Running back and forth with kids during the school year is time consuming. Rather than cook meals at home, sometimes we're forced to hit the drive-thru before the next practice, recital, or game. The key to making quick meals is preparation. Taking time during a slower part of the week to prepare meals is the only way to make sure everyone is on time and has a great meal to eat.
Before you go grocery shopping, pick up the weekly sales circular and a few cookbooks, and make a shopping list. Look for recipes that can be made ahead of time, can be reheated and could be eaten again as leftovers. Some good ideas are tacos, noodle bakes, casseroles, or skillet lasagna. To make a meal stretch, consider purchasing large bags of prepared salad mix, heat and serve dinner rolls, or frozen mixed vegetables.
When youâ€™ve finished grocery shopping, carve out some time to prepare your meals. Depending on the size of your family, set aside 2-3 hours a week to make meals. Not all meals can be made in advance. Meals like stir-fries cannot be made ahead of time, but vegetables can be cut and the meat can begin to marinate.
Organization is very important when preparing a number of meals at a time. Everything should go right in the refrigerator, freezer or pantry with the following information: prep date, cook date, recipe name and product name. This information will ensure the product is used for the right recipe and also to track any leftovers that need to be discarded. Another helpful tip is to keep a folder of weekly recipes in a binder. After a few months, you will have a cookbook of your familyâ€™s favorite meals you can use for years to come.
It is possible to cook healthy meals during the week with a little planning, preparation, and practice. As you are making your own quick and easy meal planner this school year, remember to look for great meal ideas in our Recipe Center.