So, I shared yesterday how I menu plan, but I didn’t really tell you what I do because there are only 2 of us. Because there are 2 of us I don’t need as many ingredients that typically come in a serving. A head of lettuce would likely go bad before I could use it all. Typical recipes would give us 3 or 4 servings each. And because we’re in that married-but-no-kids-with-mostly-single-friends, we do tend to eat out more than the married-with-kids couples, meaning that I have less meals to plan.
Yeah, I could make a casserole that would feed us for the 3 or 4 meals we make at home each week. But, blech! So I what I do to make life easier without adding boredom is:
Cut recipes down
When possible, I cut recipes in half. Even some recipes cut in half will give us each 2 meals plus a lunch or two for me. But some recipes aren’t easy to cut down (how do you use 1/2 a can of soup? how do you make 1/2 a quiche?)
Some recipes are super easy to make a batch and freeze half of it. I do this often with chicken enchiladas, lasagna, and pizza casserole. Make the whole thing, but put in 2 different containers. Half goes into the oven, half goes into the freezer. On the day that I want to eat what I’ve frozen, I either take it out in the morning or just bake it frozen, knowing to double the baking time.
Give some away
I do this too. I’ll make a recipe, but prepare it so that I can give 1/2 of it away. It doesn’t happen often that I do this, but it’s been known to happen.
More than just menu planning, I’ll plan recipes that use similiar ingredients. Meaning that if I got a great deal on beef, I might plan 2-3 beef recipes in a week. (It might also be that I’ll seperate out the beef and freeze half for a future day.) When I do that, I’ll brown the hamburger up all at once (using onion and garlic powder – we’re fans of those stuff), and then make a few different recipes that use ground beef like tacos, lasagna, spaghetti, taco mac casserole. I do it with chicken too, where I’ll cook up a pound or two of chicken, and cube it. Goes great into a quiche, chicken pot pie , chicken alfredo bake, quesadillas, or stir fry. I just store the chicken or beef in Tupperware containers til the night I need it.
Plan for the weekends
If I’m going to make a complicated meal or a new-to-me-experimenting meal, I’ll save it for the weekend. That way I have more time, don’t feel rushed and if it doens’t work out, I can scramble something else together pretty quickly. So far, we’ve only had to order pizza once – most experiments turn out!
Also, on the weekends, we’re more likely to eat with others. Example: last week, I had a couple of girl friends over to play games. Since I was feeding 3 of us, it was an ideal time to make more food, knowing that it wouldn’t be going to waste and that I wouldn’t get bored with it.
Make Ahead of Time
Although I do work, I like to cook. I don’t make frozen pizzas. I like the lower expenses of eating in, but I don’t want to be sitting down to dinner at 7:00 p.m. So, I often make meals in advance – either on the weekend or the night before. Anything that I can make ahead of time, then bake the next day is great! Or sometimes, I’ll just make the inner stuff like if I’m making Creamy Chicken Pockets. Anything I can do ahead of time makes me feel less rushed and more prepared. I’d think that’d be true even if I wasn’t working.
Limit side dishes
Main dishes aren’t the only things that a typical recipe makes too much of. Sides are the same way. Since I don’t get bored from sides like I do with main dishes, I’ll often serve the same side dish for more than 1 meal. Green beans, corn, salad, rolls, etc. Those go great with whatever I’m making. Make a batch and pull out what I need for a given night.
That’s what goes on in Jayme’s kitchen!