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Freezer Friendly, Meal Planning, Recipe Basics, Recipes

Meal Planning for the Spontaneous

Meal Planning for the spontaneous.jpg

As much as the “good southern wife” in me wants to have dinner on the table at 6, it just doesn’t happen. My husband works in ministry so business hours aren’t strict 9-5 and we’re pretty spontaneous with our plans on top of that.

Plus, I’m really bad at meal planning, or that’s what I’ve always told myself. Turns out, I’m meal planning for a life that doesn’t exist for me. I’m meal planning for the “dinner at 6” life.

As soon as I realized that, I decided to shift my mentality for meals. My husband would call halfway through the day and see if we could go grab dinner with his parents. That’s fine and good but “dinner at 6” Kailey already had some chicken thawing and multiple veggies chopped and prepared. So it was hard to enjoy spontaneity knowing I had wasted my time, money and probably food. Because when I don’t cook Monday’s dinner, I just move on to Tuesday’s instead of carrying Monday’s over for various reasons.

Here’s where the chunks come in (not gross. I promise.)

I started making a list of every meal I had available. Just one long post-it.

I write the name of the meal, the sides to go with it, and the big ingredients I have ready to go right now. (I underline the “maybe” ingredients to check on later, like spices) I also put a star next to super quick meals.

I also keep a list of produce about to go bad and if I’m REALLY on top of my game: a list of leftovers, as well.

Let me just tell you – THIS DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO COOK THE SAME THINGS OVER AND OVER. I get it, you’re reading this because you ARE spontaneous and the idea of not cooking something new is scary. Guess what? I have Pad Thai on my list…I’ve never cooked Pad Thai before but I know what’s in it and how long it will take so I can squeeze it in one of these nights!

So here are my tips for making your Master Meal List

  • Walk through your fridge and pantry and be realistic with what you CAN make and what you WILL make.
  • Make the hard part easier, if it takes a lot of ahead of time meal prep, it may not be easy to put it into your meal schedule
  • Be okay with moving things around.
  • Don’t do what you don’t like to do (chances are you wouldn’t have done it anyways). This means a chopped veggie soup when you hate chopping veggies is probably never going to happen and your veggies will go bad.
  • Put a safe meal on your list – this could be pasta or a frozen meal.
  • Most importantly, don’t let meals cramp your spontaneous style! If a friend calls to get dinner. Go! Enjoy dinner and don’t be bitter that your elaborate casserole has gone unmade.

I hope this is helpful for you – it’s a game changer for my life. Especially since it’s just me and the husband for a bit until baby comes (and even then, he’ll eat what I eat for a while so it’s whatever).

Don’t let the dream of another life sabotage the great one you have!

Freezer Friendly, Recipe Basics, Recipes

Basic Shredded Chicken

You know how every recipe calls for basic cooked or shredded chicken? I never remember that until I’m mid-recipe and then it’s like “WHAT? NOW I HAVE TO COOK THE CHICKEN?!” and then we eat dinner at midnight because I didn’t plan ahead.

Don’t get me wrong, a rotisserie chicken can absoLUTEly suffice, but I usually don’t have that on hand either.

So, I did some tweaking and found a way to cook loads of chicken at once in a crockpot.

I shred and freeze this in 1lb portions since that’s what most recipes call for. You could also cube it instead.

Here we go.

Put your raw, thawed chicken in the crockpot (you could maybe do this frozen but I doubt it would be as tender and it would definitely take longer).

Photo Apr 25, 1 19 17 PM

You can typically do 2-3lbs at a time. For me, since I use Omaha Steaks chicken, it takes 6+ but the mega chicken breasts from the store would take less.

Add 1 tsp Salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1 TBL minced onionPhoto Apr 25, 1 19 55 PM

You can cover the whole thing with water or chicken broth or do half and half which is what I do. I use this stuff because I can’t be trusted to keep a carton of half used chicken broth in my fridge without it spoiling immediately. #wastefulPhoto Apr 25, 1 20 21 PM

Cover chicken with 1 inch of liquid, this was 4 cups for me. May vary by chicken quantity.Photo Apr 25, 1 20 44 PMSo here are your options. You can do low for 6 hours, or low for 2, high for 2 or high for 4. Whatever cooks your chicken *ifyaknowwhatImean* (and I feel like I’m being fairly obvious)Photo Apr 27, 1 43 18 PMThis is what it will look like when it’s done. YUM.
Take the chicken out of the pot, leaving the liquid and put into a bowl.Photo Apr 27, 1 44 07 PMI like to shred it immediately because it’s a lot easier to do when the chicken is warm. Just use 2 forks and go to town.

You can freeze in Ziplocs as I mentioned before.

BUT KAILEY, WHAT ABOUT THE CHICKEN BROTH YOU DIDN’T WANT TO WASTE?!

Perfect, glad you asked. I strained it and cooked rice in it for dinner that night as well as to be reused in recipes over the next week. Haven’t tried freezing cooked rice yet because it seems too easy to cook for me to try to make it even easier…it seems suspicious and I’m sure I would mess it up.

So enjoy your shredded chicken, let me know what recipes you use it for!