Tuesday, February 22, 2011

easing stress (and temptation!) by planning ahead.

I don't know about you, but there's at least one day a week in a normal life situation when i just don't want to cook.  i've had it, i'm tired, the kitchen is a mess, or i have some event or responsibility that makes dinner time difficult.  any one of those would suffice, but when they all come together in one incredible vortex of awesome, it's a sight to behold.

in normal days, perhaps we would have chosen takeout or the drive through or even gone to a restaurant to ease that burden. sometimes we still do.

but since i'm 8.5 months pregnant now, these occurrences are more frequent.  i would say, on average, there are now three days a week when cooking an entire meal from start to finish is just too exhausting to manage. judge if you must, but some days it's a chore to keep myself hydrated. 

but we can't eat out, for financial or health reasons, three times a week. i just can't do it.  happily, on those four other days, i am usually bit by the cooking/domestic bug and am excited when i can prepare meals from scratch for my family (or, you know, as close to scratch as possible).

thus, i have begun the EXTRA cooking.

try it next time, especially if you have a small-ish family, by making a double batch of whatever you're making. sometimes it does take some planning ahead, but if you're already making, say, chicken enchiladas (which can be labor intensive on a busy night), it doesn't take much extra time to roll up an extra six or seven enchiladas and put them in the freezer for a night when you can't face the kitchen unless it's going to help you out.

one special bonus of this particular way of cooking, that was unexpected but SO HAPPY, is that, in our house, we end up eating less. because i am dividing a large batch into several portions immediately (i.e. crockpot pulled pork), there's less feeling that we have to eat more because there are SO MANY LEFTOVERS.  i bought french bread the other night to make garlic bread for baked pasta (another dish that does well in the freezer), and i cut it into thirds and froze 2/3 of it. we certainly didn't need to eat an entire french bread loaf in one sitting, and i knew there wouldn't be an occasion to use it in the next few days.  instead, i'm saving it for the next batch of baked pasta and/or the pulled pork redux (or both!).

it works for lunch stuff too. last week, i wanted to make chocolate chip cookies for my husband's lunch. i try to include a baked good like that each day, but often recipes end up making SO many cookies that, for us, they end up getting stale and hard before they have been used.  this time, i doubled the recipe and rolled whole batches into wax paper. i put them in a ziploc bag and have already cracked one out.  a wax paper roll that mimics the size of a store-bought roll of cookie dough was as easy to cut and bake as they are and made 24 cookies (the perfect amount for our family at any given time).

if you are finding yourself struggling to know what to make, or wishing that you had a few days off in the kitchen, think about doubling your recipes and halving your efforts--it really does work!

and if you have excellent recipes that freeze beautifully, PLEASE share them. i'm trying to try out new ones and stockpile the good ones for when Baby Girl arrives. i'd love to hear what you all do!

3 comments:

  1. I like this recipe because you can throw it in the crock pot and serve it with tortillas or on top of rice...and it freezes with no problem!!

    http://www.recipegirl.com/2008/09/15/slow-cooker-tex-mex-chicken-and-beans/

    I shred the chicken really well and usually do it with breast instead of thigh.

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  2. Oh how I love my freezer. I try to double a meal and freeze half on a pretty consistence basis. It's awesome. I've tried a lot of these recipes from Martha Stewart and love most everything we've tried,

    http://www.marthastewart.com/photogallery/freezer-friendly-foods?&lpgview=thumb&showComments=true#ms-global-breadcrumbs

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  3. I make these sometimes http://thegetinshapegirl.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/cottage-cheese-stuffed-chicken-breast/ and I told another girl about them and she would make a bunch then freeze them before cooking them. so in the morning, she'd pull them out to thaw in the fridge, and put them in the oven at night so they would be ready to go!

    im also a fan of stir frys on those nights. pre-cooked frozen shrimp and frozen bags of veggies and a peanut sauce and a bag of microwave minute rice are simple and easy and perfect on those busy/ exhausted nights.

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