Thursday, September 30, 2010

30 Meals in One Day, Part 2

(Click here for Part 1. )

The title of the program is “30 Meals in One Day.”  But, one thing to keep in mind – and this is something that the author actually does point out in the book – is that without advance preparation, it’s really hard to accomplish all of this in one day.  Preparation is essential!

I must confess that I was not as prepared as I should have been.  Total efficiency takes practice, though, so I will definitely not give up after one month.  But, I will also learn from my mistakes.

Here’s what I did “wrong”:

  1. Not enough preparation.  We got some of the meat pre-cooked and pre-cut, but not all of it.  We also didn’t get fresh veggies chopped in advance.  Finally, a few recipes called for pie crust or bread dough.  Since we prefer the homemade version of both, I needed to make them.  I didn’t get them made before I started on Monday, so that took a good chunk of time out of my day.
  2. Lack of kitchen organization diligence.  I started off well.  I had a container ready for utensils that could be reused or had been rinsed, and I intended to only put in the sink those things that absolutely had to be washed and could not be reused.  I made it halfway through the first day with that system, and it went really well.  But then I started to get careless.  I paid for it with an insanely messy kitchen, limited work space, and limited ability to wash things when needed.
  3. Skipping ingredient preparation.  I intended to have all of my non-perishable ingredients out and accessible.  I forgot and launched into the first day of cooking without doing that.  I was continually having to pull one more thing from the pantry or spice cabinet.  I started with all my ingredients out on day 2, and it went much smoother.
  4. Lack of freezer preparation.  I did not make sure that my freezer was organized properly in preparation for this experiment.  So, I had to stop in the middle of everything and take the time to get it ready before I could really fill it. 

Here are some general thoughts from the cooking adventure:

  • Counting up the hours – including the amount of time it took to make up for the above mistakes and the time needed to meet family needs – I spent 13 hours over the course of two days and ended up with 29 meals.  That counts some clean-up, but not all.  Even with all of my issues, I consider that a very acceptable time investment!
  • Having used a combination of the author’s recipes and my own, I noticed a tendency in her recipes that increased the challenge a bit.  She includes no stove-top temperature or time guidelines.  For example, instead of “cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly, about five minutes” she would simply say “cook until thick and bubbly.”  Although I have enough kitchen experience to know what to expect most of the time, more detailed instructions would have been very helpful.
  • This system works well with just one cook, but it also is very conducive to multiple hands in the mix, evenKitchen helpers young ones.  The recipes are easy to read and follow, and the girls had no problem helping me.  Next time I may consider  printing multiple copies of the more kid-friendly recipes, highlighting what they can do, and setting up a work station for them.   Definitely a recipe for a family day!

Despite my blunders, I consider this a very successful venture.  Although I’m glad round two is a month away, I don’t dread it.  I’m excited about it.  I am already mentally contemplating how to be more efficient, and I plan to peruse recipes over the next few weeks and go ahead and create a new menu for November.  This program – and especially the computer software – was definitely worth the investment!

Again, I received no compensation for this review.

3 comments:

Beth said...

This sounds really interesting. I'm wondering how it would work with our family, and also thinking it might be something that would help a lot if we did it before #4 arrives!

Tad and Monica said...

The thing I'm mostly curious about is if the food is good after being in the freezer.

Ann said...

Beth - based on my experience, I think it would be perfect for your family - especially around #4's arrival. The one thing I would recommend is for you to break it down and not try to do 30 days at once. My feet and back really hurt when I was done, and I doubt that's something you want to increase right now! Also, if there's any possibility of someone keeping the kids, that would help.

Monica - That's one of the things we were frustrated with before we tried this. Some of the recipes just weren't cooking up well. I learned some tips that I think will correct for that. I'll let you know how it all turns out. Today we had the Peachy Chicken (the one recipe I was really skeptical about flavor-wise). It was a HUGE hit! I had saved it in a Food Saver freezer bag. I thawed it in the fridge and then just popped the whole bag in the microwave for three minutes. It did not at all taste like it had been frozen. Using the freezer bags, I can also drop the whole bag into a pot of boiling water and reheat it that way.