Answering follow-up—3

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?

0 thoughts on “Answering follow-up—3”

  1. Our process is similar — plan a week at a time and shop accordingly. Schedule meals based on afternoon/evening activities and required prep time.
    Curious… what have been some of your recipe fails? I haven’t hit one yet that at least I wasn’t willing to finish. I HATE wasting food/money, so it would have to be really awful for me to toss it. I do remember once allowing the rest of my family to make something else (I forget what the original dinner was).

    • Hmmm… there was one a long time ago that we added tablespoons instead of teaspoons of… salt? garlic? I don’t remember, but it was disgusting.

      More recently, we had black bean burger stuff in the fridge (or freezer? my memory…) and when we tried to cook it, it came out burned on the outside and undercooked on the inside. We pitched them and moved on.

      There was one recipe we tried a month or so ago? And it was gross. But again, not sure which.

      And the night we caught the oven on fire, we went out. But that wasn’t the recipe’s fault.

      I have a “tried it” board on Pinterest that I put commentary for all of them, so I don’t inadvertently remake one that wasn’t great.


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