9.21.2010

Meals For Busy Moms

A recent request on facebook from a friend needing meal ideas got me to thinking about health, time and money and eating. She needed quick meals for busy nights when soccer and dinner collide. Some of the ideas she received were pretty great and some were down right scary, ground beef with two cans of mushroom soup covered with tater tots and cheese? One heart attack coming up please! I refrained from my judgemental comments, these were from her friends and they were trying to be helpful. I added my 2 cents by posting a link to Just Another Meatless Monday and went on my way. But I just couldn't stop thinking of my friend, 4 nights of soccer and dinner time.

Around this time my life pace picked up dramatically with my two young boys in different schools at opposite sides of the valley and both with mandatory volunteer time. This cut in to my bon bons and soaps time dramatically, HA! Actually it cut into my meal prep time pretty dramatically. I floundered for two weeks before realizing I needed what my friend was asking for, recipes, plans and a good swift kick.

I set about making the all important meal plan. You have to have a plan, to know what to do next and keep you moving in the right direction. So I asked myself what can I plan on that everybody will eat? What can I throw in that they might object to but will still eat. What will I have time for? What do I feel like making? I also asked my kids what they wanted, one said red beans and rice, one said crock pot lasagna, whew, those are easy enough. I ticked off a few other recipes and double checked my pantry against the plan and added any needed ingredients to the Costco list. I buy most of my groceries in bulk from Azure Standard and Costco. I get Azure once a month and Costco once a month and occasionally I hit the local store for small amounts of things I need maybe twice a month. Everything we need I try to keep in stock here.

My meal plan looks like this:
dinner-
  • red beans and rice-leftover ham from freezer, rice from freezer, beans cooked in the crock pot
  • crock pot mexican lasagna-vegetarian
  • potato dal-vegetarian
  • home made chicken strips and tater tots(tot recipe is unknown!)
  • taco salad-vegetarian
  • frittata
  • blts
  • leftover buffet
  • all dinners will have fresh salad, garden carrots or peas and or fresh fruit
lunches-
  • ham sandwiches, fruit, garden veggies and a cookie-for school children
  • people who are home at lunch will get leftovers reworked or pb&j
breakfast-
  • pancakes-made ahead on the weekend and frozen flat on a cookie sheet for quick re-heating in a skillet
  • oatmeal-also made ahead and kept in the fridge
snacks-
  • fresh fruit
  • fresh apple sauce
  • last of the garden peas
  • popcorn
baking list-this is me I don't expect anyone else to do this but this is what I do, so you know
  • 4 loaves of fresh bread
  • 1 batch cookies-oatmeal or ? 1/2 the batch to be frozen and pulled in to rotation later in the month-variety is the spice of lunch!
Now I have a plan, which at first look seems constricting and so formal. But living with the plan is simple, if I change my mind the meals simply get bumped back and I still have everything I need for it and an extra day already planned out that I don't have to worry about. AWESOME!

I'm sure you all saw the beans in several areas of my my meal plan, yes? OK taco salad and mexican lasagna use pinto beans which I soak overnight and cook slowly while I'm home in the evening. I make them together and store them separately in the fridge until I'm ready to use them. It makes perfect sense, dried beans are cheap and good for you. Canned beans are OK, but salty and they don't really absorb flavors easily. For the red beans and rice in the crock pot I'm going to soak them over night and cook them on low all day, adding spices and ham when I get home after school. If I get inspired I'll soak them with some whey, we'll see.

I'm putting in links to the things I have here on my blog so if you want to try a few trifecta recipes (good, healthy, cheap) you can easily locate them. The tater tots are a new thing for me so we'll ALL see how they turn out and I can add the baked chicken strips too.

There you have it my plan to save:
  • my sanity by having meals planned
  • money by having food in the house to make meals from
  • time, things are planned how can I NOT save time? (why do I tempt fate, WHY?)
Three things I am in short supply of and I bet most moms are these days. My husband makes good money, we have some bills and everything is so darned expensive! I could get a job but really I would be paying for day care. I'd rather work our farm, raise our kids, shovel shit, mow grass, knit, cook, start charter schools, make compost, write, resell, thrift shop, blog, sew and tunnel out of the snow drifts than have my kids at the mercy of someone else and their arbitrary rules. I have enough of my own, ha! I guess what it boils down to is we are not rich but we make it work and this plan is going to make it work so much better. Thanks Carmen for that request from a few weeks back, it really helped me out and I hope in turn this helps you out.

In other unrelated news, our washer is broken and I have been hand washing clothes for a few weeks to see how easy I had it. Yeah I'm DONE with this experiment, I need a new washer STAT! Suggestions?

Peace and Love-

4 comments:

  1. I used to laugh when people had such strict meal plans, then I had Henry. Working ten hour days and trying to stay on a budget (so no quick fast food every night for dinner) PLUS wanting to not put on a million pounds meant it was time for a plan. Everything going so much easier in the evenings now!

    Thanks for stopping in at Bio Girl! I must agree the the airbender mark is better than a fu man chu :) I am planning on trying the lemon juice this weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  2. oh how i wish i could do this. i want to do it. i mean to do it. and then i don't. we finish our vacation in a week and maybe i'll try again, as you describe it, sanity sounds like such a welcome state of mind. plus you make it sound so easy. i'd be interested in a little more info about azure standard if you ever feel like writing about it - searched your site and only found that its a quality bulk ordering site, but i wonder how the prices compare to, for example, fred meyer's natural food section or natural pantry in anchorage. also do you only order their dried goods, or do you also order perishable items?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the encouragement to get.back.on.track....now that life is calming down I will.

    Laurie- nothing at natural pantry is cheaper than Azure. Ever. I can't think of anything I get from Fred Meyer that is cheaper either. I don't buy meat, milk, butter, yogurt, fish, soy sauce, spices, coffee or tea from Azure but most everything else does come from them. The fresh produce is a super bargain.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sounds like your back in the groove. I have a recipe for home made tater tots on my web page at:
    http://coleensrecipes.blogspot.com/2009/08/home-made-tater-tots-recipe-tweak-from.html super simple.

    ReplyDelete

Am I talking DIRECTLY to you? Well then let me know!