We make a lot of meals ahead of time in our house. Oilman makes big batches for hitches. I typically will make a meal and freeze leftovers in individual containers because I’m cooking for one while he is away. Freezing allows me to not have to eat leftovers every single day for a solid week. Plus, when I get super lazy, I have a plethora of meals to choose from. These are some of our favorite make-ahead meals to freeze and staples for having on a hitch.
A couple of things before we get started:
Every oilfield worker is unique in what they have to use for heating up meals, etc. is different. Some guys may have access to a microwave or full kitchen. Others may only have access to “heat” from leaving something out on the dash of a pickup truck to allow the sun to warm up or unfreeze. It is important to find out what exactly your man has and cater meals accordingly. Can he prep anything or do the meals have to be fully ready with zero accommodations for heating?
Staples: For Oilman, his staples are things that are easy to heat up quickly. He is often out in the boondocks without a grocery store close by. To “run to the store” may take him 45 minutes one way. With 12-18 hour days (and then some, at times) meal prep needs to be easy and quick. He likes to have these things on hand: potatoes, rice (in the bag that you microwave for 90 seconds), tortillas, and sometimes pasta. We try and make things that are either one meal, or can be easily made into one. Because it can be difficult to have fresh veggies, Oilman uses frozen steamer bags.
Storage: We have used plastic Tupperware-like Ziploc containers. Oilman’s favorite way to store/freeze his meals is his FoodSaver vacuum sealer.
Cooking Tools: I use the Hamilton Beach slow cooker and have so for years. I think it works like a charm (I have two!). The crock pot is your friend and I use mine the A LOT. When cooking with the crockpot, I tend to use meats that are a little bit less lean, especially if you are freezing and re-heating. Chicken breast is great on the grill, but slow cooked for hours, frozen, and microwaved later on can sometimes feel like I’m chewing a tasteless piece of cardboard. When it comes to chicken, I prefer drumsticks and thighs for the crockpot.
Now that we have the staples, storage, and tools out of the way, it is time to get cooking. Turn up the radio, pour yourself a drink, and get cooking.
Use pork shoulder or a pork roast. Put slits all over the pork with a knife and place slivered pieces of garlic into the holes. Salt the pork all around to your liking. A good rule of thumb for salting is ¾ of a teaspoon for every pound of meat. Place three pieces of bacon in the bottom of the crock pot, place the pork on top, and put in 2 tablespoons of liquid smoke. Voila! You are done, now you wait for the pork to cook and fill your house with smokey goodness. Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8-10. You will know it is ready when the pork is tender and easy to shred.
We are in Texas y’all. Tacos aren’t just a meal; they are a way of life here. I don’t think you can ever have too much taco meat. I freeze and thaw for soft or crunchy tacos, over a salad, smother a baked potato in it, or with rice and veggies in a bowl. I make my own taco seasoning to avoid things like MSG and too much sodium in the packets. Brown the meat, toss in the seasoning, and a bit of water and let it cook down for a few minutes until there is very little liquid. I make the seasoning in batches and store in my pantry for whenever I’m making in the mood for taco goodness. I like taco meat fairy flavorful, so I use this serving for 1 pound of meat. You can alter to your liking.
1 tablespoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon paprika
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
This is one of Oilman’s favorite meals to have on a hitch and after eating it numerous times, he still isn’t tired of it yet.
Brown 2 pounds of ground turkey (we use ground turkey to save a few calories; you can also use ground beef). Cook a 12-ounce box of angel hair pasta. Sometimes Oilman humors me by using whole wheat pasta and sometimes he doesn’t. Then add 32 ounces of your favorite spaghetti sauce. We do look for sauces with lower sugar content and about 30 calories per serving. Feel free to add loads of black pepper or hot sauce (Oilman likes his food spicy). The end result is a filling dish for Oilman that ends up being less than 500 calories for 2 cups of pasta.
Oilman LOVES these, but he pretty much just loves meat. He can put them over rice, pasta, or have by themselves with a large salad.