I love to cook. I can’t even describe how much I love being in the kitchen. I’m totally in my element. Chopping and seasoning and mixing. Whether it’s making dinner, or baking a treat, I love it. Enter baby. This made things a little more complicated. Trying to balance keeping my little guy happy and getting a meal on the table every night was tricky. I used swings, and a binky, I piled toys around him. Everything I could think of to keep him happy and entertained so I could make dinner. And then, it was like I had an epiphany. An idea of how I could make things a little easier on myself, and ensuring I would get a yummy, homemade meal on the table every night. And it’s such a simple idea. It really has simplified my life as a mom. Chopping everything beforehand. A chop night.
And so that’s what we do. Usually on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, my husband and I pull out all the produce we need for the next week’s meals. Granted, this does involve some planning on your part. You need to know what you’re cooking for the entire week, and you need to have it all in your house. I make a list of all the ingredients and how they need to be chopped. For example, 1 medium onion – diced, or 3 cloves garlic – minced. You get the picture. And then we set to work. I group things together by meals, and by what can go in the same bags that are added to the recipe at the same time. We wash produce, chop, place in individual bags, and then stick them in a tupperware to make sure no smells escape (hello, onions!).
Then, Monday night rolls around and I pull out all the bags labeled “Lasagna Soup” and I set to work. It’s surprising how much time it saves! Wednesday hits and I pull out everything labeled “Orange Chicken Stirfry” and I throw it in the skillet. There are, of course, things that don’t work too well being chopped too far in advance. Zucchini? Forget about chopping them earlier than about the day before (maybe 2). They become a mushy mess. Yes, I speak from experience. If you’re chopping potatoes, make sure to fill the bag up with cold water to keep them from going brown. Most things hold relatively well – even for an entire week. I can’t tell you how much time this has saved me, and how much easier it is for me to get a delicious dinner on the table every night. Oh, and it helps to have a willing husband whose help you can enlist! 🙂