There are a few classic recipes that truly simplify planning meals for our family. Once I learned how to cook some of these classics, I was able to experiment with variations and have fun cooking from scratch without recipes. But sometimes it is not practical to cook full meals 7 days a week and so I plan for nights when we need easy dinner.
There are evenings when I can plan for the fact that I will not have much time to cook. Perhaps an event after school or I am working late in preparation for a market or a big order. I plan for these nights so that they don't take me by surprise.
Each week I plan at least one meal that will give me extra for the freezer. I am not really spending any more time cooking, and I keep it to the things that pop in the oven nicely, but these meals save us. I put meals in the freezer each week without any extra work. How? I double up a batch of one or two meals. Something like lasagne or butter chicken or soup is perfect for this.
Another strategy is to double up on a recipe and use some or all of it later in the week in a new dish. Chicken lends itself particularly well to this.
Here is a recipe for one of my favorite double-batch meals- Roast Chicken! Once you have mastered a Roast Chicken, you can make this with so many variations. It is simple, healthy food that is versatile. This is perfect for Sunday dinner, so plan for it this weekend and it will give you leftovers for later in the week.
ROAST CHICKEN - DOUBLE-BATCH RECIPE
- 2 small roaster chickens (for a family of 4, but buy larger chickens if your kids are older and eat more!)
- 1 lemon
- fresh garlic
- 1 onion
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Remove chicken from fridge and bring to room temperature.
- Peel 4 garlic cloves, slice 1 onion, and quarter 1 lemon.
- Lay onion slices in bottom of roasting pan and place both chickens on the onions in the pan.
- Season the inside of the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper between the 2 chickens. Divide garlic and lemon between 2 chickens and stuff inside.
- Rub outside of chickens with olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper.
- Place pan in oven and roast for 1 1/2 hours approximately, or until juices run clear and thigh meat is completely cooked through.
- Remove from oven and put one chicken aside to cool. Place tonight's chicken on a platter to sit and rest. I usually cover gently with tin foil to keep warm.
- Use the pan drippings to make gravy, if you wish.
- Serve roast chicken with your favorite side dishes such as mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, and gravy (our favorites!)
- With the chicken that you set aside, allow it to completely cool, and then store in the fridge for later in the week.
From the first roast chicken, we get enough food for leftovers as well, which we usually have for lunch the next day. The kids love the chicken legs and wings and I love chicken salad sandwiches, so we make the most of the whole chicken. Once we are finished with it, we save the carcass to make stock and soup later in the week. Simply pop it into a plastic freezer bag and put in the freezer until you are ready to cook your stock.