Most modern women are busy with jobs, families, community activities or all three. If you’re juggling a career, children and marriage chances are takeout is often a lifesaver. It can also be expensive.
You can defray this expense and the risk of eating unhealthy fast food when you plan, pre-cook and package your main entrées.
My husband and I have worked from home for over 20 years. We found ourselves falling into former working from home patterns of waiting until the last moment to think about lunch or dinner. I came up with a plan that has served us well and cut out expensive takeout and unhealthy fast foods.
Shop Once a Month
We’ve always grocery shopped together and since I hate going to the grocery store, we do one big purchase each month. Granted we’re now empty nesters, but we still like to prepare our meals in advance.
We prefer shopping at Sam’s Club since we can buy quantity at cheaper pricing and take our bulk purchases home and break these down to manageable sizes. Some bulk items, are simply too much quantity for two people, so we avoid these.
Order Online and Pick-up at Your Convenience
Recently, we’ve started shopping online. It’s such a timesaver to place our order online and then simply drive over to the store and pick-up our groceries. There’s no additional charge. After a few times ordering online, I decided to save our shopping list. Now, all I do is pull it up and place the order. With each order, we choose the time frame we wish for pick-up.
If any items aren’t available, we receive a call and are offered substitute options or to remove the unavailable item from our bill. I later receive a text message when our order is ready to be picked up. It’s usually within the hour time frame we selected.
Many big box grocery stores offer this service and Sam’s sister company Walmart also offers this service. So, if you want to use your time more efficiently, you might want to try this.
Buy Meats, Poultry and Fish
We purchase enough meats, poultry and fish to last us around four to six weeks (56-84 meals). Once home, I begin cooking, but I’m not in a mad rush. I take a short break to prepare a specific food, such as meatloaf. I cook three at a time. Once cooled overnight in the refrigerator, I slice and seal two slices with the FoodSaver. Depending on how thick those slices are, I can get around 5-6 meals per loaf.
Cooking equipment I use and food prepared include:
- 8-qt slow cooker: Chicken breasts, pork roasts, beef stew and pork chops.
- Pressure cooker: Whole chickens and roasts.
- Gas grill: Salmon, steaks, hamburgers, hotdogs and sometimes pork chops.
- Oven: Meatloaves, chicken breasts and whole chickens.
Pressure Cooker, Pre-Cooking and FoodSaver
The one thing I don’t pre-cook are steaks and salmon since these only take around 15 minutes and taste best when cooked just before eaten. The salmon is usually freezer packaged, but I package the steaks, 2 per package and seal them with the FoodSaver. I use FoodSaver 2-in-1 Vacuum Sealing System with Starter Kit, 4800 Series, v4840 and am very pleased with its features.
Pork Chop Recipe
One meat that we enjoy is pork chops. In the past I would grill these to avoid the traditional fried version, which we love. I came across a recipe but reworked over time to create one best suited for our palates.
- 6-8 large pork chops
- 2 cream of mushroom soups
- Milk, (1 soup can full)
- 2 medium onions
- 1 cup All-purpose flour
- 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Set a large frying pan with around one-inch of oil on medium heat.
- While this is heating, pour 1 cup of flour into the plastic bag.
- Add pork chops, seal bag and shake until fully coated.
- Beat egg in a shallow large bowl.
- Place one flour-coated pork chop into egg mixture and coat both sides.
- Pour Italian bread crumbs onto a plate.
- Dredge pork chop through Italian bread crumbs, coating both sides.
- Place pork chop in frying pan of hot oil.
- Brown both sides.
- Repeat the process until all pork chops have been lightly fried.
- Let drain on paper towel covered plate.
In a large mixing bowl add two cans of cream of mushroom soup.
- Fill one can with whole milk and add to soup.
- Using a whisk, mix the milk and soups together.
- Pour mixture into slow cooker.
Fill Slow Cooker
- Slice two medium onions and sauté in leftover oil.
- Once translucent, remove, drain on paper towel and add mushroom gravy.
- Layer pork chops in slow cooker.
- Make sure pork chops are completely covered by mushroom gravy.*
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Optional: Add a tablespoon of powdered onion and a teaspoon of garlic powder.
Set cooker on High for 4 hours. Meat will easily fall off the bone once cooked. Allow meat to cool completely before vacuum sealing and storing in freezer.Be sure to write on the bags the date and pork chops.
*Depending on size of cooker and pork chops, you may need to add another can of soup.
Use Time Wisely
The main benefits of taking time out to pre-cook meals are time savings over the course of the month and eating healthier. It’s far more convenient to grab the evening’s meal from the freezer and set in the refrigerator and reheating when you come home, than trying to create a meal at the end of the day when you’re tired.