Give me just a little more time…

hourglass3So you know me. I am a WOHM. I carpool with DH and 2 children for a 45-50 minute commute each way to the office. What you may not know is that I am a big time planner like fellow blogger, Melissa. I feel better knowing that I have a plan to accomplish what I want in all aspects of my life. So much so, I sometimes drive my laid back husband a little nuts.

My biggest want right now is to spend as much time with my children as I can to enjoy every giggle, snuggle and occasional tear that happens outside the 8 hours of daycare, 5 days a week. My time is as limited as a lot of other parents out there, but I have found some ways to make my week nights a little less harried, and dare I say, maybe even a little more relaxing. I do this (like other moms) by cooking ahead on the weekends.

I love to cook, so spending some extra time in my kitchen isn’t so hard to do, but I do try and maximize the time spent (and oven space) on the weekend. I make healthy dinner options that are fast and convenient to reheat during the week. I also try and have Baby help me prepare the food where she is able. It actually improves her interest for new foods if she has a hand in making them. Some of my favorite time savers are below.

- Bake brown rice in large batches. Baking turns out the rice perfect every time so it’s pretty much, no fuss and then store in quart size freezer bags for an easy defrost/reheat in the microwave.
- Buy meat in bulk at the local price club, but take it a step further- brown batches of ground beef and freeze. A quick grab, thaw and add to spaghetti sauce or add seasoning for tacos.
- Cook 2 beef roasts at once, let cool, and then freeze individually. Remove from freezer day before using, slice and re-warm.
- Make a huge batch of Shake n Bake pork chops and freeze in dinner portions.
- Buy rotisserie chickens and boneless turkey breasts at the local price club. Remove all the meat from the chickens after purchase. Much easier to do warm than cold. The meat is then ready to reheat during the week.  The turkey breasts are perfect for freezing and thawed later for a fast Thanksgiving-like comfort meal.
- Prepare your own healthier frozen meal lunches. DH and I can grab from the freezer and add to the lunch bag without having to think. Just layer brown rice, steamed veggies and diced rotisserie turkey breast in lunch portions and freeze.
- Make a homemade/healthier version of Hamburger Helper, divide and freeze. I have great Italian and Chili versions if anyone is interested.

My favorite containers for freezing lunches are the Rubbermaid Premiere. :)   They stack great and have proven durable after one happens to drop to the ground.

baby-cooking-22

I currently have focused on time savers for lunch and dinner. I am lucky to have the extra freezer space for storage. My next step is to gather some ideas for a healthier and on-the-go breakfast time in the car. Do you have any favorite make ahead meals you would like to share? There is always room for improvement in any plan.

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8 Responses to “Give me just a little more time…”

  1. Edna April 7, 2009 at 9:45 am #

    Gotta say I love the make ahead meals. I find that I need these types of meals even more now that the kids are older. My guys love the rotiserie chicken for salads, tacos and fajitas. I like making sure everyone can have a decent lunch or dinner without too much fuss, whether they are heading off to work or coming home from college at 8 PM. It kills me if they spend the money they make on fast food…hello I spend a fortune weekly to keep a full frige and freezer and they are finally getting it when I pointed out the amount of money they COULD be putting in their bank accounts. They get it now !

    I also have been doing some prep cooking on the weekend. For the first time ever I made a meatloaf and froze before cooking. Took it out in the morning and had DH put in the oven before I got home. Instant mashed, 2 veggies and VIOLA dinner was served! I like to cut up my raw chicken and put the seasoning, dressing or marinade in the ziploc bag before freezing. This way the meat marinades during the thaw. I also brown my ground beef and turkey, then split into ziploc bags. Then season according to the recipe.

    I don’t freeze as much as I should. Hmmm maybe I need to find someone who could hook me up with a set or two of the “RUBBERMAID PREMIERE”! LOL :-)

  2. Tina April 7, 2009 at 8:23 pm #

    Great ideas. Think I’ll try some of your do aheads. I use the Rubbermaid Premieres for all of our lunches, they do hold up well in freezer, frig, and lunch bag.

  3. Melissa April 15, 2009 at 12:29 pm #

    Karen,
    Thanks for the make-ahead meal tips. I’m expecting baby #2 in the next week or two and I have been racking my brain trying to think of some meals to freeze and use later. I am interested in your homemade/healthier version of Hamburger Helper, specifically the Italian version. Do you mind posting this? Thank you!

  4. Karen Hartzell, Graco April 16, 2009 at 9:28 am #

    I think it’s great to share ideas on how we can all save time. Less time in the kitchen means more time for fun.

    I also do the freezing chicken in the marinade and make ahead meatloaf, however I cook my meatloaf before freezing. Saves yet another step when it’s used for a dinner later. :-)

  5. Ike Pacetti January 15, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    I wanted to thank you for this great write up. I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked and will be checking back.

  6. phillips January 25, 2010 at 2:25 pm #

    try the gaba rice

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