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Scratch Cooking burn-out

 
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1. Get a Workawayer to cook meals.
2. Can huge batches of your fav meals so you have at least 2 months of each of 5 meals on hand. I can a curry gravy that I can use up with a curry paste and can of meat to turn out a delicios meal in a trice.
3. Solar oven - bung in a joint on a sunny day.
4. Keep lunch to bread and salad or bread and soup
5 boiled egg on toast or avocado on toast for brekkie.
6. DEMAND TAKE OUT PiZZA. JUST FOR YOU, DON'T SHARE.
7. COME AND STAY FOR A FORTNIGHT FOR A FREE HOLiDAY AND BURN-OUT AVOIDANCE 101.
 
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It's a sign of the times that the choice is even available to not cook from scratch!  Holy cats!  When my four boys were small and I was farming and homeschooling, everyone worked.  A lot.  Between the garden, milking and cheesemaking, churning, hunting and butchering, dealing with firewood, doing all laundry by hand and heating water to do it, and no electricity or vehicles to haul anything with, there was always a thing even the smallest kid could do to help.  It was great, and the results are awesome!  As grown men they can do everything, and do, thinking nothing of it.  They all know that a real cook is someone who can size up what is available and make a nutritious, tasty meal out of it.  

I cooked for years on a two burner propane unit in summer and a woodstove if baking and in winter.  Six loaves of bread, twice or three times a week.  Three pies at a time, made for dinner, gone by breakfast.  Ten pounds of potatoes for a meal.  Granola made in 5 gallon lots.  Anything bought in a quantity smaller than 25 lbs not worth considering.  Eat the food that is served, or wait until the next meal, or go forage in the garden or on the beach, no arguments.  Besides eating what we'd hunted or grown, we ate pasta, bread, beans, and oatmeal.  As I look at my work log notes from that time, it was plain, hearty fare, and lots of it.  We worked hard, and ate a ton of food, and everyone thrived.

In practise, I agree with Alex, above, that people tend to have a set bunch of meals they make as a rule, in rotation.  I had maybe ten to twelve main dishes, seasonally determined, supported by a variety of baked goods, which seemed to be an area I put more creative energy into.  Once you learn what spices and herbs make up a particular "style", the same basic ingredients can taste completely different, which keeps things not boring. It was a busy, happy routine--you just have to learn to work efficiently and prep ahead, and always have your staples in order.  Feeding yourself and your family is such a basic activity that fits seamlessly into everything else, that when looking back, I marvel at how I could have turned out all that food, day after day, it was just part of life at the time.  Part of the trick is to realize that things like cooking and washing clothes and getting up wood and doing the schoolwork or whatever aren't the things you do and then get on with your real life--they are your real life, or at least a big part of it.  We have turned things around so much nowadays that we forget that.
 
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During the times of the year when my chickens and ducks are laying eggs like crazy, I stream about a dozen eggs at the beginning of the week, peel them, place them in a jar and cover them with vinegar and spices. It makes super quick breakfast or snack or they can become deviled eggs. They vinegar helps insure that they will not spoil even if we take longer to eat them and it adds a nice tangy flavor to the eggs.
 
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Location: CT. Zone 6a
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I do a similar thing as mentioned above, which is cooking ground meat and freezing it in approx. 10 oz portions, so tacos or spaghetti sauce are that much faster to make.

For the summer I took to sous vide cooking chicken breasts, simply seasoned, and freezing them in their bags.  The sous vide circulator set at its lowest thaws meat pretty quickly, or I'd get it out in the fridge well enough in advance to thaw for dinner, and finally finish it on the grill.  So this is a lot better quality than any pre-cooked chicken I've bought, but pretty much the same convenience.

For meal planning, I have a spreadsheet with our ~12 or so repeating meals, as well as some 'emergency' meals, listed down rows.  Across columns I have the date for each week, going back about a month, so I can see how much each meal's being used, and if it's time for a break or to bring something back into the rotation.  So I start meal planning for the next week on Thursday, just placing x's for each of the meals for the week, and then I plan groceries around that.  On Sunday I assign the day for each meal based on our schedule for the week (based on planned disruptions in evenings, and work/school schedules).
I also have the "lead time" for each meal, so I can sort of line that up with days I work from home, vs days where I'll be getting home at 5:30 and dinner has to be on the table at 6.

