You have had a full schedule all day. Maybe there was a field trip, or several various projects that you needed to finish. Now it's dinner time, the kids are starving and you just want to crawl in bed. We have all been there. What do you do?
Well in our case, I do my very best to avoid the "fast food crunch". Mainly because we don't really have fast food in our town. There is a nice little dairy bar down the road that is opened year round, but any type of take-out gets very expensive. I reserve this for extreme times and actually plan it as "treats".
So to over come the 5 o'clock mess, I try to plan ahead. I have never tried freezer meal cooking. I have read about it many times, and have friends who have done it. But alas...I still haven't done it. When I say plan ahead, I plan out our meals.
Each week I create a menu plan with lunches and dinners planned out. I even include our schedule on the chart to help as I am planning and also give the kids extra reminders while they check what we are eating that day.
Breakfast is an open option. I keep their favorite cereals, freezer waffles and pancakes or even (Gasp) Poptarts. The kids also eat soups, chicken strips, basically whatever they want for this meal. They are also responsible for this themselves. I just follow-up to make sure they do not need help opening something and that they have actually eaten. This is one way that we are working on Life Skills.
Lunches I keep as simple as possible. Usually around 20 minutes from start to finish. These include grilled cheese, quesadillas, walking tacos, beef hot dogs, mac & cheese, garlic bread pizzas, salads, pancakes, and crock pot soups. I sometimes wake up early and throw everything in the crockpot and then it's ready for lunch. We can enjoy the leftovers the next day also. The kids love chicken N Dumplings this way. I also try to include life skills in lunch. I encourage the kids to make lunch and learn new recipes this way. It is common to find any of the 4 kids making lunch with some help from me.
Dinners are also kept simple. I do make more complex meals on the weekends. But I keep chicken breast and veggies in the fridge and freezer. The kids love sauteed chicken with broccoli and plain rice. Super simple. Other favorites include chimichangas, bacon meatloaf, lasagna casserole, hot chicken sandwiches, baked turkey breast, etc. I save homemade pizzas for the weekend, when I usually have more time. I also overmake dinner at night sometimes in order to carry over leftovers to the next day.
When I grocery shop, I buy a few extras to keep on hand just in case I don't get to go shopping to stock up. This helps in a pinch, just in case something has gone bad also. Ever open up a can of chicken or a package of chicken breast that was dated ok, but the smell bowls you over? Yeah, it's happened. You still have to feed your family something....and it's not what was in that package. That is why I keep extra meals on hand.
I keep the menu on the fridge so that I don't forget what I need to prep that morning. It also keeps the kids from asking constantly what we are eating. But there is always a tag line reminding them that the menu is subject to change. If mom is sick or if there was a food incident.
I have gotten lazy and not did a menu for a week....and trust me, I was so lost. I even do it this way when we travel. We always have a kitchen in the hotels we stay in to keep our eating habits under control. I keep a menu printed during these times also.
I do ask for input from the family about the meals. I try to let the kids each pick a meal each week, and Joe too. It helps me too when I blank out. I thought about creating a monthly meal plan, but I honestly get too overwhelmed planning that far in advance. So currently I go up to about two weeks. Plus tastes change....chili might seem like a good idea, but if you are feeling well at that time chicken noodle soup is a better option. I also keep a list of favorite food items or recipes I have seen in my planner. So if I am stuck I can refer to it to help me finish our menu.
Everyone's family life is different. I do once a week shopping, but some families cannot do that. Maybe some of what we do can help you. The biggest way to save you time and money, no matter how you do it, is PLAN ahead. You will find your niche once you get going.
If you need ideas, check Pinterest. Go for simple recipes, no matter how cute some of them look. Look realistically how much time and energy you have as you are planning your family's food.
Have you checked out the Schoolhouse Review Crew on the 5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents Blog Hop.....Take some time to see what they have learned on their homeschooling journeys!
Here are some of the Members that are taking part this week....
Dawn @ Double O Farms
Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool
Debbie @ Debbie's Homeschool Corner
Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook
Diana @ Busy Homeschool Days
Diana @ Homeschool Review
Elyse @ Oiralinde: Eternal Song
Emilee @ Pea of Sweetness
Erin @ For Him and My Family
Jen @ Chestnut Grove Academy
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Latonya @ Joy in the Ordinary
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures
Lori @ At Home: where life happens
Meg @ Adventures with Jude
Megan @ My Full Heart
Melanie (Wren) @ finchnwren
Melissa @ Mom's Plans