March 22, 2012

Home Cooking Working Mom Style

I work full time, ya'll know that.  And when I say "full time", well I mean I'm half married to my work.  That said, I do put family first and make sure that we do have our time together every day when I'm in town.  Since Dear Hubs and I were wed, almost ten years ago, I have found great pride in putting a hot home cooked dinner on the table.  Sure, some days it isn't exactly gourmet, and some days we go out, but on many days I do my very best to cook something to show my love language to my handsome fellas. 

I'll confess something if you promise to keep it our little secret?  I haven't exactly figured out the cloning thing and I am still searching for the mystery formula to have a few more hours in the day ... but, I've picked up a few tips and tricks along the way that keep me sane and able to attempt a healthy balance.  This is one of those trusty tricks.  Whenever I cook a big meal that can be frozen, I AT LEAST double it and freeze a second (and maybe a third) portion for a later meal.  It's a perfect way to cook once and enjoy the fruits of my labor on a day when chaos ensues and our dinner plan is left to the wind.

On a recent Sunday, Baby B served as my trusty kitchen assistant as I tried something brand spankin new ... cook once and have over TWENTY meals ready to go.  Sure, I did the heavy slicing and dicing, but his company made the time fly by!  And, who knew how much fun a spatula and bell pepper could be for an 8 month old!

There was 10lbs of chicken, about 8lbs of pork, about a dozen bell peppers, rice a plenty and homemade tomato base as far as the eye can see!  Following a simply plan published by Rachel Ray's Everyday magazine, I cooked once and froze my goodies to be repurposed for all sorts of tasty treats.  So far, we have dined on chicken quesadillas, Greek veggie flat breads, creamy polenta with chicken and wild mushrooms, Asian pork noodle soup and brunswick stew.

The freezer with individual portions of the stock ingredients!

The concept is simple, make a huge helping of certain base ingredients and then freeze them in individual batches.  When you are ready to prep your dinner, simply add a few fresh ingredients and in less than 10 minutes a hot and flavorful meal is waiting.  While I can't exactly find the plan I followed on Miss Rachel Ray's website, I did find this great little recipe finder for many make ahead meals.  Once we exhaust our current stash, I'll be finding my next recipes here!  Scoot over to the site and try out this cooking experiment next time you have a little free time!