Today we are going to talk about pre-planning your meals and setting up a time line.  The first way I plan my meals for the week is by looking at what meat is on sale.  That is what we eat.  Next, I plan according to the the appliances I will use.  Here are some examples.  I use these for cooking for a crowd but they still pertain to a meal for 4.  If the oven is on anyway, I may plan for the meat and one vegetable to be cooked there.  If the oven is full, make sure you plan for a vegetable that is cooked on top of the stove.  If the day is extremely hot, plan not to use the oven at all.

If you will be pushed for time when preparing a meal, try to prepare a salad the night before.  Another life saver for me is a frozen vegetable, like corn or broccoli, cooked in the microwave.  Sprinkle with butter and salt, cook for 5-10 minutes and enjoy.  I try to at least have fruits and vegetables cut up the night before I cook.  Apples and bananas need to be sprinkled in lemon juice to keep from turning brown.  Potatoes need to be in water.  Broccoli, cucumbers and peppers can be stored in a plastic bag.

When I set up a time line, I always go backwards.  For example, dinner should be ready at 6:00 – a one hour meatloaf in the oven by 5:00 and I start putting it together by 4:45.  I am one of those people who want my hot food to be hot and my cold food to be cold.  Thinking backwards helps me to do that.  Crazy, but it works!

I am only going to mention my favorite time saving way to cook today – THE CROCK POT!  Tomorrow, I will give you a list of reasons why I love it so much.

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