I'm in full blown, nesting, must-make-batches-of-food-mode. I'm like a squirrel, hording away my nuts (or blueberry muffins) for winter. I stock pile. slow cook. batch cook. and I bake. and then I bake some more. This is my time when I can crank up the Barbie Oven and not have to worry about getting the house too hot.
I blame this flurry of activity on my neighbor. She gave me a bin full of hand-me-downs for Sassy. (Her daughter, "Ducky," is the same age as BigBoy.) It was like Christmas for this mama. Most of the winter shirts fit her perfectly or just a tad too big. Hooray! So of course getting this bin of clothes led me to organizing her entire closet and dresser and purging all things that didn't fit. Which then led to going through BigBoy's stuff and packing up all everything that no longer fits into said bin to pass along to her munchkin, MiddleMan-- Sassy's BFF. My life was sorting and packing for a good part of the weekend. But now both kids are set for the cold weather with their clothes, except for BB, who has managed to grow AGAIN since the start of school. What in the world are they feeding him for snack? Next project? Food.
I've been trying to batch cook a little more efficiently. I'm not one of those people who can do a "cooking day" and get a million things cooked and have a freezer with ready made meals. The munchkins interrupt me no less than 200 times while I'm in the kitchen. Or they want to "help". My solution thus far is to batch cook in batches. I'm brilliant huh? I am grouping like items from various recipes and cooking them, then putting them in the fridge or freezer then moving on to something else. This week it's been grains, beans and ground turkey. I have 3-4 recipes in mind and I'm bulking up the recipes to freeze. I'm making Mexican Lasagna, meatloaf muffins, chili and burritos. Why not just cook up all the ground turkey in one swoop and be done with it? I doubled most of the recipes, and will plan from there. I did 5 cups of uncooked rice while working on the turkey, giving me about 10 cups done. This is for the lasagna and burritos. Then I put the chili in the slow cooker for dinner- double batch again and made pinto beans in bulk-- these I will use in the same two Mexican recipes. I already have mass diced onions from forever ago-- we bought onions on sale or something and just diced and sliced them all. Threw them in the freezer. Easy peasy.
Last weekend we ate pancakes for breakfast. Again, I doubled the batch and made tons of pancakes to freeze and use during the week when I don't have time to make them. I'm also planning on roasting a chicken every weekend now. Round 1, we eat it for Sunday dinner. Round 2, we use the meat all week for quick lunches or I can make a full recipe with it. Round 3, throw the bones and bits of meat in a pot for awesome chicken stock or soup. Tip: even if you just buy a rotisserie chicken at the store, you can do the same thing. You can also freeze chicken stock in ice cube trays for adding to recipes as needed.
We also just did a major Costco run. As soon as we got home I split up the fish fillets into meal size bags and added marinade if needed. Into the freezer they all went. Now when I defrost the salmon, it already has the ginger sesame dressing in the bag. Just defrost. How easy is that? I do the same for meats. Cut them into meal portions, bag 'em.
By no means am I a super meal planner, but I'm trying to get better. There are a TON of blogs/websites of women who ARE meal planning/batch cooking rock stars. It ain't me. But you can get lots of great ideas just from reading what they do. I've also been adding less meat to recipes and doubling up everywhere else, like in chili. With Christmas coming up (10 weeks, people, 10 weeks!!!) I really want to see how much I can save on our monthly bills (mainly groceries) and see if I can stock pile money in addition to pancakes.
While it's not the "cook one day and eat for a month" or OAMC that some
crazy industrious moms do, but it WILL help me get ahead of my meals, I will have stuff ready to go and don't have to envy the squirrels.
Mexican Lasagna from PW
I haven't made this yet, but it looks super yummy and easy. I am doing my own thing (my own Mexican rice recipe) but using this as a guide.
This was my first time making these. I used Italian breadcrumbs instead of saltines. I also cut out the onions since they kids don't like to see onions in their food and these were mainly for them. This recipe was good, but not knock your socks off. But for the munchkins, it will totally work for easy dinners when BigDaddy is MIA. I'm thinking I can toss a few into BB's lunch too. Recipe made double what it claimed. Maybe my "muffins" weren't big enough, but I filled them 1/2 - 3/4 the way full-- plenty big kids. This is a keeper! I also had to cook for about 10 minutes longer due to the Barbie Oven.
Ground Turkey Chili from Roni's Green Lite Bites
This is my go-to recipe for chili. I always use this one, execpt we never have bell peppers on hand, so I skip. We always have canned mushrooms, so I throw those in. I also skip cumin cuz I hate it. really, really, really can't stand cumin. This time I also kept the meat the same but doubled everything else and added a cup of quinoa. I need to tweak a bit more, but it was great as it.
Next up: Breakfast Egg & Bacon Muffins, Apple Pancakes, Dinner Biscuits.
photo credit: Tjflex2.
photo credit: Tjflex2.