The worst emergency meal is where I throw a cup of dry rice, 2 cups water, and a couple frozen chicken breasts in the instant pot and let it go 15 minutes, and microwave frozen veg in the meantime.  Could be worse, for sure, but it improves if you chop the chicken up and mix it together with some soy sauce or open pit bbq sauce.

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Posts: 89
Location: Missouri Ozarks
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Welcome to the past. "Slaving over a hot stove all day" was a real thing. The Waltons was a tv show that was on when I was a kid. Based in the 1920s/30s and there was usually three generations working in the kitchen. You mention kids. Are they helping you?

I feel your pain. Our kids just started eating like adults and I'm still trying to adjust portions AND try to have leftovers. Our pots and pans aren't big enough and neither is our kitchen. I'm not even trying totally from scratch. Just not doing nuke it kind of meals all the time and it's still tough.

You might look into "Once a Month Cooking". There's plenty of info on the web about it. Basically you spend an entire weekend cooking your ass off making a bunch of stuff that can be reheated. 40 breakfast burritos all at once etc. If you can join up with neighbors or friends it helps. Use whoever's kitchen is biggest and the extra people help in the way of making things more like an assembly line. Kids can help too as a lot of tasks will be small, easy things.

Get the biggest crockpot you can and cook something in it most every day.  I built a fairly big smoker this past year and can fit a lot of meat in it at one time. It has to be tended to all day for up to 12-14 hours so I keep it down by my shop so I can work on something at the same time. It's portable so I can bring it up by the house if I have things to do there instead. I can use it twice a month and cook enough meat for the month. Not everything has to be smoked since that taste can get old. Wrapping something in foil prevents the smoke from getting to it. Smoking meat is more of a guy thing usually so if you have a husband/boyfriend, he might get into it and that would take some load off of you.

Cooking a lot at once for future use does add some work in portioning, packaging for the freezer and you'd need a stand alone freezer though not a huge one.
 
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We and 2 our neighbouring families managed a "preventative" approach. We have a 3 week cycle. On tuesday and thursday one family cooks for other two and delivers the goods to the door.
Every third week we cook for others and other 2/3rds of weeks they cook for us. This is 15 meals cooking at once, when the row is on us.

It works great, it was simple to implement (at first we tried only 1 day per week, but imediatelly after the first cycle we started with two days/week) and it is really a nice feeling when you cook for others. Also the feeling is great when others bring lunch to your door. Of course it is much less time consuming…
And three families got the privilege of eating rocket oven baked food, recently  



 
pollinator
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Location: Illinois USA - USDA Zone 5b
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John Paulding wrote:Welcome to the past. "Slaving over a hot stove all day" was a real thing. The Waltons was a tv show that was on when I was a kid. Based in the 1920s/30s and there was usually three generations working in the kitchen. You mention kids. Are they helping you?

I feel your pain. Our kids just started eating like adults and I'm still trying to adjust portions AND try to have leftovers. Our pots and pans aren't big enough and neither is our kitchen. I'm not even trying totally from scratch. Just not doing nuke it kind of meals all the time and it's still tough.



Kids are a huge help in the kitchen. My Depression era grandparents had 8 kids, 7 boys and 1 girl. The youngest were tasked with kitchen, chicken and garden duties while the older kids worked the farm fields, cotton, hay, etc. During cotton harvest the entire family put in time, even the little ones. By the time they were 6 years old, each had an assigned cow to milk twice daily. During various garden harvests, when it was time to can, the entire family participated in harvest and prep work. It was the same when time to butcher a hog or cow. They had a pantry something like a small general store - they put back enough to make it at least to next harvest. And on big work days the entire family got involved. When I was growing up, we also had chores. Cooking, dishes, garden, cleaning, laundry, ironing, etc. When it was apple sauce day, I was peeling and coring apples with a paring knife when I was 5 years old - I wasn’t tasked with loading the pressure canner until I was a teen, though. Kids can learn responsibility at an early age - mine did too. The family workload should never land on one person only!

