The Joy Of Preparing Ahead
Recently, I've been getting alot of messages like the following:
Friend: I need to have more things ready... The children need to eat better.
Me: Pick your battles. If you can create one good meal a day, you are a winner!
Friend: I'm fried for time - homeschooling & working from home - how do I squeeze in lunch?
Me: I wish I could come cook for you...(but I can't)
This got me thinking again that maybe I can help by sharing the main thing chefs do that enables us to rustle up meals easily - PREPARE, LABEL, USE, REPEAT.
PREPARE - involves marinating / cutting / washing / cooking / freezing & storing your ingredients. This way, they are ready to use whenever you need them.
LABEL - is the best part because it can give you a sense of control. Opening your fridge, seeing everything in containers, labelled with the item & useby date - is not only satisfying but also gives a sense of order in the chaos. No more plastic bags floating around in the fridge or unrecognisable "parcels" in the freezer. No more out of date chicken pushed to the back of the fridge.
I understand that many of us are tired & the thought of spending 2 hours of your Sunday doing prep work is ridiculous. I think it's rather nice to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon - children on their ipads, light music playing in the background, tea in hand (or wine), - to make your preparations for the week. It could make things easier during the week.
Here is a sample of my plan:
Make chicken stock
Make a soup - parsnip soup
Marinate 1 meat protein - beef
Marinate 1 vegetable protein - tofu
Marinate 2 fish - salmon & cod
Make 2 dressings - a) thai dressing b) french grainy mustard dressing
Prep vegetables - carrot, onions, celery, cabbage, red pepper, mushroom, courgette, swede
Package dry ingredients together
Have at least 3 bags of salad in the fridge
I won't be able to write all the steps & instructions on how to do the individual steps but I can show you what dishes you can make with the above plan.
1. With the chicken stock, you make risotto, ramen, mushroom sauce,
Chicken can be shredded & used to make chicken sandwiches, mixed with chicken stock & cream to
make pasta chicken & cream ..
2. Parsnip soup can also act as a sauce for pan fried cod, a quick pick me up ..
3. Marinated beef is sliced before marinating & can be used for stir-fry, fajitas, fried rice..
4. Marinated tofu can be panfried and used to make vegetarian fajitas, in miso soup, with ramen,
vegetable stir-fry ..
5. Marinated cod can be breadcrumbed served as fish goujon for children, and fish goujon salad or
even finsh & crisp sandwich with tatare sauce..
Marinated salmon can be poached for Thai Salmon salad, thai fish cakes sliced thin and made into
salmon with chicken broth or simply a regular salad
6. French grainy mustard dressing with salmon & potato salad, a green salad ..
Thai dressing can be made into shredded vegetable & noodle salad ..you can add some beef with it..
7. Vegetables can be used in stir-fry, fried rice, as a crudite for a quick snack
8. Pre- pack risotto rice in quantities you always use. Add dried mushrooms, thyme etc. This way, you
can empty it straight into pot to make a quick risotto.
9. Salad bags are useful to make a quick salad with the fish/ beef etc.
This is just one menu and there are many other combinations possible. All this from spending 2 slow hours, taking your time to do alittle meal prep! If you are curious, you could pick a couple of the steps to try & see how it works for you.