Monday, August 17, 2009

Musings on Advance Prep Cooking

I was really tired today, so I made the simplest dinner. We had Mushroom-tarragon soup that I made a couple of days ago. Melon with berries. Toast with butter. And eggs scrambled with some of the vegetables I roasted. It took about ten minutes to put together and was yummy.

One of the things I'm trying to do is to make food when I have more time. Then do only the last minute stuff on the busy days. My biggest problem with that is that I have an apartment-sized refrigerator and freezer, which limits the amount of food I can store. People who have family-sized appliances don't know how lucky they are to have space for storing both ingredients and finished dishes. Upon considering the problem, I've thought of two things that could help.

One is to make half recipes whenever possible, which means fewer leftovers to store. The benefit of half recipes is that Paul and I won't be eating the same meal every day for a month. That's obviously an exaggeration, but sometimes it feels that way. I'm noticing that portion sizes in recipes, particularly from books written by restaurant chefs, are growing, just as they are in restaurants. So, a half recipe is about perfect for two meals.

The drawback to half recipes is that I'll have to cook more often. There will be less food I can freeze to reheat on busier days. I'm thinking of getting one of those food saving devices that vacuum seals the food. Then my freezer won't be filled up with packages that are half food and half air. I could fit more stuff in there.

The other thing I can do is to use some of my evening time for prep work. I'd rather just cook on the weekends, which is what I've done the two times I've tried achieving this goal. But since I don't have space to store a whole week's worth of food, I'm going to have to spread the cooking out more. I only go into the office three days a week--Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I do the rest of my work from home. Every other week I visit a woman from our church. I prefer to do that on Tuesdays and have Fridays for catching up with household chores. But, I think I'm going to have to change my visits to Fridays so I can have Tuesdays, and whatever time I can scrape out of the weekend, and maybe an hour or so occasionally in the evenings for advance prep work. Of course, the weeks I don't do the visit, I'll have Tuesdays and Fridays available. So maybe I could plan two weeks at a time and spread the work out so that the most time-consuming work is planned for the weeks I only have to go out three days.

Then there's the weekend schedule issue. This weekend, for example, I have a wedding Saturday afternoon and something scheduled Sunday morning, afternoon, and evening. And next weekend are two orchestra concerts, plus my usual Sunday church time. So, I'm going to have to schedule fairly simple food for next week. These types of scheduling issues crop up fairly regularly. It means I'm going to have to plan and use my time as efficiently as possible. That will be crucial if I'm going to combine the necessary everyday cooking with a special cooking project.

My Friday deadline for figuring out what my project will be may have to be put off. I found an interesting gizmo that I've ordered from Amazon. It may help me figure out what I want to do, so unless it gets here sooner than I expect, it will be next week before I choose what I'm going to do. On the other hand, it may end up being just a good research tool for the post on local eating that I started earlier today. I have to do some research before I can finish my other post, choose my project, and get a schedule going.