The purpose of What’s For Dinner? is to provide you a recipe with items on sale this week, with no more than 10 ingredients (not including pantry items), and coming in at under $10 per meal.
Halloween is over and we are officially in “Holiday Mode”.
If your family is like mine (and I’m not sure anyone would want to admit being like mine), the holidays are a crazy time filled with friends, activities, shopping, and general busyness.
And unfortunately, when I get busy, the first thing to go is meal preparation.
I’m notorious for running by Chik-fil-A or Pei Wei when time is tight. So this season, I though I would remind myself (and you too, since you read the blog) about the benefits of batch or plan-ahead cooking.
Batch or Plan-Ahead Cooking is different than Once-A-Month Cooking.
With Once-A-Month cooking you will take a weekend and create full meals that are stowed in your freezer and can be thawed and cooked each day. (If you are interested in Once-A-Month cooking, I would suggest taking a look at Once-A-Month Mom.)
When you batch cook, you cook certain meal ingredients (usually meat) ahead of time so that you can assemble meals quickly in the evening.
Here are some of my favorite batch cooking methods.
Crock Pot Taco Chicken
Throw 3-6 lbs of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breast in the Crock Pot. Sprinkle with taco seasoning (1 packet for every pound to pound-and-a-half of meat) and turn on high. Let cook for six to eight hours or until meat is tender and can be shredded. Separate meat into 1 lb. portions and place in ziploc bags (or other storage containers) and freeze.
Good For: Chicken Enchiladas, Tacos, Nachos, Quesadillas, Taco Soup, or Southwestern Salad.
Crock Pot Chicken Breast
Throw 3-6 lbs of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breast in the Crockpot. Sprinkle with chicken bullion (1 tsp for every pound to pound-and-a-half of meat) and turn on high. Let it cook for six to eight hours or until meat is tender and can be shredded. Separate meat into 1 lb. portions and place in ziploc bags (or other storage containers) and freeze.
Good For: Chicken Noodle Soup, Buffalo Chicken Dip, and pretty much anything that calls for canned chicken.
Crock Pot Beans/Chickpeas/Etc.
(Seriously, dried beans are SO much better than canned. And with the Crock Pot they are easy too.)
Rinse one pound of dried beans and sort out any duds from the group. Throw beans into Crock Pot. Pour enough water to cover beans and then add another inch or so of water. Turn on high and cook for six hours. Check on beans every now and again to make sure they have enough water. Once they are tender, either drain water and put a cup and a half in a ziploc bag or put beans/water in a cup and a half increments in ziploc storage container and freeze.
Good For: Side dishes, chili, taco soup (see above chicken), hummus, etc.
Cook as usual. Drain grease and place one pound increments in ziplocs and freeze.
Good For: Tacos, Spaghetti, or anything that calls for ground hamburger.
What about you? What are some of your cook ahead secrets? I’m always looking for a good idea. Share it with us via the comments or on the Kansas City Mamas Facebook Page.