Monday, July 23, 2012

Prepping for Back to School/Work: Food

So one thing I've been struggling with for years is my "chore" of cooking dinner. We've gotten better about limiting our buying of meals instead of cooking, but that's partly been because I've been home more often to cook. Even then, I still stick to fairly simple meals; I like to cook (and certainly LOVE to eat), but I'm not a huge fan of super-complicated cooking most of the time. Sometimes the prep is worth it, obviously, but usually I'd rather pay other people to do it. ;D

So what does a gal do when she's the only one in the family who can make food taste good, but she's got a 2-hour commute and an 8+-hour a day job?

Plan, prep in advance, and cut yourself some slack.

Here's how I usually deal with cooking during the week; It's not always consistent, but for the most part this strategy works well for us.

Sunday: A slow-cooker meal; I'll usually make a big recipe and freeze the leftovers for a future Monday meal
Monday: an easy pre-made meal, either from our own frozen leftovers or frozen dinners from the store, like orange chicken and brown rice & veggies from Trader Joe's. Basic heat n' eats, because Mondays are exhausting enough on their own.
Tuesday-Thursday: Simple-to-prepare meals, usually a protein and vegetable (maybe some carbs if I've been good). If I'm especially organized
Friday & Saturday: Free days - since we usually have plans on the weekend, it's just easier to assume we won't be eating at home; since we eat home the rest of the week, we budget for it. Plus, usually one of those meals is at a friend's house, so we only have to pay for something to share with our friends.

What I NEED to work on is making my breakfasts and lunches while also cooking dinner - that way, I don't have to wake up earlier or starve/spend money. It's a habit I need to work on - usually there's enough time between when I start cooking to when the food is done that I could easily get my food for the next day done as well, so I plan to start doing that. Of course, I plan to work out and eat more veggies, but the plan takes a while to come to fruition - although the veggies are happening more often!

The point is, I'm trying to figure out ways to make my life easier while also meeting our basic needs - but in a cost-effective manner. It's a balancing act of convenience, responsibility, and budget. It's worth it to spend a little money for ease on the weekend IF we've been good the rest of the week.

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