For my third and final test of Walmart Grocery To Go service, I decided I would go with ways to preserve meals and plan ahead. Because everyone is busy and convenience is king in today’s over-stimulated and demanding world, being able to plan ahead and cook meals in advance can save you on a hectic week night.
In preparation, I ordered several different sizes of Zip-Lock baggies, quarts, gallons, sandwich size, and snack bags.I got zip-and-steam bags, which you can put fresh veggies into, seal, then steam them in the microwave, and Crock Pot liners, for easier clean up. I ordered a few foil roaster pans with lids, for lasagna and casseroles to freeze.
I got many items which can be stored long-term and used in a variety of dishes, including black beans, pinto beans, Jasmine rice, chickpeas, split peas, black-eyed peas, barley, quinoa, and lentils. These will become soups, stews, curries, and chili. Dried fruits such as dates and apricots and raisins, and cashews and mixed nuts for trail mixes and granola bars.
I also ordered a few games, SkipBo and Phase 10, because it is always nice to have cards on handy when bored during a cold winter night or when friends come to call.
This order came around noon on Valentine’s Day, which I was spending alone. Because the S.O. had already moved to Connecticut to start a new job! Super exciting I know. More on that later.
The delivery guys were very sweet, and made sure to ask if I was okay with a substitution they had to make. If something you ordered is out of stock, they notify you by email, and then you have to verbally agree to it before you can accept the order. You have the option to send it all back and wait until what you wanted is in stock again, which is nice if you had your heart set on something.
So, one weekend or weeknight, when you have a few hours to cook, pick 2 or 3 recipes which store frozen well. Take stock of your refrigerator and cabinets for ideas. Almost all vegetables lend themselves well to soups and stews. Rice or potatoes are easily made into many dishes.
Be flexible; if you don’t have ground beef but have leftover chicken breast, you can still make a mean white bean chicken chili. And don’t be afraid to experiment!
- Lasagna – meat or veggie
- Chilis – meat or veggie
- Soups – potato, split pea, lentil, chicken noodle, chicken and rice, 7 bean soup, tortilla soup, minestrone, broccoli-cheddar
- Stews – sweet potato stew, pork pozole, lamb stew, beef stew, mushroom stew
- Curry – green chicken curry, lentil curry, chickpea curry
- Red beans & rice
- Casseroles – Shepherd’s pie, tuna noodle, stuffed cabbage casserole, enchilada casserole
- Veggie burgers
Now that you’ve chosen your recipes, gather all your ingredients. Spend some time chopping and peeling, feeling the texture of the vegetables, the lovely colors, the smells and tastes. Cooking is the best way to get back in touch with what we eat, and thus are putting into our bodies.
Once you have two or three pots happily simmering, you can entertain yourself elsewhere. Taste as you go, remembering that you will need to re-season when you reheat the dishes, as flavors may dull over time.
Now you can portion out your home-cooked goodies into individual or family-sized portions. Soups and stews can be spooned into freezer bags and laid flat to freeze. Lasagnas and casseroles can be assembled and baked in the roaster pans and then frozen to be thawed and re-heated in the oven later.
Now that is convenience food I can get behind!