Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cooking Ahead

More with the eating ;0)

Part of how we eat at this little place here involves cooking ahead, or at least planning ahead.

Our beans are bought dried; not pre-cooked and in a can.  Any chili, or bean soup, or hummus I want to eat requires that I first soak the beans overnight.  Takes 6-8 hours, but doesn't require anything from me other than putting them in a pot and covering them with water before I head off to bed and go to sleep.

Another example for you:  chickens.  When I butcher chickens I part out some of them, packaging by body part (leg quarters, breasts, wings) with the rest of the body (usually bones and a few stray small muscles) being the carcass for making soup out of.  The chickens that are left whole are automatically considered three meals:  usually a roast chicken the first meal, a chicken potpie the second meal, and chicken soup (using the bones and little bits of meat not used the first two meals) as the third meal.  Variations are chicken fajitas, chicken burritos, chicken quesadillas, chicken tetrazzini, or chicken and dumplings.

Other large meat chunks are treated the same.  A ham is multiple meals (ham dinner, scalloped potatoes & ham, fried potatoes & ham, ham in an omelet or scrambled eggs), or one meal plus leftovers sliced for lunch meat.  And the bone can be used to flavor pea soup--or bean soup, but I prefer smoked hocks in my bean soup. A pork shoulder roast normally becomes BBQ pork and another dish using shredded pork (pork quesadillas, anyone?).  A beef pot roast is a yummy pot roast dinner, and also lunch meat, or shredded hot beef sandwiches.  Even a meatloaf is expected to stretch for more than one meal:  it is dinner, and it is also sliced for meatloaf sandwiches at lunch time.

Breakfasts can be cooked ahead, too.  While I generally prefer my muffins hot out of the oven, quick breads such as zucchini, banana, strawberry, rhubarb, or pumpkin can be made the day before and served as a speedy breakfast the next morning.

When I make pancakes, french toast, or waffles, I normally make a batch that is a bit larger than needed that day, and then I wrap the extras in foil, and store them in the freezer for a day when we want a waffle or pancake or french toast, but don't have the time to make batter, heat the griddle, and do the cooking.  They are also super handy for when you need your kids to be able to feed themselves a filling breakfast before school.  Much better and cheaper than buying their equivalent in the grocery store freezer case.

Eating well doesn't have to be expensive.  And saving money doesn't have to be hard.  Plan ahead, cook ahead.  It will cover both good health and living frugal.


  1. ciao, im curious: what's your favourite way into butchering chickens? I wring their necks, usually
    ciao from filippo

  2. I have been too chicken (pun intended) to attempt to wring their necks because I do not have anyone nearby who can show me how. So, when I butcher mine I use a sharp hatchet and a stump and chop their heads off then hang them to bleed out.