A new grocery store just opened in my suburb — it’s about a 4 minute drive from the house. This is exciting for shopping convenience of course, but also because it makes last minute trips possible. People who read last week’s time logs will recall that my daughter started a recipe on Sunday, then realized, several steps in, that we were out of flour. I took her to get it, but this was a 30-plus minute excursion. In our new world it will be sub 20. Maybe even less.
Anyway, the new store (and this week’s Best of Both Worlds topic) had me thinking about meal prep and organization.
I get antsy when people say they are “saving time” by prepping ahead. Sometimes they are, but often what people are doing is moving work around. This may have its benefits, but I’m not sure it’s a clear-cut win. In some cases, people actually add to the total time because they will, for instance, cook something elaborate on Sunday, freeze it, then have to thaw it on Thursday AND they decide to do some side dishes, which take time. Maybe everyone is eating better, but this doesn’t save time vs. just cooking something simpler.
However, this past week I did try one experiment in meal prep — for my lunches. I cooked chicken with rice and a jar of an Indian sauce for Sunday dinner, but instead of just cooking one package of chicken, I cooked two. Then I didn’t mix the second package in with the sauce. I put it in a Tupperware container in the fridge, then pulled it out over the next four days to make myself a curried chicken salad for lunch.
It was tasty! I didn’t save time, as in the past I’ve just used canned chicken to make the same thing, but it did taste better. And since I’d already cooked the chicken I didn’t need to think about what to eat for lunch.
Our household approach for most nights is just to cook something easy at dinner time. Monday tends to be pasta. We use jarred sauces jazzed up with extra veggies and Italian sausage. Wednesday is often breakfast for dinner, which I now have the three older children do (one makes pancakes/waffles, one cooks bacon, one cooks eggs). Friday is make-your-own-pizza with pre-made dough, and then various toppings. Every meal is served alongside cut up fruits and veggies.
One upside of being a big family is that going out to dinner is so ridiculous, on both a financial and logistical level, that we tend not to view it as a back-up option. So we are always cooking. Just not very elaborately most nights. It seems to work pretty well.
What’s for dinner in your household? Have you ever prepped ahead for lunches?