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Old 09-14-2013, 12:09 PM
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Default Cooking Meals Ahead

Starting this week, I would like to use Monday's nap time to cook all my meals for the rest of the week ahead of time. Our pre-lunch time is my worst time of the day, and I am looking for ways to smooth it out.

I have read that quite a few of you do this. I would like to know what tips you have or things you have tried that haven't worked out well. Also, we are on the food program, so we have to show labels of ingredients if they were to show up and the food was already made, so any help on how you handle that.

Also, do you precook the entire meal or just the components, and then combine them at meal time. i.e., if I were making beef quesadillas - do you make the entire quesadilla on a tortilla or cook the ground beef and make the quesadilla the day of ? Obviously not all foods will work like that - but I would like to do as much as possible.

Any thoughts, suggestions, or lessons learned would be great.
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Old 09-14-2013, 02:15 PM
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I would love to do this! Last year I would make lunch the night before and heat it up on the stove. One of the moms found out (I wasn't hiding that I was doing it) she got really upset that I wasn't serving freshly made food and only "Left overs" I stopped doing it.
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Old 09-14-2013, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by lovemylife View Post
I would love to do this! Last year I would make lunch the night before and heat it up on the stove. One of the moms found out (I wasn't hiding that I was doing it) she got really upset that I wasn't serving freshly made food and only "Left overs" I stopped doing it.
Why on earth would that matter if it is the same food ? How ridiculous she was being.
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Old 09-14-2013, 02:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovemylife View Post
I would love to do this! Last year I would make lunch the night before and heat it up on the stove. One of the moms found out (I wasn't hiding that I was doing it) she got really upset that I wasn't serving freshly made food and only "Left overs" I stopped doing it.
Really? She wouldn't like me then, I make a lot of dinners where I prepare a separate extra portion for the daycare kids the next day. It's delicious, healthy and the kids gobble it up Depending on what I make of course and honestly some food tastes better the next day!
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Old 09-14-2013, 04:11 PM
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I not only prepare ahead, but if I have leftovers of things that freeze well, I do that as well.

Things that I make in bulk that freezes perfect
*Spaghetti sauce (all yu have to do is add the noodles) with meat
*Any type of soup (or broth)
*Deboned whole chickens after cooking (I debone it, eier leave it in big pieces or pull it apart to make pieces smaller) and I leave a little broth in it
*squash casserole, everything except the crunch onion topping and e top shredded cheese, then all I have to do is put it in the pan, add the top crunchy onions and the shredded cheese and toss it in
*home made beef stew
*cooked rice for specific meals like beef stew. It heats up perfect as long as you drain it good
*ground beef seasoned for anything like taco seasoning, etc. after its cooked, rinse it, drain it, and crumble it then add whatever seasoning you want. I sometimes don't season it before I freeze it.


I don't use a separate day, in most cases, to do all this cooking. Usually, when I'm cooking for my family, I double it and out the rest up in the freezer after it cools. If I'm boiling a chicken for chicken and dumplings for my family, I throw on a second one, debone it and freeze it.

Of course, there are some times I specifically cook stuff to freeze.
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Old 09-14-2013, 04:15 PM
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I'm starting my daycare next week. So take my feedback with that disclaimer. I don't claim to have experience with this, but can share what I will be doing.

Since next week is our first week (two preschoolers coming on Monday, talking with a third family), I did a trial run last week: wake up times, coordinating homeschooling with the dc plans, meal planning and prep, curriculum planning, everything I could think of. Here's what I did for meals, and I think it will work.

I have a large family, so I'm making large amounts of food every night for dinner anyway. I figured that making a few more small preschooler-sized servings of food wouldn't be hard. If I'm already fixing large portions of everything, just make them larger. So I planned dinners that would work well as lunches the next day. I searched through old messages and used some of the meal plans that providers were posting (I think I used a week menu from Cat Herder, if I'm remembering correctly).

Anyway, I just made a lot of dinner, we enjoyed it at night, and the next day my kids and I had the same thing for lunch. It also made it easy for me to pack a lunch for dh. It means a little less variety in our meals, but it worked beautifully. I'm planning on keeping with this plan unless it becomes obvious for some good reason that it won't work out.

Personally, I'd prefer making a big dinner each night and serving the left overs the next day over making all the lunches at once. But that's largely based on my family, the need to cook big meals at night anyway, and the lack of extra freezer space.

If parents had a problem with leftovers I'd have a hard time working with that.
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Old 09-14-2013, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcornMama View Post
I'm starting my daycare next week. So take my feedback with that disclaimer. I don't claim to have experience with this, but can share what I will be doing.

