Seems that not everyone is back to school just yet, but in my neck of the woods they returned back on August 11. With the return to the classroom, our schedules have become busy and structured, and not so carefree and easy like the previous summer days we’ve left behind. At school, my kids eat lunch at a wide variety of times – the earliest lunch is 10:40. Can you imagine eating lunch that early? And the latest lunch seems to be around 12:55.
So what this means for me, is that I have to be on my game when it comes to dinner preparation. They come home quite hungry, so I usually have a healthy snack waiting – usually a piece of fruit or some veggie sticks, but we also make homemade granola bars, mini bagels with pizza toppings (homemade – not Bagel Bites, or whatever the gross frozen things are called), soft pretzels, etc. Usually snack consists of whatever recipe I had that I wanted to try out. My guinea pigs come home from school and we taste test for a bit. They love it because they are never sure what they will get, and I love it because it allows me to try out recipes for the blog and for future get togethers.
Depending on the day of the week, we have any number of after school activities including our Fife and Drum corp practice and performances (5), Choir (2), Student Council (1), Art Club (2), NJHS (and volunteer hours) (1), Singing Sensations (think Glee) (3), Horseback Riding (1), Cross Country (1) and Videocasting (1) . (Side note: I have 5 children, this is not all one or two kids schedules – I am not THAT mom. The number following the activity is how many children participate.)
Because of this, I have to have an idea of what dinner will be ahead of time, and plan accordingly. Some nights we eat as early as 4:45pm, because of practice times and driving times. Those evenings, I usually have prepared a snack or dessert to be consumed when we return home from the activity.
Because of this crazy schedule, I find it easiest to Freezer Cook extra meals, snacks, desserts, etc. I try to keep it to once a month cooking, but that really isn’t as practical as it used to be. So now, I might have two cooking sessions a month, with also sometimes just preparing a double meal and freezing the extra.
In honor of the return to school, I plan to post a few of my favorite freezer cooking meals this week. The meals are easy to pull out in the morning and thaw in the fridge all day while you are at work or busy. I usually take mine out the night before, so they have plenty of time to thaw – plus it keeps me organized and ahead of schedule, because I know exactly how long to cook it, etc.
All meals I will share will make a typical double meal. Eat one that night, freeze the other for later. We have a large family, so typically I have to double the double recipe, but sometimes I can just double an ingredient like rice or noodles, or sauce. Either way, I hope you find them useful. Freezer cooking might take some initial getting used to, but once you have done it for awhile, you will realize what a time, energy and money saver it actually is. No more fast food on the way to an activity. Your kids still get a home cooked meal!
What do you do for dinner on the busy days?