Thursday, May 9, 2013

Martha Stewart doesn't do house visits.

( This is not what I call a meal; yet, it's a beginning! Photo in my son Brian's cache)

Often, at least once a week, we like to go out for a meal, to taste something new, to indulge in a food I don't usually cook, to get a break from all that cooking and cleaning.

What we never talk about is how difficult it is to put food on the table after a whole day of working and commuting.  Taking care of a household, with or without help, can be daunting. Putting together a full shopping list takes time and effort; it takes organization and planning; and it takes eating into an institutional mode. Setting up menus ahead of time is the only way to have a pantry and a refrigeration full of all the ingredients for a particular meal.

I wonder how many of us get tired of all that work for modest results.

I've learned to stock my pantry with canned beans, frozen vegetables, canned tomatoes, pasta, rice, grains and spices, pickled vegetables, cheeses,

But what really worked for me when I was rushing to work at six in the morning and returning ten hours later, famished and tired, was to cook ahead, three or more meals.

On Saturdays, as my laundry was being done, and the vacuuming was attacked,  I created meals that could serve us for most of the week: a roast; a baked chicken; spaghetti sauce.

The roast and the chicken baked at the same time as I prepared the meat sauce on the stove.  The leftovers became regular meals for the rest of the week.The roast was Saturday's dinner with roasted potatoes and carrots. Sliced thin for sandwiches and chopped up for tacos  the roast gave us three good  meals.

The same for chicken, this time, instead of tacoes we'd have egg rolls; instead of sandwiches, we'd chop the chicken for a chicken/ fruit salad, and if we still had more chicken left over, it would receive a good dollop of BBQ sauce and fresh corn on the cob.

The meat sauce, made with ground beef and Italian sausages became our rigatoni meal one night, hot sausage rolls another, and a topping for grilled eggplants or zucchini yet another time. At the end of Saturday's cooking and slicing and dividing, I'd make a shopping list to support the meals I wanted to create with my basic meats plus purchase meat that would support my next endeavor: meat loaf; beans; pork roast.

We used any available vegetables, and we purchased the meat that was on sale. Since I didn't have lots of extra freezer space or money to purchase in bulk, I stuck to my tried and true strategy of fixing three main meals on weekends and triple  them up for meals the rest of the week.

What is your strategy for getting meals on the table every night?


  1. Rosaria, this is exactly how it is - as much as we love cooking, it is the everyday thing that gets us. So I do just as you do: a well stocked freezer and careful planning. Tonight: green bean salad (beans from the freezer, fresh tomato and garlic sauce) and BBQ'd pork fillet.

  2. I think your plan sounds great. I never was that organized when I was working. I sure could have saved myself some grief if I had been. Even now, I just don't seem to be creative with fixing a meal with what I have on hand. Part of the problem is that I ask my husband for ideas. He has none. I should just fix food like I would fix if I were the only one I had to worry about. He would eat whatever I put in front of him. I need to stop asking and just fix what pops in my head. When my children were younger, that is what I did.

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  4. I'm still working on a solid plan, but I do try to make a primary meat for the week, which I can then use. I will also make a big chili that I can freeze and eat for the next couple weeks, or a big lasagna to freeze a portion for future weeks, etc.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  5. Cooking ahead is a great plan, if I remember - I like to stock up the freezer with home-cooked meals. I also have a set of "go to" dishes that I can easily throw together in 20 minutes or so. It all helps :)