by Tammy Taylor
Many of us have something in common – we desperately want to serve our families healthy homemade meals. But we’re often being stretched in so many ways it’s hard to find the time to do so. With good intentions we buy those healthy foods only to run out of time when the supper hour nears. With hungry mouths to feed we give up & grab a quick drive-through meal instead.
The result is significantly more expensive and also less healthy than a home-cooked meal would be. But whaddya do??
This dinnertime rush was a common problem for me too, years ago. But things changed for me when I discovered the “Cook Once Eat Twice” method of cooking. The idea is simple – cook LOTS of a specific main entree and enjoy it for the meal that day. Then portion out & freeze the rest for quick meals later. It’s been a game-changer for me.
Filling The Oven With Meatloaf!
Here’s an example – recently I decided I was really in the mood for Wild-Game Savory Meatloaf. It’s one of my favorite meat dishes made with lean ground pork from the wild hogs RancherMan harvests. I can fit four loaf pans in my oven at the same time so I mixed up the meatloaf & filled the oven to capacity. In making my meatloaves I was able to use up several pounds of meat from the freezer and turn it into delicious meals for both now & later.
RancherMan & I enjoyed the meatloaf for supper that night and of course I had to put a few servings in the fridge so he could enjoy meatloaf sandwiches. But the rest was sectioned up into meal-sized servings, each serving placed in a repurposed plastic bag. (have I mentioned lately how much I HATE plastic bags & make sure to reuse them at least once before recycling or throwing away??).
Each of these meal-sized bags of meatloaf are then placed in a zippered freezer bag for freezer protection. And of course a label is inserted inside the freezer bag to identify the contents. I can pull out a dinner serving of meatloaf and either use it as meatloaf or crumble it for the meat in spaghetti, tacos, etc. How versatile!
Only Dirty Food-Prep Dishes Once
The real beauty of this method of cooking is that all those food-preparation dishes like knives, spoons, cutting boards, mixing bowls, etc were only dirtied once. Plus the oven was only fired up once saving both energy and time. Yet we have about 10 meals worth of meatloaf waiting in the freezer for us to enjoy over the next several weeks. I use this same procedure with other main entrees such as pork roast, stuffed bell peppers, homemade ravioli, etc.
From-Scratch Cooking with Freezer Convenience
Now that I have all those different homemade entrees in the freezer, making dinner will be a snap. When I’m planning supper for the next day I check out the contents of my main-entree drawer in my freezer to see what’s already cooked for us to enjoy. I’ll decide what sounds good, pull out the main entree I’m planning for the following day’s meal and place it in the fridge to thaw overnight.
The next day when I’m preparing supper I simply heat the main entree, add a couple of vegetable sides or even make a whole pan of Roasted Veggies and voila – homemade in minutes! I’m also able to save quite a bit of money by using food I’ve already purchased. And the meals are homemade so they’re significantly more healthy than commercially-prepared foods.
Planned Leftovers Helps Too
I also use the Planned Leftovers method of cooking to streamline our meal prep. For instance, I’ll cook a huge Pork Roast and enjoy roast & potatoes for supper. Then I’ll use this Homestead Hack to quickly Shred Leftover Roast to make brand new dishes such as Pulled Pork BBQ, or maybe Carnitas Tacos, or even Pulled-Pork Enchiladas. One large roast initially cooked but several different dishes are now a snap!
How do you streamline the dreaded rushed supper hour?