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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Meal Time Hacks for the Homeschool Mom

mom cooking with kids around her

Written by Krista Smith.

One of my dearest friends is expecting her fifth baby sometime in the new year. She is one of the women for whom pregnancy is an uphill battle from start to finish—which is why she reached out for some advice on how to make cooking for her growing family more manageable when all she feels like doing is curling up on the couch with a bucket in front of her face.

So, I sat down and thought of as many of the time-saving tips as I could and I hope you’ll benefit from them too!

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Meal Time Hacks for the Homeschool Mom #mealplan #homeschoolmom #homeschoollife #mealtime

Meal Plan


This might not be revolutionary but planning out a flexible schedule for an entire month of meals has been invaluable around here. It helps me buy only what I will need for that week’s batch of meals when I shop on the weekend, and it limits waste as I know exactly which items I really need and which I can pass on. However, just because I have a whole month written out doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. I often shuffle meals around throughout the week depending on what I have time for or sounds good to my kids and me. And because I have planned ahead and have all the ingredients necessary for any of the meals that week, it’s easy to be flexible.

For a flexible meal planner that won't boss you around, grab the printable Weekly Meal Planner.  

weekly meal plan

Meat, Meat, Meat, and More Meat


One of my least favorite substances to touch…

…or cook

…or smell cooking

…is meat. So, in order to have to deal with the sights and smells of it less often, I have opted to batch-cook certain meaty menu items.

Ground Beef


This one has saved me a ton of time and effort. When I know I have several meals on my schedule that call for ground beef, I cook the meat all at once.

To batch cook ground beef: take between 5-7 lbs. of raw ground beef and brown it all together. Leave the meat in the pans until it is sufficiently cooled, then weigh and put them into baggies. If you don’t have a kitchen scale to measure out an exact amount of meat into each baggy, just eyeball it. Freeze flat and store in the freezer for up to 3 months for easy ground beef meals ready in 10 minutes thanks to your prep work!

Bacon


Who likes the smell of bacon? Me too. Who likes that whenever you cook bacon your drapes and bedsheets and couch pillows ALSO smell like bacon? Yeah, me neither. Enter batch-baking bacon. Because I buy bacon in bulk, I usually have 4 packages of it to cook at one time.

To batch cook bacon: line four pans with sidewalls (to catch the excess grease) with tinfoil and then line them with bacon. Cook at 400 F for 10-15 minutes, and then set a timer for 3 minutes repeatedly until they are done to your liking. Bacon goes from perfectly crispy to charcoal in a hot minute so watch them like a hawk toward the end. Drain them on a paper towel and pour off or save the grease for cooking. Once cool, freeze them in a large gallon baggy and take out individual slices as needed for easy bacon on the go! And if that weren’t blessing enough, if you have your oven hood on full blast, the bacon smell wafting into the rest of the house is kept to a very pleasant minimum.

roasted chicken

Roast Chicken


At my local big box store, I can get packages of two whole chickens. Though my family only eats one chicken typically, I cook 2-4 whole chickens at once. This affords me lots of chicken to use for easy meals throughout the coming weeks after the carcasses have been picked and the meat stored in freezer baggies. And it also allows me to make and freeze delicious bone broth in the slow cooker every week too! That’s a win-win in my book!

Double When You Can


If you are making a meal that is easy to double or triple, do yourself the favor of making more and freezing them in disposable tins. I’m not actually a huge fan of meal prepping (as in, spending your whole weekend cooking food for the next week), but if I’m already making a mess of my kitchen cooking one dinner, why not double the ingredients and bless myself with an easy meal later in the month.

I can’t tell you the number of times something has gone sideways in our day and has left me staring dumbly at the clock saying, “How is it 4:45?!?! I have nothing ready for dinner!” But, oh, how sweet the days when by the grace of God, I can whip a ready-made meal out of the freezer and into the oven for half an hour. Victory!

Resources for batch cooking

Prep Tomorrow Today

Prep Tomorrow Today


The last thing I mentioned to my friend is the habit I’ve developed of prepping the next night’s meal just after dinner. I don’t know why but every afternoon my mind starts to mutiny about food. Just when I really should be getting dinner prepped, I start to daydream about how maybe we won’t have to eat at all in heaven. Maybe food will be optional. Or at least cooking. And really, didn’t Jesus say we should fast.

But then my kids begin to mutiny.

At some point, I snap out of it and finally drag myself into the kitchen for the final round of food prep for the day. But the funniest thing happens after dinner: I catch a second wind and use that extra stint of energy to get some things ready for myself for the next day. For instance, as I’m cleaning up dinner for the night I might line a pan with tinfoil, flop a salmon fillet on it, baste it with butter, cover it and stick it back in the fridge. The next day, all I have to do is pop it in the oven and whip up the sides. You can do the same with those roast chickens I mentioned earlier and voila! You’ve eased the mid-afternoon cooking doldrums.

I hope these ideas will give you some much-needed extra time each week like they have for me and my mama friend. And as an added bonus, I'm guessing your sheets and drapes won't subliminally remind your kids of pancakes and bacon all the time anymore either.

___________________________________________


Krista Smith is blessed to be the mother of three beautiful children and is privileged to homeschool them using an eclectic variety of methods. She has a deep and abiding love for tan-colored coffee, spending time with her family, and seeing children find their forever homes through adoption. But above all of these things, Krista is, first and foremost, a lover and follower of Jesus Christ. So, may the Lord and His Gospel get every ounce of honor, glory, and credit for anything she writes, says, or does.


1 comment:

  1. Great ideas! Love the idea of monthly meal plan! I get tired of weekly meal planning! Monthly would give me a break.

    Also I saw an old post from Kristian Smith it was about the messy morning routine. She mentioned her daughters food changes helped tremendously. I would love to get in contact with her. We have food intolerances also. However one we haven’t figured out. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete