Am I the only mom who has come to dread the 430-6pm hours of the day? Man, these people, they want food every single night!! There has got to be an easier way to do this. It seems like freezer meals and once-a-month cooking posts are all over the place these days! For a long time I couldn’t see why this would be necessary. Well, I’m about to start my second year homeschooling, and am almost through my first trimester with our fourth baby, and it’s become pretty clear that cooking dinner is no longer my strength! Over the past few months I’ve been looking for a few ways to simplify the process. Thus far, I haven’t done a lot of fully cooked and frozen meals, but have focused on the most time consuming part of the process – MEAT! For me, just having this step completed has made it SO much easier when 5 o’clock rolls around. Here are a few ways I try to batch cook meat so it is ready ahead of time.
Ground beef ~ I’ve found that on a day when I am making something that requires ground beef, it is almost no additional effort at all to do it in a large batch. I buy the family size packages at Costco or Wegmans (sometimes 2 if I’m feeling brave!), brown the meat (sometimes with garlic or onions depending on what I am cooking), use enough for dinner for a night or two, and freeze the rest. I’ve done this with spaghetti sauce, chili, lasagna or tacos. It can be done with meatloaf too, although it is more time consuming to do ahead of time in bulk.
Rotisserie chicken ~ What would I do without Costco’s rotisserie chicken? This has saved me on so many evenings! Aside from the last minute dinner though, it has become an ingredient for many other recipes. Casseroles, soups, salads, there are so many options! On a day or evening that isn’t overly full, I’ll buy 5 or 6 chickens, pick them all and cut up the meat, then freeze in 2 cup portions to use in any of these recipes later on.
Chicken breasts ~ I’ve started buying my chicken from Zaycon Foods. Farm fresh chicken, $1.89/lb. You can’t beat that! When you buy from them, the chicken comes in a 40 lb. box and has to be trimmed, separated into bags
and frozen at one time. Definitely more time consuming than cutting up a cooked chicken, but worth it! Last time I ordered 2 boxes. My husband and I worked together, and in one evening we had 80 pounds of chicken prepped and ready for different meals. Sometimes I have gone the most simple route and just trimmed, frozen and bagged the chicken. Sometimes I make up a few marinades to add to bags or simple recipes and freeze a few portions of it that way to have a few ready to bake servings too.
There’s nothing amazing here, and I’ve also just learned to simplify our meals in this season for us. As much as I love fancy recipes (I’m a bit of a foodie), I’m just not in a season of my life where it serves my family well to cook involved recipes. But maybe there are some others who are looking to save time in simple ways like I am! What are ways you have been able to simplify cooking processes in your home?