There is one question I needed to stop having to answer after having my daughter and attending to a demanding job. The question is: what are we having for dinner?
If I have little time to cook on a daily basis, I definitely have even less time to worry about what I will cook! The easy way out would be to eat delivered meals, take outs or highly saturated crap. Instead, I have opted for a more creative, cost savvy and neat option: I cook ahead, WAY AHEAD!
“I want to have more food options, why settle for what can be cooked weekly?”
Needless to say that the lifetime of food in the freezer is much longer than the time food can survive in a fridge. Some people cook once a week and then use these meals throughout the week. I have a few objections to that:
Once a week requires an amount of time in the kitchen at once that is way above my tolerance level! I want to have more food options, why settle for what can be cooked weekly?
I am a fridge organization freak so seeing heaps of food loaded in all my fridge would make me sick!
So what have I done? I realized that I should keep my friends close and my kitchen gadgets closer! I bought a food steamer, a rice cooker, an electric grill, an air fryer and a slow cooker. Of course I did not buy all that at once, I always wait for mega black Friday sales online or at stores and picked my items when they were discounted. It took me about 5 years of marriage to get my hands on that tech and time saving collection!
So what did I do? Pretty easy in 1-2-3 steps:
- I bought some freezer friendly boxes. If you have no intention of investing in those, buy a decent amount of sandwich plastic bags and label them with a marker. I opted for the boxes because I am a visual fan of horizontal integration, oh and of course I am an organization freak/geek/mastermind! I label each box with its contents and stack them on top of each other.
- I buy 4 kgs of different proteins, 3 kgs of veggies, cook 1 pack of pasta and 1 pack of rice. Then each item would find its way into its respective machine. They would work simultaneously without my involvement in staying on top of the stove or oven. This also helps keeping kitchen smell and temperature at an acceptable level given I have an open kitchen and have a strong resentment for the strong smell of food lurking out of the neighbor’s apartment!
- Once my treasures are ready, I let them cool then dash and stash in order in ready-to-eat size portions. On each work day, in the morning I can bring out a bag of soup/carb/veggie/protein. I also make a salad every 4 days and put it in a box in the fridge without seasoning so it can stay fresh.
There is no “one approach fits all” in any scenario, some spoilt husbands refuse to eat something that came out of a freezer even if it is a fresh meal, not realizing that most of what he eats at restaurants comes out of freezers that are less neat or clean than their freezer at home! Also, some women prefer cooking daily. This is my personal experience of what works if you want more time for yourself and are willing to be flexible. Worth noting is that I don’t mind having a deep freezer in my dining room! It might look pretty odd but it serves a huge purpose, I would rather be loaded and comfortable than exhausted and neat. Of course, in my next house I am making room for the deep freezer in the kitchen layout!