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You know the days.
Everyone was playing outside. Someone fell and cut his foot badly enough that you had to load everyone up and wait at the Emergency room for four hours for stitches. You got home right at dinnertime (or even after everyone should have eaten).
It was a long day of errands and grocery shopping, and for all the Food you looked at today — and even all the food you bought — there isn’t anything you can actually eat in under an hour-and-a-half.
You’re eight weeks pregnant, and soooo sick. Everyone still needs to eat, but you don’t even want to think about food.
The baby was up all night and you’re exhausted. So exhausted you completely forgot about dinner until 5:30.
Homeschooling did not go well today. The eight-year-old cried over her math — and so did you. The preschooler colored on the dining room walls and broke all of the eggs while you were teaching the five-year-old phonics. And your middle schooler gave you an attitude all day. All you really want to do is go to bed. (Or eat chocolate.)
We all have those days. The details may be different, but the outcome is the same: dinner needs to be fast, and it needs to not involve a lot of work. There are a few options.
- Order In (or Takeout)
The advantages here are pretty obvious. It’s pretty quick. It requires no work. And generally, everyone finds it yummy, so there are few complaints. The disadvantages can be obvious, too, though. Expense is probably the biggest! Takeout usually isn’t the healthiest choice. And for those with special food needs, it can be a complete non-option.
- Not-Dinner Foods
Cereal works. It doesn’t “stick with you” for an especially long time, but it fills bellies. Other breakfast-for-dinner options are also pretty quick, like eggs or pancakes. Or there’s the “snack-ish” dinner, otherwise known as “a little of this and a little of that.” You get the idea.
If you have them, leftovers can be quick to heat, and this can be a great option. But there aren’t always leftovers. (Or sometimes there just aren’t enough leftovers for everybody.)
- “Emergency Meal” Options
These are what the bulk of this post is going to be about. These are the meals that you have planned ahead to be able to make in a hurry. They come in a few different varieties, but they have a couple things in common. Namely, they have to be quick (start-to-finish) and they have to take minimal effort.
One option for Emergency Meals is something quick from the freezer. I’m talking frozen pizza or burritos or chicken nuggets. No, it might not be as healthy as what you normally eat. Maybe it isn’t as frugal as what you normally eat, either. But it’s cheaper and healthier than McDonald’s, right? So as an emergency Meal to prevent your having to take a trip to McDonald’s, it works.
The other option is something quick and easy to cook that doesn’t require thawing — and, preferably, something for which you always have the ingredients on hand. Lentils and rice is a go-to for us because the lentils and rice don’t go bad (they’re shelf-stable), and I can cook it in the pressure cooker in about half an hour.
Another option — a little less healthy, but still quick — is “Dorito Casserole.” It uses a can of chili, a can of diced tomatoes, cream of mushroom soup, and a bag of Doritos, so I can keep those stashed in the pantry. (This one isn’t as food allergy-friendly, unfortunately.)
If you have flash-frozen meats in the freezer, there are some options that can be cooked in the oven if you have about 45 minutes. Chicken breasts, fish fillets, and hamburger patties can all be baked without thawing first, as long as they’re individual to start with (not all clumped together).
The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle has some cookbooks in it that are really great either for “emergency meals” like this, or at least for pretty easy cooking that might diminish the stress and minimize the number of days we need those emergency meals!
The most obvious choice is Emergency Meals. Its entire focus is scenarios like we just talked about.
If you need breakfast, there’s Healthy Make-Ahead Breakfast Recipes, and 80 Green Thickies Recipes. These may not be “emergency” meals, but they can certainly make breakfast less of a challenge.
Even lunch is covered, with Healthy School Lunches Made Simple. There are actual meal plans here, for 8 weeks of lunches. And although they’re designed for packing, nothing says you have to pack them. There’s no reason homeschoolers can’t use these plans to make lunch at home a bit calmer.
And that, of course, brings us to dinner. What about all those days when dinner isn’t quite at “emergency” status, but we still don’t want to deal with complex and labor-intensive? Dinner at Home has some basic information and helps for those who haven’t cooked before. Recipes for Kids Cook Real Food are, obviously, designed for kids. But that means many are pretty easy and accessible even for the novice “grownup” cook — or that your kids can help with dinner, once they’ve learned the ropes.
Or put your Slow Cooker to work. Slow Cooker Freezer Meals volume 1 and volume 2, 81 Favorite Slow Cooker Recipes, and Crockpot Chicken Freezer Meals together will provide you with 200+ recipes you can toss in the crockpot to save yourself the dinnertime rush! (Still need more? Check out my AutoImmune Paleo freezer plan here.)
Easy Dinners for the Hard Days is a post from: Titus 2 Homemaker
- Quick Meals for “Errand Day”
- How I Failed at Family Dinners — And What That Has to Do with You
- Meals in a Jar
This post first appeared on Titus 2 Homemaker - Hope And Help For The Domestic, please read the originial post: here