I second the concepts of batch cooking, Crockpots, pressure cookers, etc. Even now that I cook for just 2 unless kids / grandkids are here visiting, I cook in big batches and save back food in the freezer or canned for later use. Never cook “just for today” - when you cook, cook extra. Apple butter day? Make enough for the entire year plus some for holiday gifts and can it. Chili day? Make at least one Crockpot full (or 2 or 3, depending on family size) and put plenty back for later meals. I got in this habit years ago, and it is a huge time saver!

The Waltons didn’t have a big pantry. They didn’t have a pressure canner, although my grandparents did during the same era. The Waltons did share the work, though divided along sex lines, unlike my grandparents (the boys all started in the kitchen, garden and henhouse as far as chores were concerned). I think unlike the Waltons, my grandparents realized that dumping all that work on grandma and the one daughter was not going to fly (grandma was a tough little gal who had, as a barely teenaged girl, been given the responsibility of driving the family cattle herd from Kansas to Oklahoma when the family moved, so I doubt very much she’d have tolerated a farm totally divided along “traditional” sex roles).

I usually bake breakfast muffins once per week (pumpkin, banana, blueberry, etc. on a seasonal basis), enough for the week, supplemented with eggs and fruit. Lunches are almost always cold veggies and cheeses and fruits and bread and sometimes peanut butter, unless we need something hot to warm up from outdoor work during bone-chilling cold as happened recently. 🥶 Then we had some reheated pre-cooked dinners from the freezer. I bake bread once per week also. And, like my grandma, I insist on equity. My DH is a lousy cook, so he is assigned cleanup duty. And canning days, DH gets assigned some prep work (kids used to help with that also).

 
pollinator
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carol dacanay wrote:During the times of the year when my chickens and ducks are laying eggs like crazy, I stream about a dozen eggs at the beginning of the week, peel them, place them in a jar and cover them with vinegar and spices. It makes super quick breakfast or snack or they can become deviled eggs. They vinegar helps insure that they will not spoil even if we take longer to eat them and it adds a nice tangy flavor to the eggs.



I used to do something similar to what you are doing -- put a gallon jar full of peeled, boiled eggs in leftover pickle juice and keep it in the refrigerator. The problem is that it took forever for the pickle flavor to be imparted to the eggs and you had to have that huge jar taking up space in the frig all that time. Then one day I thought, wait a minute ... when you buy pickled eggs at a store they don't keep them in the refrigerator, so there must be some way to properly can them. I figured if you can can meat, you should be able to can eggs. Plus, there are tons of simple water bath pickling recipes out there for things that are low acid -- if you add acid in the form of vinegar or citric acid to the mixture (or use enough salt), you should be able to safely pickle eggs just like you would green beans or asparagus or any other low acid foods. I may be wrong in making that assumption and it could be that using a pressure cooker to can them is a better/safer approach, but we have been using an ordinary water-bath process for years (eating eggs we have stored on the shelf for many months) with no problems at all.

What I do is boil a huge batch of eggs -- usually 6 to 8 dozen at a time (allowing a few extra for breakage or imperfect peels) until they are hard-boiled. Cool, peel and rinse the eggs then pack into clean, wide-mouth quart canning jars. (You can get 12 medium-large eggs in one jar if you arrange them 3 at a time in 4 rows.) Meanwhile, bring a pot filled with your favorite pickling recipe to a rolling boil and simmer for about 10 minutes to bring out the flavors of the spices and herbs. (I use recipes for dills or bread and butter pickles or even for a spicy pickle mix for peppers and I usually add a bit more salt and citric acid to it to be safe.) When the eggs are all packed in jars, pour the hot pickling mixture over the eggs in the jars to within about 1/4" from the top. Wipe the tops of the jars with a clean damp cloth to remove any juice then place the seals and lids on. Screw the lids fairly tight or the juice can boil out and really mess things up in the canning process. Place in your canner (which should already have water simmering in it) and ensure that the water covers the jar lids at least one inch. Bring the pot to a boil and then start timing. I generally allow it to process at a boil for 15 to 20 minutes with 6 quart-size jars. When done, immediately remove the jars to a towel on the table (out of drafts) making sure they have space between them to cool evenly all around. After a few minutes you will hear the tell-tale ping of the lids sealing. Don't touch them until they are 100% cool, then carefully wipe the jars, tighten the lids if necessary, check to see that all have sealed properly, put a date on them so you know when you canned them, and put them in the pantry to enjoy when eggs (or your cooking time) are scarce. You can start eating them immediately because the canning process cooks the pickling solution in somewhat, but I like to wait at least a month before using them so the pickling solution has time to really penetrate the eggs. Eat them as is or make the best deviled eggs you've ever had! They are also good sliced on toast with melted cheese on top or made into egg salad sandwiches or chopped into green salads. Best of all, they are a real time saver when you have a million other things to do!
 
