If you know me in real life, you know that I don’t consider myself a foodie! You also know, if you know me in real life, I do like healthy food. I am also a fan of quick and easy!! I know those three things are not really compatible!! Although once in a while I stumble across a new way to do something that does actually fit all three,
Like my creation of 3F Salad!! Fast Frozen Fruit Salad is a big hit at our house and we almost always have some handy in the freezer.
Water, 3 cans of fruit cocktail, 1 can of crushed pineapple, 1 can of frozen orange juice concentrate, 2-4 bananas.
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Can I get a raise of hands, who has yet to figure out the mysterious world of freezer meals and menu planning??? I am over here with both hands in the air! I can’t do it, I am just to spontaneous!
Menu planning is not enjoyable to me, because it involves thinking about food when I am not hungry! I also do not shop at a traditional grocery store, as a general rule, so I don’t always have the same ingredients in my cupboards. When I am hungry for something specific, then is when I like to cook it! Menu planning also involves recipes and cookbooks! Cookbooks do not interest me much, never quite understood why some of my friends read them like they are a good novel! I am a dump and pour kind-of cook!
Apron wearing time!
But cook we must, because the little’s in our house depend on us to eat, so I will be the mom and wear the apron! I am discovering as my boys grow , that I know even less about cooking than I thought. These boys of mine eat like lumberjacks, this leaves me with very little leftovers. If you are a mom, you know that leftovers are GOLD!
I have discovered a few shortcuts that help me have leftovers for later meals and quick fix options on hand for the busy days!
What do I mean by precooking, you wonder?? Well as I type, there is a handy little maid at work in my kitchen called a crock-pot! This crock pot is cooking dry beans. A whole crock pot’s worth!! I’ll only need about 1/2 of that amount for the spanish rice for supper but, I’ll freeze the rest in my handy Tupperware freezer containers that hold about 2 c.. In a few days we will be in the mood for tacos or haystacks or seasoned beans and these little gems are just hanging out waiting to be used! Precooking can be done with rice, meat, root veggies, lentils, etc and then frozen or refrigerated ready for easy quick use!
I have found that dry beans and rice are very budget friendly items! These items are not time friendly tho, if you don’t plan far enough ahead. I have discovered by cooking extra every time I cook beans or rice and/or by precooking I am building a stash of quick-er fix meal options! Who doesn’t love that?
The other item that is a sanity saver is leftovers!! Any kind of leftovers are my idea of menu planning! To cause this to happen, I have to cook more than what we actually need for the current meal!
Sometimes this looks like two pans of lasagna rather than just one, or baking 3 winter squash to mash and freeze, or cooking the whole big bag of frozen veggies at one time! I also like to make more potatoes (white or sweet) than needed because they fry up nice for an addition to eggs on Saturday morning! Leftovers turn into really great soup! A bit of leftover meat, a few different veggies, that last bit of onion,and those beans out of the freezer, and you have yourself a meal!!
The Hidden Bonus
I have discovered a hidden bonus in this type of cooking!! Less dirty dishes, this makes me happy!! When you precook or cook extra you do not make as many dirty dishes as when you cook each meal individually! I know this is not rocket science but, having the kitchen clean for longer than an hour is a win in my mind!
I am not knocking menu planning or freezer cooking at all, I wish it was in my skill set! If you are good at this than I am so happy for you! Keep up the great work. If you are like me and find this is not easy for you, take heart, try these tips, and do what works best for your family!
Now I gotta go, those beans might need more water and the wash in the washer was done an hr ago!