Since next week is our first week (two preschoolers coming on Monday, talking with a third family), I did a trial run last week: wake up times, coordinating homeschooling with the dc plans, meal planning and prep, curriculum planning, everything I could think of. Here's what I did for meals, and I think it will work.

I have a large family, so I'm making large amounts of food every night for dinner anyway. I figured that making a few more small preschooler-sized servings of food wouldn't be hard. If I'm already fixing large portions of everything, just make them larger. So I planned dinners that would work well as lunches the next day. I searched through old messages and used some of the meal plans that providers were posting (I think I used a week menu from Cat Herder, if I'm remembering correctly).

Anyway, I just made a lot of dinner, we enjoyed it at night, and the next day my kids and I had the same thing for lunch. It also made it easy for me to pack a lunch for dh. It means a little less variety in our meals, but it worked beautifully. I'm planning on keeping with this plan unless it becomes obvious for some good reason that it won't work out.

Personally, I'd prefer making a big dinner each night and serving the left overs the next day over making all the lunches at once. But that's largely based on my family, the need to cook big meals at night anyway, and the lack of extra freezer space.

If parents had a problem with leftovers I'd have a hard time working with that.
I wanted to insert here, I do at a lot at my house as well.
but also, some food program agencies (here in my state as well) don't allow leftovers. Of course, that would only matter if they reimburse yur own children. Here in my state I'm not allowed to opt out my own children. That's one reason why I don't currently do the food program.

Just heads up on that. If anyone is on e food program, check with them on leftovers. They don't mind if you cook it today and freeze it and give it to the kids again in a day or two though!!
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Old 09-14-2013, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cradle2crayons View Post
but also, some food program agencies (here in my state as well) don't allow leftovers.

Just heads up on that. If anyone is on e food program, check with them on leftovers. They don't mind if you cook it today and freeze it and give it to the kids again in a day or two though!!
Ah, I'm not on the food program, so that wouldn't even be on my radar. I'm guessing it could be done though...cook a lot at dinner time, portion out some to serve to family for dinner and portion out some to freeze for dc. Would that be allowed? It really doesn't matter to me right now, but I'm curious.
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Old 09-14-2013, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by AcornMama View Post
Ah, I'm not on the food program, so that wouldn't even be on my radar. I'm guessing it could be done though...cook a lot at dinner time, portion out some to serve to family for dinner and portion out some to freeze for dc. Would that be allowed? It really doesn't matter to me right now, but I'm curious.
Yes that's allowed. It just can't be served more than once in 24 hours
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Old 09-14-2013, 06:06 PM
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I am on the food program and we can use "leftovers". If I am going to do that I cook a specific portion for the kids and pull it out.
I often time bulk cook to use.
- sloppy joes
- salisbury steak
-meatballs
-taco meat
-meatloaf
-chicken noodle soup without the noodles.
-pizza dough
-chicken pot pies
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Old 09-14-2013, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by MrsSteinel'sHouse View Post
I am on the food program and we can use "leftovers". If I am going to do that I cook a specific portion for the kids and pull it out.
I often time bulk cook to use.
- sloppy joes
- salisbury steak
-meatballs
-taco meat
-meatloaf
-chicken noodle soup without the noodles.
-pizza dough
-chicken pot pies
Yes, we can use leftovers I just can't cook spaghetti for supper tonight then feed it to them for lunch tomorrow.
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Old 09-14-2013, 10:29 PM
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Just try to keep in mind that some foods when reheated can cause some digestion issues such as acid reflux, bloating, cramps, and gas (such as reheated pasta). I noticed that when I eat pasta or rice after it's first cooked I don't have many issues but when I reheat the leftovers I feel more bloated, stomach pain, and my acid reflux acts up more. I looked it up and this is what I found:

http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-livin...t-2528639.html
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Old 09-15-2013, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Starburst View Post
Just try to keep in mind that some foods when reheated can cause some digestion issues such as acid reflux, bloating, cramps, and gas (such as reheated pasta). I noticed that when I eat pasta or rice after it's first cooked I don't have many issues but when I reheat the leftovers I feel more bloated, stomach pain, and my acid reflux acts up more. I looked it up and this is what I found:

http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-livin...t-2528639.html
Wow! I never knew that! As far as my mother she just didn't like the idea of having leftovers.
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Old 09-15-2013, 06:57 AM
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I don't like leftovers either, unless it makes a different meal
Food program, right you can't feed the kids the same meal 2 times in a row.
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Old 09-15-2013, 09:37 AM
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I think cooking the whole week on Monday might be hard, but maybe use the crock pot a day or 2 a week?

