So it’s the very last chapter of Mealtime Bootcamp! I’ve loved having the gracious and talented Caroline spend so much time here, and I’m a little sad to see her go!

Caroline’s final “challenge” was around mealtime portions – how much to make, serving sizes, cooking for leftovers, etc. I offered up some guidelines and suggestions and here’s what she had to say!

caroline photo

image courtesy of Caroline Urdaneta

During our last installment of Mealtime Bootcamp Sheri talked about portions in cooking and how to master preparing the right amount of food. She listed 3 rules that completely (and totally!) nailed what happens in my family. Did I mention she nailed it? In fact, when I read over Sheri’s list I immediately had a “lightbulb” moment. I’m sharing these rules with you again today to refresh your memory:

1. When you make “extra” no one will want seconds.

2. If you make “just enough” everyone will be famished.

3. The minute you double a recipe to freeze for a future meal, no one will “like it” anymore.

Basically, the gist of this is that mastering the correct portions for my family is key.  There are basic guidelines I can follow but generally speaking, the portions are really pretty specific to my family and may vary with each meal.

So this week, I focused on recognizing when to cook just enough and when to have a little extra for later. Never wanting to not have enough or to waste food, I noticed that I tend to cook way more than needed, and the amount of leftovers are always completely overboard. After observing my family’s eating habits (and being honest with myself about them), here are some things (specific to my family) that I discovered:

1. A pound of pasta was the perfect amount to prepare for my family. Sheri nailed this one! One pound of pasta is not only perfect for the six of us to enjoy the meal but with that amount of pasta, we have just enough (but not too much) leftover for later. And pasta is one of the only foods my family enjoys in leftover form!

2. We all think chicken tastes weird when it’s leftover. Somehow I have never been able to master the reheating of chicken and everyone complains about it on the leftover days.  So for my family, I found it’s best to cook just enough chicken for one meal. No leftovers anymore for us when it comes to chicken.

3. I normally make lasagna in a 9 x 13 pan. In fact, as I type this there is a 9 x 13 pan of lasagna in my refrigerator. My family loves lasagna, but by the time we reach the end of the 9 x 13 pan, I’m begging the kids to eat it. I’ve decided to switch to Sheri’s suggestion of using two 8 x 8 pans as I think this will work better and help me “out-smart” one of the basic “rules” listed above.

So, while I have not completely mastered the art of preparing the perfect amount of food, I definitely think I’m on the right path. And, I honestly believe that if I continue to pay close attention, through trial and error, I will get there and my family will be happier campers as a result of it. Thank you Sheri for your insight and expertise into this tricky part of mealtime planning! You are the best.

Aww Caroline, so are you!

We are thrilled with your enthusiastic response to this series. We LOVED hearing your successes with some of these tips, as well as your own suggestions for making mealtimes less stressful and more enjoyable!

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this series – did you enjoy it? Would you like to see other collaborative series like this in the future? If so, what would you be interested in? I’m always up for a challenge, so feel free to “bring it”!

And many thanks again for participating!

New to this series? No problem; you can catch up here!

Mealtime Bootcamp
Meal Planning
Caroline Wins Meal Planning!
Timing Meal Prep
Timing’s No Match For Caroline!


  1. Jill V. on February 22, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Loved this series! Do another PLEASE!

    With the portions, I am right there with you Caroline. I am learning to pay closer attention to what gets reheated and what gets thrown out so I will know the next time I make that particular meal.

    Thanks ladies!

    • sherisilver on February 22, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      Thanks Jill! 🙂 What would you like to see next?

    • Tanya on February 22, 2013 at 5:18 pm

      I agree, Jill! And Sheri, more collaborations w/Caroline couldn’t be a bad thing, could it? I’m sure whatever you are interested in doing would be useful to all of us.:-)

      • sherisilver on February 22, 2013 at 9:55 pm

        Nothing would make me happier than more collaborations with Caroline! 🙂

  2. Caroline on February 22, 2013 at 3:45 pm


    Sheri? What am I going to do without you?


    • sherisilver on February 22, 2013 at 3:50 pm

      I’m secretly hoping for a mass public outcry of “More Sheri and Caroline!!!!”. And we will have no choice but to oblige…

  3. Megan on February 26, 2013 at 10:27 am

    I totally agree on the chicken reheating (yuck) so I have only a few things I will do with leftover chicken:

    – make soup (so it reheats in broth)
    – make salad (so it doesn’t reheat at all)

    This chicken salad is so darn easy, delicious and you can really mix it up:

    • sherisilver on February 26, 2013 at 11:22 am

      I have a husband whose secret super power is reheating chicken to perfection! That said, that chicken salad looks amazing; thanks for sharing!