Getting Organized: Meal Planning and Cooking

IMG_6061aLife’s been a whirlwind lately.  We went from being housebound for six weeks in August and September thanks to the bus strike to being busy almost every day with homeschool activities, shopping, appointments, etc.

Lately, things have felt very out of control to me.  The house is cluttered and messy, I’ve been indulging in sweets (my go to stress reliever) too much and gaining weight, I haven’t been exercising enough, and cooking meals for our family with growing appetites and food intolerances is taking way too much time.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to try to address each of these problems, especially as we head into the even busier holiday season.

Today, I want to start with one of the biggest time sucks–cooking.

Spending Time Cooking is Affecting Work Time

I used to work in the afternoon between 3:30 or 4 to 5 p.m. while the kids had their television time.  Now, more often than not, I spend that time cooking, which means I need to do more of my work on the weekend or at night.  Not what I want.

So, starting this week,  I’m going to implement these strategies to see if I can gain my work time back.

Strategies to Spend Less Time in the Kitchen

Eat freezer meals.  A few weeks ago I had a freezer cooking session.  I plan to eat some of those meals this week so the only work required from me is putting the freezer meal in the slow cooker or heating it up on the stove.

October freezer cooking session--20 meals!

October freezer cooking session–20 meals!

Use the slow cooker.  Hands off cooking is my goal.  On the days that I’m not going to use the freezer meals, I plan to use the slow cooker.

Sloppy Joes for a Crowd--Made Healthier

Sloppy Joes for a Crowd–Made Healthier

Plan a few easy meals.  Not all of our meals have to be cooked.  Right now I have half of a carton of lettuce in the refrigerator, as well as a tomato and an avocado.  I also have browned meat in the freezer.  I could very easily throw together taco salad.  The only work I need to do is slice and dice the tomato and avocado and reheat the meat and add taco seasoning.

IMG_6075

Spend some time prepping on the weekend.  I rarely use this strategy, but it’s a good one.  Spend an hour or two on the weekend prepping food so there’s less to do during the week.  That might mean peeling and dicing carrots for a soup, chopping broccoli for a side dish, etc.

Cook double.  My kids are growing, and they’re eating more than ever!  I used to double a meal with 4 servings, and it would easily feed our whole family and there would be leftovers for another day.  Not anymore!  Now when I double tuna noodle casserole, instead of having enough for a full leftover meal, I have just enough for one or two servings.  Arrgh.  My son, especially, has a hollow leg despite his thin frame.

Since I’m cooking anyway, I might as well cook double so I do have enough leftovers for a full meal.

That’s my plan for this week.  Hopefully, I’ll be spending less time in the kitchen and more time working and getting organized.

How do you cut corners when cooking at home?

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