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Helpful Hints for Weekly Meal Planning and Cooking

I am sure some thread of this nature must already exist, but it is harvest time and it is the opportune time to purchase local produce and take advantage of good prices. I struggle with the weekly evening meal but want to get my meal managememt under control and on budget. Yesterday I bought 30 pounds of carrots for all of $5.00 and 30 pounds of beets for $5.00. A coworker gave me a helpful hint on the carrots, she purchases them at this time of year, peels them, chops and cooks thme and makes a mash for reheating in the future. She also does this for turnips. Once cooked they are put in a Ziploc bag, pressed into a flat square and off they go in the freezer for future use. Well last night the work commenced, it was time consuming. I did my first 10 lbs, only 20 more to go but I am ahead of myself for my weekly sides.
Simultaneously I am also pickling my beets which is quite easy and with a minor investment of jars, lids and labour I will have something colourful to put on my table.
I want to encourage anyone who wants to save money and time(eventually) to offer simple helpful hints to ease our weeknight burdens. So if anyone out there wants to be encouraging and offer positive helpful and easy economical hints to anyone who is challenged by the nightly meal please join in and give your hints and shortcuts to making this an easier nightly task. Thanks is advance.

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  1. 30 pounds of carrots? That's 60 servings of carrots and if you're mashing them I wonder how many ways you can serve them over a period of a year without growing incredibly tired of carrots. I guess you could alternate with 60 servings of pickled beets but even that rotation, assuming they'll cover a period of one year before you have to do this again, seems excessive IMO.
    I don't often find the nightly meal challenging so I can't comment on that aspect of someone elses cooking experience but we do shop the local farmer's market at harvest time from which we select corn, beans, artichokes, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, egg plant, prickly pears, cabbage, cucumbers, turnips, kale, collard greens, and many other fresh items including fruits. Some of those are blanched and frozen but we don't typically puree any of it. We try to freeze as wide a variety of veggies as possible (when there's room not taken up by the antelope, wild boar and elk meat) to last us until the next harvest at end of spring and into the fall.

    5 Replies
    1. re: todao

      I am hoping that this will be an encouraging thread offering strategies for the weeknight meal and what works for one person may or may not work for someone else. In addition to feeding my own family, I also supply my church food bank with contributions so a part of my 60 lbs of food will go to that. Having some prepared sides will facilitate my life,I live in a multi-generational home and work full-time so I need to have fast meals on the table during the week which for myself and others is challenging. How do we make it easy and less of a burden to cook during the week? We happen to like mashed carrots and like to combine them with potatoes or sweet potatoes. My present strategy will not be confined to carrots and beets, it is a start to building my pantry. As well, pickled beets can last quite awhile and maybe I will not have to do some for quite some time, which saves me time in the long run. I also am thrilled that 60 lbs of food cost me $10.00 and I want to take advantage of those opportunities.

      1. re: Ruthie789

        Given your plethora of carrots, I would take a bunch of them and whiz them quickly in a food processor, then freeze - any time you need to make a sofrito going forward, just grab a package. You could even mix them with an appropriate amount of similarly chopped onions and celery and freeze it all together.

        1. re: biondanonima

          Thank you I like the idea of the chopped onions and celery in the mix. I am hoping to have enough little freezer bags to use in various prepartions. I have now done the next 10 lbs so only another 10 more to go.

      2. re: todao

        60 lbs of carrots is not so much.

        They'll last A while in the fridge, so don't feel like you have to purée and freeze right away.

        A few ideas for the carrots
        Roasted carrot fries
        Carrot ginger soup
        Shredded carrot salad
        Glazed carrots

        1. re: cheesecake17

          I LIKE all of those suggestions, thank you.

      3. I think making a double portion of some kind of a braise every week is super helpful. We usually eat it as is the first day, then repurpose it as tacos or something later on in the week, and on a third day, sometimes I used the reduced braising liquid as a sauce for something like polenta and add some grated cheese and sauteed mushrooms to it.

        What I do with it depends on the flavor profile of the braise, but I find them generally super handy for repurposing throughout the week.

        1 Reply
        1. re: inaplasticcup

          Braises certainly help out as they can be made in advance and reheated the next day.

        2. don't forget you can can/pickel any veg and most meats. nothing like a pickled veg mix for a quick meal.

          1 Reply
          1. re: elkahani

            And now is the time of year to pickle!