Homeschooling and a Home-Cooked Meal: Mission Impossible or Manageable Feat?
Image: HappyWorker/Creative Commons
My mom had five kids and two jobs, and she still managed to cook homemade meals almost every night -- she's my hero. It was always a priority for her to set out meals that were not only delicious, but nutritious as well. Now with two kids of my own, my desire to cook meals that are organic, healthy, and wholesome has become sort of an obsession. Entering my first "official" year of homeschooling I was determined to come up with a way to organize my cooking, so that I could reach to my fridge and whip up a meal, before reaching for the phone to order take-out. Here's how I did it -- and how you can, too.
1. Assess your menu. Start by sitting down with a stack of index cards and writing down the different meals you like to make. My meals ranged from chicken quesadillas with guacamole to salmon with edemame. These are foods I normally cook, but when written on individual cards, I was able to see that I already had 30 different meals in my usual rotation.
If you don't have that many meals, don't stress. There are lots of quick, easy recipies you can incorporate into your meal plan without much fuss. But you can also ask friends and family members to share their best recipes and build up your total number of meals to pull from that way.
2. Plan week-by-week. On Sunday morning I pull out my stack of index cards and choose six meals that I will make for the week. I don't assign meals to a particular night unless I have something perishable that needs to be used up first. Now that I know what I am making, I look to my refrigerator and pantry to see what ingredients I still need. With my list in hand, I make one trip to the supermarket. Eliminating the need for multiple trips to the supermarkets saved me so much time and grief!
3. Involve your kids. Having my kids learn how to chop, stir, measure, and dice are all part of our homeschool Home Economics class, and they just love when I include them in meal preparations. I make sure that this is a special time, not when everyone is hungry and dinner needs to be on the table in thirty minutes. Carving out one afternoon during the week and reserving it for a cooking class will help your kids learn valuable kitchen skills and prepare them to be self sufficient adults.
4. Have a back-up plan. When you're having a crazy day and the thought of pulling out the pots and pans makes you feel overwhelmed, it's time to lean on your back-up plan. To do this, you'll need to plan ahead by doubling a recipe every week and freezing the extras. Then on a busy day you can pull out that meal and have homemade food ready in a flash. I also love to keep a few frozen pizzas on hand as a back-up to my back-up plan.
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