This week’s blog post is by Christine Luken.
My schedule has been absolutely CRAZY this month! I’ve got lots of great things going on, like teaching Financial Peace University at my church (a nine-week class) and attending the Referral Institute once a week (a year-long program) to work on growing my business. Not to mention coaching appointments, lunch with friends, Chamber of Commerce meetings, doctor’s appointments, painting classes, cookie-baking sessions with my mom and niece, and so on. I’m sure your schedule is just as crazy as mine – especially if you’ve got kids! In order to stick to my meal plan, I’ve got to pull out my bag of tricks and use my best time saving tips… And, of course, share them with you!
Prep Work ~ Whenever I’ve got little snatches of extra time, I’ll use that for prep work for a future meal. For example, while I’m keeping an eye on Sunday’s chili dinner simmering on the stovetop, I can start chopping carrots, celery, and onions for Monday’s beef stew. I’ll just put the chopped veggies in a Tupperware container in the fridge, so that when I go to throw everything in the crock pot Monday morning, the prep work is already finished. If I’m feeling really ambitious, I might assemble everything in the crockpot on Sunday night and put the whole thing in the fridge. That way on Monday morning, all I have to do is put the crock into the base and plug it in! I also wash and cut up fruit and veggies and put them in bowls or containers in the fridge. This makes it easy for me to toss healthy things in my husband’s lunch box or just to have to a quick snack. Sometimes I will cook meat in bulk – like ground turkey or chicken breasts – in advance so I’ll have it to toss into pasta sauce or a casserole on busy days to cut my cooking time.
Double Time ~ One of my best time saving tools is cooking double or triple batches of recipes and freezing leftovers. Right now, I have Eggplant Rollitini, taco soup, turkey chili, chicken soup, pumpkin bread, two different kinds of pancakes, and zucchini chocolate chip muffins in the freezer. Think about it – it doesn’t take twice as long to make a double batch of chili or banana bread. It takes a miniscule amount time and effort up front to do this. I love doing this because I only have to do dishes once but have two or more meals. Last year, I stopped buying frozen dinners and canned soups, mainly because of the sodium. It’s pretty easy to freeze leftovers into “homemade frozen dinners” and put soup into individual containers and freeze it. It’s probably going to be cheaper, healthier, and tastier, too!
Know What You’ve Got ~ Don’t waste the time and effort you’ve expended to cook and prep ahead by not knowing what’s in your freezer! I always consult my Freezer Inventory sheet, which is hanging on my fridge, when I’m putting together my Meal Plan. You can download my template for free, along with a Meal Planning Calendar. Before I do my weekly grocery shopping, I make sure to check both my inventory sheet and my meal planning calendar so I can add missing ingredients to my shopping list. This way I don’t forget anything or don’t accidently buy something that I already have five or six of on hand.
Here are some of my best blog posts with great recipes for batch cooking and make-ahead meals to make your busy life easier!
- Soup Recipes
- Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches
- Crock Pot Recipes
- Mighty Good Muffins
- Easy & Tasty Recipes for when you’ve got minimal time (or are just feeling lazy!)