Many are surprised to find that I serve homemade meals every day. There are actually several good reasons for that. And none involve the words “Because I love to cook“!
Firstly, living in the country means there’s a limit to close places to go out to eat. And home delivery is certainly not even an option!
Secondly I know eating at home is a healthier option than the high-fat, high-sugar & high sodium options that tempt you at a restaurant. I’m able to serve a delicious homemade meal while still having control over any unhealthy ingredients in recipes.
Thirdly, it’s significantly cheaper to cook from scratch than to eat out, or even to utilize packaged convenience items sold in the stores. Being self employed means I’m extremely mindful of our budget.
But still it’s a surprise for many people, who ask:
“How in the world do you serve homemade meals every day??!!”
Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret – I use several shortcuts. And they could help you too!
Cook Once, Eat Twice
I’ve written about this many times. And it’s a huge reason I’m able to serve homemade meals every day. Cook Once, Eat Twice. What does that mean?
Well that means I’m going to cook a huge amount of a main entrée all at once. Why not?? Heck I’m firing up the oven already. And I’ve already got all the seasonings out & the food preparation bowls are being dirtied up anyway.
So instead of mixing up a single Meatloaf, I’ll make FOUR. (since that’s how many fit in my oven at one time)
We’ll enjoy meatloaf for supper of course. And RancherMan’s fond of meatloaf sandwiches the next day. But then the rest of that meatloaf is cut into 2-person-sized portions, packaged, labeled and frozen.
This means there are now several servings of homemade meatloaf as close as my freezer. I simply thaw some of that cooked meatloaf, add a couple of simple sides and BOOM! A homemade meal, literally served in minutes.
I utilize cook-once eat-twice whether I’m making a large batch of Homemade Ravioli, pork roast or Stuffed Peppers – or almost anything else! This means there is always a wide variety of main entrees already cooked & waiting for me in my freezer.
Similar to the Cook Once, Eat Twice method mentioned above, Planned Leftovers is where I’m cooking a very large amount of a main ingredient all at once. This is with the intention of reworking that cooked ingredient into several completely different meals.
Let’s use that pork roast for example. I’ll load up all my slow cookers and cook several pork roasts at one time. Of course I’ll freeze some of it for roast meals for later in using the Cook-Once, Eat-Twice method.
But some of it will be reworked. Not into pork roast meals, but something completely different for us to enjoy for the next few nights.
Maybe the following night I might season some of that cooked shredded roast and fashion it into Shredded Pork Enchiladas.
Perhaps another night I’ll chunk up some roast and make a hearty pot of stew. You get the idea – I make the cooked meat into completely different meals.
Cooking 2-Lbs of Dried Pintos
And recently I wrote about cooking a whole 2-lb bag of dried pinto beans at one time. My challenge was to see if I could remake those beans into different dishes to keep our palates from getting bored before they were all eaten.
I was very pleased with this experiment. Again it helped get an inexpensive, delicious yet homemade meal on the table quickly.
The first night we enjoyed beans & cornbread for supper. Then I put the leftover cooked beans into the fridge.
Then, out of that one huge pot of leftover cooked beans I’d take out a couple of cups at a time. I’d season them differently for different taste.
One night I seasoned them into Ranch-Style beans. Another night we were grilling so I seasoned another 2 cups of cooked beans into BBQ Beans by stirring in some Homemade BBQ Sauce.
Of course I whipped up some easy bean & cheese burritos for quick lunches too. Lunch doesn’t get quicker than that!
And I even used my Homemade Hummus seasoning to whip up a leftover-bean hummus, which RancherMan lapped up with relish.
See what I mean? Different meals but a main ingredient has already been cooked. It sure makes for a nice way to get a home-cooked meal on the table fast!
Pre-cooked ground meat
I’ve been doing this for a while too. I’ll pre-cook several pounds of ground meat with sauteed onion & garlic. Typically no other seasoning is added other than salt & pepper. Then I’ll section it off into about 1.5 to 2 cup portions & freeze.
This cooked ground meat is used for tacos, spaghetti, enchiladas, or stuffed peppers. Or actually any dish calling for ground meat.
