Monday, August 1, 2011

5 Meals in 1 Hour - Part 2

Here's my continuing review of

(You can read Part 1 here.)

Michelle, the author of this blog, describes her meal plan:
The Make 5 monthly menu plan can help you make all 5 dinners for the week in just ONE hour. All the menu plans have family friendly meals that feed 4-6 people and no, they are not all casseroles. :) 
The meals are fresh, not frozen. They keep in your refrigerator until ready to heat and eat.    
I have found that there is a little bit of a learning curve with this meal plan.  Here are some tips for using 5 Dinners 1 Hour:

  • Read the recipes ahead of time.  I saw 1 1/2 lb ground beef on the grocery list and thought "I have that."  Except mine was already cooked and in my freezer and the recipe called for raw ground beef to be mixed with other ingredients.  Another recipe called for the use of waxed paper, and I don't remember the last time I had waxed paper in my house.  (I ended up not needing it, but if I had I was going to try tin foil coated with cooking spray.)

  • Note expiration dates.  The meals will hang out in the frig for up to a week after grocery shopping and assembly (which took me a day or two to get to after shopping).  Something to keep in mind when purchasing a roast.  (Lesson learned the hard way.)  Use the expiration date of perishable items to determine which meals you serve early in the week.

  • Give yourself more prep time.  According to the site, assembly time should take about an hour.  It took me closer to two hours. One reason for this I am sure is that I'm a probee.  Even though Michelle's instructions are very detailed, I'm still not sure what to expect.  Thoroughly reading through all of the recipes before shopping and again before starting the assembly should make my assembly time more efficient.

    But there is one example where Michelle assumes a step or two have been taken ahead of time.  Two of the recipes in my sample plan called for cooked chicken, cubed or shredded.  Chicken doesn't come cooked and cubed, or cooked and shredded.  (Not that I know of anyway!)  So this is part of prep time that you will need to take into consideration that the meal plan doesn't.

    Tyson does make frozen, cooked, diced chicken breasts.
    [pause to appreciate the sound of angels singing]

  • Plan for cook time.  The plan says that meals "keep in your refrigerator until ready to 'heat' and eat".  There is more than just heating up the food.  Most meals call for actually cooking the food before serving.  So I'm not "cooking" 5 meals in one hour.  I'm prepping for 5 meals in one hour, then cooking each meal according to the recipe when we're ready to eat.  This doesn't completely diminish the plan's value by any means!  Even though my dish had to bake for 30 minutes, all I had to do was pop it in the oven and I was free to take care of other chores while it baked.

  • Be prepared to purchase convenience foods.  Most meals in the plan call for one or more convenience foods, such as vegetable steamer bags, "steam and mash" frozen potatoes, salad mixes, etc. To me this is an expected expense in making Quick Fix dinners, but not everyone is used to this type of cost in their grocery bill.  

  • Rename the recipe.  This is a tip for families with kids. Especially kids who are not accustomed to someone cooking for them, or someone who frequently tries new recipes.  Also works for picky eaters of all ages. Mini Honey-Mustard Meat Loaves was on the menu for one night.  I could have called it Mini Cheeseburgers and I think they would have been scarfed up. These were super delicious!  Even better the next day.  Definitely a recipe I'm keeping.  

Final Thoughts

I'm finding the recipes may be more food than my family will consume. Adjusting the menu would not be too difficult, but would add to the time, making it less of a "quick fix".  I could freeze it for another meal another day, but one glance into my deep freezer will show I'm not good at using frozen meals.

I think I'm in love with the concept of a meal waiting for me in the frig.  After traveling 3 1/2 hours each way for the funeral of a friend, it was satisfying knowing that I could feed my family a meal within 30 minutes of arriving at home.  I was actually looking forward  (previously unheard of!) to fixing dinner instead of dreading it!  I could get used to that feeling.

I am willing to give 5 Meals in One Hour another try.  Hopefully I can be more fully prepared for my assembly time, and adjust the amount of food I make.  I'm off to sign soon as I clean out my refrigerator.

There are other meal plans out there:  e-mealz, 30 Day Gourmet, etc.  Which ones have you tried?  Give us your reviews!


Dawn said...

If cost isn't an issue, GFS sells pre-cooked cubed chicken that is okay (it has the potential to dry out) or you can gets canned chicken at Costco that isn't too bad. I've used both in a pinch, but find them cos-prohibitive.

Criss T said...

Both great options to keep in mind. The canned chicken is something that might be good to keep on hand in the pantry for desperate nights.

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