Can you imagine what town will be like this weekend with the rush of parents getting everything for their children for the start of the new school year? They will not only be buying books, supplies, and clothing but also food. Regardless of which side of the classroom one occupies – teacher or student – meal planning is important.
It is important because if we are not careful, we can find ourselves eating more junk food than we should and busting our food budgets. After a week of meetings, classes at college officially begin here (in Barbados) on Monday so I have been doing some food prep.
Here’s my 10-point preparation for snacking and meals. Each week, more things will be added depending on what I feel like eating.
1. I make a large pot of meat sauce so that I can quickly defrost and use with noodle pasta or chow mein, rice or ground provisions.
2. I stock up on dried chick peas/channa because they are a meal in themselves. Boiled and fried as we do in Guyana, this is so filling. A little sour, pepper sauce or pickled cucumbers make a perfect condiment with the channa. Another thing I do with the cooked channa is to puree it and make hummus which I eat with vegetables or flat bread.
3. I love dhal, so I usually make a large batch and put into bowls and containers with airtight covers and refrigerate. I use it as soup on its own and then with rice and vegetables.
4. A whole roast chicken offers several meals – the meat can be sliced and used in sandwiches, chopped and scattered over salads, be added to stir fries, or sautéed vegetables or be added to a pot of quick cooking noodles for a delicious soup.
5. Another thing I do is to make a jar of homemade cheese paste and store it in the refrigerator for sandwiches, or to be mixed with boiled egg yolks to make devilled/stuffed eggs.
6. Plantain and breadfruit chips are made fresh and stored in airtight containers. They easily last for 2 weeks and are convenient to transport in zip bags for snacking.
7. Whether for breakfast as a cereal, spooned over yogurt or snacking, granola is great. A sheet pan batch can last for more than a week when stored at room temperature in an airtight container.
8. Dough for scones and country-style biscuits has been made and portioned, wrapped individually, and frozen. This way, I can easily bake a couple for breakfast, afternoon tea or even dinner. This type of dough goes straight from the freezer to the oven and needs only about 5 minutes extra of cooking time.
9. After having my fill of mangoes over the “summer”, I have pureed the pulp and portioned it into half and 1-cup portions for morning shakes and smoothies.
Passion fruit, guavas and soursop pulp are also portioned and frozen. I’ve even made a batch of mango lassi – mango, cardamom and yogurt – which is in individual containers and frozen to be used for dessert or when I feel like having something sweet. It makes a great cooling, creamy treat. You can do the same with soursop pulp with condensed milk. Yum!
10. Despite our hot weather, there are times in the day when I want to simply have a hot beverage and a homemade baked good; to satisfy that craving, I make a loaf of coconut sweet bread, slice and wrap individually and freeze. It defrosts quickly in the microwave. If I know that I will be at work all day, I take it to work with me and let it naturally come up to room temperature.
All these freezer items last well for 2 months; the fruit purees, longer.
Here’s to the start of a productive academic year.