In an attempt to make our (my) evenings less stressful Jacob and I decided to create a meal plan and then COOK IT ALL AHEAD OF TIME. Genius, right?
Let me start from the beginning which is really about six weeks ago.
My family’s entire world was turned on its head when I got a full time job outside of the house. I would be working a traditional 8-5 schedule which was a relief because I’d have the evenings to spend with Avery. However, this meant that everything I would normally do throughout the day I had to accomplish in the two hours between coming home from work and putting Avery to bed. This doesn’t give me a lot of time and even though Jacob kind of does some house work in the morning his main focus is getting Avery up, fed, dressed and entertained until it’s time to take her to her nanny’s around noon. Avery is not a demanding toddler but mornings are for cuddling and it’s hard to vacuum and put away laundry when the world’s cutest little time suck is curled up on the sofa in her footie pajamas. Since I know that this is his predicament (Oh, the tragedy! Snuggling with a presh two year old while watching Mickey Mouse and eating oatmeal and eggs! His life is so! Fucking! Hard!) I am somewhat lax about him doing housework. Sometimes it annoys me when there are OBVIOUSLY tasks that could be done but often it is a lost cause to nag him about it.
Basically there aren’t enough hours in a day to do the bare minimum in order to keep our house relatively tidy and our stomachs full. This is where our meal plan comes in.
On Saturday I sat down and Googled recipes and viewed sample meal plans. I have never prepared meals in advance so I wanted to make sure that I did it right lest we fill our freezer with inedible sludge. Once I finalized our meals for the next two weeks (minus weekends which are less structured and often involve pizza or take-out) I made a grocery list. I love making lists. It gets me high. Well, if I’m using a Sharpie it does.
Because Jacob is truly a good guy and knows how stabby I get at Walmart on a Saturday (it’s really the worst time to go and I don’t know why I do it) he opted to stay at home with Avery while I did the shopping. Smart move. Besides, shopping alone is therapeutic and, above all else, faster. So, so much faster than dragging those two along. You have no idea.
In addition to buying food I also purchased some aluminum baking pans with plastic lids. I don’t own ten casserole dishes with lids so I opted to go this route. That way, I can stack the meals in my freezer and when it’s time to cook one of them I just have to take off the lid and throw the pan into the oven.
I would love to make some joke about how it seemed like a good idea but ended up being a waste, or a mess, or my kitchen caught on fire. But I can’t. This was literally the best plan I have ever executed. The cooking went smoothly. Jacob grilled the fish and vegetables on the patio while I baked lentil burgers and sweet potato fries in the oven. We were cooking machines; after four hours of cooking we had so much food that Jacob said that he felt like we cooked too much. Au contraire, I told him, it looks like a lot but once we put it into the pans it will all make sense; trust me. We set the pans out on the kitchen table and, using my meal plan as our guide, put the foil-wrapped grilled noms into the pans. Some adjustments were made but for the most part we stuck to the original plan. Once the meals were in their respective pans I labeled them and put all ten into the freezer. It was a beautiful sight. Sure, we cooked our asses off but now all I have to do when I get home from work is preheat the oven, toss the pan into the oven and cook that bitch for thirty-ish minutes. BAM. Dinner. No cookware to wash, no stress.
So far it is working perfectly and I couldn’t be happier with my reclaimed time. Instead of cooking dinner when I get home from my hour-long commute home I get to focus on what’s really important- LAUNDRY.