Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Menu Planning 102: Tools Needed

CONGRATULATIONS!!! You are back! Did you decide to take the plunge? Are you determined to rid your self of processed foods for 30 days? If you have made that commitment this is the next step; TOOLS. Tools?! Why would anyone need to have tools for this challenge? The success of this challenge (especially if you are doing the majority of your cooking in one day) is heavily dependent on the tools that you surround yourself with.
1. 9x13 pans- preferably glass and preferably with lids.
They make stacking up your dishes in the freezer super easy and they don't allow much moisture to enter the dish like aluminum foil will. I own about 5 or 6 of them. Most of them I purchased from our local thrift store.
2. Crockpots- different sizes works great I have three of them. One of them is big and fancy that has a temp gauge for cooking meats. I like it a lot!
The next two that I have are small and have just a little knob to adjust the temp. They are old and well used and were purchased again at the local thrift store.
The problem with only having one crockpot is you can only work on one recipe for the whole day. What a time waster! During my cooking days I use the large one for either big recipes or for cooking meats. The two smaller ones are for slow cooked soups or dips.
3. An Upright or Chest Freezer CRUCIAL!! You need a place to put all of your meals in! We bought ours at a garage sale. It's old, smelled when we first bought it but hey, it works and that is all that matters! It is a rare thing for our upright to be empty, it is usually jammed packed with foods. This what ours looks like right now. Nice and filled with yummy ingredients!! This is how it looks before I do my Saturday cooking. I will show you what it looks like after as well.
4. Food Processor- This I actually do not have, but, I would love to get one some day. I am sure that it will make my life 300% easier! This is the one I want.
One day, I will find one at a thrift store, but until then......chop, chop, chop!
5. Food Scale- this really isn't a necessary tool, just a helpful one. As of now, we buy our beef in bulk at Costco. The size I buy is fully dependent on what I am scheduled to cook. This past month our "beef" calendar consisted of two meatloaf nights(1.5 lbs per recipe), one chili night(2lb recipe), two burrito nights(1 lb per recipe) and one spaghetti night(1 lb). That is 8 lbs of beef needed for one month. So, I pick out a package that is closest to that weight and take it home and try to figure out how much is 1.5lb/ 2lb/ etc with no scale. Yikes!
I have generally stayed away from scales because I have this notion that food scales are for dieters measuring their portions in grams, but, I need to just bunker down and get one.
So, there you have it. You have the goal/mindset, you have the tools needed, next up is planning your meal calendar.....kiss those processed foods goodbye!!

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