Although it is not always perfectly on time, I can handle dinner most days. You know the drill: Thaw meat the night before. Check recipes in the morning to see about cooking times and prep work. Start prepping dinner at lunch time.
It’s the breakfasts and lunches that seem to really eat up our day. (Slight pun intended.) Just about the time I get into a groove with writing or school work, someone gets hungry. By the time we prep, eat and clean up lunch, I completely forgot where we were.
Here is a solution for those days you just don’t want to stop and prepare food in the middle of the day.
1. Cook ahead. This is the express version of freezer cooking. I’m not one to take a whole day off to cook the month’s meals ahead, although that works well for some people. However, there are a few foods I cook ahead to make breakfast easier.
- Egg Muffins (recipe below)
- Baked Oatmeal
If I do have time to make breakfast one morning, I just make a double or triple batch of pancakes, waffles or egg muffins and freeze the rest. I double my granola when I make it and store it in the pantry. My baked oatmeal recipe makes a 13 x 9 pan, so I just divide it into two smaller pans, bake one and freeze the other unbaked.
2. Prepare foods ahead. This works well for lunches. Occasionally I cook something like macaroni and cheese or soup for lunch. Sometimes we have leftovers or “re-purposed” leftovers or sandwiches. However, on the days I don’t want to stop and cook, we have a “snack lunch”. The kids can choose which items they want to eat and get them without me. Here are a few ideas:
- Cheese cubes
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Lunch meat slices
- Veggies and dip
- Homemade granola bars
- Rice cakes and nut butter
On a day when I have more time, I wash all the fruit and cut it up if necessary. I cut veggies and make the dip. I boil a dozen eggs and leave them in a clearly-marked egg carton. I’ll individually wrap the granola bars in baggies, so they only have to grab one out. Since I have older ones, they can help the younger ones find their lunch items.
3. Make a list.
My children are very intelligent. At least that’s what I tell myself at parent-teacher conferences. 🙂 However, they are not very good at finding things that are right in front of their noses. For this reason, if I have items made ahead, I’ll put them on a list labeled “Breakfasts” and “Lunches/Snacks” on the refrigerator. Then, the kids can see what is available without me there.
If I’m really trying to be a supermom, I put the items in categories so they will have a balanced meal. For example, I would list “Choose One” and put protein sources under that category + “Choose One” and put carbs/fruits under that category, etc.
I’m sure you will be able to come up with your own ideas based on your family’s preferences. Here is a recipe you might like to try for easier mornings. They freeze and reheat pretty well.
Makes: 12 Muffins
Preheat oven to 350 and grease the cups of a muffin tin.
Beat 12 eggs in a bowl with salt and pepper. Stir in 1/2 – 1 cup shredded cheese of your choice. Add diced ham, cooked bacon or sausage and veggies of your choice. Use a 1/4 c. measuring cup or ice cream scoop to evenly distribute among the 12 muffin cups.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until set.
The muffins will be beautifully puffed up when they come out of the oven, but they will fall. You didn’t do anything wrong. Unfortunately, they just do that.
The eggs muffins that are left after breakfast can be cooled and frozen in individual sandwich bags. To reheat, just cook for 30 seconds in the microwave on the defrost setting, then 30 seconds to 1 minute on high.
For you, the reader: How do you feed your kids on busy days? Do you have any ideas to add to my breakfast and lunch lists?