I love cooking my meals at home. Actually, I prefer it. I am not always in the mood to make a fuss in the kitchen though. I fully admit that some nights, dinner is a microwaved sweet potato with salsa on top or bowl of oatmeal. And sometimes, that's just fine. I have no shame in the occasional single girl meal.
But I don't want that to be a regular thing by any stretch. So I've learned to be better at taking preventative measures. As well as live by the motto, "cook once, use several times."
So let's say I am sticking two chicken breasts in a zip top bag with a marinade in the morning in prep for dinner that night. Instead, I will stick four breasts in the bag. After dinner, when the two extra have cooled, I will prep them for later use. Slice, shred, cube, whatever. I do this with all sorts of meats. Then I have a prepared protein ready to use however I see fit. Stews, soups, salads, pot-pies, fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, omelets, casseroles and more.
So this past Saturday, I committed three hours to a project. Now, I will preface that this was not the best three hours of my life. But I cranked up some tunes and had a dance party in the kitchen. While cooking two bags of brown rice and picking seven rotisserie chickens. Yup, SEVEN! Because they were on sale last week at my Price Chopper for $3.99 (reg. $6.99). I really can't beat that price and flavor combination.
After standing there for more than two hours picking the chickens and sending down nibbles to my fur baby (she's an excellent taste-tester), I was finally ready to move on to something, anything else. I honestly do not like picking chickens. And I was so over it by the time I got my hands on that seventh bird, y'all!
I sent aside a bunch (maybe two chickens worth?) in a big bowl to make a salad for the 4th of July and then set to bagging up the rest. In all, I had 8 small bags (which contain more than enough for most meals serving 2-4) and 3 larger bags of shredded chicken.
When the rice cooled a bit, I then bagged it up too. There was 1 larger bag and 7 smaller bags because I was too lazy as usual to measure anything. But the smaller bags, like the chicken, will be plenty for a meal serving 2-4 depending on how I use it (2 if it is a straight side and 4 if I add it into something).
The chicken salad was a whateversonhand combination of chicken (duh!), radishes, celery, golden raisins, cranberries, chopped walnuts, mayo, sour cream, salt and pepper. It was delish!
So after all was said and done (IE: obsessive blog photo taken), I stuck all my individual baggies of chicken and rice in the freezer. Oh and I do recommend using the baggie method vs. storage containers as they save a ton of space. Now when I want to use them, I can either defrost in the fridge for a day or just pop them in the microwave for a few minutes. As everything is cooked already, it is just a matter of using the ingredients to enhance a meal.
I almost always have veggies or salad fixin's in my fridge. And I always always have frozen veggies. So in five minutes, I can easily go from nothing to a healthy meal. Who says take-out is easier or faster than that?!