Feed the People

Want to know the one thing we all have in common? Single, married, kids, no kids, male, female, whatever… We all need to eat.

One of the questions I get asked most from you guys is, what is the best way is to get meals on the table for dinner?

Here is what I know. What works for one persons schedule and personality may not work for the next. So rather than give you a tutorial on what works for me, I am going to give you all the tips and ideas I have for making meal time a little easier.

These are some of my favorite links, blogs, recipes, meals planning subscriptions, cookbooks, all of it. You pick what works for you. Try it out, if it doesn't work for you, try something different. Take a little of this and a little of that and mix it together till it feels right for you. The goal is to make life more simple, not add one more thing to your plate (ha, sorry).

In the end, what you feed yourself and the people you love is not what matters. What matters is that they leave the table feeling loved and known. Whether it is your babies that you are tucking into bed or  your roommate going down the hall or your mom on the other end of the line hanging up because you called her seven times to get the recipe right; whatever your meal looks like, it is about making the people with you feel loved. Having delicious food to go with it is just a bonus.

Now…

Let's talk food.

Cook What You Know
Many of us have go-to recipes that are tried and true. This is a GOOD thing. Don't let cooking channels and magazines shame you. Use those recipes. I don't care if your kids have spaghetti every single Thursday night, you are getting food on the table. If you are still using cream in a can casseroles twice a week, so be it. This is me, giving you permission to cook what you are comfortable with.

Want to change it up a little? Make up a variation of the same thing. Spaghetti this week, lasagna the next, they are practically the same dish, served up a little different. If you are making ground beef for one meal, double it and brown two (more about that later). Whenever you cook something you can easily double, do it. You will have leftovers for lunches or a busy night of the week, or make the second batch in a separate dish and freeze for later (more on that later too).

Cook Books
So I just told you it is ok to cook what you are comfortable with, but also? Don't be scared to try something new. Open up one of your favorite cookbooks (or go buy one with realistic meals in it), mark the pages, and pick one out to try. Put the ingredients on the grocery list for the week. Just having the ingredients in your fridge will make you want to go to the effort of trying something new. If you need a new straight forward cookbook, I love this one. It has simple, easy recipes, with really basic ingredients.

Cooking a new meal doesn't always feel natural. I used to have recipes that I ear marked for the holidays that I wanted to try, but then I would get scared to try something new when the stakes were high. I have been learning I can try those meals anytime of the year, then I will be ready when I want to make them for a crowd.

Cook something new on a weekend when the stakes are low, when you have a little more time. Don't be hard on yourself if it's not a home run. I grade new recipes on a number scale and write notes on the recipe itself. Then I can remember if it's worth trying again or who liked it or if I want to change anything next time I make it.

Freezer meals
There are so many cookbooks out there on making freezer meals. If you do not have one yet, go check some out. They are a great option so that you always have a meal a defrost away. I have this cookbook. In all honesty I have only made a couple of recipes from it, because freezer meals aren't my go to, but it is a good cook book with loads of helpful tips. Freezer meals seem to be a love it or hate it kind of thing. So if you have been wanting to try freezer meals give it a go!

Crockpots and InstaPots 
I love my crockpot. I use it most often for soups and I would argue that most soups taste better cooked this way, because they can slow cook all day with very little hands on time. I have several cookbooks that are entirely crockpot meals. One pot, little work and a entire meal, yes please.

The instapot is all the rage right now, and while I haven't jumped on board, I am hearing amazing things from the people that love them. There are several cookbooks newly releasing specifically for the instapot. If you have one sitting in your cupboard from Christmas or have been saving up to get one, now would be a great time to try it out.

Either way, if you work outside the home or are limited on the amount of time you can spend in the kitchen, these two are great options for convenience.

Meal Prep Subscriptions
In full disclosure, I haven't used a meal subscription plan, but I have heard some goods things about them, particularly if you are cooking for a smaller number of people. I am sure there are more out there, but here are a few I am familiar with; Hello FreshBlue Apron, and Plated. 

Since I haven't personally used any of these, I asked on instagram and with my friends and this was the most common feed back… The convinience is great because the meals are delivered straight to your door. The meal kits menus are a bit different than what they would usually cook, but they liked the variety. The over arching theme was, if you cook for yourself or one or two others, and want something that will help you to stretch out in your recipe skills, this could be a great way to go. But if you are feeding a family, most felt it was too expensive and not really practical.

Prep Dish is a meal planning service that really intrigues me. Instead of sending you the actual ingredients, Prep Dish emails you the list of ingredients and the recipes for the week. The idea is that you go buy the ingredients yourself, spend a couple of hours prepping it all in one day and then you are ready for the week ahead. I have not yet tried it, but if things get crazy this school year, this may be one of the first things I try out. If any of you have used it, let me know what you think!

Websites
Kendra at the Lazy Genius Collective has tons of advice on cooking and recipes for everyday life. Her tag line is "How to be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don't." My kind of woman. She currently is offering an online mini-course in cooking and just today her newest podcast episode features how to pick out a good cookbook, perfect timing.

Life in Grace calls herself the soup whisperer, but on top of that she has tons of great recipes that are family pleasers. If you want recipes (or life advice) I cannot recommend her blog enough.

I think we can all agree we already know who the Pioneer Woman is, but I have to mention her here. If you want to try some new recipes without buying a cookbook, just go to her website and you will find something to try.

The Smitten Kitchen is a really popular food blog. She has a couple of cook books out, but her website is full of recipes as well. Her photos are really inspiring if you need a little boost to get you excited about getting in the kitchen.

Helpful tips. I stumbled upon this first tip, when I had an incident with 12 pounds of ground beef I thawed and didn't end up needing. I decided to brown all of it (a couple pounds at a time) and portioned it out in freezer ziplock baggies and put it in the freezer. I loved having it ready to go in my freezer, such a time saver. If you are going to brown up a pound of ground beef, brown up two or three. Once it is cooked, portion it out evenly and let it cool. Cook whatever you were going to use the first pound for, and take the other two portions and put them in a freezer bag. Throw it back in the freezer and when you need a pound of ground beef for spaghetti or casserole or soup, whatever, you are one step quicker to being done.

A friend of mine said she buys turkey at random times throughout the year and just cooks it up like a big chicken. She shreds the meat and portions it into ziploc baggies and put it in the freezer. Just like the ground beef, it can be pulled out anytime for sandwiches or in soups or casseroles. It is really versatile and one turkey makes a ton of meat! With turkeys being stocked soon, I think I might try this out, plus then I can practice a new recipe for Thanksgiving, without the pressure of the big meal. I can serve it to my family and freeze the leftovers.

lovequotesrus: Everything you love is here - The Only Living Girl In New York

Alright friends that is it. I hope you find something that makes the task of getting food on the table a little less stressful this week.

Happy Monday friends!

*****

P.S. If you want to see more of my day to day prepping and cooking, follow me on Instagram. I share recipes and cooking tips over there regularly!










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