Everything goes better when you have a plan. If your house is anything like ours, no plan often leads to more take-out/eat out.
Take a look in your pantry,
refrigerator, and freezer to see what’s in your food inventory. What should be used…are there fresh veggies in the crisper that won’t last the week? Put them in your plan.
Once you know what you've got to work with you can start planning dishes and/or a shopping list. A lot of times the inventory check sparks some ideas. When it doesn't, we turn to websites like All Recipes for help/inspiration.
2. Thaw some meat
If your meal plan includes chicken, beef, or pork from your freezer, you’ll get best results by defrosting it fully ahead of time. Whole chickens take about 48 hours to defrost in the refrigerator as do roasts. Allow 24 hours for steaks and chops. 12 hours will do for ground beef, pork, or sausages.
3. Pre-cut fruits and veggies
Washing and prepping fresh fruits & veggies for “from scratch” cooking can double the time it takes to put a meal on the table. Having a bunch ready for meals and snacking makes things easier. If you’re a member of a vegetable CSA, an “all at once” processing time can help make sure you get the most value out of your share.
Enlist the kids to help. Washing veggies is great way for kids to begin to help in the kitchen. As they grow teaching peeling and cutting will give them the skills to grow into cooks. (Save those peals and cut bits for the next tip.)
4. Make stock –
Stock doesn’t always mean soup (not that we’re against soup). It can be the starting point for any number of quick and delicious meals (See Italian sausage risotto or Lemon, caper, chicken, and pasta recipes)
5. Cook once - Eat twice (at least!)
What ever you're cooking this weekend, make extra. If you're making stock, bone the chicken and save it for a quick pasta or fried rice later in the week. If you're making lasagna, or meat loaf, or a roast it doesn't take much longer to double the recipe and put it in the fridge, either for lunches, or another dinner.