Usually I cook the protein in advance (unless I'm crockpotting it). So one day I will make 2 pounds of meatballs, one day 2 shepard's pie, one day bunches of fried chicken cutlets, etc. We are not allowed to cook while the kids are awake, so usually I make the starch in the morning (unless it's potatoes since I can microwave while they are up).

If you do casoroles, you can put them all in a pan and just throw it in to bake right before lunch. I have no idea how to deal with the food program, but maybe have your list of ingredients for all the things you cook, then you can just pull the packages from your spares to show them. Like meatballs: beef, egg, breadcrumbs, flavorings listed in a binder, and then when they show up you just pull out your backups. Of course this only works if you keep a spare in the pantry after you use the one.
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Old 09-15-2013, 12:54 PM
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All great suggestions ladies ! But my biggest issue is that I am single, and do not have a family to cook for so making meals each night and using the leftovers isn't really feasible for me. I cook dinner for only myself each night, and they are definitely not kid friendly meals. I just really want to avoid using any of my off time for cooking, and want to get it done during daycare hours.
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Old 09-15-2013, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by blandino View Post
All great suggestions ladies ! But my biggest issue is that I am single, and do not have a family to cook for so making meals each night and using the leftovers isn't really feasible for me. I cook dinner for only myself each night, and they are definitely not kid friendly meals. I just really want to avoid using any of my off time for cooking, and want to get it done during daycare hours.
What about during nap time one day a week??
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Old 09-15-2013, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by blandino View Post
All great suggestions ladies ! But my biggest issue is that I am single, and do not have a family to cook for so making meals each night and using the leftovers isn't really feasible for me. I cook dinner for only myself each night, and they are definitely not kid friendly meals. I just really want to avoid using any of my off time for cooking, and want to get it done during daycare hours.
I make different food for my family/daycare.

I cut up fruit/veggies for the week when I buy/store them, as much as possible.

I make LARGE batches of certain items, like meatballs (which are on a 2 week rotating menu with meatball subs one week, spaghetti and meatballs the next). So I will make 5lbs or so of meatballs, cook them, divide them up, put one in the fridge with sauce, put the other in a freezer bag with sauce.

So when I make meatballs subs from frozen, I only have to defrost them the day before and warm them in a pot on the stove. When I make spaghetti and meatballs, same thing and cook the pasta as they heat up.

I do tossed salad as an option with every lunch to substitute their other veggie. I have 4 GREAT salad eaters, so I always have salad cut up/ready to serve.

Whole chickens in the crock pot with veggies can be served over rice one day, and the remainder frozen to serve over noodles next week or made into home made chicken pot pies (I make mini ones with biscuits in a muffin tin) or homemade chicken noodle soup, etc.

I always double baked ziti with meat sauce, lasagna, etc.

On Mondays I have been doing wraps with various meats, like grilled chicken is tomorrow and Tuesday we are having chicken salad pitas. So today I baked the chicken and diced it in advance for the wraps and already made the chicken salad. Wednesday we are having meatball subs (have to pull that out to defrost Tuesday). Thursday we are having meatloaf, and there is already one in the freezer, if there wasn't, I would have made one and put it in there today... just have to defrost/bake it and add sides (rolls, salad, fruit). Friday we are having homemade calzones, and those I will prep during Thursdays lunch and just have to pop in the oven Friday.
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Old 09-15-2013, 02:13 PM
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everything is in the recycling bin as far as food labels go, I have never been asked. You could always toss a grocery bag under the daycare kitchen sink to toss your food labels in and write the date on them.
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Old 09-15-2013, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Cradle2crayons View Post
What about during nap time one day a week??
That's what I posted about originally - doing it Monday at nap time.
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Old 09-15-2013, 02:28 PM
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That's what I posted about originally - doing it Monday at nap time.
Lol then I guess I'm answering posts in reverse... So here we are again... Lol

I bought two extra crock pots to go with my home crock pot. When I out something in for my family (if husband is home), then I out things in the other two for daycare related.

For instance, I'm doing red beans with sausage for my family right now. In another crock pot I'm doing a whole chicken that will be deboned to make chicken spaghetti for the daycare. And in yet another crock pot, I have some deer meat (thanks husband lol) that's cooking also.

I love crock pot cooking just because its easy and I don't "feel" like I'm cooking lol
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