I've spent the last few days charting out the sports and dance and art classes that will take up our evenings and weekends. Now I have to sort out how we're going to fit in proper family meals on all those busy nights.
Family meals are something that have always been a priority for us, and I don't want them to fall off the radar. So what this means is I have to do a bit more strategizing. Ok, let's make that a lot more strategizing and stay consistent at it.
Here is my plan.
I've made a list of the "go-to dinners"—those easy meals that I know everyone likes. I've included some of the things we used to eat that have fallen out of rotation, and I added in some new recipes I want to try.
I took my go-to meals and built a weekly meal-plan. The upside of this, aside from knowing what's going to be for dinner every night, is only buying groceries you have a plan for. This means you save money and time from having to clear the slimy kale-you-bought-because-you-know-it's-good-for-you-but-never-got-around-to-tackling from the back of the fridge.
When I'm planning, I try to keep in mind what vegetables are in season (cheaper and tastier than those that aren't) and which nights I can afford to spend more time in the kitchen.
We bought a deep freeze sometime between child #2 and child #3, when I realized just how organized I was going to have to become to get everything done. It's a small one that lives under the basement stairs. We save time and money because I can buy multiples of our basics when they're on sale.Photo: eyenigelen/iStockphoto
In our freezer, you'll find:
• fruits and veggies;
• loaves of bread;
• homemade chicken stock frozen flat in freezer bags (lay them on a cookie sheet until they're frozen);
• homemade banana bread and muffins;
• cookie dough (shaped into balls and frozen for almost instant cookie gratification);
• frozen packs of bacon, chicken, fish and shrimp (if I buy fresh, I transfer the meat to freezer bags in the right-sized portions for our dinners and label with the date. Sometimes I add marinade);
• and then the Holy Grail: homemade frozen dinners.
The concept of batch cooking can seem daunting, so I approach it a few ways:
• If I have a day set aside, I can work your way through a number of recipes. I crank up the music, pour tea or wine and can even help with homework while the pots simmer on the stove.
• Sometimes I just cook extra on a night when I'm cooking a dinner that freezes well.
• Even freezing a portion or two of something that only needs reheating (like soup) means that we have some tasty lunch options up ahead.
• I monitor the contents of the freezer by keeping a list on the lid of what's inside.
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