Tackling Mealtime Madness

People tend to define themselves as either “morning people” or “night owls.” As for me, I have created a new category; I’m somewhat of a mid-morning person. My actual morning begins something like this. . . My alarm clock begins its unnerving beep far earlier than I would prefer. I then find my disoriented self pulling out of a deep sleep, trying to make sense of what day it is and what I have to do next. My brain synapses begin moving at a snail’s pace as I drag myself up and down the stairs a multitude of times, recognizing that the lazy days of summer are over and the hustle bustle of the school year has just commenced.

Finally, I load my first child in the car and head for the bus. My daughter hops out, and I see the friendly crowd of parents chatting at the bus stop. Half of them are dressed for work and the other half decked out in their gym attire. I wave from the inside of my car somewhat slumped down. I then think to myself, “YES, it’s me again.” “YES, I’m in my pajamas at the bus stop, AGAIN.” “NO, I’m not getting out of the car to go socialize as I probably should, and NO I’m not awake enough to go work out.” The bus pulls up and I breathe a sigh of relief as I realize the first awkward bus drop off is over!

I then repeat the process two more times. However, by the second and third run to the bus stop, the sun starts to shine. Like clockwork, I slip on my sunglasses (as if they magically camouflage my extremely disheveled appearance), and hope I can successfully get my kids off to school without being scrutinized too harshly for my poor early-morning social skills. My zombie-like state progressively improves and I manage to shower. By then it is about 10:00 AM and I finally feel ready to hit the ground running…

I have the pleasure of working from home, which is conducive to my very odd schedule. I work hard checking off the boxes on my “To Do” list throughout the day. Between my work responsibilities, and Mount Vesuvius (the name I have bestowed upon my laundry room), I remain preoccupied until about 3:00 PM. It is at this time that my kids begin to file in from school and I ask myself, “Where did the day go?” Once I get a school day report from each child, it hits me -- I have no idea what to make for dinner! With three hungry kids in the house reciting a chorus of, “I’m starving,” and What are we having for dinner?” I realize, I really must do something to feed them.

Over the years, dinner has constantly posed a problem for me as I want to feed my family healthy meals, yet often lack the time to do so. Juggling homework help and my evening occupation as the family chauffeur makes healthy weeknight meals seem virtually impossible. Because of this, I have developed a few strategies for weeknight meal success.

First – my family does not like to eat leftovers! So, to avoid the next-day-leftover issue, I make recipes that can be doubled, and freeze the leftovers in portioned-sized freezer ziplock bags. I have found that if they are frozen flat, I can then stack the leftovers in the freezer, maximizing my freezer space. It is so handy to pull out a freezer meal on nights that there is simply just no time to cook.

Additionally, I find that my food processor is my ally in taming the madness of mealtime. I use it to chop up multiple onions, celery, and other veggies. I then portion them out in quart-size freezer bags, so that on nights when I don’t feel like crying over dinner, I can just toss in my frozen onions instead of fresh, and expedite the process. I try to plan meals that use similar ingredients a few nights in a row as well. I have also discovered that Costco sells packages of their rotisserie chicken breast. I buy it, separate it and freeze it, so it’s ready to be dumped into whichever meal I choose.

Because I realize that mealtime can be madness, I’m also sharing a few of my favorite ridiculously quick and simple recipes, and asked all of the super busy ladies here at the The Real KC to share a few of their time-saving meals as well. I hope these recipes become a lifeline for you. Bon Appe`tit!

Lazy Lady Chicken and Veggie Soup

What You Need:

1 white onion chopped

2 cups of pre-cut packaged carrots

2 celery stocks chopped with celery leaves

1 bag of cabbage (coleslaw mix)

2 stocks of celery chopped with celery leaves

1 garlic clove minced

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

2 quarts of low sodium chicken broth

2 tsp of “Better than Bouillon”

2 cups of water

1/4 cup of Italian flat leaf parsley

Fully Cooked Rotisserie Chicken Breast from Costco

Directions:

Saute veggies in olive oil in order, with salt and pepper adding garlic just before you pour in the chicken broth, bouillon, and water. Add flat leaf parsley and, when veggies are tender, add the chicken and serve.

Crowd Pleaser Shredded Beef Sandwiches

This one is a LIFESAVER! It is crazy easy, and is my most requested recipe! If we have leftover meat, I mix it with some taco seasoning the next night; fill taco shells with meat and top with homemade salsa.

What You Need:

1 large beef sirloin tip roast ( I strongly recommend you use this cut)

2 packages of dry Italian seasoning mix

1 cup of water

1 package of sliced Swiss cheese

chopped or sliced tomatoes

1 bag of dinner rolls ( I like the huge bags you can get at COSTCO)

Directions:

Place roast in the crock pot. Dissolve one packet of dry Italian seasoning, mix in one cup of water, pour over roast. Cook on low for 8 hours or overnight. Shred the beef and add the last packet of seasoning (do not add any more water). Allow to cook for one more hour and serve on dinner rolls topped with tomatoes and swiss cheese.

Pork Chops with Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

What You Need:

Thin sliced boneless pork chops

1 can Progresso chicken and wild rice soup

pepper/salt to taste

Mashed Potatoes

Directions:

Brown pork chops on each side and season with pepper. Pour can of soup over top, and cover. Simmer on medium-low heat until chops are cooked through. Serve on top of mashed potatoes with steamed broccoli.

 

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