It’s as simple as pulling a portion of that meat from the freezer, heating it up and using it in my recipe. No sautéing the onions/garlic first, no cooking the meat until no pink remains. It’s already been done!
I was looking for a healthier and more vegetable-heavy quick lunch choice than sandwiches. So I started opting for Endless Soup.
That’s where I’m making a large pot of soup and adding to it each day. Hot & healthy in the winter for sure, but I use this homemade soup method throughout the year, often utilizing excess veggies from the garden.
I make a meat-heavy soup and we enjoy it as a meal. Then next time I bring that soup pot from the fridge I’ll add a can of vegetables – broth & all. Over the course of a few days that soup becomes more brothy and veggie heavy – my favorite.
I’ll enjoy that soup for healthier lunches for several days before I quit adding veggies to the soup pot and allow the soup to all be eaten.
It’s a healthier lunch option than sandwiches, yet just as fast to serve. I’d think it would also be easy to take to work when you’re brown-bagging it. It would certainly make for a more delicious and healthier lunch than a boring sandwich.
Utilizing Leftover Ingredients
I often plan supper around what’s left in the fridge needing to be used. Half a jar of spaghetti sauce from yesterday’s meal might top Homemade Ravioli or Stuffed Peppers tonight. Leftover mashed potatoes might be transformed into Potato Cakes. (one of RancherMan’s faves)
Whatever is in the fridge gets first consideration when planning supper. Plus it’s a huge step in eliminating food waste too!
Plan Ahead For Homemade Meals FAST
Sure, it sounds easy enough, right?? Life sometimes gets in the way, it’s not always possible to know exactly where everyone will be tomorrow at suppertime.
But by deciding the main entrée in advance I can assure that homemade meals will still be possible. Here’s how I make it easy:
The previous evening I look in the freezer and choose from the prepared entrees I see. There are always lots of options! (remember, cook once eat twice above?) Then I put that main entree in the fridge to thaw overnight.
Tomorrow when we come in tired and late from the pastures a homemade supper is easy. It only involves heating up the main entree, adding a salad or a couple of veggie sides and maybe some fresh Homemade Oat/Honey Bread.
See? All easy stuff. And using these methods assure healthy, inexpensive yet delicious homemade meals adorn our table every night.
Links In This Post
- Cook-Once, Eat-Twice Method Of Cooking
- Homemade Meatloaf Recipe
- Meat-Stuffed Ravioli
- Stuffed Bell Peppers
- Planned Leftovers Cooking
- Quickly Shredding Meat w/KitchenAid
- Carnitas Tacos w/Leftover Roast
- Planned Leftovers: Pulled Pork Enchiladas
- Leftover Roast For Quick Stew
- Different Serving Options For Pinto Beans
- Quick Homemade BBQ Sauce
- Homemade Hummus Recipe
- Endless Soup – Lunches All Week!
- Potato Cakes From Leftover Mashed Potatoes
- 16 Favorite Homemade Bread Recipes
Other Kitchen Hacks
- Paper Napkins In A Paperless Kitchen
- Easy Reminder For Kitchen Stove
- Make Your Slow Cooker More Efficient
- No Cooking Fat Down The Drain
- Labeling A Glass Jar
- Cleaning A Narrow-Neck Jar
- Keep That Broccoli Fresh
- Sneaking Healthy Vegetables Into Their Diet
- Don’t Waste Onion Trimmings
- Heat-Free Way to Peel Tomatoes
- Cleaner Vegetable Chopping
- Quick Baking Measurement Reminder System
- Easily Separating Cream From Milk
- Using Frozen Water Bottles In The Kitchen
- Don’t Waste It – Free Vegetable Broth
- Easier Deviled Eggs – No Mess!
- MYO Crispy Taco Shells CHEAP
- Tame Kitchen Appliance Cords
- Save Your Fingernails When Cleaning
- Expand Your Muffin Tin Capacity With Canning-Jar Rings
- Use ALL Of Your Spray Cleaner
- Quick Coffee Stain Cleaning
- Repurposing Mesh Bags For Scrubbers
- Cute Windowsill Container For Herb Cuttings
- Less Mess When Measuring Honey
- How To Tell If Your Baking Powder Is Still Good
- Easily Opening Those Stubborn Jars
- …and many MORE!
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