As we spring morphs into summer, one of the things that seems to disappear is time. Kids’ track meets, sports practices, and ballgames become more frequent and family dinner time seems impossible. We all know that a drive-thru dinner is not good for our health or our wallet. At AnswerLine, we looked at the subscription meal services as an option and we know that various grocery stores are offering help making freezer meals. The trick is to find something that works well for your family and the time you have available.
One summer the parents of my daughters softball teammates banded together to make pot luck dinners. She had a game nearly every weeknight and Saturday. The JV team had to be there by 5:30 pm. which didn’t leave much time to get the family fed and our daughter ready and to the ball diamond. Our solution was to take meals to the ball diamond that parents and siblings of the players could enjoy before the games. Parents took turns providing the main dish and side dishes. It wasn’t too hard to make one dish or to pack the portable gas grill on game days. Everyone enjoyed the meals because when you only need to prepare one dish it is easier to make something special. But even a simple picnic can be packed when the timing of a game or practice makes meals at home impossible. Enjoying a meal together, even just sandwiches and fruit, after a game or practice can make it seem special.
Another possibility would be to make a list of the quick and easy meals that your family enjoys. Some families love the breakfast at dinner time meals. It doesn’t take long to scramble some eggs or make omelets. Add some fruit, vegetables, or toast and you can have a balanced meal ready in a flash. If you make a list of the simple meals you enjoy, you are able to shop so that the ingredients you need to have on hand will be there when you need them.
You can also take advantage of some quick tips to make preparing those meals faster. Consider chopping and freezing some onions in advance. The thawed onions will be soft and really best used in cooked dishes, but if you chop and freeze them in thin layers in a freezer bag, they will be easy to measure and use when cooking in a hurry. You can also double the amount you make on a night when time isn’t a factor and freeze the extra. Defrost in the refrigerator during the work day and enjoy on a busy night.
Don’t forget the slow cooker during the spring or summer either. Sometimes we think it is only for making some great soup or stew on those cold winter days. The crock pot can make your dinner while you and the family are out for the day and it can keep the house cooler when used instead of the stove. Our friends at Spend Smart. Eat Smart. have some great recipes. Check out their entire website for some great information. They even have an app for your smart phone to make grocery shopping easier.
Just a little bit of planning in advance can keep your family and your wallet healthier. Enjoy!