Cooking and Planning Ahead

On my CheapCooking discussion group, someone asked for help getting a reasonable dinner on the table when she didn’t get a home until 6pm. People chimed in with all kinds of great ideas, most of which boiled down to planning ahead and cooking ahead just a bit on weekends if you could.

All the talk about cooking on Sundays for the week ahead inspired me. I also remembered a good book, Warehouse Gourmet. The recipes focus on what to do with various “tray packs” of meat you can buy at Costco, Sam’s Club, and other warehouse stores. The recipes have all been really good so far. I’m trying a couple of new ones today. Oh, they have a web site too, http://warehousegourmet.com/ with a blog and a few sample recipes. Another favorite books for getting a good dinner on the table fast and cheap is Cheap. Fast. Good!

I didn’t do much actual cooking, because I prefer to just prep stuff. I bought a tray pack of ground beef, a 2-pack of flank steaks, and a tray pack of chicken thighs.

I mixed up a marinade for the flank steak and froze each one in a freezer bag. Later, I can pull out a steak to thaw, then quickly grill it for dinner.

I did the same basic things with the chicken thighs, mixing up a marinade and freezing 4 bags of thighs and marinades. I can bake them or grill them or throw them in the crock pot some other day.

For the ground beef I mixed up a double batch of my new favorite meatloaf, from the book Cheap. Fast. Good! and froze two meatloaves, raw, so I can pull them out and bake another night. I also made up a bunch of meatballs and baked them. I froze them once they cooled off. I took some of the meatball mix and baked it in muffin tins for mini-meatloaves. The rest of the ground beef I split into slightly less than 1 pound portions and froze, leaving out one portion for tonight’s dinner of San Francisco Joe’s (ground beef and spinach and eggs cooked together). My girls love this and asked for it when they saw the big bags of spinach at Costco.

So a bit of time spent on Sunday to prep ahead pays off later. Just having that stuff in the freezer makes for easy dinners to come.

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