Is there a method to your madness?
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I'm starting a new school year in less than a week. I'm excited to go back, but I really ...
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I'm starting a new school year in less than a week. I'm excited to go back, but I really need to be better about being more prepared to cook this year. The whole 5-8pm time slot just kills me. Either I come home late from work, or I get bogged down in preparation. So, how do you do it?
Do you know what you're having before you have it most days?
Do you make a menu out and stick to it?
Do you have a marathon cooking event on Sat and Sun and eat it all week?
DS10 desperately needs to gain weight. His doctor just prescribed bumping his calories up which means six meals a day! SIX! Now, more than ever, I need to be organized!
I usually shop for groceries after church on Sunday. I pretty much purchase the same things each week, as DH & DS are pretty boring when it comes to food. I have an idea as to what we will have each evening, but also have a back up if I don't 'feel' like preparing a certain meal.
I usually only cook on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.....with an occasional dinner out.
Tuesday nights we usually grab something on the fly, as DS has karate & then confirmation class. (I don't like to feed him before karate)
Thursday nights I work as part of the STEP program, so DH & DS are on their own. I think DH usually just takes him out after karate. (If DH happens to be working, I may make something for DS before I go...or pick something up for him before or after I go....all depends on what he is up for that night)
As far as fattening, DS up. My DS had the same problem, but things have seemed to straighten out on their own now. Have you considered Boost or home-made shakes instead of having to make 6 meals? (DS' doctor wanted him to drink Boost, but he wasn't a big fan of it, so that went by the wayside pretty quickly)
I shopped for the week in one trip. I had an idea of what I was going to cook everynight, but didn't always stick to it. Fall is hard because both kids are in soccer and have practice, and not sure if DD is going to be playing tennis as well
One night is always pasta night, Friday night is usually homemade pizza night, one night steak, one night chicken, and one night pork. BORING!! When I did work, I got home at 3:30 to get DD off the bus, and would start cooking right away. Now that I'm home, I'm hoping to have a better handle this time around and hopefully a better menu
I'm a fly by the seat of my pants mom. I've tried the whole menu planning thing, but my bad ADD self just can't get my brain to work that way. I keep some things on hand all the time: Bear Creek soup mixes, canned soups, mac & cheese, spaghetti & sauce, sandwich makings, eggs, potatoes, & milk (plus well stocked staples). I can pull off something suitable in very little time (focaccia bread is FAST ) I do try to pull some kind of meat out of the freezer, but if I forget, then it's one of the "quickies" or it's EMFH (every man for himself, which never quite works out that way, but I try ) I have found that my family likes it simple for the most part, so tomorrow I'll broil chicken parts, make some stir-fried potato cubes, and a salad. One DD will add ketchup, I'll add BBQ sauce, DH will most likely douse his with lemon pepper (gag me).
The other thing I do on super busy days is use my crockpot. Pop in a chicken sprinkled w/ seasoned salt, some potatoes and carrots and you'll have a complete meal when you walk in the door (without the whole "rotisserie" thing). Put in a roast with potatoes and carrots, some wine, some cream of mushroom soup and voila! Put in a pork roast with a bottle of BBQ sauce...yum!
The other help I recently acquired and asked myself what took me so long was my rice cooker. OMGoodness, what a great thing that is! No more fussing over rice, just dump it in, turn it on and come back 30 minutes later to perfect done rice. Mine also has a veggie steamer, so I can cook the rice, steam broccoli and cauliflower, stir fry some boneless chicken breast and have ginger or teriyaki chicken in 30 minutes. (No, I don't talk like Rachael Ray...! )
I plan most every week. and whenever I can on the weekend, I make "double" of something and stick it in the freezer - (enchiladas, soup, taco meat, spaghetti sauce, homemade pizza, etc.) and fill in with "fast items" like omelets, grilled burgers, salads, etc.
We're pretty basic... Grill/Broil some meat, make a salad, nuke some veggies. Of course, there's pasta once a week on average too. I'll make pots of soup/chili once the weather starts to cool down a bit too. Pot pies are good for 2 meals. Then there's leftover day. If I'f feeling REALLY lazy, I will just do cereal for dinner! (only when hubby is busy with coaching!) We will try and work in a bit of variety with how we serve our grilled meat, but it's pretty much the same meal...but hubby and I like it that way.....
Thanks for this thread--- I'm reading and taking notes. I have school from 5-10 mon, wed and thurs nights (and Saturday and Sunday mornings)plus Aidan has football at night and Danny has soccer---I feel like I've barely cooked all summer due to school, I need to figure out shortcuts. We've been doing alot of things from Trader Joes--- we use their frozen chicken strip bags for chicken tacos and chicken cacciatore. We like their frozen meatballs and their roasted chicken. I use ground beef and canned manwhich, and some chili powder call it chili (my family likes it).
Before I go shopping each week I decide what I will cook for the week depending on what our schedule is going to be. I do a lot of freezing of meals so that I can just pull them out to thaw and then cook. The problem is remembering to pull them out! Like tonight we had chicken parmesan that I pulled out yesterday. The rest of the week in no particular order will be sloppy joes, dill shrimp, lasagna, and grilled brats. They are already made and just need to be heated up or are just easy to cook quickly (shrimp & brats). I've really saved a bunch of money since I started doing this.
Starting in September the Crockpot is my best friend. I try to do at least a meal or two a week in there. Since it's just the 2 of us we always have left overs. With school starting and dd playing for 2 different hockey teams we will be very busy. Thursday nights will be my hardest night from September to March as she will have practice for both teams that night so I will have to find something we can eat at the rink between practices.
I usually try to plan ahead also. I will poll the family for suggestions over the weekend for the coming week, shop and then have the stuff on hand. Last night was simply taco meat sprinkled on tortilla chips covered with cheese rotel - messy but good. Tonight will be steak, tators and salad. Tomorrow I think we will have breakfast for supper (eggs, sausage, bacon, bisquits.....). I too usually try to alternate meats, beef, chick, pork. Sacs of frozen veggies are my friend - they cook up rather quickly. I also like using the Crock Pot (when I remember too).
My crockpot is my best friend. I found a crockpot cookbook that I use to make recipes. I prepare it in the morning and let it simmer while at work. Once everyone gets home supper is ready and waiting. There is usually enough for lunches throughout the week. The only bad part is getting up early to prepare it.
I make sure I have ingredients already at home for easy meals; frozen chicken tenders are easy to season, grill (or broil) and throw on top of a salad. Make a large pot of home-made mac & cheese, put it in rectangular baking dishes to finish and cool in the refrigerator, cut and store in the fridge or freezer (like rice krispie treats!) and they're easy to take out, reheat and cover with chili, sauce or just eat plain.
We also do a lot of "doctored salads" with tons of ingredients so they're interesting -- beets (home pickled), artichoke hearts, cheese, nuts, bacon, hardboiled eggs, etc; relatively healthy, filling and easy to do at the last minute.
These are all great suggestions! I have two crockpots, but I confess I don't use them a ton. I'm definitely going to try to utilize them more.
I went into a cooking frenzy this weekend(my first in my new kitchen!) and made 2 pans of zucchini parmesan, zucchini bread, homemade spaghetti sauce, and I'll be making a double batch of meatballs today to freeze. Whew!
It's so great to hear everyone's strategy for getting dinner on the table! Keep 'em coming if you've got ideas that aren't mentioned here. I'm taking notes!
I try & stick to mostly the same menu every week. It varries with the seasons and ofcourse with plans but for the most part it is the same. It is not always the same meal but in the family of pasta on Mondays and a chicken dish on Tues, etc. It's hard to be creative after a while.