All of a sudden we find ourselves in a strange place as a country. Life looks differently today than it did just last week. Social distancing has required many of us to make changes to how we do life.
Suddenly almost everyone is homeschooling, working from home, and just generally stuck at home. Add to this the underlying need to significantly reduce contact with other people and even grocery shopping becomes a challenge. About the only option you have is to eat at home.
So what do you do when eating out is no longer an option?
We’re in this together. This is something new for most of us. Social media is full of posts and pictures of how people are pulling together, helping each other, and figuring out how to make it work.
Inventory what you have on hand.
What do you have in the refrigerator? What do you have in the freezer? What is in your pantry? Make a list of each of these so you can use things you have and shop smart for things you may need. This will also help you better plan meals for you to eat at home.
Use up fresher ingredients first.
In other words, if you have the choice between frozen green beans or fresh peppers in the fridge, use up the fresh peppers first – maybe as a salad topping or sautéed as a standalone side dish – and save the frozen green beans for later.
Make things ahead of time.
If you’re used to going out for lunch or having your kids buy lunch at school but you now have to eat at home, you can replicate that into your routine. Tonight as you clean-up dinner, pack lunches for tomorrow. You can even enlist your kids to help with this. It can be sandwiches or leftovers – whatever you have available. Prep it tonight by making the sandwich, assembling the salad, or putting the leftovers into meal sized portions, and thenput it in the fridge. Then at lunchtime tomorrow instead of figuring out what to make (and making a mess), you can just grab it out of the fridge, heat it up or put it on a plate, and lunch is ready in less time than if you had actually gone out to pick something up.
Freeze things to save them for later.
Instead of letting the things in your fridge spoil and be tossed out, put them in Ziploc bags and freeze them. Freezing things will extend their life and you will have more ingredients available when you make a meal to eat at home.Think creatively. Slice lemons and use them as ice cubes in a glass of water. Package up leftovers into single meal servings to microwave later. Distribute shredded cheese into smaller bags. Fresh mushrooms in the fridge? Freeze these to use late in a stir-fry or stew. TIP: Don’t forget to date and label them with the contents.
Order groceries online.
With social distancing, this is an even more attractive option! With Instacart you can order for pick-up or delivery for a variety of stores (including Aldi and Target). Shipt lets you place an order and have a personal shopper purchase and deliver your groceries to your door. Walmart pick-up and delivery lets you shop online and choose a convenient time to pick-up your groceries – you don’t need to get out of your car or anything!
Make friends with Plan to Eat.
Literally make friends! Plan to Eat is a program that lets you see and share recipes with friends you make. Once you sign-up, find friends (I’m MrsJLUren – you can friend me) and you can see their recipes to get new ideas for what you can make for dinner. As you search online for new recipes, saving them is as easy as clicking on a browser extension icon.
Learn to make meal prep work for you.
I have one more tool for you. Last Fall I created a course called “Easier Than Takeout” to help people who don’t love cooking make it a simple and natural part of their week. And right now, when eating out and ordering in is less of an option, it seems rather timely.
Over time I developed a system that not only made meal prep simple, but it saved me time and money, and it even made this dreaded task of making dinner something that might even be considered slightly enjoyable.
I want to help you get meal prep and planning under control, especially now that you have to eat at home. And as you eat at home more, the bonus is that you will save money, save yourself time, become healthier, free up time for hobbies, spend more time with your kids – the list is endless.
Click here to get instant access to “Easier Than Takeout”.
Why did I create it? Well, I have a confession to make. Making dinner not something I enjoy doing. Regardless, cooking for my family was healthier and cheaper than eating out or ordering in. It was what was best for my family. So, making dinner was something I still had to do – like it or not.