Eat Well and Spend Less with Quick Suppers

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photo credit: Foodswings

The following is from contributing writer Amy

Our family tends to be busier in the summer than during the school year because of our ministry schedule, but I know that isn’t the case for most people.

No matter how busy we are, we still have to eat supper, right? Some way, some how there has to be a meal.

But, who has time to prepare a gourmet (or more than just pb&j sandwiches!) meal after working all. day. long? And how do you find time to actually eat a meal when you have to balance homework, soccer practice, baths, and family time in that short span between getting home and bedtime?

The key for me is meal planning. I know each week what I want to cook on which days, and I make sure I have the needed ingredients on hand so I can actually prepare the meal without a trip to the store. This allows me to (most nights!) serve a nice, healthy meal in the evenings, without spending hours in the kitchen at the end of the day.

1. Freezer Meals

I know a lot of people who have a “freezer cooking day,” which is taking a day or two to prepare meals in bulk and freezing them to have ready on a night you are strapped for time. Even if you don’t have a day or even a few hours to set aside for making freezer meals, you can still reap the benefits of it by doubling meals as you make them; eating one and freezing the other for another evening.

For quick preparation, pull the meal out of the freezer the night before and toss it in the fridge to thaw. This will make cooking or heating up a much quicker process.

2. Crockpot Meals

The crockpot can be a wonderful tool for making quick suppers. And while I’m all for using traditional recipes, I am the type to throw things in the crockpot, turn it on, and forget about it until 5 pm. Most times my little “experiments” turn out great, but other times, like when I put pasta in my chicken soup and let it cook for SIX hours, it ends in disaster. So, the moral of that story if a disaster at suppertime is NOT what you want, stick to tried-and-true crockpot favorites like roast and potatoes, or stew.

3. Breakfast for Dinner

My girls love when we have breakfast for dinner, and I love it too, because it is a super-easy meal. I like to make the waffle or pancake batter the night before, but you can also prepare it in a snap after the kids head off to school. Pop a lid on the batter and store it in the refrigerator until supper time. That way, at supper, all you have to do is pull out the batter and whip ‘em up. Serve with fruit and you have a quick and satisfying meal in only a few minutes.

4. Meals in 30 Minutes or Less

For the times you don’t have a freezer meal handy, you forgot to turn on the crockpot, or breakfast-for-dinner is just not appetizing, you can still whip up a great meal in under 30 minutes with a few shortcuts.

Have your turkey or ground beef already cooked and frozen in 1-lb. portions. That removes one step from your cooking. You can also do this with shredded cheese; freeze it in freezer bags in one cup portions to eliminate shredding and measuring at supper time.

Some of my favorite quick supper resources are:

AllRecipes.com

Black and Red Fiesta Beans with Rice Recipe

Chicken and Pasta Spinach Bake Recipe

Get Togethers: Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals

Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

For more Eat Well, Spend Less Back to School tips:

What are your quick supper ideas?

About Amy
Amy is a youth pastor’s wife and homeschooling mom to three girls, ages 7, 5, and 3, and lives in a small town in Oklahoma. She loves Jesus, coffee, labels, writing, and plopping down with a really good book. You can connect with her on Twitter.

Comments

  1. says

    I think I do every single one of those things. I *love* my crockpot and use it regularly. I also have freezer prep days where I cook a big batch of beans to freezer, or marinate several packages of meat to freeze, etc. And breakfast for dinner is my “go-to” meal because it’s so quick and easy! Plus, my kids love it. ;) Thanks for those 30 minute meal sites – I am always looking for good 30 minute or less meals!

  2. Ben the Crock Pot King says

    Amy,
    Great Article, go to crockpotking.com, and take a look at Freezer Cooking Made Simple, and Frugal Mom’s Guide to Once a month Cooking.
    Thanks
    Ben the Crock Pot King

      • says

        @Ben the Crock Pot King,

        The production of meat is the number one cause of global warming, land degradation, air and water pollution, and other risks to the environment.

        The number one consumers of corn and soy are animals… which are not designed to consume.

        Let’s take cows. The way factory farms raise them and fatten them up, it takes 6 pounds of food to produce one pound of meat. Their farts and burps release methane polluting the air. Their crap is so much that the land cannot compensate. Then, you have to transport them to slaughter and then to your table.

        Now, I’m not an animal activist and I don’t consider myself an “animal lover”. I don’t feel like hugging cows. But, this “process” isn’t sustainable.

        If each person decreased 1 meat serving per week, it would be the equivalent of taking 5 million cars off the road.

  3. Diana says

    I also love my crockpot! But my disasters usually have to do with forgetting to plug it in or else accidentally putting the dial on “warm” instead of “high.” Oops. :)

    I never thought about mixing up pancake/waffle batter earlier in the day. I’ll definitely be doing that when I need quick meals–thanks!

    • says

      @Diana, Lol! Diana, it sounds like we both have some interesting crockpot stories :D

      I love how having pre-made batter makes supper so quick and easy! Enjoy, and thanks for commenting!

      Amy

    • Ben the Crock Pot King says

      @Diana, Don’t worry about it it happens! The thing is to keep learning what you can do with your crock pot. Have pyou ever thought abut doing yogurt in it?

      • says

        @Ben the Crock Pot King, Funny you should mention it…I just did last night! It was my third try, and I really like the results. My first try was great but the second just stayed milk. This time I measured the temperature before I stirred in the yogurt, and it turned out great again. Yes, I agree that “try, try again” is a good rule for crockpots–thanks for your encouragement!

  4. says

    We use our crockpot a lot during the school year. I am also always trying new things with pasta as they always seem to be quick and easy type meals. My kids love it when we make dinner salads with lots of veges, cube cheese and cubed meat and they are easy to throw together as well.

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