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Cr Baker wrote:I've cooked some meals from scratch for quite a few years, now, but trying to put it all together has been challenging for me.  About 3 months ago, I started trying to cook all of our family's foods from scratch -- 3 meals a day, not counting bread, yogurt, butter, or canning projects.  And between the cooking and the dishes, I feel like I am completely tied to my kitchen.



I live alone and make most of my meals from scratch out of staples in the pantry and freezer plus garden greens to save money, but I can't imagine how hard it would be doing it for a whole family.

Breakfast is typically a smoothie of homemade yogurt plus whatever store-bought dried cranberries I have in the pantry or frozen berries I grew myself.

My usual lunch is white bean and mackerel salad -- one pot makes several days worth of lunches for just me. Cook 1-2 lb white beans until just done and not mushy, drain and cool, stir in olive oil and cider vinegar, a chopped red onion and several cloves of garlic, black pepper, plus chopped kale or parsley or whatever is handy. Some rosemary would be good but my plants are already stressed enough just getting through the winter. Let sit several hours. Stir in one big can mackerel, drained (you can use tuna or any other canned ocean fish if you want). It'll keep several days in the fridge.

Supper is usually a big batch one-pot meal that will last five or six days. Typically some frozen $1/lb chicken drums or thighs from the discount store and/or cheap smoked sausage, plus my choice of legumes, brown rice or whole grain pasta, gallon can of hominy &c from the pantry, plus whatever veggies are on hand.
 
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For me burn out can take many forms, but not usually from the same meal over and over. I can do that for days.
I mostly get tired of deciding what to eat , plus the time spent shopping, prepping, and having to clean up afterwards. One pan meals are great.

For me, breakfast is the same, 6-7 days a week, and this takes away the stress of "what's for breakfast" and do we even have that?
Every time I'm at the store I know what to get for breakfast, and usually how much we need (and all the better if I buy a little extra ahead of time).
Every morning, it's the same routine... and it can be done quickly and without too may errors... (it. starts. with. the. coffee.)

For dinners, I like to do what my mom did, which is to cook large batches and freeze some for a later date. That way there's a meal waiting that would otherwise have taken all afternoon to prepare, just needing to be heated up.
It was said before, but I'll say it again... The shopping, preparation, and cleanup are bundled, and hardly any worse for a 4X batch than just ONE single batch!

Another of Mom's tricks was to cook a roast on a Saturday or Sunday, and have roast beef two nights, then grind the rest up and have hash two more nights (which was the real reason for cooking the roast in the first place...) Effectively turning the leftovers into a NEW meal.
We ate a LOT of leftovers growing up... cook one night, re-heat the next... rinse and repeat...

These days, I eat most of the leftovers since my partner doesn't think they are as tasty reheated (I often skip the reheating anyways).
So, they become lunches or snacks, or I'll eat it again for dinner and she'll have something else.

Last night, we had chicken stir-fry, and so we got enough chicken for 3 meals and cut it all up and froze 2 portions for later, ready to just thaw and toss into the wok. Leftovers tonight.
Tomorrow (and the day after), turkey, butternut, and kale scramble.

Of course, there's always a jar of sauce and a box of pasta in the pantry.
 
Myrth Gardener
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You are right, Kenneth.

Leftovers are useful. They can be meals in their own right, or ingredients for other meals.

