Okay, it's getting close to November first and you know you have a month coming where cooking will be last on your agenda only above housework. Well, housework can wait, but a writer and a writer's family have to eat. So, what to do? Fast food works for a few days, but it gets old, not to mention expensive, fast. And cooking every night, whether you have to feed only yourself or a group of ten, won't work with a word count quota hanging over your head. Here's a solution, or compromise, if you will.
First, consider the lowly casserole. It comes in infinite variations and freezes well. You can cook a huge lasagna, break it up into four or five meal-size servings, stick it in the freezer and have most of a week's suppers taken care of in two hours. Then, it's just a matter of coming up with three or four other casseroles and viola, you have the month covered.
If you are afraid your family, or just you, will tire of casseroles for supper every night, consider soups. Like casseroles, they can also be cooked in huge batches at once and frozen in meal-size amounts for reheating later. Soups come with the added benefit of being simple to prepare. Vegetable soup, chicken noodle soup, you name it, it makes a warm, comforting meal with minimum effort.
Finally, though, if you are not a cook and have no desire to learn, there is the all-important convenience food. From frozen french toast sticks you can pop into the microwave for breakfast, to the frozen pizza and garlic bread for lunch and dinner, there is enough variety to feed you and your family well without the fuss for a month. Remember, though, that you pay for convenience. I would rather spend the money on printer ink and a ream of paper for printing my novel in December.
So, you've decided to use one or more of the options offered here. Now what? Well, the weekend before November 1, make a list of what you need. Don't forget to get storage containers, too. If you are cooking, reserve a Saturday or Sunday (or most convenient day off of work/school) to prepare the meals you have selected. Feel free to rope unsuspecting friends and family into helping you with this. Assemble your ingredients and recipes. Then start cooking. Use the whole day to cook and freeze your food for the month. Only you know how much this involves. Plan accordingly.
If your freezer won't allow you to cook once for the entire month, set aside a few hours a week for this. I know it's not going to be easy, what with Nano and some semblance of a life (even if this just involves ye olde day job or classes). But in that four hours, you can cook and freeze the meals you need so you can survive the week without eating paper or chomping on the keyboard.
Is setting aside time during November out of the question? You can ask friends and neighbors if you can borrow freezer space. You can also ask if they would handle the cooking in exchange for a favor outside of November. Or for money, if you have any. However, if you have money, but no time and no friends who are willing to lend either freezer space or their cooking skills, you have one other option. Convenience foods.
If you are buying convenience foods realize that they, too, require freezer space. While Nano participants usually glory in the joys of caffiene and chocolate, do consider that prepackaged meals are not as good for you as homemade. They are higher in sodium. Some are higher in fats, too. Canned vegetable soup is all well and good, but nothing beats a good homemade one for sheer comfort value, if not nutritional value. Even if you have to hit Mom up for it. Next year, you might consider taking a cooking class. Or finding someone to cook ahead for you. Or not. Either way, know that you and your family can eat well and without much extra effort this November. Nano on!
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