Friday, October 8, 2010

Know What You Have

It has been one of those days to say the least.  Little man decided to keep me up for about 2.5 hours last night, which happened to be the 2.5 hours right after I layed down, and then still get up early.  I was working with about 3.5 hours of sleep today.  According to my menu dinner was supposed to be beef stew in the crock pot.  (Are beef stew and stewed beef the same thing?  Random sleep deprived thought.)  Well after inhaling a couple of mugs of coffee I started to pull out my ingredients.  I chopped the celery and carrots a few days ago, tossed them in a freezer bag and then into the freezer.  I wanted to make sure I could use them before they were bad.  As I start rummaging the freezer for the stew meat I realized that we didn't have any in the freezer.  My next stop was our chest freezer in the garage.  After cleaning it up a bit I realized two things.  1) We have 4 whole chickens, chicken nuggets, boneless chicken breasts and bone in chicken breasts, 2 bags of shrimp, a pizza, 5 pumpkin pies, 2 packages of toaster strudels and an assortment of other frozen items. 2) We have no stew meat.  EEK!  I already had all of the other ingredients and was set for a stew so after going back into the house I settled on a boston butt pork roast.  Well half of one anyway.  We have started cutting roasts in half before freezing them because we found that when we cooked a whole one, unless we had dinner guests, we end up with more leftover meat than we can eat before it goes bad or we are just burnt out on it.  I tossed it into my crock pot completely frozen and set it to high.  I still needed to chop the baking and sweet potato's so while the roast was thawing and starting to cook little man and I peeled potato's and I chopped away.  I decided it would be a good idea to let the roast cook by itself an hour or two since it was frozen.  Once the roast looked thawed I dumped the potato's on top and then the frozen carrots and celery on top of that. 

I have to say that in spite of it not being the planned dinner it still tasted delicious.  It was somewhere between a soup and a stew.  I think the big lesson for me today was that I have to do a freezer inventory.  When we lived 45 minutes from the closest Sam's Club I was very good about my freezer inventory.  If we were going to drive that far to by meat in bulk I needed to know that we didn't have 4 packs of pork chops already in the freezer.  This is the freezer inventory check sheet I use.  They also have a pantry checklist on this website as well which can come in handy if you like to stockpile.  Meal planning can really save time and money.  It has helped a lot since we started doing it regularly.  However, if you don't know what items you have on hand you cannot effectively meal plan.  I lucked out today because we had a roast that could be used as a substitution.  I could have scratched this meal as a loss and made something else that's on the list but after last night and going on mainly caffeine I just wanted to throw some ingredients in the crock pot and be done.  

Lesson learned.  When I have the opportunity I will be doing a freezer inventory and I do plan to make SEVERAL chicken meals over the next few weeks since we seem to have an abundance.  I feel a crock pot chicken and potato's coming soon but more on that later.

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