Every blog out there has recipes. And they all claim to be yummy. Sometimes they are. Sometimes not so much.
I am seeing on social media that people are tired of cooking at home. They want new ideas. Here's the deal. Cooking every meal at home is a challenge. Keeping things varied, and pleasing everyone is just a drag. I know. We had five kids. And living in the country made eating out not much of an option for us.
So how did I survive? I planned ahead. And learned some short cuts. And I learned to use leftovers in a way that made everyone love them!
My Top Five Survival Tips for feeding family at home:
A good place to start is by writing down your family's favorite meals. Maybe your family's favorite is to take out pizza. Hmm. Maybe that works for you. But not every meal! Maybe it is hot dogs or spaghetti. Okay, write it down. Whatever pops in your mind, write it down.
When you have your ideas down, and write them in on your calendar, then you can take a look at that calendar the night before. You can pull said food items out of the freezer, to the refrigerator to thaw, and cabinet items out to confirm you have what you need.
2. Shop in bulk
It takes just as much time to buy one item as it does two. I'm sure you have figured that out by now. And trips to the store can be cut in half. And sometimes you save money. Especially if you shop at Costco.
3. Invest in a freezer
Shopping in bulk requires a freezer. I don't know what we would do without a small freezer in our garage. I buy in bulk and we buy our meat from a local rancher that raises 100% grass-fed beef. We get a great price cut, we get fresh meat, and most of all we get the HUGE benefits of grass-fed beef. We also get our chicken from him, which is easy for me. I like that I can buy specific cuts like dark meat thighs with the bone in which makes for tastier dishes. Having a freezer lets me cook ahead and freeze. And again buy in bulk. How nice it is to walk out to the garage and pick out the meat for the next day.
4. Involve Your Family in every step: Meal planning, Shopping, Storing, Chopping, Measuring, Stirring, and Cleaning! Read on for a real-life example!
If you have soup stock cooking (I make a bone broth that I cook for days) you can put it on in the morning and throughout the day have a different child add at to it. Kind of like the European Folk tale, Stone Soup. (see link below). If your family takes part in the meal, it makes all the difference in the world. Someone can add onion, someone else adds some potatoes, and someone else some carrots, etc. The list is endless. just look in your refrigerator: cabbage, celery, and of course, that little bit of leftover broccoli you can add at the end. Add any chicken or other protein you have leftover. If you don't have any leftovers, then add a can of beans. (Add canned beans early on, because they tend to be very hard, especially garbanzo beans). Also, a can of tomatoes, tomato sauce, or spaghetti sauce makes a nice addition to the soup. Fresh parsley can be added. (This is a tip ... plant a few fresh herbs out your back door and you will have fresh herbs year-round. It can be a science project for the kids.) Lastly, show someone how to season the soup. Then 45 minutes before dinner have a child help you make some cornbread. I make cornbread from scratch in one bowl in no time. I will tell you how. When dinner is cooking and everyone smells the delicious smells and everyone has a part in it, it is a WIN! Be sure and check the link at the bottom and have your child watch the video reading of Stone Soup. It's great!
5. Keep it Simple!
No one needs large complicated meals. Learn to make one-dish meals that include your protein, vegetables, and maybe grain all in one pot. Maybe you like a crockpot. I tend to cook my meals on the stovetop (soup) or in the oven at a very low temperature in a heavy cast-iron skillet. See number 4. Need I say more here?
Your child can watch this video while the soup is cooking. This sweet story will, along with the delicious aromas coming from your kitchen, make a soup eater out of anyone!
Stone Soup read aloud video for your child: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VQMVaD_LyQ