I like to think of my time in the kitchen as a "Time Management" project. Since the time when my sons were tiny, and being a single working mom attending college at night, my time was precious. So I improvised many kitchen activities to the best of my abilities and I learned how to maximize my time in the kitchen.
Span back to 1980 when I purchased two cookbooks that changed my life... They might not still be in print, but they are my 'go-to' bibles (it's worth checking into Amazon to see if you can find them).
The first is "Make a Mix Cookery" and the second bible is "More Make a Mix Cookery".. both written by three very talented ladies.. Karine Eliason, Nevada Harward and Madeline Westover - three terrific troopers in planning meals, saving time and money. The basic premise these ladies put down on paper isn't anything mystical... but rather quite simple and very smart.. cook once, store/freeze it and eat it several times. Here's an example...
Let's take a basic ground beef mixture, for example... Your local grocer has 85% lean ground beef on sale this week for $1.85 a pound. Grab it -- grab 5 or 10lbs if your budget allows!! And then try this mixture...
5 lbs. ground beef
3-4 medium onions, chopped
5 T. chopped garlic
1 T. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp. onion powder
2 T. worcestershire sauce
1 T. olive oil
In a very large skillet or Dutch oven.. warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook until golden. Add ground beef, chopped garlic, salt, pepper, onion powder, worcestershire sauce. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain any excess fat. Allow to cool. I then pack the cooked meat into serving sizes. I allow approximately one pound for each meal I'm planning. I'm an advocate of freezing these portions using my sealing machine.
In our home, this meat mixture is the basis for many meals during the month, such as.....
Shepherd's (Cottage) Pie
What a time saver. It's all quite simple.. defrost, and then create another terrific meal by adding a few simple ingredients. And remember that defrosting plastic containers in a microwave is a definite 'no-no'.. due to the carcinogens that plastics create when warmed. To make defrosting safe, just let the plastic container sit in the refrigerator overnight.. or if pressed for time, place in lukewarm water until you can pop it out into a saucepan or skillet to warm it up.