Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Busy Mom's Tips for Meal Preparation

Several years ago, I jotted down a list of meal preparation tips that I gathered from various sources (which I've now forgotten). Every once in a while, when I'm getting overwhelmed and discouraged, I get out this list and am reminded of ways to improve my efficiency in the area of meal preparation!

This list probably looks obvious to most of you but when I lack consistency in following through in these tips, my frustration with meals soon appears! This especially shows up in the area of menu planning! I know today that I will be cooking meals every day next week, why wait until the last minute to decide what I'm having and battle a frozen chunk of meat!

(And to all those who think I'm just naturally organized – I really truly am not! I am learning how to be more efficient with my time, space and responsibilities, but would never say it comes natural! I often feel like any level of organization that I do have is so fragile that it may be blown off at any time! For illustration, several weeks ago, half way through a church service, I happened to look down at my feet to the startling realization that I was wearing two different shoes. Two radically different shoes! Both were slides that had similar height heals but one was a slim black dress shoe and the other was a clunky brown buckled shoe in a bad need of some polish! After turning several shades of red, I escaped to the van immediately after the service and waited for my husband to miss me! Maybe I should have stayed in church so that all you ladies could see proof of what a flap-brained person I really am!) But back to meal prep!
  • Decide by breakfast what you will serve for the evening meal. (Even better, decide the night before and get meat thawed so you can use the slow cooker.)
  • When making a casserole that freezes well, double (or triple) the recipe and freeze the extras.
  • Always plan enough for the evening meal so that you and the children can have leftovers for lunch. (And your husband too, if he likes leftovers as well as mine does!)
  • Keep your kitchen clean and organized. It makes meal prep so much more enjoyable!
  • Maintain a well stocked pantry with the basic ingredients for quick meals. Nothing ruins meal preparation like finding you need an ingredient!
  • Utilize your slow cooker and you may find it to be a busy mom's best friend!
  • Prepare the evening meal as early as possible in the day or whenever you are most refreshed! Many things can be prepared and placed in the fridge until time to put in the oven. At our house, 5:00 is the crazy hour when children are hungry and bored and mom is exhausted! I try to prepare supper and clean up the dishes when the children are napping!
  • Plan the next week's menu on the weekend. Especially note days that you have appointments so that you can plan ahead and use the crock pot.
  • Have an emergency plan for quick meal for an unexpectedly bad day or sometime that you arrive home about the time you should have food on the table! It should be something that does not need thawed, is very quick to prepare and your husband likes! Just don't use it too often! For me, this meal is salmon cakes and noodles!
  • Keep a list of your family's favorite meals noting ones that only take 15 minutes to prepare, easy to freeze, crock pot or easy Sunday dinners.
  • Keep it simple!!! Gourmet meals are great, but a happy mom is even better!

1 comment :

  1. These are great suggestions. I found your site when I searched for how to make cream soups from scratch. I hate recipes that require that I purchase specific ingredients at the store...more shopping, more planning, more things to store at home, more cost, more processing, more additives and preservatives I don't need, etc. I can't figure out how green bean casserole became the huge holiday hit in American families! Thanks for sharing your homemaking hints...I'm going to share them with a friend who recently became a single dad...along with some home made casseroles and favorite recipes.


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