Monday, January 28, 2013

Planning Ahead

 Do you ever find yourself running out the door, almost late for work, and realize that you don't have anything packed for lunch? So either you throw something together really fast or you have to go out to lunch that day, right? If you opt to go out for lunch how easy is it to make a healthy choice when fast food is just begging you to come through the drive-thru?

Or maybe it's not lunch that is the problem, maybe it's dinner time. Maybe you've had a really hectic day and you are just too tired and don't have enough time to cook and make a healthy meal, so once again that fast food drive-thru calls your name?

I have been there! When I was single I found that I often fell back on the same unhealthy choices because I don't enjoy cooking and I especially don't enjoy cooking for just one person. Finally someone suggested a solution. I don't remember if it was my mom or who exactly it was but someone suggested that I make some meals, divide them into single portions and then freeze them. That way I could just pull one meal out each day for lunch or for dinner and I could still eat healthy. I tried that for a while and it really did work great!

Then I got married and I thought "yeah! No more fixing meals for just myself!" However, when my husband and I were first married he worked swing shift. I didn't have to pack my husband lunch, or dinner because his work provided his meals. So, I was still needing to cook just for myself! I found that frustrating and for a time I went back to cooking all day once a week and making several meals to freeze. About a year and half after we were married my husband's shift changed and he was home every night and so I stopped freezing meals and started just cooking normally.

 I hadn't thought much about in the years since even though he did end up going back to swing shift for a couple of years. But by then I had children to feed it wasn't exactly the same. At the beginning of this month things changed again, when he changed jobs. He is now home every night again which is great, but he now has to take a lunch each day! At first I thought this wouldn't be any real big change, I would just pack him left overs from dinner the night before. But as the weeks went by I noticed that we don't have left overs very often! He said it was no big deal to take a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, just like my son usually takes to school, but one day last week I felt guilty for falling back on a sandwich yet again.

So instead I grabbed some noodles and started boiling them and then I grabbed some fettuccine sauce and dumped that on top. In the process of throwing the lunch together I was reminded of my past lunch/dinner preparations and decided to give it a try again. I spent the entire day cooking 5 different meals, portioning them into single lunch servings, and then freezing them. I am happy to say that I now have enough meals in the freezer for him to last at least 2 1/2 weeks, and that's without using sandwiches or left overs! I'm sure that occasionally we will have left overs (we did last night in fact!) and so those meals in the freezer will actually last a little longer. And I know there will be days that my husband wants a tuna sandwich or something. So one day of cooking is going to equal at least 3 weeks of good lunches for him and no guilt for me!

I know this picture of them doesn't look all that appetizing, but that is just because I put each serving in a food saver bag and vacuum sealed it before putting it in the freezer. Believe me, when they are opened and heated they taste just as good as when they came out of the oven!

The great thing is that I can also send them in my son's school lunch occasionally!  And did I mention how much money this can help you save too? I think it's a win-win situation! Healthy meals, portioned correctly, and less expensive than eating out!

Planning ahead can make a huge impact not only on your weight, but also on your pocket book!

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