When it comes to making meals in the advance, I’m not a Once-a-Month Cook (OMAC). The whole idea of planning, prepping, and cooking a month’s worth of meals in a day or two just is more than I can handle.
However, I do make ample use of my freezer, and it is usually stocked with at least one or more pre-cooked meals. And is always full of pre-trimmed and portioned meats, beans, and veggies.
So, if I’m not a once-a-month cook, or even a once-a-week-cook, what am I?
A Sporadic Bulk cook and an Opportunistic Freezer cook!
When I get the whim or see a need and have a few minutes or an hour or two, I’ll get something going for the freezer.
And if I can, I’ll make more than I need for dinner or lunch, so that I have at least lunches that I can freeze or even whole entrees I can freeze and pull out the following week.
It doesn’t require a lot of planning, or even a lot of prep work, which means it fits my very busy schedule very well.
Some days it’s as simple as making a really big pot of spaghetti, and freezing what’s left for next week and/or my husband’s lunches. Or setting a bag of beans out to soak overnight and letting them simmer away the next day.
Other days, I might throw together some ingredients in the Crock Pot and let it simmer overnight, and then it’s done the next day, ready to eat, or cool and package up.
Then there are days like today, where I’ll make up a couple different dishes that have all have the similar base ingredients, so it’s easy to make up multiple things all at once.
One example is spaghetti and lasagna. If I have time, I’ll make beef spaghetti, turkey spaghetti, and then multiple pans of lasagna, using the sauces. After all, if you are going to make one pan of lasagna, it’s just as easy to make 3 or 4, especially if you do it like a production line. And… no need to boil noodles when you are going to freeze it!
Another example is what I did today. I made a list of what I had available to cook up: stew meat, fajita meat, roast, pre-cooked chicken, and ground turkey.
Then I made up a large batch of mirepoix (onions, celery, and carrots) in the food processor, chopped up some onions, carrots, and potatoes separately, and started cooking.
Chicken pot pie filling, beef stew, and turkey chili all used the mirepoix. And the two Crockpots got the roast and the fajita mix.
I saved all the trimmings from the onions, carrots, and celery, grabbed a couple chicken carcasses from the freezer (yes, I throw them in the freezer so I have them on had when I feel like making stock), and got a pot of homemade chicken broth going as well.
Today’s batch cooking took me about 3 1/2 hours, and tomorrow, after everything cools down I’ll package it up. That’s it, and now I have both lunches and dinners for a week, plus some for next week.
Three to Four hours is about all I can do. But it works. Little bits of time here and there – and using slow cookers, making larger quantities, and making meals that use similar ingredients – all ends up saving a ton of time, stress, and money in the long run.
Not much planning, no extra shopping, just being opportunistic and taking advantage of the mood and the little bits of time here and there.
So are you ready to be come an Opportunistic Freezer Cook? Or are you already one?