Tuesday's Tips - Storage and Consumption

Yes, I REALLY do cook on the weekend for the entire week!

Rarely do I ever worry about food going bad because regardless of how much I spend on weekly groceries (which is about $175), we consume EVERYTHING. Now, there ARE some "fillers" in my weekly menu that I don't list...simply because they're not really part of my planned meals.

My kids are funny eaters...especially my 8 year old (ML) and my 4 year old (LL). As a rule of thumb, I always keep certain items stocked...like lunch meat, tuna, PB & J and corn dogs (chicken, of course) for those, "Can I have a sandwich?" moments that pop up during the week. We all can agree that kids are "special"...lol!

Since my husband is a gym rat, he changes his own diet according to whatever the goal is at the moment and I work around it. He works 12 1/2 hour shifts up to 6 days a week when he's working OT, so I have to make sure there's enough food in his lunch bag to keep him covered for the entire shift. By the time he gets off of work and then home from the gym, he's rarely hungry. But it doesn't matter because there's always enough food to go around...

Here's his typical lunch:

The bottom container is 3 pieces of marinated baked chicken (2 thighs & 1 leg) and greens. The bowl is chicken vegetable soup with barley, and the foil wrapped item is a tuna sandwich on a French roll. What you DON'T see is the other items in his lunch bag...2 packets of low-sugar organic instant oatmeal (for breakfast), 1 bag of Sun Chips (to go with the sandwich), a banana and an orange.

Of course he doesn't eat all of this food at one time. Remember, he's there from 6:30AM until 7:00PM. How many times would YOU eat during that amount of time?

I've also learned to use my freezer more often. I cook in larger quantities, package and separate. I put the food we can actually CONSUME within a week in the refrigerator and put the rest in the freezer for the following week or so.

My fridge looks like this:

Tidy, huh? I try to keep things simple, for myself and for the kids. And there's certainly nothing wrong with preparing foods JUST to put them in the freezer. Let's face it, we all could use an extra few hours in the day - right? Cook and store is the BEST way to accomplish that.

I have also been known to cook for the week and freeze, only to defrost days later to preserve the food. There's nothing wrong with that either. For those of you who tend to eat a lot of fish, you may want to prepare only the sides in advance and prepare the seafood the day you're going to eat it.

Depending on how my weekend shapes up will dictate how everything is prepared. I may shop on Saturday and spend the day "preparing" - chopping, shredding, cutting, dicing (I really need to get a food processor). Sunday morning I'll get up and start cooking - which will generally take the entire day. Imagine how much fun THAT is with 3 boys and a newborn baby girl! I can't believe that I'm still SANE!

So remember, it's ok to cook and freeze. You can even try preparing sides dishes on one day and main dishes the next. Whatever is easier for YOU! That's the key...keep it simple!
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