I've been trying to use up what we have in the refrigerator and freezer so that nothing goes to waste. Think about how much food you throw out. I heard a statistic this morning on the Today Show that Americans throw out 25% of the food they purchase each year. I did a little googling, and found a report here that talks about food losses throughout the food system. It is a huge problem, and definitely the consumer does their share of wasting food. Anyway, we've gotten to the point where it is time for me to do some pre-cooking for convenience. Sometimes I just don't want to go through the process of making an entire meal. However, if I cook some things in advance, it is so easy to defrost using the microwave or overnight in the refrigerator.
So, I took an hour and a half this morning to cook up some items for "fast food" to have on hand. I had purchased 100 pounds of potatoes which are in my garage. I took 5 of them and washed and pricked them, and got them into the oven to bake.
At the same time, I got some brown rice out of my chest freezer, and put it in the rice cooker to cook.
Next, I defrosted 2 small containers of vegetarian chili from my side by side freezer in the microwave.
While all of that was going on, I got out a #10 can of pinto beans from my food storage, and sorted through 6 cups of beans. After getting all of the rocks and junk out, I rinsed them in a colander, and put them into the crock pot to make refried beans, which I blogged about here. This will cook from 12-24 hours. I happened to have pre-cooked bacon in the refrigerator that I bought at Costco a couple of weeks ago. We don't each much bacon, but Christmas around the corner, I thought it might be nice to have some on hand.
As soon as the baked potatoes came out of the oven, I cut one in half for my lunch. I put about 2/3 c. vegetarian chili (from the freezer that I defrosted) on the potato and garnished it with a little shredded cheese. I served it with a salad I had in the refrigerator. It was delicious!
The salad dressing I used is a yogurt based dressing, with only 45 calories for 2 TBSP. Yummy :)
After the rice finished cooking, I dumped it into a large bowl to fluff it up and cool. Then, I measured about a cup or so of it into some small freezer containers.
Here is a picture of everything before it goes into the refrigerator.
The refried beans will continue to cook until late tonight or tomorrow morning.
This has really helped me spend fewer hours in the kitchen, and prevents us from ordering fast food.