When we first get married, we learn how to cook for two. As little Johnny and Freddy and Marybelle come along and our family expands, so do our recipes. We throw in an extra piece of chicken or another cup of noodles, and as the years go by, the meal that used to serve two people now serves twelve, and we hardly noticed the difference.
But children marry and move away, and they don’t join us at the dinner table forever. I’ve heard many empty nesters say, “I don’t know how to cook for two anymore.” Suddenly, an entire chicken is just too much, and the stockpot full of noodles just goes to waste. How do we make that mental adjustment from twenty people down to two?
I’d like to suggest that we continue to cook large meals, but that we also invest in a set of containers that go from freezer to microwave to dishwasher. My favorite are made by Ziplock and they’re extremely inexpensive. You can take all those extra servings and freeze them, freeing up your time later. If you don’t like reheated frozen noodles, just freeze the sauce and make up the noodles fresh.
Freezing meals will benefit you in the following ways:
1. You’ll be cutting down on food waste. Rather than making meals that are too large and throwing away the leftovers, you’ll be reheating only as much as you need for that particular meal. This results in saving money, as well.
2. If you are called to take a meal in to someone, you can prepare it quickly and easily.
3. You’ll be saving a lot of time. There’s a rumor floating around that retired people have all kinds of time on their hands—but I think I can safely say that retirees are plenty busy. You’ll be able to take that time you would have spent in meal preparation and use it instead in other ways.
4. You can use the meals for lunches as well, when you want something quick and hot.
There’s a movement sweeping the nation to make up an entire month’s worth of meals at one time and putting them in your freezer. This isn’t what I’m suggesting here. I’ve tried that, and while it’s a fabulous idea, it’s exhausting, and I’m hoping to ease your burdens rather than add to them. But if you’re making chicken cacciatore tonight, and you know you’ll have a ton left over, why not plan to freeze those leftovers into meal-sized portions? If you do that regularly whenever you make a large meal, soon you’ll have a freezer full of ready-to-eat meals, and you can use the time saved to do things you really want to do, maybe even things you planned to do once you were retired.
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