Prepped Meals a Win

A number of the meals we made last weekend were simply a matter of taking fresh meat (chicken breasts and legs, pork roast and pork chops) and putting them in a marinade of some sort.  I did a little bit of research into marinades.  I’m not a brilliant cook, but once I figured out the basic combo, marinades aren’t that hard.  Basically you use some sort of oil (extra virgin olive oil for me) and some sort of acidic fruit juice (lemon, lime, grapefruit, pineapple).  Then you spice it how you want it.

At first Ken and I stuck with recipes.  Italian dressing with spices added or olive oil, lemon juice and a list of spices.  Then I realized we have all these great Penzey spices, why are we trying to figure out what we want, let’s just use them.  We already knew some combos we liked so we did a bunch of those.  Then we looked at what was left and figured out what would work good for the meat we were putting in the marinade.  
I have no idea whether they will be good, bad, or somewhere in between.  It will be fun to try and see.  This week we’ve had three of the meals we prepped.  I think Ken has enjoyed the quicker prep time.  Tonight we had very delicious chicken legs with fries.  
Next time I want to plan out more of what we do.  I feel like we could have worked more efficiently had we done things slightly differently.  This was a trial run though and it went well.  Most importantly, so far the food has turned out really good and prep has been faster.  
Next step for me is to look for recipes which can be easily prepped ahead like this and try them out.  It would be nice to add to our array of meals and step away from what we always have and into some new favorites.  

Batch Cooking

A former co-worker told me about batch cooking and how she does it with her sisters.  This got me thinking about how we could do it and from there it led to Vicki investigating it.  Now we are in full-fledged mode of batch cooking. 
Yesterday, I spent my day chopping veggies, making my garbage soup, making meatballs and mini meatloaf, assembling lasagna, and cutting up meats.  We chop up veggies like onions, mushrooms, and celery (and a whole lot more) in volume for all the dishes we want to make.  The chopped up items go into bowls so that when Vicki is cooking a dish all she has to do is grab the appropriate amount. 
The first dish to go in the oven was my garbage soup.  As I chopped up all the veggies, a portion of them went in to my big roaster pan.  Vicki also picked up a large can of the cream of mushroom soup I use to make this.  Buying larger is usually more economical.  In most cases the larger isn’t worthwhile for us but when we batch cook it is. 
Vicki started with making the sauce for the lasagna and boiling the noodles.  Once the two were done, she handed them off to me and had me assemble.  The thing about this is she doesn’t like to assemble and we made three pans of lasagna.  We switch off doing things like this to stay out of each other’s way in the kitchen but also to play to our strengths. 
I am not able to stand at the stove and cook.  My legs just won’t tolerate it yet.  Vicki is but she has issues with her thumbs so cutting things up is hard on her hands.  We play off each our strengths but dividing the tasks up according to whom is good at what and what causes the least pain for each of us. 

We spent all day cooking.  At the end of the day, we had three pans of lasagna, three pans of chicken carbonara – one of which was gluten free, Mexican stew, garbage soup, turkey meatballs, beef meatloaf, and finished baking the chocolate chip cookies Vicki stirred up on Friday.  We used up all our freezer containers – Ken even had to go buy more.  The freezer now is full of food for lunches for the next month.  The thing is these lunches are healthier and better than the frozen stuff you get in the store.  they are also more cost effective because we made them in bulk.  All the way around there are benefits – the only downside is at the end of the day we are damn tired and don’t want to look at food anymore.