Meal managment for the harried parent

Today’s single working mom has hardly any time for themselves and many of those mommies whom are part of a two parent family are lucky they can breath as well through all the daily activities a family of say four can go through.

To save time I am going to teach ladies (and some lucky daddy’s to) how to make many meals manageable for their hectic days of working/chasing kids and doing the whole house work thing LOL.

1st thing I HAVE to stress… COUPONS!!! SALES!!! PLEASE for the love of god, plan your shopping trips around sales YES even if it means going 7 more blocks to another store for that one item you’re going to save a dollar on… it WILL be worth it. Every cent saved it money in your pocket for later. If you’re a large family with more than 2 children invest in the wholesalers membership (such as Costco) buying in bulk is a sure fire way to save money. Coupons as well! I’m not joking, I’ve done it several times myself and taken about $230 worth of my groceries and managed to pay only $87.00 for the whole lot JUST because I used coupons on nearly everything I picked up.

Coupon resources start here usually: http://coupons.smartcanucks.ca/ USE it! It’s worth it, and join as many coupon groups as you can. If you can get freebies… GRAB them! My daughters daycare worker has a family member who works for highlighter… I get several free packs of fish sticks once a month because of him LOL πŸ™‚

Here are some sources for free Canadian based coupon spots. Sign up and utilize them as MUCH as possible!

http://www.save.ca
http://www.brandsaver.ca
http://www.websaver.ca
http://www.groceryalerts.ca
http://coupons.smartcanucks.ca/
http://www.entertainment.com
http://www.gocoupons.ca
http://www.lifemadedelicious.ca
http://www.rightathome.ca

and my ALL time fav http://www.flyerland.ca because this one works in conjunction with save.ca and some of the ones on there are not listed in save.ca BUT will show you which areas based on your postal code have sales on πŸ™‚ makes shopping MUCH easier!

Ok so now we have those listed another thing I will suggest for all the ladies (parents) who live in Halifax/Dartmouth (NOW known as the Greater HRM) PLEASE take advantage of Gateway meat market. This place is a god send to those trying to save money. Meat is the 2nd most expensive thing you will buy besides diapers if you have infants in a run of a month. Gateway Meat Market is located at 667 Main St, Dartmouth NS. They are opened daily from 8:30 am till 8 pm their number is (902) 434-8808.
This company has VERY cheap meats here. If you can get here use them as often as possible.

OK now that ALL of that has been pointed out you now need TWO more things. A crock pot (Slow cooker) and 1 day a week (or once every two weeks) to dedicate to pre work on preparing your meals. If you can’t do it weekly then try ever two weeks. If possible get a group of ladies together and rotate in homes to get things done. Everyone helps, everyone cleans up and everyone gets a piece of the “pie” so to speak. Where I live I get people to pitch in recipe items (I prefer to cook alone) so 80% of the stuff I cook with is donated to me to help others. So each person who donates something gets part of what I make. I do ALL the cooking and cleaning. πŸ™‚ *I also get most of my meals for nothing because of all the prep I do* I cook for UP TO 5 others in my own building πŸ™‚

You will also need to decide on what kinds of meals you want… if you don’t know try planning a menu, this way you will KNOW what you have to buy in order to make it.

Here is a basic menu I use and rotate through every month so I’m not always cooking the same things on the same days EVERY month.

Mon – Beef item
Tues – Fish Item
Wed – Pork Item
Thurs – Chicken item
Fri – Veggie night
Sat – Sweet and simple night (Examples like Mac and cheese)
Sun – Left over night.

So if you take this concept (scrambled each week) and make a menu with it you can have this
PS you can use http://allrecipes.com to help you find recipes you can use for meal prep, it’s all up to you and what your tastes are.
Week 1 = (W1) Week 2 = (W2)

Sun (W1) Left overs *if none meat loaf, potatoes and veggies* (W2) Lasagna

Mon (W1) Roast beef dinner made in slow cooker with veggies (W2)Pan seared Tilapia with stir fried veggies.

Tues (W1) Lemon & Dill Haddock with Rice and broccoli (W2)Mushroom pork chops with wild rice and veggies.

