Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cooking in the midst of Craziness

There's still 2 more days until summer officially begins (according to the calendar), but I already feel the busyness taking over.  It seems as though the last month or so has come and gone without so much as a blink of the eye.  There are friends to see, holidays to celebrate, trips to take, and tasks to do.  Yet still, even when life is crazy, it's mandatory that we still eat.

What we eat remains in question.  I always strive to make homemade meals, to leave eating-out for special occasions.  To be perfectly honest, since my last recipe post I can probably count on one hand the times I've actually cooked dinner (which is why there is a lack of recent posts!).  However, I have found that there are tricks and shortcuts to keep us eating healthy, homemade food as often as possible.  I hope that I continue to practice these things when our family grows and life gets even crazier than it is now.

Some tips for cooking during crazy seasons:

  • Slow cooker meals - I LOVE my slow cooker.  I got a 6.5 qt all--clad, ceramic insert slow cooker for Christmas from my parents.  My only complaint is that I don't use it enough!  However, for a family of 2, I've found that I can prep a meal before bed, put it all in the crockpot in the morning, and have it ready for dinner when we get home from work with leftovers for at least 2 more meals. is a great resource for recipes, as is
  • Freezer meals - back in the winter when life wasn't quite so busy and we were actually home on weekends, I spent some time making freezer meals such as lasagna, enchiladas, soup, and pizza dough.  Next year, I will make more, but they have been a lifesaver (as long as I thaw it the night before).
  • Mix & Match - I try to make a big batch of something on my non-busy day so that we can eat it for the majority of the remaining nights.  However, this can get boring.  So, I make a large batch of say, rice, and then make chicken for 2 nights, beans for 2 more until the rice is gone.
  • Eat with Others - Majority of our crazy life comes from trying to spend time with friends and family.  If we see people during a meal, it allows fun preparation and a combination of cooking AND craziness. Also, generally speaking, if we have people over, the favor normally gets returned and we can have dinner at their place another night of the month.  It's a good system.
  • Take a break - I have to let myself slack every once in a while.  That means eating cereal or popcorn for dinner occasionally, having people over for pizza with a coupon, or making it "fend-for-yourself" night.  This is vital to crazy-life cooking survival.