Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Celebrity Chef

Budgetary constraints mean we are eating in more. A lot more. Like never eat out unless we are traveling, have a gift card or there just isn't any way carry out will do in a pinch. However, that doesn't mean we're eating lower quality food because, I hate to say it, I'm sort of a food snob.

That doesn't mean I only eat lobster and truffles with a side of caviar or anything. Actually, I prefer hearty, home cooked comfort foods over fancy dining any day. Beside, my boys would totally freak out and threaten to strike if fish eggs were on the menu... For that matter, me too.

What I mean is that I prefer my local raw organic cheese, which isn't cheap. I love my fair trade, freshly roasted organic coffee from my food club, but it's certainly more expensive than Folgers. I can't live with the mental anguish that comes with buying meats from factory farms. So, by cutting out the eating out we can still afford these little necessities / luxuries.

Still, I'm back to a full time working mom status and that means that I don't have as much time to prepare all these home cooked, comfort food meals. That said, I've started a new tradition in the Eco Burban household... Sunday cram-session cooking. Cram in as many meals (using similar ingredients) and prep them, or fully cook them so they can be quickly reheated and do it all in one afternoon. This way I can stretch my food dollar and my precious time with my kids.

Today I whipped around my kitchen like one of those crabby celebrity chefs, muttered swear words and all, and managed to bang out the following meals in under three hours:

One humanely and locally raised chicken in the slow cooker gave me:

1 cheesy chicken noodle casserole
1 extra large pot adobo chile, chicken, bean & corn tortilla soup
7 cups of chicken stock reserved in the freezer for another meal

I also prepped a 2.5 lb. tangy BBQ turkey meatloaf and cream cheese smashed potatoes

18 freshly baked chocolate cupcakes perfect for hungry boy's lunchboxes (organic and local mix courtesy of our local mill)

These three meals will provide not only meals possibly not one, but two nights these week. They will also provide leftover lunches for me to take to the office all week.

That is, of course. depending on hungry boys... Last week in a single sitting we put down 2.5 pounds of chicken, 2 pounds of potatoes and 12 bread sticks.

In. One. Meal. Scary, ain't it? Now you know why I have to stretch my food dollar!


ib mommy said...

You guys have leftovers???? My oldest usually gets whatever is left of the previous night's dinner for her lunch. She takes it in a stainless steel to-go-ware container. Now that she's a Senior her friends have all gotten used to her eating cold spaghetti for lunch! She would kiss me if I made her chocolate cupcakes:)

Green Bean said...

You so totally rock. I can't believe you put all that away in one day!! It's not a bad idea, even for folks who don't work full time. You've got the oven and the stovetop going anyway, so you save energy. You've got the ingredients so you save money. You've got the kitchen messy so you only need to do a big clean once. I love the idea. Wonder if I can put some of it into practice.

Heather @ SGF said...

Wow! You've been doing some serious cooking! At least you have it out of the way and you have some quick meals ahead of you this week!

eco 'burban mom said...

ib mommy - The only way we have leftovers is if I prepare a double batch of everything. That meatloaf is 2.5 lbs with about 2 quarts of BBQ sauce. I pretty much double every recipe I can find... I feel like I am feeding a small army! And, yes, they loved those cupcakes. The 4-year old wrangled one for breakfast this morning!

GB - It was helpful it was snowing like crazy yesterday, who wants to go outside when it's gusting wind and snowing sideways? UGH. But, the kitchen was toasty warm and now I don't have to cook tonight! And, you're right. I bet I saved a ton of energy, I was so focused on food, I forgot about that part!

Heather - My goal was not to have to cook this week... Mission accomplished! As long as the boys don't get into it before dinner!

JessTrev said...

Exactly what I am seeking: meals that keep me true to my food snobbish beliefs, are multitasking and easy on the time front, and economize. Thanks for sharing! More, more!

Billie said...

I do all of my cooking on Sunday but this only includes 2 different meals. One is for my lunches and one is for our suppers. If my husband chooses not to eat the meal... then I will often have it AGAIN the following week or I put it up in the freezer for future ack-I-have-nothing moments.

I don't have the time or the energy to cook during the week. I have been doing this for a long, long time.