I used to pull my hair out trying to get meals together and keep track of the food and make sure things were healthy and that a variety was being served…I think I came up with a few things that work for us….
I know that when I don’t get a jump on the kids in the morning by cooking breakfast, (and I am such a night owl!) they end up tearing the kitchen apart! And they needed a good balanced meal to be useful to me and themselves or I was setting them up for failure. I also knew that there were times I DID NOT have time to cook EVERY meal…drove me nuts! I told my dh that I could be realllly good at 1 thing today and what should it be?? Laundry? School work? Cleaning? I have so many hats to wear and I knew it had to be done and could be done somehow!…If I spend like 15 minutes in the kitchen after the kids go to bed, I am AHEAD the next day, even if the baby keeps me in bed for some extra-long nursing. I always put the command in my head "Feed my lambs" (I try always to put before me that these children belong to God first and I have to be a faithful steward! I try to get that 15 minutes in no matter how tired I am at night.)
That crock pot is really like having an extra hand, but like any good servant, it waits for me to tell it what to do! LOL the same with the dishwasher, the washing machine and the dryer…all my faithful friends!! There is nothing like the feeling of having some of the next day’s work done..I feel like I am setting myself up to succeed instead of setting myself up to fail
We have been using the crock pot for breakfast. The kids’ favorite is what they call oatmeal pudding…basically it’s oatmeal but it softens a lot as it cooks (which is better for you as soaked grains do not have the phytic acid in them making it healthier for you!) You can adapt this for a variety of grains!
We add 1 part old fashioned oats to 2 parts water (somtimes I make this half milk)some butter and a small dollop of honey or pure maple syrup..we add lots of goodies depending on what we feel like…cinnamon, nutmeg, a dash of cloves, vanilla, raisins, dried fruits, chopped apples, pumpkin…whatever you feel like…(the kids love the pumpkin one the best! They call it pumpkin pie oatmeal!) Cook on low overnight…just mix it up after the kids go to bed and turn it on before you go to bed. It is done and ready for you when you wake up…stir and serve! I always wanted someone to make ME breakfast! LOl! And it smells great too!
I also chop some kind of nut and place it on the pizza stone in my oven at night, and just turn it on and toast in the morning (careful it cooks fast)…just till it’s light brown and starts to smell yummy! The kids then sprinkle on top…voila! They are satisfied till lunch!
I am also looking for and fooling around with no/lo sugar muffin recipes. Again, this can be mixed up fast after the kids are in bed! You can place it in the muffin cups and slide the tin into the fridge and first one up slides it into the oven to bake! Serve with tea and fruit and this is what I call my "working breakfast" When we have to get our school work done early, we can munch and learn at the same time!
About once a week I put a huge pot of soup on at lunch time that we take from whenever we need a snack or to supplement any meal….I assign each of the older kids to a cutting board and one to the sink to scrub and it gets done in no time! I had to work smarter…I kept trying to work harder…go figure…
Lunch is usually left overs from dinner…I make homemade pizza dough and I freeze it in rounds. Sometimes we defrost some (take it out at breakfast) and make stuffed pockets with leftovers and fried onions and bake on the pizza stone (golly, I love that stone!) I sometimes will chop the leftovers from any dinner and freeze in zip lock baggies and they are great for fried rice dishes, over pasta or we will make stuffed potatoes etc…I freeze almost all the left overs so I can control their ahem…distribution better. We are getting much better at not wasting food!
Sometimes we just eat a huge salad! We like to throw lots of different ingredients in this too!
DINNER : the stuff to use at lunch!
We cook in bulk and freeze all the time. I only put on the dinner table what I know is reasonable for my family to eat and I carve the meat or divide dishes and freeze in bags for other dinners right away. I don’t do the weekend cooking or the once a month cooking thing, but when I do cook I try to think ahead and make extra that can be used as the base for other meals…this is great for things like homemade tomato sauce! It also helps that we aren’t eating the same thing in different ways three days in a row. ( I figured this out when my dh was starting to gobble… It sure saves on the pocketbook when we have been out all day and need a quick fix meal! -Not to mention that it conrols the mess and I have to think less about meals on any day that I am busy! (Which is every day )It helps to have at least SOMETHING started! I do use large pots but TRY to clean them right away…(i.e. I use one of those two burner skillet deals on the stove to fry up sausage in half the time, and they clean up real fast afterward)…sooo less mess overall in the kitchen during the week.
My dh will often cook a whole loin (beef or pork) on the grill that has been cut into steaks. (Yep! we use the grill year round! It sure helps when your dh loves to play with fire We then freeze in bags and defrost on the stone at 350 and they taste like they just came off. This makes some of the best quick meals on the go! We gave up the microwave years ago and we get along just fine! You should see what I do to a whole chicken…haha…
Oh! There is so much more, but I think those ideas will best be shared on another day! God Love you!
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