Thanks, Lynn. While I've been preparing tonight's chicken parmesan, I've been pondering the issue of how to manage time and getting out healthy meals. I WAS doing all of that and working up to a year ago and I forgot how difficult it was and how organized I needed to be.
So, while I smelled the delicious sauce simmering on the stove, I tried to remember my shortcuts.
I think the biggest thing I'd do, if I had a family member who didn't want to come home and help after we had both put in a day's work is microwave some leftovers or fix a cold veggie/fruit plate with some good homemade or bakery bread. Light the candles and have a family discussion.
To prepare for the meeting, I'd have the next week of dinners planned and printed out. (use the Healthy Family Dinner Menu Planner on SP) www.sparkpeople.com/myspark/family-dinner-
I'd choose 7 meals that can be done in a crock pot in big batches. My suggestions are below. Then after your dinner that took no prep, lay out the menu and ask if there is anything else the family would like to have? Once you've agreed on 7 menus, everyone gets up, takes care of dishes, and starts to help prepare Dinner # 2. Get it in the crock pot, turn it on low and leave it to cook all night. In the morning, everyone will want to have it then, but they can't until that night. Get the food into shallow containers so that it cools quickly and refrigerate before you leave for work.
That meal becomes your dinner for night 2. After dinner everyone helps package and freeze leftovers for lunches and future dinners. Then everyone helps get the next meal in the crockpot, set it to cook overnight, and just keep repeating for the week. By the time the week is over, you have several servings of 7 meals waiting in your freezer.
1. Family Meeting Dinner
• agree to meals for next week
• Prepare Dinner 1 in crockpot and clean up kitchen.
• No one watches TV, plays video games, etc. until the meal is in the crockpot and the dishes are in the dishwasher and the sink shines.
• Make it fun and it will get done. Expect everyone to help.
• Even kids who will magically be overloaded with homework once you start this can sit at the table with the grocery list and add to it anything that gets used up while everyone else preps.
• The next purchase the family makes is any items below you don't already own:
a. LARGE crock pot
b. freezer containers
c. vacuum meal sealer and bags
d. possibly a freezer
• I plan one day for Bits and Pieces, usually toward the end of the week. All containers come out of the refrigerator and set out on the counter like a salad bar. Everyone helps themselves to whatever they want, and microwaves their hot plate. Anything left that's over 4 days old gets trashed, or pureed in the food processor for soup base, then frozen till needed.
Meal Suggestions (chosen because of versatility in creating other options later, and the olfactory benefits while you sleep)
Crockpot Meal 1 fry 5 pounds of ground beef with onions and garlic. Use 21/2 pounds for spaghetti sauce, spaghetti first meal 2. lasagne 3. sauce for stuffed shells 4. sauce for tortellini
Crockpot Meal 2 pork or ham roast dinner with potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, and cabbage 2 au jus sandwiches, 3 pulled pork sandwiches, 4 pork and baked apple slices, 5 soup
Crockpot Meal 3 3 pounds chicken, boneless, skinless, cooked with carrots, onions and celery for flavor and aroma, serve with fresh or frozen veggies and fruit 2 chicken on green salad, 3 chicken salad sandwiches, 4 barbecue chicken with pineapple, 5 chicken pot pie with crust baked on cookie sheet and laid on top of serving, 6 soup, 7 stir fry, 8 wraps, 9 curry
Crockpot Meal 4 chili with kidney beans and chickpeas 2 taco salad, 3 baja lasagne
Crockpot Meal 5 Ground beef from #1 and make sloppy joe sauce for sloppy joes 2 Sloppy joe casserole with tater tots on top, 3 Barbecue bean soup
Crockpot night 6 Apple butter: 3 large jars of applesauce, 1/2 c. cinnamon, 1 c. splenda This is for spreading on toast, side with pork etc. . This is NOT a meal because everyone is going out for dinner tomorrow night.
Crockpot Meal 7 Dried chick peas: Do the quick soak and get into the crock pot WITIHOUT SALT. Use in salads, hummus, baked or dried for snacks
Crockpot Meal 8. TVP stew
Other things which can be prepped as family members need jobs:
Man the food processor to chop onion.
Roast veggies: carrots, onions, tomatoes for pizza, mushrooms,
Hard boil eggs and shell them.
Chop/ Cook veggies needed for the next night
Prep/chop fresh fruits and containerize for future meals
Prep breakfast needs.
Prep veggies for roasting, put in a ziploc bag with a small amount of olive oil, shake, place on cookie sheets and roast for at least an hour while you watch TV.
During the 2nd week, you can do some creative things with the frozen leftovers, or eat the same way you originally fixed them, and use that night after dinner to make the next set of meals.
Once you get really good at this, you'll be making casseroles or other types of meals besides slow-cooker menus. Some people do all this make-ahead prepping on Saturday, but then you are left out of family activities.
The other thing you will have to prepare for is grocery shopping with a list you prepare from your family dinner meals list for the week, and who is going to shop, and when.
Hope this helps someone.
| current weight: 168.0