Wed (W1) Pulled pork sliders (W2)Stuffed chicken with herb and garlic potatoes and corn

Thurs (W1) Cherry chicken and rice (W2)Sweet potato fries
with ranch dip & Side salad of your choice.

Fri (W1) Teriyaki stir fry Vegan style. (W2)Spaghetti and meat balls

Sat (W1) Mac and Cheese (W2)Beef stroganoff

This is a “Basic” menu idea for people to use. MANY of the meals listed here are Pre-made and easy to just haul out and cook in a slow cooker, or they take as little as 30 mins to prepare and cook after thawed. πŸ™‚ It’s all on how much time you want to be in the kitchen when you’ve had a long day at work and how much prep you put into what you’re making each night.
For about $120 you SHOULD be able to make about 40 meals (suppers only) for a family of 4 unless your kids are older (over 10) and or your spouse or yourself are hearty eaters. This is based on the Canadian food guide.

Cherry Chicken, sweet (literally) and simple!


Cherry chicken
3-4 boneless skinless pieces of chicken cut up into chunks.
Par boiled or Minute rice (This means rice that’s been “Semi” cooked OR you can use Minute rice and NOT cook it.)
dried cherries (about 1 – 1 1/2 cups.
1 Large sweet onion cut up into small pieces.
Salt and pepper.
Put ALL of this into a large freezer bag… mix it together… and freeze…(Yes if you’re using minute rice you’re right it’s NOT cooked…leave it this way till you cook it!)

Cooking time: place all into a slow cooker (frozen) with 1 cup of COLD water, cook on high for 4 hours…
This meal should turn a slight pink color. Very good, slight sweet taste and the chicken will melt in your mouth!

Pulled pork sliders
1 shoulder or blade pork roast cut into chunks.
1/2 bottle of your choice of BBQ sauce.
1 pack of mushrooms (Optional) sliced
1 large spanish onion (cut into strips)
1 pack of onion soup mix.
1/3 cup water.

Mix ALL items together and place into large freezer bag and freeze. On cooking day, place ALL of it into a slow cooker on high for 4 hours. once cooked use two forks and PULL the pork chunks apart to shred it. Place the gravy and shredded pork onto hamburger buns πŸ™‚ enjoy. *Spicy and tart but Oh so good! if your family doesn’t ask for more… I’d be very surprised!*

Meatloaf
Prepped in advanced (mini meat loafs)
1-5 pounds of ground hamburger
1 pack of cheese Ritz crackers.
2-4 eggs (depending on the amount of hamburger used)
if possible fresh oregano and basil
Italian seasoning and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.
Mix all this together and put into individual loafs…
COOK all the loafs. FREEZE these once cooled.

NOTE: I have a MINI loaf pan for making mini breads. (I use mine for banana bread a LOT) but this works GREAT for individual servings of meat loaf. SO if you decided on say scalloped potatoes one night and want this you can freeze them separate and use them as needed if you wish. All you need to do is thaw them half way and nuke them 8-12 mins, they take about 30 mins to thaw at room temp.

The dollar store is an awesome place to get aluminum pans (loaf or cake pans) these can be used for Lasagna you pre make for those I want something quick nights.
make your lasagna as you wish in one of the pans and freeze it as is… when you want to cook it take it out and cook from frozen at about 375 for about 40-60 mins …check it often some ovens run hotter than others.

Lasagna (prep)
noodles either no cook or cooked choice is yours.
1 pound lean ground beef
2/3 (28 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce of your choice
ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup dried basil (Fresh is best so use it if you can)
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 (8 ounce) package sliced pepperoni sausage
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions
1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2.IF you’re using noodles you must cook then bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. If NOT then use the noodles dry out of the pack and just break to fit.
3.In large skillet over medium-high heat, cook beef until brown; drain. In small saucepan, heat spaghetti sauce.
4.In a medium bowl, stir together ricotta, Romano, egg, basil and garlic. You can add other items to your sauce if you wish or layer it as you go along with your meal. Some alternatives/ideas are spinach, broccoli, sour cream, onions and mushrooms.
5.Coat the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish with a thin layer of spaghetti sauce. Place 3 or 4 noodles, overlapping edges, over sauce. Spread half of ricotta mixture and your alternatives if you chose to use them over noodles. Cover ricotta with half of browned beef, half of pepperoni slices, and 1/4 of mozzarella cheese. Repeat sauce, noodle, ricotta, meat and cheese layers. Layer sauce and noodles again, and pour remaining sauce over all, being sure to cover the edges. Top with remaining mozzarella.
6.Cover pan with foil and pierce foil 3 or 4 times with fork to ventilate. Bake 45 minutes, remove foil, and bake 15 minutes more to brown the top. Let this meal cool completely and freeze.

