I recently received a letter from a friend lamenting the high price of quality prepared food. She was wondering how she was to conquer these nights when she is too tired or fed up to go back out to the grocery, find something good and healthy then come back and prepare it.
This is one of the challenges of giving up fast food and trying to maintain a healthy and nutritious lifestyle. What do you do when you really just want a piece of pizza and a beer. First, you have a piece of pizza and a beer. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as it’s not the daily routine. Second, when you are not tired and hungry and have some time: plan ahead.
As I write in my book, Sunday is the perfect day to make things that can last all week, or at least part of the week. There are many things that you can make that can be a catalyst for other quick and easy meals when you don’t really feel like doing anything. There are two keys to making this work. Choose something that is versatile enough that you can transform it throughout the week. If you make beef stroganoff, for instance, you will sick of it by Tuesday. Think of it as a little black cocktail dress: different shoes and accessories and you can practically wear it every day. The second key is to properly package. If you live on your own, make sure that divide your ready to eat food into individual servings and put them where you can find them.
Soups and sauces work really well. If you made a tomato sauce, you can freeze a few portions and refrigerate a few more. You might get sick of pasta with tomato sauce, but you can also use it over chicken or fish, on a homemade pizza and to dip vegetables.
A homemade soup makes a grilled cheese sandwich or a good hunk of (homemade) bread a meal. Do the same with soup. Divide it into individual servings and freeze some. Make sure you mark all ready to eat and frozen food really well and spend a few minutes organizing your refrigerator and freezer. I love the pyrex bowls with tops. You have to wash them but they seal well and you can see what’s in them. They come in several sizes.
A well stocked pantry can also come to your rescue. Always keep onion, garlic, potatoes, pasta and an assortment of long lasting vegetables like carrots and celery on hand. Lettuce and arugula last several days if stored properly as well.
On January 19th I gave you a recipe to roast a chicken. That chicken can be broken down into several meals. Reheat a couple of thighs with some vegetables in one pan and there is a dinner. Broken into pieces with some lettuce and other vegetables and you have a salad with chicken. Once you have picked all of the meat off of it make some broth for soups throughout the week. Also, take a little of the broth and boil it down a bit more and freeze it in an icetray. Those individual cubes can add flavor to many dishes simply by adding at the end.
Here’s how to make the broth.
- 1 Chicken Carcass with any leftover meat (leave the legs on)
- 2 Onions
- 2 Stalks Celery
- 2 Large Carrots
- 1 Fennel Bulb
- Bay Leaf
- Rosemary and Thyme Sprigs
- 2 Quarts Water
- Chef’s Knife
- Large Pot with Lid
- In a large pot, place all of the ingredients.
- Bring to a brief boil then lower to simmer.
- Skim any fat from time to time.
- Do not salt. You will want to season when you use.
- Simmer for about 2-3 hours.
- Remove bay leaf and any left over herb sprigs. Let cool.
- Strain and store.