Got busy nights this spring with school practices, recitals, and school events? Grab dinner on the run — from the freezer.
If I thought April was busy, I think I’m in for a surprise with May. We’ve got end-of-the-year school things to wrap up, standardized testing, the end of the hockey season, hockey playoffs — ours and the LA Kings (boo-yah!) — two birthdays, one anniversary, Mother’s Day, a-mom’s-away-at-a-conference weekend, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Needless to say, I need to put on my game face when it comes to dinner prep. The challenge I’m facing, however, is that my kids’ appetites are outgrowing what I can cook in a day to make meals for a month.
Back in the days of two incomes, no kids, I could cook for a day and FishPapa and I could eat for two months based on what I stashed in the freezer. Nowadays, I’m lucky if what I make lasts a week.
Clearly, I have some troubleshooting to do. And I think it’s called, “Involving the Kids in the Cooking”. I actually did that this week, with the girls helping me with this month’s “Dinner on the Run” freezer cooking plan. However, that was more an enrichment exercise for our relationship.
Next month I think I need to put the big boys to work. They can all cook independently, so it’s time that they start helping with the freezer cooking. That should be interesting, so stay tuned.
As it was, it was a sweet time cooking with the girls. They were so enthusiastic about helping. FishChick4 drifted back and forth to other activities, but FishChick6 stuck to her post like glue.
I confess, I had to take a few deep breaths when messes were made, my toe was stubbed, or the chatter never ceased. And I may or may not have made a mental note to have FishPapa take everyone on an outing next time I had a lot of work to do in the kitchen.
(That seems ironic since I just signed up to have teenage and tween boys helping me next time!)
I’m just so very thankful for the extra dose of patience that God so graciously gave me. I had self-control beyond my own understanding. Let’s pray that holds true for next month.
But, the girls were thrilled with their participation in the kitchen and they really did help out. Plus, they’re learning. So, I’ll call that a win.
This month’s cooking plan includes meals that can either heat up quickly and/or can be easily packed for homemade take-out once reheated. This means you can eat dinner on the run or at the ball field without having to take the full picnic set-up.
The recipes are very-dairy based. There’s lots of cheese. If you’re not a huge fan of that or are trying to avoid dairy, check out the other cooking plans I’ve posted. You’re sure to find something else that works for you here:
- Breakfasts on the Go – ready-to-eat breakfasts for busy mornings
- Protein-Style Dinners – a menu plan filled with paleo and Whole30-friendly recipes
- Cold Weather and Company Dinners – get cozy at home with your folks or invite people in, this cooking plan has you covered
- Cozy Winter Breakfasts – stick-to-your ribs oat dishes, granola, fruit-filled energy bars, and a variety of baking mixes
- Holiday Baking – a plethora of cookies and quick breads as well as a Pretzel Berry Cheesecake
- Busy Nights – lots of casseroles and one-dish dinners to make supper times easy on busy nights
Plus, remember my cookbook, Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook has TEN cooking plans of varying length that will help you fill your freezer with homemade convenience foods.
Here’s what this month’s cooking plan entails:
- Seasoned Versatile Pinto Beans, page 180, two batches
- Basic Taco Seasoning Mix, page 89, one batch
- Not Your Convenience Store’s Frozen Burritos, page 87, 3 batches
- Cilantro-Chipotle Cheeseburgers, 2 batches
- Easiest Mac and Cheese, 2 batches
- Italian-Spiced Cheesewiches, page 189, 3 batches
- Basic Pizza Dough, page 234, 1 batch
- Pepperoni Calzones, page 248, 1 batch
- Basic Herb-Baked Chicken, page 104, 2 batches
I made a few adaptations to the recipes, the biggest one being that I couldn’t find bone-in chicken on sale. But, boneless skinless chicken breast was available for $1.97. So I got that. In order to help it stay moist in the oven, I placed lemon slices over the top, pictured.
This is a full-day plan, but you could easily break it into two sessions. It will go more quickly if you have the beans already cooked or use canned beans for the burritos. It makes a ton of food — especially if you are a family of four.
I’m looking forward to a few easier nights of cooking in the coming weeks.
If you’ve not yet started to make your own homemade convenience foods, I can’t encourage you enough to give freezer cooking a try.