Orangeville, ON (Caroline Davis) If you are as busy as most people, you are always looking for ways to feed your family in convenient, fast, yet not-too-expensive ways. Try the following suggestions:
1. Cooking several meals for the week at one time. It may take a few hours of your time up front but will pay off in the long run when you come home each evening and have a meal ready to eat in a short amount of time. Try cooking a roast and using part of it as a main meal and then using some for sandwiches, beef stroganoff or as part of a stir-fry. Fry several pounds of hamburger and make a casserole, taco meat and chili to freeze for use later in the week.
2. After you return home from the grocery store, clean all the fruits and vegetables you can. When it’s time for a meal, all you will have to do is cook them or add them to a salad or soup.
3. Get ideas from the cooking shows on T.V. There are splendid shows that show you how to make a healthy meal in a short time.
4. Develop a revolving recipe file. If you get bogged down by the idea of having to plan 30 meals a month, the recipe file is for you. Let family members choose some of their favourites and put the recipes in a monthly file. Flip to day five or fifteen and there is the meal just waiting to be cooked.
5. Enlist the help of the members of your family. As soon as the kids are old enough, divide up the cooking responsibilities. Let everyone take turns with specific tasks or the entire meal. Pair these meals with fruit and veggies that have already been washed and cut-up and you are ready for dinner.
6. Share the cooking with friends or neighbours. I have known people who cook four or five of the same meal and then trade with four or five other people. This works best when people share the same basic ideas on what they like and don’t like. Its a great idea, though, for a very easy week of evening meals.
7. Save coupons for those convenience things at the grocery store. They have entire entrees and dinners, either fresh or frozen. Sometimes they are rather pricy, but with the coupons they are good to have on hand for an evening when everyone is running in different directions and time is of the essence.
8. It’s O.K. to eat out from time to time. Clip coupons for these occasions and if you have kids keep a look-out for the places that have special prices for children. Some of the fast-food restaurants are trying to offer item choices that are a little more healthy.
9. Many larger cities have businesses that prepare food for the evening meal. They seem expensive at first, but are so convenient for one person or entire families. There are many menu choices and meals cooked for special diets. When you calculate the groceries you buy and the times you eat out each week, this may work for you.
10. Combine several of the above ideas into a plan that is best for you.
It is possible with a little planning to cook meals that are quick and easy without spending hours in the kitchen every day.