Thursday, January 27, 2011

Streamlining kitchen work, saving time and freezer cooking

During our previous meeting at the home ec classes group, the lady who gives the classes talked about how much more effective it is to cook in bulk and do all the weekly cooking and baking in one day. It streamlines kitchen work and saves time. I then couldn’t refrain from speaking out, and said it’s a great idea to have a cooking day, cleaning day, wash day, etc; however, sometimes it just isn’t doable.

I used to do most of the cooking and baking on Friday, before Shabbat. Then Shira was born and I spread out the cooking over Thursday and Friday. Lately, I’ve found out I feel more at ease and work more effectively if I spread out the Shabbat cooking throughout the week, and throw in several meals to be eaten during the week. I do a bit each day, and so when Friday rolls around, almost all the cooking is done and I’m free to do other things (and there’s always enough to do).

The freezer is a wonderful invention, and if your time is very limited, it can be a good idea to cook in advance (whenever you have the time) and freeze meals for later. This way, I can start preparing for Shabbat right at the beginning of the week. For example, last Sunday I made challah buns for Shabbat and froze them. I’d make another batch if I had more freezer space. The week before, I made enough fish to last us for two Shabbat meals, and froze it in two portions. We ate one last week, and are going to eat the second portion in a couple of days.

Not everything keeps well in the freezer – one example is potatoes, which lose their structure when frozen, so I only cook them close to when they are going to be eaten. But bread, cakes, pastries, meat and fish, among many other things, keep beautifully when frozen and taste just like fresh when they are defrosted.

Most days, it turns out that I do a bit of this and a bit of that: a load of washing, some cleaning, some cooking, a bit of pulling weeds in the garden. Some writing, a bit of reading aloud to Shira, drawing and playing with playdough or building blocks. My days are full and busy, but not hectic.


These past few weeks have been the first long period in ten years that I’ve been without actively using the internet, and I must say the effect is very calming. Without the internet, some of the urgency of modern life is lost, and I find it all to the good. Of course, I suppose that when we can connect again, I won’t be able to give up on all the wonderful resources internet provides (limitless information on so many topics, great new recipes, craft websites, all my favorite blogs, free music and movies on YouTube), but so far, I’m enjoying my time offline. I hope you are all well, and look forward to the next opportunity of reading your comments and emails. 


Kate said...

Once again, a great read from Mrs. T. I can even tell a difference in your tone now that you don't have internet, it's more relaxed! :) Whenever you are finally able to read this comment, I am wondering if you could tell us more about reading aloud to Shira. I know that reading aloud to children and adults used to be a endearing pastime and it sounds like you've taken it up. I have a 7 month old and I've recently instituted reading to him as part of his bedtime routine, and he also gets read to a lot on car trips. Well anyway... I want to get him in the habit of being able to sit still, and enjoy being read to. Is this what you've tried to accomplish with Shira? Tell us about it!

Rose said...

Hello Anna dear, lovely to see a post from you. Re potatoes: if you are doing a layered gratin style dish you can freeze them uncooked and then cook when it's time to serve.

I hope you are all well.

Laura Spilde said...

Yes, at times it would be nice to have everything prepared in a advance. But for sake of space, shelf-life and time, sometimes it isn't possible. Perhaps baking things like bread or deserts on one day and preparing simple salads and cutting up fruit on another will definitely create more hearty meals ;)

Elizabeth R said...

Cooking ahead and freezing are a great time saver. I bake and freeze a great deal, but would love to learn to cook and freeze more.


PS Thank you to Mr. T for uploading the posts - we greatly appreciate it!

Kimberly said...

I love freezing food for later, if only I had a deep freeze then I could have a months worth of meals ready for when the baby comes. As it is there's hardly enough room in our freezer for a weeks worth.

monika said...

For me, it wouldn't work to have a cooking day either. I don't have enough pots and pans to be able to have a lot of different dishes cooking at the same time anyway. Just cooking double (or more) of everything that freezes well saves a lot of time and effort. said...

Freezer food -- yes, even homemade meals -- just isn't as flavorful as fresh. In fact, it often sucks! And I suspect it's just not as healthy.

Anonymous said...

Hey, maybe you guys can answer this for me -- I am a total food snob. I do sometimes eat frozen food from the grocery store (pizzas, parbaked rolls), but ... what kind of food is actually good (for adults!) once it's been frozen? I don't have kids yet, so, I mean ... every night I sautee some vegetables and maybe some fish, or make pasta with fresh vegetables ... I just can't imagine eating enough produce in frozen form without it being gross. My diet is 50% plants at least. I understand that when you have kids, you have to do what you have to do. But if you didn't, would you still eat frozen? It seems like most of the things I cook would be totally disgusting if frozen and thawed and cooked again. Help!