Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Preparing to Impress {Preparing Meals}

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Meal preparation can be a struggle.  Trying to prepare cost effective, healthy meals for a family can take a lot of time. {Read the first post of our "Preparing to Impress" series.}

Breakfast and supper are by far the hardest in this household.  Leaving the house in time for school makes breakfast a tough time.  Add in therapy sessions and children on sensory overload in the evening and supper preparation can be excruciating on the whole family.  On top of that, Bubs struggles with "desiring" what is offered (especially at snack time).  I cringe every time he asks what he can eat. 

Time has been a good teacher.  I have learned some valuable tips that have allowed us to have delicious, nutritious, homemade, and cost effective meals.  And, I am learning how to help Bubs deal with the food options.   

1)  Make Ahead
Freezer and refrigerator mixes are my best friend.  I can prepare the food prior and bake it when ready.

On those mornings when my plan falls through or time is limited, we place a few frozen waffles in the toaster.  Put a little peanut butter, fruit, or syrup on this nutritious goodness and you have a great breakfast.  Part of my school prep time includes making several batches (four at a time) of these waffles. I typically make them around a meal time so that we can eat have some now and many later!

Once the temperatures start lowering I stir up a batch of Raisin Bran Muffins.  The batter makes several batches and will keep in the refrig for six weeks!!! 

2)  Supper Sisters
My Freezer Meal Exchange Group has come to be the largest blessing for meal preparations.  I can't suggest enough.  On those days that I know time will not allow me to cook, I go to the freezer, pull out a meal, read the directions, pick a couple of easy sides, and with very little effort at all I have supper finished.  I am so thankful for my Supper Sisters.  They have been such a blessing in my life and this process has transformed my meal prep time.  I pray that it will help you too!

3)  Plan Ahead
Once a week, I plan a week's worth of menus.  Decide what we are having for each meal and when leftovers will be made.  In doing this, take into consideration how much prep time that you will have for each meal. 

I know on Tuesday and Thursday nights that I don't get home until 5:45 from Bubs' therapy.  That means these meals need to be in the oven, crock pot, or leftovers.  These are typically the suppers that I use a freezer meal. 

Piggybacking meals also cuts down on prep time.  Have grilled chicken one meal and use the left over chicken for quesadillas the next! Have chili one night and chili dogs the next.

Our Favorite Meals

Using recipes that I already have added to the blog, below are some ideas to get you started.  Be sure to follow me on Pinterest (right-hand column) to find many more recipe ideas. 

Examples for Breakfast:
Raisin Bran Muffins  - The batter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to six weeks!!

Waffles - Yummy!

German Pancakes - My kids beg for these!

Rhodes Rolls - Make these the night before

Homemade Granola - Use as cereal or with yogurt.

Applesauce Muffins - As far as muffins go, these are on the healthier side.

Breakfast Burritos - Make these ahead and freeze.

Morning Glory Muffins - Carrots, apples, nuts - melt in your mouth!


Example for Lunch or Supper:

Chicken Quesadillas - so easy

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos - very good and simple to make

Stew - The best stew I have ever eaten and couldn't be easier to make.

Biscuit Meat Casserole - Absolutely not healthy but so yummy!

Runza Casserole - another favorite

Tater Tot Casserole - What family doesn't love this classic meal?


Example Side:

Orange Salad - My kids would eat this as a meal and every meal; I could too!

Angel Knots - Delicious and the dough keeps in the refrig for a few days.


Using the above recipes, here is an example weekly schedule.

Sunday Breakfast - Rhodes Rolls
Sunday Lunch - Grill Chicken, vegetable, Orange salad, Angel Knots
Sunday Supper - Quesadillas (leftover chicken), Chips, Lettuce Salad

Monday Breakfast - Morning Glory Muffins, yogurt
Monday Lunch - Tater tot Casserole, Angel Knots, Fruit
Monday Supper - Leftovers

Tuesday Breakfast - Cereal
Tuesday Lunch -  Sandwiches, grapes, chips
Tuesday Supper - Stew, fruit

Wednesday Breakfast - Breakfast Burritos
Wednesday Lunch - Leftovers
Wednesday Supper -  Spaghetti, Angel Knots, Green Beans

Thursday Breakfast - Waffles, fruit
Thursday Lunch - Biscuit Meat Casserole
Thursday Supper - Leftovers

Friday Breakfast - Cereal
Friday Lunch - Sandwiches, strawberries, goldfish crackers
Friday Supper - Slow Cook Chicken Tacos, tortillas, fruit

Saturday Breakfast - German Pancakes
Saturday Lunch - Leftovers
Saturday Supper - Out to Eat with Friends

4) Set a Fixed Menu
For example, every Saturday morning we have eggs and bacon.  The kids have come to expect Daddy to prepare his gourmet meal!  This consistency creates traditions - and makes things easier on mom. 

We are taking this tip a step further this year.  I believe it will make meal prep easier and help reduce the frustration that Bubs has with the menu.  (He rarely wants the option given to him.  Not sure what the reason.)  As a family, we will set up a fixed menu for breakfast, (school) lunch, and snack.  (I will share the final menu soon!)

5) Become Best Friends with Your Crock Pot

I don't use my crock pot enough but this trend is beginning to change.  The more I use, the more I love.  There is little that we can't cook in the Slow Cooker or crock pot.  I even make granola and bake bread!  Go figure!  I have pinned recipes on my Pinterest page or google for 1000's of ideas. 

If you are still reading, this post has turned into a book.  And one could write a book on this topic but for now we will stop here.  Because we have lots more "Preparing to Impress" topics to cover!  But don't worry.  Be sure to follow because I will continue to share simple recipes and tips in future blog posts. 

Tomorrow:  Preparing the School Supply Closet



What meal prep secret can you share?

2 comments :

  1. A couple things I have learned:
    Clean out the fridge the night before grocery shopping day. This will eliminate 'science projects' and give you a better idea of any refrigerator staples (like butter) you might be low on.
    Also, when you get home, prep your produce. Wash the fruit and veggies, slice and dice what you'll need that week.

    ReplyDelete

The Our Out-of-Sync Life blog focuses on encouraging women to deepen their spiritual life, simplify daily tasks, and impress Jesus on the children around them.