I’ve just spent a long day in my kitchen. On my calendar I mark these days as “Cook Ahead” days, the once-a-month chore of cooking all the food I put in the freezer to pull out and eat throughout the month.
This has been my habit for a year now, and it has proved to be well-worth the effort. On all the many days that we are busy, there is no need to worry about dinner (except for enough planning ahead to remember to pull it out and defrost it over the day.)
It’s a great time-saver … on all the other days of the month. It’s a huge amount of work before-hand. Isn’t that the way of it? You’ll pay for it on one end or the other, and I guess I just prefer to put the effort in up front.
I start off by working with a calendar, noting what days in the upcoming month we will have a reason to eat elsewhere, noting what days we will be in a hurry, noting which days I’ll have enough time to do a more elaborate meal, etc. Then I write down a meal plan for the whole month, and choose meals to cook ahead that will freeze well.
Usually each family member picks something they want to eat (they each have their favorites they request over and over again), and then I fill in the rest, based on what supplies we have on hand or what is seasonal or just what inspires me as I flip through cookbooks.
On Cook Ahead day itself, it’s very efficient also because I can do all the prep at once, then put the meals together easily.
This month I made:
- Vegetarian Lasagna
- Vegetarian stuffed bell peppers
- Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
- Pork Meatballs
- Mussel Chowder
- Brazilian Fish Stew
- Vegan Cabbage Soup
You’ll note the mix of meat vs. vegetarian. I’ll be writing more about how this family faces the omnivore’s dilemma, later.
This goes into a freezer that still holds two tamale pies, a macaroni and cheese, several jars of beef stew, and a quiche from last month. We will eat well this month!
Now, unfortunately the next step is to deal with this …