It’s been at least six years since I balanced working outside the home almost full-time and having two kids. Friends were always amazed that I managed homemade meals on the table each night. Becoming a stay home mom with three kids made meal planning a bit easier because I was home BUT several of the lessons I learned as a work outside the home mom still apply. I’ll give you a sample menu for one week to show how I would pull all these easy lessons together.
Several lessons that make meal preparation easier for anyone are:
-Cook once, eat twice
-Your slow cooker is your friend
-Menu plan each week along similar themes
Cook once, Eat Twice
If you’re throwing chicken breasts into a skillet, why not throw in twice as many? You’re spending the same amount of time to cook the chicken and then you’ll have cooked chicken for an entirely different meal another night with little or no prep time. It also doesn’t have to be the same meal. Cooked chicken can easily go into casseroles, tacos and burritos or cobb salads. Cooked meats also freeze very well, so you can easily grab the cooked meat from the freezer and save yourself the cooking after the defrosting.
The same applies to baked goods. If you’re making a batch of cookies, bake a double batch and freeze half of them. Baked goods freeze beautifully if you make sure to take the time to wrap them carefully or use quality freezer containers. You’ll be able to grab homemade goodies quickly from the freezer when you don’t have time for baking or don’t want to. It’s especially nice in the summer to NOT have to bake too often. In addition, if you’re a small household, you can save money by baking your own goodies and knowing they won’t go to waste because you can pull small amounts out of the freezer as needed.
Your Slow Cooking Friend
I LOVE my slow cooker. I LOVE being able to throw a bunch of stuff into the slow cooker in the morning and come home to dinner. There are ample crock pot cookbooks out there if you’re not sure what to make for recipes. It’s still a great chance to cook once and eat twice as many crock pot recipes make large quantities of food and freeze beautifully. The slow cooking method is also a great way to let tougher, less expensive cuts of meat cook to wonderful tasty tenderness! You can also prep everything you need to put into the crock pot the night before and save valuable time in the morning.
Slow cookers can also save time and money cooking larger items for you like whole chickens, turkey breasts and corned beef which can be divided to several meals. During the summer, slow cookers can be placed outside (on a good day as I’m not sure they’ll survive rain storms) and let you prepare meals without heating up the kitchen (you’ll save on cooling costs and who doesn’t love NOT cooking during the summer!?)
Tammy Paquin is a work from home mom of 3 boys and is the owner and publisher of www.frugal-families.com,
Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.
Please be aware that some links used are to affiliates. They are almost always to products I use and love.