I’ve been craving something I haven’t had in a while. What comes to mind is a luscious cheesy pasta combination with wonderful flavor and Comfort Food embedded into the title.
I found myself browsing recipes and searching grocery ads and fretting and fussing until it hit me. I already have what I’ve been craving and it is in my freezer.
Insert Head Slap moment here. 🙂
If you have been following along on this series, and I sincerely hope you have, you will have inventoried your pantry, reviewed your food list or if you have no food list, you’ve prepared one.
Why a “Food List”?
Many of us tend to operate on a simple basis of routine. Monday is Slow Cooker Meal, Tuesday is tacos, Wednesday might be pasta, Thursday is left overs and Friday is eating out…or in depending. You get my drift.
We all get terribly bored with what we are eating, but few ever really stop to consider (a) what we are eating and (b) what we like to eat. Toss in a diet (ugh) food list and you get a better idea of the upheaval of the zen like rhythm of our eating life.
By preparing a Food List, you not only see what you like, but you also get an opportunity to build multiple meals out of the foods you like.
Like chicken? Have you baked, roasted, oven fried, boiled, poached, or sauteed it? Do you use it in casseroles, soups, as taco filling, for fajitas, or as an addition to other foods just because? Have you batch cooked chicken and stored in in the freezer for when you need it?
I hear a few “Ah ha!”s out there.
I try to keep broccoli in my freezer. I love it, it is easy to prepare and very versatile. I also have a fondness (okay, love) for cheese tortellini that can become an obsession depending upon mood. Put the two together and … enjoy. Also, if you get down to basics, cheese tortellini is just a different version of mac and cheese. Think about it.
I also try to keep several types of dried pasta on hand along with cheese (I’m sensing a pattern here…) and a sauce or two. Tomato sauce and I have begun to have issues and I have found myself not reaching for it as much. In years past, however, it was a favorite – and inexpensive – menu item. Spaghetti and garlic bread, anyone?
I love getting large amounts of meats, cooking it up or splitting it off and freezing for later use. I put flats of boneless chicken into the slow cooker or the oven and let it cook until done, moist, tender and useful for lots of things. Ground meats can be separated into patties, browned some with various seasonings, packaged and frozen for further use. I’ve heard some folks buy turkeys in off season, cook and debone the meat for freezing. Not sure I’m up to that, but the frugal in me likes the idea.
I rarely buy fresh fruit or veg because I’m notorious for not eating it fast enough. However, give me frozen and I’m a happy camper. It is inexpensive, processed at peak of flavor and takes up little space.
By having these items in my pantry, I can put together quick and easy meals with little hassle. If I choose, I can go further and put together dump meals that can be packaged, frozen and put into the slow cooker when I want rather than have to run around gathering ingredients at the last minute.
This all begins with knowing what you like to eat, what you will, or will not, give up, and how much effort and space you have to put into the process.
My suggestion for you this week it to collect all the recipes your family likes and put them in one place. Note the ingredients you need for them – this will be put on a pantry need list. You don’t need to make a huge project of this; it can be done as you put together your weekly menu or shopping list.
In fact, this could be a project that might go for a while because food changes over the seasons. You might be thinking apple crisp today, totally forgetting strawberries or peach pie or salad greens that won’t be available for a few months yet.
As you collect your recipes, if you aren’t already doing so, create a menu that will incorporate these items and save it.
As you repeat the process every week, biweekly, monthly, whatever, you will be creating a Meal Plan that will be usable all year round. You will have a collection of recipes that your family loves that will be easy to maintain.
Queue Head Slap Moment. 🙂
Have a great week – let me know how this process is working for you.