Saturday, January 28, 2012

How to Cook for the Week in ONE Day.

Years ago, before I had kids, I remember my awesome Uncle would cook dinner for the whole week... in one day! Not only is he an amazing cook, but he was definitly on to something. Over the years I've heard of "freezer cooking" and people cooking all their dinners for the week in one day. Most recently Rachel Ray's new show titled, "Week in a Day" resparked this idea for me.

Although I was able to make good quality food for my family most days, there were certainly those times where I just didn't have anything planned, or I honestly just didn't want to cook!

So it only makes sense to cook all at once, to prep all the food at once, and to CLEAN UP all at once!

Here's How to Cook for the Week in ONE Day!
  1. Plan your meals. Plan your meals for the whole week. I have this incredible app on my iphone called, "Mealboard". I love this app because once you upload your recipes (the hardest and most time consuming part of it, you can upload straight from and a few other websites so you don't have to manually type in each recipe, ingredient etc. Then you can click on the day of the week, add the meals you want (I add breakfast, snack, and dinner since for lunch we usually eat whatevers on hand, sandwiches, or leftovers etc.) Then here is the best part... you can SYNC your ingredients into your shopping list with the click of a button!!! 
  2. Have your shopping list ready and go shopping for ALL the items you need for your recipes.
  3. Get to cooking! As soon as I got back from shopping I started to cook.
  4. Store your recipes in appropriate dishes. For example, I made my lasagna in a glass dish so when it was time, I could just pop it right in the oven without transfering the meal and dirtying more dishes.
  5. Clean up!It took me 4 hours, and then cleanup (My kitchen was a HOT MESS but now I know it won't get that bad again during the week and it will be SO worth it.)

Here are some tips I have:
  • Cook as much as you can handle at one time, this way you can get done much quicker. For example, while my granola was cooking in the oven, my rice was cooking on the stovetop and my water was boiling for the potatos I was peeling.
  • Also, prep all your items at the same time. For example, I needed potatos for mashed potatos and some roasted veggies I was going to make, so instead of skinning, and chopping these at two seperate times, I did all the potatos I needed for both of these recipes.
  • Get the kids involved! My little ones love helping in the kitchen, and can measure, stir, and even slice with their kid knives. All though they might not help the whole time, embrace them, they love being by your side and learning!
  • Take a break mid-way if you need to. I was in the kitchen for 4 hours, and stopped midway to just relax for 15 minutes and drink a nice tall glass of water to recharge;)
  • You may not be able to make EVERYTHING for the week, (like scrambled eggs are probably better fresh, and same with toast and sliced cucumbers for your salad)
Here's my meal plan for the week, and the items with stars next to them are the things I made today (from scratch):

Breakfast: Muffins and Fruit* Try this carrot muffin recipe

Snack: sliced up veggies
Dinner: Artisan Bread *
           Chicken Parm.*
~I will prep the salad that night while the other items are heating up

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, toast, and fruit
Snack: Ants on a log
Dinner: Calzones*

Breakfast: Granola*
Snack: Apples with Nut Butter
Dinner: Red Beans and Rice* I put all the ingredients for the red beans together so the day I need them I just dump it in the crockpot, and heat up the rice

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Snack: Fresh fruit
Dinner: Meatballs*
            Mashed Potatos*
            Green Beans (will boil these while other items heat up)

Breakfast: Whole Wheat Pancakes*

Snack: yogurt with frozen blueberries* Try this EASY yogurt Recipe
Dinnner: Lasagna*
              Artisan Bread*

Saturday: Eat out

Sunday: Leftovers

Have you ever made your meals for the week in one day? Have any tips? Or good recipes that work best? Please share!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Great Snack! Dried Apples

Looking for a new snack to add to your weekly menu? Try Dried Apple slices! I LOVE this simple snack and so do the kids.

All you need is some fresh apples...

...a sharp knife, and a dehydrator. Don't have a dehydrator? I have some suggestions toward the bottom of this post.

How to make dried apples:
  1. Wash & Dry apples
  2. Slice thinly. The thinner they are sliced the quicker they will dry. If they are cut thicker it will take a bit longer.
  3. Line the apple slices on your dehydrator trays, and dehydrate until' desired tenderness.

4. Store in airtight container, although around here they vanish pretty quickly so I could probably just leave them in a bowl on the table and they'd dissappear!

You can also dehydrate any other fruits you can think of! I've tried plantains and had success, and strawberries and pears are especially scrumptious!

Don't have a dehydrator? There are some fairly inexpensive ones out there new for around $30. I've also heard of some people having success at local thrift stores, craigslist and even yard sales.

If you don't want to go out and make a new purchase, you can also try your oven. Although it's not the most energy effecient, I've read the you can turn your oven on the lowest setting and put your apple slices on a cookie sheet with the oven door cracked open and cook until' the consistency you prefer. PLEASE be very cautious if you have little ones in your home. This might be best during nap time:)

Enjoy this yummy snack!

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