Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tips for saving time and energy at mealtime

Is meal preparation low on your priority list?  Sometimes I get so busy that I get into bad habits with my cooking.  I love knowing that I’ m doing my best to prepare healthy (compared to fast food) dinners for my family even when it seems like there isn’t ever time to create the delicacies I’d like.   
 I thought I’d offer a few of my favorite tips regarding mealtimes.

Tip 1 - On my monthly shopping trips, I buy lots of my food in bulk. When I get home, I fry up most of the hamburger, let it cool, then fill up quart size freezer bags with the meat. When it comes time to throw a tator tot casserole together, it is as simple as throwing everything in a bowl, mixing it up and throwing it in the oven. 

Tip 2 - I purchase tons of onions and peppers, then spend an hour or so chopping and placing them in freezer bags. I chop some, slice some, julienne some, depending on what I know I may need for any particular meal that month.  This means I only have onion or pepper-smelly hands once a month and when I want to throw some onion or peppers in my dinner, I just open the frozen bag and throw my desired amount in the dish I am preparing, close up the bag and put back in the freezer. Whoever thought of that idea was a genius, I wish I could take credit for it.

Tip 3 - Stealing the idea from the genius people at Smuckers, we make our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and freeze them. We usually use 4-5 loaves of bread, lay them all out on the counter spreading half of the slices with peanut butter and half of them with our favorite jam. We put the slices together and place into a sandwich bag. They are then stored in the freezer in a box with the lid cut off.  Now, when one of the kids mentions they want to take their lunch to school, they grab a brown baggie, a frozen sandwich, a piece of fruit, and a frozen juice drink and they are out the door in minutes. 

What are your favorite mealtime tips?

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