A few weekends ago I had the fun of visiting my daughter in Little Rock, AR. Well, I guess if you consider spending a 12 hour day and a 7 hour day meal prepping in the kitchen fun, then it was fun! She is helping a friend get an organic farm up and running. One of her responsibilities is meal preparation. She wanted help getting ahead instead of realizing “dinner is in 30 minutes – stir fry again!” We loaded up the big freezer with ready to pull out and serve food or at least the beginnings of some meals. We actually did have a good time working together even though I was exhausted at the end of it! In addition to cooking we also gathered eggs from the chickens twice, started making progress reorganizing the kitchen, and gathered some produce for me to bring home. Which then meant I had another day of prep in my own kitchen so that nothing I brought home went to waste (also brought home the remaining produce from the farmer’s market).
I had several eggplant that I brought home. What didn’t go home with friends were sliced, grilled and frozen to make eggplant parmesan later. I had about 50 green bells and who can eat 50 all in one week? Those I either chopped or sliced for upcoming meals such as red beans and rice or fajitas. I added sliced onion to the bags of sliced bells so that the fajita vegetables were ready to dump into a skillet. After the chopping and slicing I bagged them up in freezer bags. These are some of the same things you can do if you find a good deal on eggplant, bell peppers and onions or are gifted with more than you can use at once.
Another useful idea is to purchase ground beef in large portions, such as 4 pounds. In a large skillet cook the ground beef along with some chopped onion. Divide into four equal portions and freeze in freezer bags. This could be the beginnings of chili, lasagna, or any of the other tons of recipes requiring ground beef and onions. So easy to pull out of the freezer to get a quick start on dinner.
Here is one of my favorite gadgets to make chopping easier if there is a lot to do. For just a tiny amount I still use a knife and wooden cutting board. Originally the onion dices didn’t come out small enough for me. So I asked my husband if he could figure out a way to place the onion so that the dices were dice shaped. And he did! I purchased this one at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. There were two to choose from and after bringing this one home, I wish I’d chosen the one with a smaller grid. (How did I know there was one with a smaller grid? Well, I took both of them out of the box in the store! Why go to the effort of a return trip when it can be decided before you leave!)
Homemade marinara is another option to make ahead, being sure to double or triple the recipe. Why make one batch, when its not much extra effort to make three? Besides that it’s tasty and has all familiar ingredients – none of those 69 ingredients you can neither pronounce or find in your pantry. Stuff that is really not good for you anyway. I’ll share that recipe at the end of this post.
Sometimes our desire to have healthier meals collide with real life. School activities, sports, appointments, etc. derail our good intentions. By making extra when you do cook, to put into the freezer, those “dinner is in 30 minutes – take out again” moments can be avoided.
What can you do today that will make your like a little more manageable at mealtimes?!
- 2 T Organic Olive Oil
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomato
- 2 T dried parsley
- 1 t dried basil
- 1 t dried oregano
- 1/2 t salt or to taste
- 1/2 t black pepper or to taste
- Saute garlic one minute – do not brown – will be bitter if you do!
- Add tomato and spices
- Simmer 15 minutes or longer. Longer will develop the flavor more.
- Use for any Italian dish such as spaghetti, lasagna, eggplant parmesan, etc.
- Can add add browned meat such as sweet Italian chicken sausage, ground beef, etc.