Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Guest post: Prepare a week’s worth of dinners in ONE hour (I promise, it can be done!)

One of the things I love about blogging is the friends I have made and the enjoyment of reading about what is going on in their life.  I have been inspired by Renee's recent dinnertime prep method and can't wait to try it myself in a few weeks when life slows down for me.  Be ready to be inspired with how to make a week's worth of dinners in ONE hour! 


Thanks, Christina, for the chance to come share my obsession passion for what has made such a huge difference in my cooking and in my family’s dinnertime!

I’m Renee, and I like to blog about a little bit of everything…

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…from my organizing and decorating fun,  the escapades of my three wild ones and the ups and downs of homeschooling, to my weekly Menu Monday post where I share that week’s adventure in planning my menu and prepping all my dinners in less than an hour!

Want the low down on this meal prep planning?

Basically I give up about an hour Sunday afternoon whilest my boys are snoozing and my girl is otherwise occupied, and in return I have all my dinners for the week... in the fridge and ready to go!

Is this plan something YOU could do too?

Absolutely... 100%!

If you read my blog long enough you'll see that I'm not anywhere close to being an amazing chef. If I can make it work... ANYONE can!

I learned all about Making Five Dinners in One Hour from Michelle back in January.  Most of these ideas are straight from her!  She does offer a paid subscription to her recipes that have the meal plan and coordinating grocery list all laid out super simply.  She also posts free recipes and tips on her blog that are definitely worth following.  What's neat about her meals/plan is that all meals are covered and kept "fresh" in the FRIDGE not the freezer!  At dinnertime you just pop one out and in the oven and you are good to go.

I have never been much of a cook actually, but through this experiment I have found myself enjoying cooking more and more. Maybe because I am taking all the stress out of the process.  I'm choosing to cook at a time more convenient for me and my family.  If your kids are anything like mine, then you know that the "witching hour" is those late afternoon hours right before dinnertime where everyone is bored and hungry and GROUCHY!

Add an infant into the mix and fixing nutritious interesting meals gets put WAY down low on the survival priority list.

I have 3 kids... an eight year old that I am homeschooling, a 3 year old that makes me constantly wonder what he's into now,  and a wee babe who loves his momma.  Needless to say, my time is very short each day, and at mealtime there may be a host of things that arise to get in the way of traditional, normal meal prep.

I think this is something everyone should at least TRY!  It has transformed our dinnertime.   I am not stressing {as much}. We are not eating blessed CHICKEN every other night anymore, and we have cut down our eating out drastically.  {And saved us much moolah!} Changing the quality of our meals also somehow motivated us to change the quality of our dinnertime experience. We went from eating in the Living Room most nights {I know.  How bad is that?} to eating around the table… as a family.  What a concept.
It is definitely a no brainer to me.  Giving up an hour on Sunday afternoon gives me my dinners for the week in the fridge and ready to go. Uh,  So. Totally. Worth. It.

Here’s how you do it.

Most any recipe can be almost completely prepped ahead of time in order to save tons of time each night. Work in stages.  I do each stage on a different day so it's not an overwhelming task.

~ First, plan your menu for the week, and create your grocery list.  {I do mine Friday, and I got my free menu plan printable here. Love it cuz it has the menu plan on one side and the grocery list on the other.}

~ Do your grocery shopping, and you will be ready to get started the next day {or whenever you choose to prep.} {We shop Saturday... usually as a fam.}

~ Make a list of every ingredient and utensil you will need.  I do this on my menu plan sheet on Fridays before I create my grocery list.

~ Set the timer!  Competing against the timer helps me work quickly and turns the whole process into something of a game. {Whatever I can do to trick myself into thinking it's fun helps. Yes, I know that's sad.} I also like to turn on some tunes for some extra motivation.  :)

~ Gather all of your ingredients and utensils on the counter before you start.  Foil and Ziploc bags are your allies here.  I love Michelle's tips on using Ziploc bags to mix ingredients thereby saving the dirtying of one more bowl and spoon!  If it works, why not I say!

~Follow the recipes usually up until the point that the food is put in the oven.  At that point, cover your dishes and pop 'em in the fridge. I like to label each meal so I don't have to uncover and try to remember what each one is through the week.

Easy peasy!

I am totally SOLD on this method. 

It has brought a wonderful change to our family dynamic.

Better meals each week, all week... a priceless thing!

If you think you might want to try the oh-so-marvelous prep ahead lifestyle, check out all my 5 dinner 1 hour escapades… 

Thanks, Christina, for letting me share while you’re off having a blast with Mickey!

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