The school bells are ringing again, signaling an end to the unstructured, lazy days of summer and the accompanying leisurely meals. While students resolve with earnest to make this the Best School Year Ever – I will get my homework done on time, I will work on my projects, I will find SOMETHING about math class to love – you, too, can resolve to crack the code on getting quality meals on the table on hectic school nights. You may not always be able to avoid drive-thrus and pizza parlors; burgers and fries after a late-night hockey practice have been known to satisfy a carload of hungry, tired kids. However, you primarily strive for satisfying home-cooked meals, but how do you accomplish that, what with all the extra demands on your time and energy that the school year brings?
These suggestions can help ensure your weeknight family meals are worry-free and delicious:
Prepare in advance: Stock your freezer with ground beef, chicken, vegetables, etc., and your pantry with dried beans, pasta, canned tomatoes, olives, seasonings, etc. Do this and with some quick thinking in the morning, you will be able to toss together a quick meal when you get home from work.
Choose recipes and shop deliberately: Often we stop at the store on our way home from work and pick up “whatever looks good.” This is costly! Instead, take some time, scan your cookbooks and choose recipes that can: be stretched into more than one meal, can be made in less than an hour, have a short ingredient list, can be assembled the night before, etc. Write down the necessary ingredients and head to the store.
Cook Once-Eat Twice: If you make a big pot of red beans and rice over the weekend, make enough to last into the week. Reheat, add shredded chicken or diced sausage, and you have another supper with minimal time and expense.
Work A Little Now or Work More Later: Read through your recipe the night before and find ways to save time: chop vegetables and store in the fridge, or blend seasoning mixes and keep on the counter top.
Prior planning prevents you standing at the open freezer door at 5pm wondering what’s for supper? Here are some top-rated recipes plus time-saving tips. Pair any of these entrees with a green salad, grains or vegetable dish, and you have a delicious family meal.
Peanut Chicken Scaloppine – The night before: flatten the chicken breasts and refrigerate; chop peanuts, mix with panko, salt and pepper and store on countertop.
Smoky Chicken Barbecue Kabobs – The night before: cube chicken and refrigerate; prepare Smoky Barbecue Rub and White Barbecue Sauce.
Tyler’s Country-Fried Steak with Uncle Ellis’ Cornmeal Gravy – The night before: crush crackers, mix with flour and marjoram, store on countertop.
Taco Soup – The night before: It simply can’t get any easier!
How do you make back-to-school meals easier?
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