How to stock fridge for family on the run?

bizzybeeJanuary 9, 2002

Help! I love to cook but recently have lost all desire. Thought perhaps it was my lack of organization and planning but am now convinced it's because my family is unpredicatable and on the run! Have a husband who works odd hours (may or may not be home for supper...may be late, may be early) and two teens who work and run with friends to activities after school. Sooooo, I may have four people home for supper or maybe only me. Usually everything is short notice so it is really tough to plan meals. If I cook a nice meal, I may be the only one to eat it and I have gobs of leftovers that no one is crazy about eating later. If I don't cook, they may all arrive starved! Recently I've been relying on convenience foods and stocking my fridge with sandwich stuff but don't feel that's really all that healthy. How do the rest of you (with teens) do it???? The same system (meal planning, cooking, etc) that I did when then kids were younger just does not seem to be working for me anymore! Any ideas for maybe cooking on the weekend and stocking the fridge with stuff that would be easy and good to reheat? Any ideas for perhaps cooking and freezing my own convenience foods with my FoodSaver? Any/all ideas are welcome!

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I'm not in exactly the same situation since I only have myself to take care of, but this might work for you, too:

Pick a day to cook three or four casseroles at a time. Divide them all into individual-serving sized containers and throw 'em in the freezer. When your family-on-the-run wants something, they can pull one out & pop it into the microwave. I don't have a husband / family, but this is how I almost always eat. Since I do multiple dishes at once, I only need to cook once a month or so, there's no waste, and I have a variety of things in the freezer to choose from.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2002 at 7:27PM
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DH is working out of town and living in an apartment so I have made him some chili, sausage rolls and chicken wings so far that he can heat from the freezer. When he comes home I never know what time he will arrive so I often have a stew or roast or BBQ beef for buns or burritos so he can heat and eat whenever. Lasagna, cabbage rolls and shephers pie work good too.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2002 at 8:14AM
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I think if you mix it up you'll satisfy everyone on at least one day! The casseroles give you a chance to put veggies in them and then bbq, lasagne are filling and you could have salad ready to go so all they have to do is put it in a bowl and pour their favorite dressing. If you have teens, life is going to be pretty unpredictable. I would think chicken wings and burritos would be a big hit with teens.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2002 at 5:51PM
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We had four kids and two busy parents growing up. We always made enough for everyone to eat. "Leftovers" were divided onto plates, wrapped with Saran, and put in the fridge. As the missing people got home, they heated their plate in the micro or the oven (make sure your plates can go in the oven, and remind everyone to take the plastic wrap off). That way we all ate the same dinner, but could eat it as we needed.

Another good thing to do is wash and prepare veggies so they can be grabbed easily. Wash, trim, and cut celery into sticks, peel and cut carrots, etc. These can be eaten as is, with dip, cut a little more to put into stir fry, cut even more and added to salads or other dishes.

Other good choices are meals you can "build". Brown and season meat for tacos. Shred the cheese. Wash and shred the lettuce. Chop the tomatoes and the onions. Make spanish style/tomato rice. Put it all in separate containers in the fridge. Then each person can build their own taco, soft taco, burrito, whatever as needed. Scoop some meat onto a taco shell or flour tortilla, zap for a minute or two. Zap a scoop of rice for a minute or two while adding toppings to the heated taco/whatever.

Or cook spaghetti noodles and rinse with cold water and put in the fridge. Make your sauce and put it in the fridge. Cut up the stuff for salad and put it in the fridge. Prepare garlic toast, but don't cook it and put it in the fridge. Each person can mix sauce and noodles, heat in microwave while browning the garlic bread in a skillet/toaster oven/broiler, whatever.

Soups, stews, and chilis that you can heat as needed (or even leave on the stove on low if the waiting time is not TOO long), fresh bread or rolls, and salad greens are also good. Each person serves themself when they come in.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2002 at 11:18AM
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I was inspired to prep 5# of hamburger for the freezer after reading this forum a while back. One Saturday after getting lean GB on sale I decided to cook the 5# package with a bunch of onions. I didn't season it. My reasoning was that cooked GB with onions can be used in *so* many things and spicing can vary for the dish. To name a few: chili, tacos, spaghetti, hot dish, lasagna, pizza, etc. Divided it up in freezer bags. I just used the last one and it's worked great! The biggest advantage? Not cleaning up the grease. Plus you pop the meat into spaghetti sauce, for instance and while you boil the pasta the sauce simmers and in short order a filling meal. I'm going to do more of this and ease into more and more OAWC/OAMC. Other things I do is cook a turkey breast, pull the meat off and freeze it. Then pull out a chunk for a casserole, rice, or sandwich. I have vacuum sealers but don't use them too much as long as I go through the stuff on a realistic time frame.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2002 at 6:17PM
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I've done as you have Cynic. Browning the beef saves lots of time and that messy clean up. You're right, you can have a hot filling meal in no time if you have the beef already done. Same with chicken and turkey.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2002 at 10:04AM
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