In order to stay somewhat sane while Homeschooling, I like to have several meals in the freezer. This makes lunch simpler, and keeps us from eating cheese quesadillas everyday. (My go-to lunch when everyone is hungry and I need to have lunch on the table in 10 minutes.) Fall also means we start up with Guitar lesson, Cub Scouts, and soccer. I find it hard to get a healthy meal on the table with lessons or practice every night of the week. HENCE. . . . . Cooking for a Year began.
Basically, last week I cooked all week, so we could have a freezer full of food. A couple of people have asked me how I do it, so I thought I’d bring you along on this odyssey. I don’t do this to be Super Woman, I do this in order to Survive–please understand. Remember, The Hunni is gone 50% of the year, and my motivation to cook healthy, nourishing, meals- that-take-hours-to-prepare-for-4-picky-eaters is 1%. Here’s the method for this Cooking Craziness.
I divide the days as follows. Day 1: Shopping at Produce Stand and Grocery Store. Day 2: Beef. Day 3: Chicken. Day 4: Veggies. Day 5: Desserts and Grains. Day 6: Finishing up.
I’ve been “Cooking for the Year” for about five years, and I have made many mistakes along the way. Some of them were expensive. Some time-consuming. And a few were happy surprises. Here’s a few things I have learned along the way.
COOKING FOR THE YEAR TIPS
- Despite the fact that you will be cooking from 9:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night, come meal times there will be nothing to eat. It is an odd phenomenon, but no meals are completely finished right at meal times. Some years my kids lived off cold cereal for a week while I had healthy meals in various stages all around the kitchen.
- You (the Head Chef) will not be at all hungry. The kiddos will be extra hungry. Have peanut butter and jelly on hand or be prepared to interrupt your cooking for more cooking.
- Cooking for the Year is not the time to try a new recipe, or get extra health conscious, or add spinach to your lasagna, or you will be in for Food Fights at mealtimes the entire year–not the kind of food fights where produce is thrown, but where words and sullen looks are hurled. Words like, “You have five more minutes to finish that or. . . . .” Sullen looks that say, “I wish we lived at Grandma’s.” The goal is to make your life easier; not harder.
- Have plenty of Tupperware/Glad containers on hand. I have bought the generic brands, but they don’t seem to hold up to freezing. They chipped easily, and I would end up with a crack in the container when I was thawing out soup.
- Label EVERYTHING. Chili looks exactly like spaghetti sauce in the freezer, and my family didn’t like Chili on their spaghetti noodles.
- It’s better to start with a cleaned out freezer. This year, I tried to avoid this unpleasant job. By Day 3, I realized that I HAD to clean out my freezer, and it made for a very, very, long, exhausting day.
- Don’t answer the phone. Something will burn.
- When you are making your shopping list, don’t forget cleaning supplies like dish soap, paper towels, and trash bags. (Also Saran wrap and aluminium foil.)
- You (the Head Chef) will use more onions, celery, and chicken broth than you imagined.
- Clean up as you go along as it is a long day, and if you end with a total mess you won’t have the energy to clean up.
- Despite careful planning, you will have to make a grocery store run mid-week.
- Despite all your good intentions, you will yell at the kids.
I’ll give you a day by day account in the following posts.