November 6, 2019 10:36:11 AM
I am an extremist: all or nothing, in or out, black or white. I don't do well with moderating my intake of food or balancing work and life. Rather, I tend to gorge on sweets or immerse myself in planning. For me, there's very little in-between.
I guess that's why have always found the idea of once-a-month cooking, where you cook for a day straight and make 25 meals or so, appealing. But it's never been very realistic for me to try to carve out several hours solid to execute such a plan.
It never really occurred to me that there was a middle ground, something between cooking fresh nightly and cooking only once a month, to be had. That is, I didn't see any middle ground until one Sunday night last year.
I had taken our eldest, Julia, out for frozen yogurt with a friend of hers. When we dropped her friend back at her house, the house smelled delicious and her apron-clad mom explained to me that she was meal-prepping for the week.
"Ohhhh ... for the week! How do you do that?" I breathed, sensing that her answer could open up a whole new world for me. She told me she makes shredded chicken for tacos or poppyseed chicken, roast for sandwiches or over rice, those kinds of things.
So I began to try it. The first week, I made two lasagnas, 30 creamy chicken taquitos, four chicken breasts turned into cordon bleus, and a couple dozen Greek meatballs.
Y'all. It was life-changing. Do you hear me? Life. Changing.
See, Julia has a lot of food allergies. If you've ever been on any kind of special diet, you know how difficult eating at restaurants can become. That's doubly difficult when a misstep or miscommunication between us, the server, and the kitchen staff could become painful or even lethal.
So usually, we eat at home. But eating at home also has its challenges when both parents are employed outside the home full-time and the kids have scouts, church, and ballgames.
Having something ready to roll in the fridge and freezer makes me feel more sane. It's like having an insurance policy for our suppers.
These days, I've tempered my goal to just roasting a whole chicken on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes I do it; sometimes I don't. If I'm really lucky, I can get Zack to grill a few pounds of marinated chicken breast. His grilled chicken is much better than my air fried chicken, but either is nice to have on hand.
I like to dice or slice it when it's cool enough to touch. Then I put it into a freezer-quality zippered bag. If I don't use it, it's easy to toss into the freezer after a couple days.
But -- as is more often the case -- if I do need it later in the week, it's easy to use. Sometimes I make it into chicken quesadillas with beans and cheese. Sometimes I make this quick alfredo sauce and pasta and put the reheated chicken on top. Feels like an Italian restaurant with less wait time.
Amelia Plair is a mom and high school teacher in Starkville. Email reaches here at [email protected]
1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (do not use the kind in the green can; it will not melt)
(Adapted from allrecipes.com)