Saturday, September 28, 2013

food prep - how we do it

Every once in awhile I throw out a "how we do it" snapshot into how we work different situations as a bigger than average homeschooling family. What works changes often, but here's a new little gem that has been keeping us floating recently.
{To see more How We Do It posts, click HERE!}
Food seems to be kind of a big deal around here... With kids home all day, there aren't any lunches to bag, but there are 3 square meals to think of, plus all the snacks that keep our crew going. Often I feel like our kitchen just has a revolving door - some kids are still making toast for breakfast as i'm trying to do food prep for lunch. Food prep is interspersed with little ones needing my help with school, and a hungry baby who wants his lunch early. We barely get the kitchen cleaned it seems, when I realize it's supper time and that I've used all my culinary creativity for the day and I should have started early because this kid is babysitting, has gymnastics, is going to work, etc...
I decided I needed a food prep day - and I needed some help from my bigs. The day that we decided would work best was Sunday afternoon. We made a list of things that it would be nice to do ahead of time. Some of the things we do are:

soups: broccoli, potato, autumn
doughs: bread, buns, pizza dough, pie crusts, cinnamon buns
ground beef: meatsauce, seasoned taco beef, meat buns (stuffed buns), lasagne, chili, meatloaf/meatballs, enchiladas
casseroles (I've got a few "often do" casseroles that everyone seems to like).
chicken pot pie
pre-cook chicken breasts so they're ready to use
cookies, muffins (or even just a large batch of muffin batter), apple crisp, nuts & bolts
pre-cut veggies or fruits
a big pot of quinoa - (it stays nice in the fridge & can be pulled out for a simple salad with lemon & olive oil, salt & pepper dressing & whatever veggies are on hand).

i'm sure we'll add to this little list over then next while as we figure out what works & what doesn't. It's not intended to replace all meal prep, but it does give me a leg up on the week to have devoted a few solid hours once a week to get a nice little chunk done ahead of time. We decide what we're going to do before the weekend so we can shop if we need to - and then on Sunday, we're ready to roll. We pick a few things - (this past Sunday, we made 2 large casserole sized chicken pot pies, plus a little extra crust to make pies in jars for a snack one day and we made huge batches of both potato and autumn soup. We were also going to make muffins, but we ran out of time and energy, so we cut it short). This week - when lunch came, I could pull the soup out of the fridge to warm on the stove and make some fresh biscuits to go with. Easy.
Now that I have so many nice little women in my house, we divide the work and it's actually so fun to work in the kitchen with my people - not worrying if someone should be doing math or getting some other must-do school-day subject done. This week, charter & mollen peeled veggies, Cai made the pie crusts, I made the chicken pot pie filling, Sloan kept the kitchen sparkling so we didn't have to stop and clean and we divided the work on the soups. Pey was out with a friend, but she's often my extra set of arms when Elmer would rather be held than put down.
It feels like it takes a lot of energy to keep this family rolling - and with daddy on the road more than he's home, I've made it my goal this year to plan ahead, to ask for help, to look for the areas that are driving me crazy and to make my best effort to find solutions.
This one has been a gooder!

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