All from a two block radius around our house.
It is chilly. I want the heat on all the time… and blankies. I’m working super hard to get a rhythm down as we head into long cold nights and short rainy days. I’ve decided to try and get a bit of schedule together for myself, our meals, and Tuesday. We pretty much wing it… um daily. I don’t mind that so much, but I think with the time change it’s really having an effect on Tuesday. Plus I think she needs a bit more attention part of the day for learning activities, since we don’t send her to pre-school.
Step one was to tackle the meal thing. I have a great group of friends who are working moms and all cook more than me. We decided to get together and do a dinner swappers group. We cook one day every other week (at my friend’s to die for huge kitchen) and end up with 10 or so meals each to freeze for later.
Last Friday two of us cooked 17 pounds of chicken!!! We made tortilla soup, a casserole, breakfast pie, and chicken enchiladas. This was only our second go and already we’ve gotten a lot more efficient. I checked out pretty much every book about it at the library and am loving all the tips.
I realized pretty quick that just having the food in the freezer wasn’t a huge help unless I to use it somehow. So I’m going to try the menu planning (this chart downloaded here). This is my first real week of it. I tried just dinner, but I found I was still shopping like normal and when I really go through my cupboards I found lots of things to use up. Of course I had to clean those out too:
We don’t have a lot of storage space. This cupboard is the only one for food in our kitchen. We also have a drawer for stuff. I call it the carb drawer (it’s mostly candy and bar type things). In the basement I have my canned storage, so I made a list on a piece of chalkboard decal to remind me what’s down there.
So far so good. I’m going to make chalkboard labels for all the storage in the cupboard (I can cut it with my Silhouette). I’d love your meal planning/freezer cooking tips. Also what to do with dried beans (I don’t have a slow cooker FYI). I have a lot of them from the CSA and more that Tuesday and I need to shuck downstairs. Next up, I tackle Tuesday’s schedule.
Check out the 30 Day Gourmet. http://www.30daygourmet.com/
I’ve used a bunch of their recipes and have had great luck.
I’m surprised you don’t have a slow cooker – my mom got me one and for years I didn’t know what to do with it. But I use it more now and love it for things like beans, especially garbanzos. It’s also great for applesauce, fruit butter and this pork that Aaron makes. I don’t care for it much for actual meals because I don’t care for the flavor of most food that has been cooked all together for hours and hours, but for those items that I mentioned it’s great.
I’ve never tried this, but you can pressure can dried beans very easily. You just put them in dry with water and what ever salt or seasoning you like and then process them. I will be doing that some day when we have a different stove.
isn’t tuesday too young for pre-school anyway? i thought kids had to be 3 at the start of the school year to go. but…that’s coming from someone without kids.
i need to meal plan. maybe then i’d actually cook again. i swear it’s been at least 6 weeks since i’ve made a complete and actual meal. this coming from the girl that LOVES to be in her apron + in the kitchen… not sure what my problem is! 🙁
I am already starting to find a group of Moms up here that want to do the same thing. So far my only taker is myself…..can’t I join your swap? Alaska isn’t really that far away!
Get a slow cooker/crockpot! It will change your life 🙂
I’m starting out like you. We’re a little more casual about it, I came up with 5 meals to make this week yesterday, and then went grocery shopping for everything. But nothing is set to a certain night because my mood changes quickly 😉
None of us eat lunch at home, so that I don’t worry about, and Tom is the only one who eat breakfast, but he has cereal everyday. I take mine to work, and the kids eat at school.
I just need to get us to where we aren’t eating out at all, simply because we run out of time/we’re tired/no one thought of anything. It’s one thing to plan a night out, it’s totally different to end up with crap food because we’re being lazy. Not fair to us or the kids.
So here’s to eating better!! And my favorite thing to do is scout pinterest for yummy recipes 😉 Tho most are NOT healthy and 1/2 involve dessert….
dang girl. you’re soooo organized. i’m impressed.
I have a few favorite cookbooks for this kind of cooking:
1. Don’t Panic, Dinner’s in the Freezer
2. Don’t Panic, More Dinner’s in the Freezer
3. Fix, Freeze and Feast, and
4. Make a Mix.
I also make a “beer can” chicken about once a week. That provides enough meat for 2 meals and broth for something else. It’s easy-peasy, with prep time taking about 5 minutes. All the work is done by the oven! I don’t use a beer can, though. I use a stainless steel stand I got from Amazon.
I also wholeheartedly love my crock-pot, but not for making meats. I use it for chili, beans, wild rice, risotto…things that take a long time on the stovetop. I’ve gotten some great recipes from: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com.
Making a meal plan is very helpful. After a while, you figure out a rotation of your favorite meals, and it becomes a lot easier. 🙂
We put the weekly recipes right on the fridge door, so that whoever is cooking that night, can pick from what is left and get it started until the other is home. I shop once a week now, down from nearly every other day. Our shopping list is put together from the menu plan and we stick to it. We don’t do a lot for breakfast – and we all pack a cold lunch (usually leftovers), unless the kids may be having hot lunch from school. We also eat out every 2nd and 4th Monday of the week (for schedule reasons) and that I dare say is usually a $5.00 pizza and some bread sticks. I also prepare freezer meals once a month – about 8-10, to fill in for when things go amiss. We have cut our monthly food bill drastically, and the amount we are wasting is none!
Omg, the slow cooker is a magical thing! Splurge and get yourself one. Sooo worth it! But good for you to meal plan! I do this on the weekends…rummage through all my recipes and plan for the week, usually cooking a bunch of chicken and chopping onions, green peppers and garlic (all 3 are staples in our house and I put them in everything) to add to recipes for seasoning. Then when I get home from work, all the prep work is done and I just need to “assemble” everything. Sorry, no suggestions for dried beans…
I agree, invest in a really good slow cooker. They are the best. I use mine all the time.
Thanks Megan, I’ll check it out!
It’s cool to hear about other uses for it, I too don’t really like all the food that is cooked together, but I think it would be awesome to have for chillies and beans… but where would I put it?
That sounds like a great start! We were eating out a whole lot too, and not such good things.
I love pinterest for recipes too, it’s so awesome!
Don’t panic dinner’s in the freezer was my first pick from the library, two of the recipes this week were from it. I didn’t know there was a second one. And I just got make a mix. Looks like we’re on the same page 🙂 Ok, I’m hearing all of you and the crock pot thing! 🙂 If only my kitchen was bigger!
I am putting the list on the fridge too. We’re cutting down waste too. The only thing I’m running into is when Bj cooks, he makes huge portions, so it throws everything off. I’m working on him though 🙂 I’m super excited about the money we are saving too.
The chopping of the stuff is brilliant. Assembling is so much easier than cooking 🙂
I find it a bother that we have to eat in the first place. Maybe that’s why the life of a vampire is appealing to me. Minus the blood part, sub that for something a little less grotesque. You might have to start liking Italian if we join forces. 😉
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