When you want this as your meal on cooking night, just cook from frozen or you can thaw it and nuke it!
Beef stroganoff (This is prep!)
1 pack of stew beef cut up into SMALLER bite sized pieces!
in a separate bowl mix,
1 cup flour
1 Tablespoon Chili powder
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning.
1 Teaspoon Oregano
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Celery Seed
DREDGE the meat in this mix of spices and flour.
place this now coated meat into a separate bowl (TOSS the remainder of the flour and spices)
in another bowl mix 2 cans of mushroom soup
1 WHOLE pack of mushrooms sliced.
1 LARGE sweet onion cut into strips
1 pack of Onion soup mix (DRY)
once this stuff is ALL mixed up pour it all over the coated meat in the other bowl.
Mix this all together well… place in Bag and freeze.

When cooking – place whole item frozen into slow cooker and cook on high for 4-6 hours.
when meal is done cooking you can choose to mix in either 1 container of sour cream OR 1 full block of softened cream cheese. Serve this over a bead of broad egg noodles or rice.

BASIC; “I’ll add what I feel like it” freezer meals can be done very simply. ANY meat product (uncooked is best to preserve nutritional values) and nearly ANY veggies all tossed into a bag and frozen together. You can then just simply add a sauce, gravy or even just spices to “jazz” it all up and add it to another item like potatoes or rice πŸ™‚ as a side dish. I like the simple pack of frozen veggies you can get at most grocery stores. (We pay about a buck for a good sized pack of Arctic Garden frozen veggies when they are on sale.) There’s a verity of different mixes which makes it easier if you’re looking for more variety in a quick off the shelf way, otherwise mixing your own store bought items is just as good. (Just a bit more work)

Some of the “prep” sauces I make and freeze (I usually add a frozen one right in the bag so it’s there when I open it) go great with the meals I make. One of my favorite sauces is my Tuscan cheese sauce.

A simple Cheese based sauce with spices added can help flavor almost any pre made freezer meal.


1 cup of milk,
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and
1/4th cup of creamed cheese,
heat on low then add the club house Tuscan chicken spice pack.

pour into individual containers (Or an ice cube tray) and freeze, pop out and place in the bags with which ever meal you want to.
PS: You can substitute ANY of the club house spice packs with this sauce as it is a BASE. So it goes well with nearly anything (except stuff with lemon…for those who don’t know… then it just curdles)

I hope this helps with some of your meal planning. If you can PLEASE vote and rate this article if it has helped you in any way or if you found it informative. Pass on the link in Facebook or Twitter as well. πŸ™‚
Keep tuned for other slow cooker/crock pot meals IF you as a reader have one PLEASE submit it I will give you credit for it and if you can an image to go with it would be fantastic!

thanks again all
Jaide!

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About Jaidemoon

Sylvia lives in Halifax NS in a well known neighbourhood called Spryfield Sylvia is also known in many writing circles as Lila Mosher. (her chosen pen name) She is in the process of getting her 1st book published, from a series called Steppin' Out that she's been working on for a few years (So far she's completed 4 books and the 5th one is almost done.) She's accomplished getting poetry published in the past but the most recent accomplishment was getting an article published in the Nova Scotia Advocate. (Something she's wanted to do for years) Sylvia has 2 children at home and is a altruistic lady who is forever trying to assist those in her community, she volunteers for the local food bank in her area and helps rescue cats though a rescue group she runs with her aunt called "Halicats". She firmly believes that kindness is a commodity and should be given freely. "I once was told as a teen... 'When storm clouds come rolling in, try to be someones rainbow.' I still try to do this on a daily basis." S. White. Sylvia Or Jaide in here has quite the following with her written works including a fan fiction series called Generation Ork. and several other stories that you can find on line. Check them out in the links on her blog.
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