Cooking meals at home is commendable. When we have so many other options—whether it's eating out, ordering takeout, or buying ready-made meals of one sort or another—taking the time to plan meals, shop for ingredients, and assemble them into a home-cooked meal demonstrates a commitment to a relaxing hobby, saving money, or the determination to eat as healthfully as possible. But it's not always easy. Here's a simple way to double the rewards for hardly any additional effort:
When you plan your meals, double the portion size that you will shop and cook for, at least for one or two meals a week.
This way, you're making twice as many meals without the mental or physical energy it takes to plan an additional entire dinner. It's much easier to pick up and chop two extra onions and cook them along with what you'd be cooking anyway than to pull out the cutting board, wash the knife and cutting board and all the dishes it would take to cook them. This applies to each component of the meal you're preparing.
When you're done, immediately store half of what you made for a meal later on. If you don't mind eating the same thing a couple times in the span of one week, keep it handy in the fridge. Alternately, wrap it up appropriately in a bag or casserole dish, write a note to remind you of the contents and how to warm them back up, and store it in the freezer.
Some more tips...
Ready to double-up your cooking? Here are a few steps for success:
- Write down (in your phone, in a list on the fridge, etc.) what meals you have ready-to-go in the freezer. This way, the food you prepared ahead of time will actually get remembered and enjoyed.
- Meals that work especially well for doubling and freezing are things like casseroles, soups, and sauces (like bolognese).
- To transfer liquid-heavy dishes to baggies, this $12 kitchen tool is extremely handy. (I wrote all about why I love it right here.)
- Keep in mind that not everything has to actually be cooked; the components of a meal you'd make in the Instant Pot, for example, can be prepped and gathered in a container, raw, and then tossed in the pressure cooker when it's time for dinner.
Having a stash of freezer meals can easily save your household a hundred or more dollars a month by saving you money on eating out in a pinch and on the extra trips to the grocery store that add up with all their incidental purchases.
Pushing your cooking self a little bit harder to double up on two meals a week will build up a month's worth of once-a-week freezer meals in a couple weeks and makes the job (or joy!) of cooking exponentially more gratifying.