I will do a Crockpot of chicken. I often get those packages of drumsticks for $.99 per pound and fill the Crockpot with them.

Some of that chicken will be eaten as cooked. I will also take a substantial amount of it, debone it, dice it, and use it in various casseroles. For example, my chicken “Mexican” casserole will, in turn, feed us for 4 days. If I make 2 casseroles and freeze meals, we can eat for 8 days off of them. If I am going to take the time to debone and dice chicken, preheat the oven, and prep all the other ingredients, it is very little extra work to double the recipe as long as we have the extra freezer space available. One prep time, one baking session, one cleanup, and I have just done the work to feed us dinner for 8 days. It also uses our propane more efficiently.

Some of it goes (along with the cooking fluids from the Crockpot and bone broth made after deboning) into a soup, which becomes another set of meals.

Frugal and time saving. 😸
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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After we have had a roast, I cube up the meat and put it in a saucepan with all left over veg and gravy. I add liquid - beer, wine, stock, whatever, a can of beans and any left over veg. You know, that lump of cauliflowe or what ever lurking at the bottom of the fridge. This is now pottage. We have it for lunch. Next day, add a few cubed potatoes, more beans , can of tomatoes. Lunch again. Next day - sweetcorn, canned chicken, mushrooms, more beans. Maybe a winter leak or the last of a tomoato or bit of cumcumber from a salad. Continue and every day it tastes better and better and takes no time. If it is sunny I heat it in the solar oven. So much easier and no waste at all. If we have a few days coming up where we are out or want something else we just let it run down and any leftovers go to the dogs. As a rule, my pan holds enough for 4 and we are only 2. So we eat half then top it up. The remaining food turns into thick, delicious soup and the new additives are the main flavour. I think I have posted this before but I think it is well worth repeating.
Must dash cos I have a curry pottage in the solar oven which should be ready by now.
 
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When our children were living at home my wife made lots of soups, stews, chili, in 5 gallon batches, canned it so it was a grab and reheat. She canned a lot of taco meat and meatloaf also.
Friday was taco night, everything set out and everyone made their own, sat night was pizza night, we used pita breads and everyone made up their own.
It really cut down on kitchen time.
 
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Deb Stephens wrote:Then one day I thought, wait a minute ... when you buy pickled eggs at a store they don't keep them in the refrigerator, so there must be some way to properly can them. I figured if you can can meat, you should be able to can eggs. Plus, there are tons of simple water bath pickling recipes out there for things that are low acid -- if you add acid in the form of vinegar or citric acid to the mixture (or use enough salt), you should be able to safely pickle eggs just like you would green beans or asparagus or any other low acid foods. I may be wrong in making that assumption and it could be that using a pressure cooker to can them is a better/safer approach, but we have been using an ordinary water-bath process for years (eating eggs we have stored on the shelf for many months) with no problems at all.



I'm not a big egg eater so this is theoretical for me.  But I would be trying to find a workable pressure canning recipe if I wanted to keep pickled eggs at room temperature.

Here are a few things I think I know:

1) the existence of a shelf-stable canned food product at the grocery store does not necessarily mean it's possible to can that food product at home in a home pressure canner.  Commercial canneries have access to much higher pressures and temperatures, and tricky machinery that lets them very quickly raise foods to high temperatures and keep them there no longer than necessary.  

2) the national center for home food preparation says that "there are no home canning directions for pickled eggs."  They don't say whether that's because it's not possible, or just because there aren't any lab-tested and confirmed recipes.  They do recommend a refrigerator pickle process involving pouring hot brine over the eggs and then storing immediately and until consumption in the fridge.  To avoid the "huge jar" problem, they recommend doing a dozen eggs at a time in quart jars.

3) Botulism is always the concern, and egg yolks are potentially a problem.  Their normal ph is 6.8 and the pickling solution can't really get into the yolks.  They need to be acidified to 4.6 or better (or, potentially heated sufficiently in a pressure canner, but see #1.)  Poking holes in the eggs may or may not help with that, but it also risks introducing botulus spores that weren't there previously.  As the Center For Disease Control puts it, "Intact eggs that have been hard-boiled should be free of bacteria or spores. Pricking cooked eggs may introduce C. botulinum spores into the yolk."

