Wednesday, September 29, 2010

30 Meals in One Day, Part 1

I know I said there would be pictures today, but I’ve had quite a few comments about the cooking spree I did Monday and yesterday, so I though I’d go ahead and post about that.

I am discovering more and more than it’s not necessarily cooking that I don’t enjoy – it’s walking into the kitchen and trying to figure out what to cook each day!   So, we menu plan.  Not only does it help my sanity, but it also helps us eat healthier and more economically.

But that hasn’t solved all our meal-time problems.  There’s also the issue of time.  We have our  big meal at noon, but I really need to be doing school right up to lunch.  It’s hard to teach and cook at the same time. 

30 Meals When a friend mentioned the 30 Meals in One Day system of cooking 30 meals to have on hand in the freezer, we were intrigued.  So, after a little investigation, we made the investment in the Dinner is Ready!  book and the “Three-In-One” software. dinnerisready_medium

Dinner is Ready! is divided into two primary sections.  The first  section is tips, pointers, and general information about planning, preparing, and carrying out a massive cooking day.  The second section is main dish recipes, divided into the categories mentioned in the first section.

If you are already successful at organizing mass cooking days or already know all the ins and outs of making food freezer-ready and then cooking it afterward, then the book is unnecessary.  If you’re like me, though, it’s exceedingly helpful, even if you just borrow a copy from a friend for a quick perusal.   Doug and I have, in the past, spent a cooking day making three or four recipes to divide into eight to ten meals and freeze.  But, we weren’t always satisfied with the end product, and we had no idea how to increase that to a total of 30 meals.  As I read through the book, the tips and ideas really helped to point out mistakes we had made and give pointers for correcting for those mistakes while also introducing greater efficiency to our cooking days.

But, the real “jewel” of this program is not the book.  In fact, I’m not sure that I would have been so enthusiastic about the program were it just for the book.  The real benefit is found in the computer software.

The software we chose includes all recipes from all three books – Dinner is Ready!, Lunch is Ready! and On the Side!.  As you select recipes for your cooking day, it automatically creates a menu list, a grocery list, and labels for each frozen meal which give the name of the meal and all cooking instructions. 

That in an of itself is a huge selling point for me, but there is even more to it.  Each included recipe can be completely altered.  Portion sizes, the number of servings your family can get from a recipe, and even the ingredients can be altered.  For example, I was interested in the Spanish Beefy Rice recipe, but it had no tomato sauce.  I wanted tomato sauce in mine, so I decreased the amount of beef broth to accommodate the tomato sauce.  I can make that change permanent in the recipe (and I can also later reset the recipe to its original form if I so desire). 

Also, I can easily enter my own recipes into the database.  Although it would be a daunting task to enter all of my recipes in at once, it is quite easy to pick and enter just the three or four recipes I would like to include in the mix each month.  The format is very user-friendly and requires very little effort to learn.

Of course, this is a review of the material itself, not of the process of making 30 meals in one day!  In order to avoid creating an insanely long blog post, I’ll post a review of the process tomorrow in “Part 2.”  So, stay tuned!

Just for the record, I did NOT receive this book and software for the purpose of review.  We purchased this material and I am receiving no incentives for reviewing the material.

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