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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Batch Cooking (Menu Plan Monday)

I read smallnotebook's post on batch cooking and it got me thinking about writing a post about my batch cooking techniques. I've talked about this on MPM before in general, but today I thought I'd spell out specifically what went into this week's prep for our menus.

First, the menu:

Monday: Pasta casserole

Tuesday: Taco salads

Wednesday: Vegetable Pasta

Thursday: BLT's

Friday: Breakfast for dinner (banana pancakes and bacon)

While Sweetpea was taking a marathon nap this afternoon, (THANK YOU, dear!) I cooked up 2lbs of ground turkey. Once cooked, I split it in half and to one half added taco seasoning (for Tuesday's meal) and to the other half spaghetti sauce. I think cooked 2lbs of pasta. That was split half for the casserole and the other half for the veggie pasta dish. I then cooked 1lb of bacon for our BLTs and breakfast on Friday. I prepared the casserole so it's ready to cook tomorrow night. The taco meat is ready to assemble on Tuesday. Wednesday's main dish is complete and the bacon is ready for Thursday and Friday. This prep work took less than 3 hours (with laundry, running the dishwasher and a shower mixed in) and it will significantly reduce the amount of time to prepare our meals during the work week.

My goal at least by the end of this month (running a bit behind, as this was supposed to be done for August...ahem.) is to work out a monthly menu plan and to start cooking extra to stash in the freezer. What are your tips and tricks for reducing the time it takes to get dinner on the table? I'd love to hear them!!
For more great menu plans, check out Orgjunkie

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T with Honey said...

LOL! You ask for tips and tricks on reducing the time it takes to get dinner on the table and I just posted a real 30 minute meal recipe on my blog.

Yeah, that's my big secret. I try to find meals that don't take long to pull together. Batch cooking and doing as much prep or pre-cooking ahead of time never worked well in our house.

Rachel said...

Wow, you accomplished a lot! I can see that planning was essential to how much you were able to get done. Great job, and I know it will help you to have an easier week.

Jen said...

I used to go to the meal making places like Let's Dish or Super Suppers or...ok, I can't remember the other names...but then I realized I could do the same thing just as easily myself without spending that much money. When I was working full-time, I used to take an afternoon every month for this based on the main ingredient. For example, I might do ground beef - and make spaghetti sauce, meatballs, lasagna, meatloaf and sloppy joes...then put them all in the freezer. Or if it was chicken, I'd make up a bunch of different marinades. I always loved having the freezer stocked with meals! You had to spend some effort, though, researching what meals freeze well and what don't.

Haven't done that much anymore. Now I just try to simplify within a week. So yesterday we grilled chicken for chicken teriyaki sandwiches...and we grilled a few extra breasts for the chicken burritoes tonight to simplify.

You are right - it takes time on the weekends but it makes the week nights so much easier!

Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom said...

Twithhoney, I will be over to check out your recipe this afternoon-I'm always looking for new ideas! It definitely helps to choose quick cooking meals, which is one of the reasons I'm a fan of Rachel Ray's show of the same name ;)

Thanks for stopping by, Rachel, I do so admire your blog!

Jen, it definitely helps to make your cooking do double or triple duty. I also agree our meals have gotten a lot simpler too, great tip!