That link in #3 is about a single case of somebody who did get botulism from unrefrigerated egg pickles.  On the other hand, the dude pricked the eggs and left the pickle jar on his counter in the sunshine.

Just thinking aloud, if intact boiled eggs "should" be free of botulism, then a pressure-canning regime that aims only to sterilize the pickling/canning liquid (without worrying unduly about heat transport to the inside of the egg yolks) ought to suffice.  But the experts take a dim view of this sort of home-cook reasoning.  I'm enough of an iconoclast not to care very much, but I also retain enough sense of irony to understand that's how smart people sometimes kill themselves.  
 
pollinator
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Here are some things I use or do to make scratch cooking easier. There are 2 adults in my household and I have large amount of dietary restrictions for medical reasons so scratch cooking is the only option even if I am not feeling well.  We are in a low density suburban area with a large garden.  Automating what you can may not be the most low cost or the elegantly self sufficient way to do it but it can mean the difference in actually getting the job done.

We have 2 freezer chests for 2 people.  This allows us to buy whole or half animals from local farms and have room to store our own frozen fruits, veggies, and homemade frozen foods.  All left overs are packaged into single meals, labeled and frozen. This means we always have cooked food on hand when I am having medically bad days and my husband has home cooked food to bring for lunch.  

Giant stock pots.  I have a 4 gallon and a 5 gallon stainless steel stock pots.  This allows me to make a multiple gallons of stuff at a time.  The large batches of bone broth, soup, chili, stew and tomato sauce then get frozen or canned.  

Standard sized storage containers.  I use both canning jars and reusable plastic containers. Having standardized lids and containers saves time and energy.  Find what you like and get rid of the rest.  

A good food processor.  I use my Cuisinart when ever I can.  I will start with the driest ingredients and  work my way to the messiest so I don't to fully wash the bowl and blades between each type of food.   I will cut up what I am cooking with right now and whatever I need for the next few days.  

Kitchen aid mixer attachments.  The food mill and meat grinder attachments are now my go to tool during canning season.  It saves me hours of labor and hand strain over using a manual food mill.

Stainless steel swivel towel rack mounted over my kitchen sink.  This allows me to easily wash and dry buckets, my light weight stock pots, and plastic zip top baggies.  They hang to dry and they are out of the dish drainer so I can fill that with the less bulky stuff. Anything I can do to make dishes easier is a win.

A small adjustable height table on wheels.  I can move it around my small kitchen and use it to comfortably sit and do my food prep when I am tired or not feeling well. It makes prepossessing large amounts of food easier if you can sit and do it at a comfortable height.





 
master pollinator
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When we can food we always can some pre made meals .... soup, stew, etc.  That way we can reach for a couple of jars and have a fast meal if time becomes an issue.
 
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I am so glad this thread got mentioned in the daily-ish today.
I imagine I'm not the only person who is burned out from putting 3 meals on the table every single day for the last 4 months.
We used to eat 2-4 meals out every week, back when that was a thing... We don't really have takeout options here, but the eat-in restaurants were excellent and we miss them greatly. My spouse and I both run our own businesses and by Friday we are generally ready to just collapse. I cook, and I like it, but there is only so much responsibility I can fit in a single day. Now coronavirus has made my workload even more intense (more jobs, new clients).

About one month into this mess I realized I had stockpiled a lot of things I wasn't using. I made a spreadsheet and menu planned to use up all the amaranth flakes, rye flour, tapioca balls, fava beans, etc. I always pooh-poohed menu planning because the plans I see online always involve things we don't eat (ground beef, cheese, pasta, etc). I also don't have much freezer space (because of humidity/bugs I need to store a lot of things in the freezer, and getting another freezer is not happening). Instead I approached it like Iron Chef, hunted around the internet to figure out how to use these ingredients.

