Our Dinner Routine
- Monday - Cook a full dinner meal
- Tuesday - Leftovers from Sunday
- Wednesday - Cook a full dinner meal
- Thursday - Slow cooker meal
- Friday - Leftovers from Monday
- Saturday - Family Movie Night, so we have a homemade smoothies and popcorn for dinner
- Sunday - Leftovers or dinner at my mom's house
Make a Large Amounts!One of the keys to making this dinner routine work is that I make large portions whenever I cook. This means I often double or even triple recipes. It doesn't usually take much longer to cook a double amount of a recipe. Usually, there are just more vegetables to chop or more meatballs to make, but the overall prep and cook time only increases a bit to accommodate larger portions.
Having large cooking dishes on hand is crucial to making large portions work out. I have a very large 12-inch heavy bottomed skillet that can be used for large portions of recipes calling for pan frying or sauteing. I have a 6-quart slow cooker, and of course I have a large stockpot that can be used for making huge batches of soup.
Storing LeftoversWe have lots of glass Pyrex dishes on-hand for storing leftovers. These glass dishes are great because:
- you can reheat directly in the bowl without creating any extra dirty dishes,
- glass is superior to plastic since plastic may leach into food, and
- they come in many handy sizes.
One caution about leftovers: cooked greens and cruciferous vegetables don't store very well in the fridge. Some people also say that cooked green veggies form excessive nitrates while stored in the fridge. But I do find that these types of cooked veggies store fine in the freezer.
What if You Need More Variety?If you don't like to eat leftovers because you want more variety, try freezing the leftovers and eating them another week. I have found that all soups, stews, roasts, and even hamburgers freeze well. I freeze family size portions in glass Pyrex dishes. I try to always keep at least two family-sized meals on-hand in the freezer; this way, there is always an easy dinner available and this keeps us from needing to eat out much.
To reheat frozen meals, we generally use a toaster oven. Technically, a frozen Pyrex dish could crack when put into a hot oven, but I have never had that happen. To be on the safe side, I always put the Pyrex dishes into a cold toaster oven (rather than a preheated oven). (Of course, the plastic lids do NOT go into the toaster oven, only the glass bowl.) When time allows, I will let frozen meals thaw in the fridge for several hours before reheating them.
Most foods will do best with a long-and-slow reheat at 250 degrees. But that can easily take one to two hours, so sometimes I bump up the temperature to 300 or 350 if we are in a time crunch. If we need to have something ready really quickly, frozen soups/stews can be quickly reheated by thawing briefly in a bowl of warm water (just enough to loosen the soup in the bowl) and then dumping it into a saucepan to warm on the stove. This is our version of a fast-food dinner.