Can you believe what's going on around the world? It sure has emphasized how little control we really have, no matter how together we think we are. Now is the time to take hold of those things we can control. For me, that means feeding the troops.
Not everyone feels super confident in this area so I am here to help. I have some tips to make your meal times a little easier. I am also sharing some of the simplest recipes that are sure to please even the pickiest eaters. Everything is adjustable according to your family size.
First rule of cooking ease is to cook in bulk. When I make meatloaf for my family, I triple the recipe and cook it in muffin pans. The extra meatloaf muffins can be frozen and easily thawed. Make a triple batch of Bisquick biscuits and freeze them. Now you have an easy and quick meal by just adding a simple salad or fruit.
Your crock pot is your friend. You can cook large amounts of meat in the crock pot then freeze portions in zip lock freezer bags. I make about 6 quarts of spaghetti sauce at a time which I then use for making lasagnas and pizzas. I freeze it in mason jars or zip lock bags. Grab a bag of sauce, some frozen meatballs, and some spaghetti. Spread butter on a loaf of French bread and sprinkle with garlic powder and warm it in the oven. Toss a salad and you have a complete meal.
Right now, all of this free time is your friend. Set aside a day to just cook and freeze meals. Involve your children by giving them age appropriate tasks. Have them select their favorite meals and let them be a part of it all. If they are old enough, have them make the shopping list and give them a budget to follow. They will be happy to be involved, unless they're not, but include them anyway! They will get math, reading, and science all from learning how to cook.
This was probably my favorite part of homeschooling. All of my children can follow a recipe. They can all make homemade bread and even know how to prepare a complete meal from soup to dessert. They all know how to budget and search for the best prices.
Enough bragging. Here are the promised recipes. If you are looking for something specific, please reach out to me.
Sausage and Rice serves 4
1 pound of sausage, ground or links
2 cups of rice
4 cups chicken broth/water, or mix both
½ cup each of onion & celery, finely diced (optional)
In a 4 quart pot or skillet, cook the ground sausage (or links cut into bite sizes). Stir in rice, liquid, and optional vegetables and heat to a rolling boil. Immediately reduce heat to low/simmering and place a lid on the pot. Set the timer for 17 minutes. When time is up turn off the heat, leave the lid on, and let it sit for another 5 minutes before serving.
Cheesy Bacon Chicken Casserole serves 8
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks
6 strips bacon
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cups shredded Monterrey jack cheese
1 lb dried pasta, spiral/shells/macaroni/penne
2 teaspoons garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste
Cook bacon in a skillet until very crisp. Crumble bacon and set aside.
In the same pan cook chicken chunks in bacon drippings. Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
While chicken is cooking, prepare pasta according to directions.
Spray a 9x13 inch oven safe baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Drain pasta and return to the pot. Stir in chicken, both cans of soup, and 1 cup of cheese. Mix well.
Pour into prepared baking dish. Top with crumbled bacon and remaining cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.
Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwiches
2-3 lb pork loin roast
1 bottle barbecue sauce of choice
Hamburger buns or pretzel rolls
Cheese slices-Monterrey jack/provolone/Swiss
In the morning, place pork loin into crock pot and pour barbecue sauce over the top. Set crock pot on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours, depending on how much time you have.
When completed, shred pork with a couple of forks.
Serve on buns with a slice of cheese and a side of coleslaw and/or fruit.