Question from a reader:
What are some of your go to meals when you don’t feel like or have time to make dinner? I assume you plan out your menu for the week in advance?
First, yes, we plan meals for the week, make a shopping list off of that plan, and shop from the list.
There are a few meals that the recipe makes way more than we’ll eat in a few days, so we’ll freeze half for later.
Others, we can double for the same purpose.
We have a few ready-made things from Trader Joe’s in the freezer for nights when it’s just not gonna happen for whatever reason, including “we tried a new recipe and it’s really not good at all.”
(New recipes are judged on the following four-point scale: Tasty! Make it again!; Don’t need to make it again, but will eat the meal and the leftovers; Don’t need to make it again, and will eat the meal but not the leftovers; What’s Plan B, ’cause we’re not eating the meal or the leftovers.)
When we plan meals, we also look at the calendar so we don’t plan something that needs to cook for an hour on a night when we have things going on until 7 and won’t get started until 7:15 or later.
Crock pot meals are good for those nights.
Meals with a lot of leftovers are better earlier in the week because: leftovers.
I’ve seen a lot of “prep 8 zillion meals in two hours!” types of pins on Pinterest, where a large grocery run, an afternoon of prep, and a box of Ziplock bags makes a couple of weeks’ worth of crock pot meals in the freezer. Most of them are meat-based which doesn’t work for me, so I haven’t tried them, but those might be worth looking at.
I started a spreadsheet of recipes we like a lot, divided by ingredients (produce, beans/nuts/grains, dairy, spices, etc.), so I can easily see what we need (instead of looking up each recipe). As time goes on, I’m adding other things to it. Streamlines the process a little. Also helps to find recipes that use up ingredients I have.
Readers, what are your go-to prep-at-home suggestions for nights that are busy, or the end of a day that’s exhausting?