In this series we are discussing kitchen systems that I have put into place in our home that have helped streamline my days and weeks. This is my why and this is how I make a meal plan. I also discussed what to do when you just can't meal plan.
Last week I talked about what I do to ensure that my family gets a hot breakfast all week long, no matter how busy we are. During that conversation I mentioned my kitchen day.
What is a kitchen day you ask?
Kitchen day is a few hours I set aside on the day I go grocery shopping (typically Monday) to prep food and get a head start for dinners that week.
I sit down with my meal plan and see what I can do ahead of time, that'll help save time the rest of the week, specifically at dinner time. I also make our breakfast for the week. Let's take a look at my meal plan for last week (I had a LOT of leftover food from the previous week so you’ll see an additional leftover night than usual) and I'll break down what I did on kitchen day.
Tuesday- Italian Stuffed Acorn Squash
Friday- Chicken Enchiladas with Cucumber Salad
Saturday- Roast Chicken with Baked Potatoes and Green Beans
Breakfast- Pumpkin Spice Baked Oatmeal with Hard Boiled Eggs and Fruit.
Lunch- Sausage Pasta Salad
I’ve been experimenting with implementing a weekly lunch item for my husband and daughter to pack in their lunches, similar to what I do for our breakfast. It typically is enough for 3-4 meals to supplement leftovers that can get packed too.
What I got done:
- Roasted Acorn Squash
- Double Batch of Baked Oatmeal
- 2 dozen Hard Boiled Eggs
- Roasted Sausage (for pasta salad)
- Made Pasta Salad
- Cleaned Out The Refrigerator
Roasting the acorn squash is very time intensive (1.5 hours!). However, having that done for Tuesday turned what would have been a 2 hour prep time meal, into a 30 minute meal. Much more weeknight friendly for someone that has to cook dinner after they get home from work. I find that the key to having the most time efficient kitchen day is to maximize pockets of time.
For example, the very first thing I did was get the squash and sausage in the oven ( I didn’t even wait for it to be preheated) and put 2 pots of water on to boil. While I waited for the squash to roast and water to boil, I chopped veggies for the pasta salad. These are the pockets of time where you can be “doing” two or three things at once. This is how I knocked out last week's kitchen day in about 3 hours.
For those of you with little's at home, I shop early, immediately after I drop my oldest off at school. By the time the grocery shopping is done, it’s nap time for the baby and I get started. This buys me at least 1 solid hour, if not more, of uninterrupted time. Once she wakes up, it's straight into the high chair to eat. This buys me a bit more time. Once her belly is full, she's (typically) happy playing for a while.
Everyone’s kitchen day will look different. From what day/time you do it, to what you get done. If you have never done one, start small. Perhaps that’s baking muffins to snack on and prepping some veggies for lunches. No need setting yourself up for failure by taking on too much. As you gain confidence, add some more items to your list. As long as you get something done that helps free up a bit of time later, consider it a success!