Do you "cook once a week, eat everyday"? Share your tip!
I am half way through my maternity leave (We get 1 full year off in Canada). I am trying to envision how things would be after I return to work. I would like to have dinner and spend quality time with my son after I pick him up from daycare. Given that I would probably have only a couple hours every evening to do that, the plan is to cook once a week (or even two weeks) and freeze everything.
I am looking for any tips, advice, personal anecdote, anything that you would share. In terms of equipment, I have two fridges, a double oven, a crockpot, a dutch oven, a couple sets of pots and pans. The only item that I may get would be a Foodsaver. However, if I only plan to freeze the food for 2 weeks, is a Foodsaver really necessary? I have almost 6 months to try out all your tips and tricks so feel free to make any suggestion.
I am also seeking recipes to try out in the next 6 months. But I will post on the Home Cooking board for that.
Edited to insert link to my recipe-seeking post on the Home Cooking board:
What I find freezes well are most soups, and stews. I also freeze batches of my homemade tomato sauce for quick pasta meals.
A word of advice: while it is difficult to avoid, I recommend freezing/microwaving/storing food in non-plastic containers due to the estrogen-mimicking compounds released from plastic containers.
I would suggest getting a second freezer. You can take the time to get a head start before your maternity leave is finished. I used to work as a private chef for a family of 4 and would cook once or twice a week for them. I would make a large batch of just one dish (beef stroganoff, lasagna, eggplant parmesan, enchiladas, chicken teriyaki, soups, stews, etc). I would package some as single servings for quick lunch options, and most as family dinner portions, usually enough for 6-8 dinners and 4 lunches. But with a stocked freezer of an average of a variety of 10 dinner options, they didn't have to eat the same thing all week. This is really key to making the cook ahead strategy keep from becoming a bore.
I also make cake and cookie batters and freeze them in one tray or one cake pan's worth so they could be used as needed when company was coming on short notice, or you needed cookies to bring somewhere. I'll post some recipes and packaging/storing strategies on your Home Cooking thread.
re: Non Cognomina
I have a great recipe that can convert into 4 or 5 different meals.Shanks Monday, Soup Tues, Pasta sauce Wed, Rissotto Thurs and Arancini Fri.
Same pot, kept in the fridge and you get a week of meals.
Great fan of cooking and freezing (got 5 kids, I have to be!!!)
Will post it in your recipe thread.
An experience: my wife and have been together for almost eight years, half of that time with our daughter. I've done all the cooking.
My wife's food desires changed a bit after our daughter was born. Nothing drastic, but just a slight shift.
Great that you have time to adjust and plan. Freezing ahead is great, but I would also suggest honing your "quick meal" skills. If you do salad every nite, practice your prewash/chop practices so you have "instant" salad available. Play with a rice cooker (20 no brainer minutes). As your baby starts to eat real food, pasta becomes an attractive meal that baby cn participate in eating/playing with, and can be varied incredibly with quick cooking suaces, etc. You can "pretend" you are back at work and try out a week where you do pre-prep on Sunday and do quick prep meals the next week. Good luck.
I cook black bean soup with sweet potatos and freeze in individual portions -other hearty soups I make are bean and vegetable soup-they freeze well and you can make portion sizes-so they cook up to as much as you want. I make pesto sauce and freeze this as well. it freezes well and it's available for pasta or rissoto or to put into soup bases for a pistou--
we don't generally freeze anything, but hubby likes to grill a batch of boneless chicken thighs on the weekend, just to have quick protein in the fridge.