to eat because you don't want to cook. Heating something up isn't that stressful.
One thing I've never taken advantage of, though, is "cooking parties", which I know lots of women attend! Basically, you buy all the ingredients for five meals, or ten meals, or whatever, and then you get together to package them all for your freezer. It makes cooking much more fun, and you know your meals are ready! Freezer Meals in Minutes offers a great service where they provide the shopping lists and directions for one of these parties. It's really easy--you pick the recipes, and they tell you what to do! And there's no cooking involved on the assembly day. You just measure ingredients and bag them up. Check it out!
In the meantime, here's what I'm going to make this week:
Monday: Rump Roast in the Crockpot. I love roasts in the crockpot. They come out so tender! I wouldn't put a sirloin or tenderloin roast in one, because they're great in the oven, but some of the tougher cuts work wonderfully in the crockpot. Add some onion soup mix and some veggies, along with some beef broth, and it's really tasty!
The best thing is the leftovers that end up in my freezer, divided out so I can make beef barley soup several times. I love soup & salad & rolls for dinner. It's easy, and it's really cheap to make!
Tuesday: Meatballs. It's been a while since we've had this family staple, and I'm going to make double so that I can freeze some!
Wednesday: Salmon. It's time for fish again. I do make my family eat it every now and then, even though they're not particular fans, because I believe the health benefits are important. The problem is that the kids like it plain, whereas I love to marinate it in soya sauce, honey, and other good stuff. So I tend to marinate mine and not theirs. It will be great when one day I'll just be able to make everybody's meal the same!
Thursday: Asian Chicken Thighs. Chicken thighs are often cheaper than breasts, but you can buy them boneless and skinless too! These ones I do marinate in soya sauce and honey and salsa, and then they're yummy!
Friday: Beef and Barley soup with rolls. Here's where the leftover beef comes in. I buy my beef broth (I do make it sometimes, but I'm out of homemade broth). It just makes it so much easier. And then I throw in whatever veggies I want. I have a bunch of the dried soup mix in the cupboard, so I think I'll use that up this week. And I'm going to pull out my breadmaker for the rolls.
What about you? What do you find helps you with meal planning?
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About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.