Since 5:30am I have been running about like a mad woman. Finally, at around two in the afternoon I sit down with a cuppa to enjoy a well deserved break when suddenly my moment of peace is shattered: ‘God what am I going to do for dinner?’
Simple preparation can take a lot of stress out of meal time.
To cope with my family’s busy schedule, one day a week is specifically allocated to meal preparation. By doing this I’m able to have my meals planned and mostly prepared for the up-coming week. The preparation consists of cooking easy things like pasta and rice which I then portion and freeze once cooled. Also the vegetables (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, bean and corn) are chopped, portioned and stored in zip-locked bags in the crisper draw. These two tasks don’t require a great deal of work but are a real-time saver during the busy night-time shuffle.
Weekends are more flexible but weeknights are routine to accommodate school, work and after school activities.
Without question there are some things which do taste better freshly cooked but on weeknights I tend to focus on the functional meals that can be prepared in advances and stored in the freezer. Below are some of the things I find easy to prepare in bulk and are adaptable to cater towards different tastes.
There are loads of good sites offering countless recipes for you to explore.
A classic!! Probably one of my favourites as it can be made in bulk and then divided into two parts. One half is spiced up for the grown-ups in the house and the second half is plainer and more vegetable based for the kids.
Like the shepherd’s pie, these can be adapted to suit both adult and children. Chicken, beef and lamb burgers are popular in my house. These I like to cook once they have set. Once cooled I wrap, date and store them in the freezer. After dance or swimming lessons, it is easy to microwave them and serve them with oven chips and steamed vegetables.
Lasagna and Pasta
Lasagna and spaghetti Bolognese are also two classics that can be cooked and stored in the freezer. There are so many awesome pasta based recipes on taste.com.au which can be adapted to suit your family’s dietary requirements.
Pasta, tuna, vegetables, potato, beans…….. The variations are endless! If you make a huge oven bake, this can stretch over a couple of weeks. There are no strict rules to making a bake and sometimes the best ones are when you get creative and improvise with what is available in the pantry.
It’s great to jazz up your meatballs by blending different cuts together. My kids love pork and beef meatballs with or without sauce. These can be served in various ways for example, with pasta, sauce, gravy and mash. Even a meatball toastie, pizza or sub can be whipped up quickly on those busy weeknights. So many different recipes and ways to eat the versatile meatball.
Pies and Sausage Rolls
I’ve got nothing against the frozen variety and we do have a supply of each in our freezer. However, with a couple of sheets of puff pastry you can customise your family’s pies and sausage rolls. I tend to integrate a lot of vegetables into mine and add herbs to jazz up the adult portions. Easy to freeze and reheat.
Stews, Casseroles and Soups
There are a boat load of recipes available for cooking stews, casseroles and soups that are easy to make in bulk. These can supply your family with loads of meals or can be implemented into other recipes. In winter these are super as they are comforting and packed full of nutrients. At the end of a busy day you can pull it out of the freezer, heat it up and serve with some crusty bread. Easy and satisfying.
My kids aren’t curry fans but us adults in the house love them. A chicken and vegetable curry never lasts long in our freezer.
Chicken Tenders or Nuggets
I do use the frozen variety at home but if I have time I do make my own. Coating your chicken pieces with egg and crushed corn flakes can transform your chicken into awesome crunchy morsels. To jazz it up for adults add mustard, garlic and paprika to the chicken coating. However, it loses it’s crunch when reheated in the microwave. Very tasty. Thanks Nigella!
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