Now it is part of my Sunday routine to look around the kitchen and garden on Sunday (since we`re always at home), figure out what needs to be used that week, and plan out dinners. There are a few standards (some sort of soupy Chinese dish served with steamed bread, some kind of bone-based soup or stew in the crockpot, and Friday generally tends to be a loaf of sourdough with fruit, wine and cheese). I also try to work in the weather, like Tuesday was really cold so we had a hominy-and-chicken-bone stew, as well as the days I bake my husband's breakfast bread (I have a double-wide oven and like to take advantage of the gas I'm burning to bake dinner).
We eat the leftovers as lunches, and if there are no leftovers we have our old standby (and my personal favorite): greens from the garden, canned sardines, and crackers.

I never expected to be planning meals, but it really has taken some of the burden off when the week is nuts (like this week).
 
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Who says we have to eat three meals a day? Now with the Covid-19 threat and increased isolation, less exercise, if I ate three meals a day I would be 300 pounds. Of course I don't have kids, I've only myself to please.

So I have breakfast, toast, PB and J, or oatmeal, and lunch/ dinner mid to late afternoon. This way I can eat things that I like, and indulge my sweet tooth, without overdoing it. Sometimes I snack on leftovers mid morning. The rule is "don't deny, delay". Fasting from five PM to eight AM isn't that hard and I cook once a day, or once every two or three days. I love casseroles and fresh produce from the garden, rarely eat red meat. Veggies and chicken roasted on a pan in the oven with a little garlic olive oil is great. (I roast my tomatoes for canning this way, cut side down, 400 degrees for 30 or 40 minutes. Just pinch the skins off.)

Another time saver is the recipe I found here for "poly bread", dough that I keep in the refrigerator and pull off portions for rolls, cinnamon rolls, pizza, small loaves of cheese bread, even donuts or fry bread, pigs (or veggies) in a blanket... .

Mix 4 cups hot water, 2T salt, 2t yeast, 1/2 Cup oil. Add enough flour to make a dough, 10 cups plus or minus. Knead, let rise, punch down, and place in an oiled plastic gallon sized bag. Keeps well in the refrigerator for a week or more.

Hang in. Bobbi McC
 
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I can get a whole week of main meals starting with a chicken and a crockpot. Day 1, roast or steam and eat chicken. Debone and throw bones and inedible bits into crockpot to make broth. Day 2 is chicken leftovers, often pulled chicken, and strain the broth and add some of it back into crockpot with dried beans. Let crockpot do its thing til day 3 when you add chili fixings to the pot. Chili that night. Then you just go from there adding a few new things to the crockpot so you are not eating exactly the same thing each night. Maybe throw in some veggies with the chili. Add tomato sauce and mserve over pasta. Add the rest of the chicken stock back in and call it soup. Add rice or noodles. You get the idea. Whatever you have on hand and feel like adding, really. It's kind of like making stone soup.
 
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This thread reminded me of this song our mother used to sing if we kids complained about eating the same thing for dinner too often.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNYCGAfu4bg
 
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When we are drowning in bell peppers from the garden, we make trayloads of stuffed peppers.  It's so easy!  sautee some ground meat with onions, garlic, then add diced tomatoes and maybe some paprika or chili powder.  Stuff in the peppers, add shredded cheese on top and bake for about 30 minutes.  They freeze very well too!
 
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When I was growing up in a family of four children, we had assigned chores for each night of the week. These included setting the table, washing dishes and drying dishes. As we got older my mom had each of us learn to cook a dinner meal that we enjoyed eating. We were responsible for planning and cooking the entire meal for the whole family. Mom had a least one night a week off from cooking. As I got older (age 11) I started cooking most of the family meals, since I loved cooking!

Another thing we did occasionally was have breakfast for dinner. Waffles on Sunday night was always so fun. If Dad wasn’t home we’d have cereal for dinner.

Nowadays, I have what we call “free for all” Fridays. Everyone gets to make their own dinner (and clean up their mess as well.) Letting others share the burden of cooking from scratch helps prevent the burn-out.
 
John F Dean
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I might be in a special situation, but I am getting far more exercise.  I am on the property much more than I used to be.  I am catching up on all those odd projects that I was going to get to.  My wife has always been the bread baker.  She, also, has always tended to have endless variations in her product.  I tend to be the one who cooks dinner.  Lately, I try to introduce one none routine meal a week. I figure I might as well take advantage of the many volumes of cookbooks we have.  
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