Sunday, May 2, 2010

Food prep for an army

On days when the little guy is home, I usually spend his naptime piddling around on the computer--blogging, working, surfing, whatever. Today, however, I knew I had to make a dent in the mountain of food waiting for me in the fridge. Remember how I said I went a little nuts at the grocery store? Uh, yeah... I had SO MUCH food in there to chop, cook, or otherwise prep before we could use it, the thought of it was making me dig in my heels and *not* want to.

However, I know I feel more accomplished when I complete a tangible task when the little guy is snoozing, so off I went to the kitchen, where I rolled up my proverbial sleeves (not real ones--it's humid here today!) and got to work.

First I set the CrockPot of soaking black beans on low and got them simmering away; I will bag them up before I go to bed tonight. The two pound bag will yield the equivalent of six standard-sized cans. The method I use is from this blog. I've been making them this way since I starred the post in my Google Reader, and since then have purchased maybe 5 cans of black beans from the store since January.

Out of the fridge I hauled a bunch of beets + greens, a huge head of broccoli, two gigantic English cucumbers, the last of my winter co-op sweet carrots, a bunch of green onions, a bunch of parsley, a package of celery, two chicken breasts, the last few fresh strawberries, and a Costco-sized bag of baby bell peppers. I also rinsed the two pints of grape tomatoes I had on the counter. That's a lot of food.

The beets went into the oven after washing, drizzling with olive oil, and sprinkling with two cloves of garlic. I set the kitchen timer for an hour, and got down to business on the rest. Once I washed and dried the beet greens, I rinsed and spun the parsley; it will stay in the salad spinner in the fridge--this keeps it crisp for a good long time.

Carrots, organic celery, and cucumbers were easy--wash, slice, package. I didn't peel anything, just gave them a good scrubbing. I left one of the cukes in sticks and diced the other so I can easily use them for a cucumber-tomato salad or for dipping with hummus (which I did *not* get to make yet--I ran out of time and containers). Green onions simply got chopped and boxed, as did the peppers. Those took a long time! Baby bell peppers have a surprising amount of seeds.

I saved the broccoli for last since it always makes my cutting board so dirty and those little floret pieces get under my nails. Blech.

Once the beets were done roasting at 400* I turned the oven down to 350* and stuck the chicken in, covered with the same foil I had covered the beets with.

Then, since the little guy was still snoozing, I made myself a snack. Before I finished eating, he was starting to peep so I went to get him after gulping the rest of my (sticky!) toast.

He had a snack of cottage cheese and applesauce while I whipped up a batch of almond butter chocolate chip cookies, and stuck them in the oven as soon as the chicken was done (I had three cookie sheets, so there wasn't room to bake them at the same time as the chicken). Lucky for me, the temp was the same.

Man alive, was my kitchen hot after all that! While the cookies cooled on their sheets, I peeled the beets, sliced some into my salad bowl (the black bowl pictured), and boxed the rest. Then the cookies were transferred to cooling racks, minus one for quality control, and I was DONE.

Start to finish, this all took me about two hours. There are still some things in the fridge that I didn't do anything to, like mushrooms and spinach (bottom right of the picture below). I don't like to wash mushrooms ahead of time, and the spinach is ready to use.

I feel so proud of my massive stockpile, truly ready to make any number of clean, healthful meals on a moment's notice. I can put together at least 12 different meals, many of them from the March/April issue of Clean Eating Magazine, without going to the grocery store. Whew! My label-maker got quite a workout this afternoon!

The H just let me know that he'll be home every night next week (woot!) so be on the lookout for a brand-new menu plan later this weekend.


  1. I am seriously impressed . . . and now I want a label maker :-)

  2. I love my label-maker! You should have one for sure. :)

  3. Food prep is absolutely KEY! What a great post!

  4. I am also very impressed! Question - do the labels not leave any residue on the containers? How about glass? I have a label maker, but I have never thought of using it for this.

  5. Nope, no residue! I use them on glass and plastic.

  6. I'm on a mission to try all the veggies I thought I hated when I was a kid - you've inspired me to try beets this week :)