Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Week 48: Organizing for Efficiency (part 2)

I've posted before about how I've been in a slump and what I've tried to do about it.  First, I addressed the monotony of our menu plans by cleaning out my recipe binders and planning on trying the untested recipes in those binders (that was part 1).  Then I challenged myself to try new produce which produced a super yummy soup. Next I picked up a new appliance to help me with food prep (and I love my food processor).  Now I have to come to terms with the fact that making nearly all of our food from scratch takes planning.

I have friends that tell me, "Oh, I could never spend that much time in the kitchen!"  But, I've come to realize that it doesn't have to take 4-5 hours in the kitchen every day to make food from scratch.  It takes planning.  A great part of the slump I've been in, is that I haven't been planning ahead enough.  If I don't take time to throw a chicken in the crockpot, then I won't have chicken ready to put in a recipe.  If I don't take the time to make yogurt, then I won't have smoothies or granola parfaits.  It's the same with beans and rice and roasts.  None of it takes a lot of time, it takes planning.

This week's goal (and why didn't I come up with this 2 months ago?) is to plan out when I'm doing certain tasks, so I will always have the right food for whatever recipe I want to try.  Ultimately, I would like to spend 20-30 minutes in the morning while I'm cooking breakfast to get a bigger project going.  I'm sure that my original plan will need to be tweeked, but here's what I've got so far.

Sunday-alternate weeks either making loaves of whole wheat bread or dinner rolls/buns for sandwiches-leave out what we'll eat on Monday and freeze the rest
Monday-make big batches of beans in the crockpot (each week a different kind depending on the menu: great Northern, pinto, red, black)-while cooking dinner, divide beans up into meal-sized portions freezing what won't be eaten in the next day or two
Tuesday-crockpot chicken or roast, occasionally a ham or turkey in the oven (probably chicken twice a month and then one of the others on the off weeks)-while cooking dinner, debone the chicken
Wednesday-use carcass from chicken, turkey or bones from roast (or soup bones when we get our beef this next spring) to make broth in the crockpot-while cooking dinner, strain the broth and put in jars
Thursday-make a half gallon of yogurt (one quart plain to be used as a sour cream replacement and one quart of vanilla)
Friday-make 2 or 3 batches of baked brown rice to be used in other recipes.  This is the one that might take more time than the others.  It only takes a few minutes to get the rice in the oven, but it bakes for an hour.  Someone needs to be there to take the rice out of the oven and start a second batch.  Right now, since I'm at home all day it wouldn't be a big deal.  However, if I have things to do that take me from the house, this one might be hard to pull off.  It could probably be done in the evening rather easily though-make one batch while cooking dinner and another before bed.  I'll think on that one.

I skipped Saturday because we're usually running around doing errands and activities.  Saturday evening is typically my meal planning day.  I'm hoping to work my menu around my prep schedule-like no chicken until Wednesday or after.  Once I get 2-3 weeks into it, I'll have a better idea how long the food will last-will I still have a little yogurt left when I start a new batch or will we have been out for 2 days-that kind of thing.

What do you think?  Is it doable?  Do you have a schedule for your food prep?


  1. I love the idea of doing one change per week! What an awesome concept! Wish I would have found this at week one!! Gonna do another year? :)

  2. This sounds like a great plan!! I don't feel this organized in the least. I am happy if I remember to take the meat out of the freezer the day before I need it!

  3. Great points about organizing and planning. Hoping to find more time in the new year to clean out my pantry...

  4. I make a pot or three of beans in one day and freeze in straight-sided canning/freezing jars.

    Another day, I bake and freeze a chicken, legs and thighs or chicken breasts. Of course, the chicken is not all frozen, just part of it.

    Another day, rice is made in quantity and frozen.

    I will make three pans of cornbread in a day. Then, I wrap each slice in waxed paper and freeze them all in a two-gallon freezer bag.

    I try to cook in bulk with planned leftovers, always. Fresh vegetables and fruits are easy to add!

    Practical Parsimony


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