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Thursday, March 4, 2010

3 ways to have real food on a busy night

Real Food is obviously important to me, but for any of us, life can get in the way of our dinner plans. I have 4 young kids, ages 6, 5, 2, and 5 months. And making dinner time seems to be the time when all you-know-what breaks loose.

This dinner last night took about 20 minutes total, and 5 minutes of hands-on prep time.

Here are some of my tricks for "quick" meals. These are all things you can do ahead of time and use in a pinch.

Double it. When something is labor intensive or takes a while to make, make more! Then you have some stored in your freezer for those times you don't have time to make it. Some things I double and freeze:
Homemade cream of chicken soup
Chinese dumplings

Can. I'm a big fan of canning because it's so nice to have convenience food that you can just pull out of your pantry and not have to defrost. Just pop open a can and you're good to go. The only special equipment you need is a pressure canner, or a water bath canner for fruits. I bought a Presto brand 23 quart for $79 on amazon. Things I can and store:
Beans (garbanzo, pinto, black, kidney)
Enchilada sauce
And soon I plan to do:
Barbeque sauce

Do some of the prep ahead of time. When you are chopping an onion or another vegetable, do you cover it and store it in the fridge? That's what I used to do until I read Katie's idea on Kitchen Stewardship- she just chops the whole vegetable at once and freezes it in a baggie. I use this tip with onions all the time and it's been a great time saver to be able to grab pre-chopped onions and use them in my meals. I also am more likely to throw spinach in my omelets when it's washed, chopped and ready to use from my freezer.

Meal plan for the tamale meal shown above:
Steam tamales. (20 minutes)
Melt bacon grease in pan. Add pre-chopped onions to pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add can of black beans. Simmer on low.
Peel carrots.
Cut and smash avocado.
Dinner is done in 20 minutes, and for 15 of those minutes I can be holding the baby, helping with homework, or pulling the two year old off the baby... and my family still has a nutritious meal for dinner.

This post is part of Pennywise Platter Thursdays and Fight Back Fridays.

1 comment:

  1. Great tips! And you sure are busy with those little ones, aren't you?