Food prep: the logical second step of meal planning

Mr. Moon and I are testing out a new theory, that we can prep foods ahead of time for quicker turn-around on meals. Given how the schedule changes every week, we can't designate a specific day (or two) for it the way we would with a typical 9-5 job or steady set schedule. So it's a floating thing, depending on the schedule.

Since Mr. Moon had the day off, today was that day. Problem was it was such a nice day that it was really important to get as much yard work done as he could. And my knee wasn't cooperating with much, so I was kind of down for the count. I was able to get some laundry washed and dried, though! I went to an appointment while he pruned butterfly bushes and trimmed them down for stakes (totally for vampires, not at all for tying back roses bushes). Once the sun went down, it was time to clean up from that project and get to work on food prep.

Our list for the day:
Chop veggies for soup; zucchini, tomato, onion
Soak beans for soup
Meatballs for soup
Blend peanut butter
Pasta salad for lunches
Broccoli & cauliflower for dinner
Veggie snacks for the next couple days

We got off so lucky. 

  • We didn't end up going grocery shopping today, which means that lunches and snacks and dinners are entirely based on what's in the house, which is fine--the only thing we "needed" for tomorrow was zucchini, and I ended up deciding that it gets too mushy in the crockpot so I removed it from the soup equation anyway. 
  • Onions for the soup were already cut last week and not used for whatever we'd planned. Tomatoes in house were spoken for for lunches, not great for soup or veggie snacks anyway, so I'll use one of my stashed cans of diced ones. 
  • Beans got started soaking early in the day, right on time. (3 minutes)
  • Meat for meatballs got thawed, and mixed up; we just need to throw them in the oven when we get home after Mr. Moon gets off work tomorrow. (10 minutes)
  • Peanut butter: We got some of the stuff you need to stir, and it settled out. Last jar we discovered the immersion blender works great on it, we just needed to do it. So we did! Took about 10 minutes. But that's why we've switched to the "no stir" kind. 
  • Pasta salad is totally prepped for a few lunches this week. Penne pasta, diced green peppers, diced onion, a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, and italian dressing. Chopped up some peppered italian salami to go on top, but I didn't want it marinating together. (10 minutes, but that includes some dinner prep)
  • Dinner was cancelled on account of no one wanting salmon. Broccoli and cauliflower got mushy even just since yesterday, too mushy/slimy/moldy to eat. Composted! (1 minute!)
  • Veggie snacks was a bust, the tomatoes and cucumbers were either gone or spoken for, so we pushed that to Thursday. (0 minutes)
  • BONUS: Chicken roasted for pulling later (for adding to pasta salad, easy meals while I'm on vacation, that sort of thing). (about 10 minutes of active time)

Grocery shopping got pushed to Wednesday. So our prep list for Thursday includes:

  • Pull chicken (Wednesday). (45 minutes)
  • Grate a block of cheddar cheese (we don't buy it grated at the store, I don't like the starch on the outside and it's cheaper in a block). (5 minutes, using the kitchenaid)
  • Make a batch of fresh mozzarella; maybe take the right pictures this time and blog about it. (30 minutes, but half of that is during other stuff)
  • Chop broccoli for soup. (10 minutes)
  • Veggie snacks! (10 minutes)
  • Thaw pork roast, chicken, and tilapia for the last half of the week's dinners. (2 minutes)
  • Prep whatever we decide is going into the quiche for Sunday brunch. (10-20 minutes)
  • Clean green beans for Sunday dinner. (15 minutes)

Whew! It almost seems like a lot and not much at the same time. But a little forethought should have us ready for everything that comes for the rest of this busy week. Since most of this is pretty simple, I don't actually expect food prep to take more than an hour or two on Thursday. Today it was about an hour, and that included cooking dinner!

Next week will be a better test. We do have some freezer meals to cycle through, and now that we have a bit of a stash we can start doing that more. It's been a constant struggle with that freezer, trying to get through old stuff and create a variety of options from which to choose; trying to take advantage of sales and fresh batch-foods without over-packing it! But we are making progress. A lot of the processed food has been cycled out, and home-made options are taking its place. So these are changes I feel proud of us for making.

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