Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Single Parent Menus

As a single working parent (or any parent for that matter), meal planning/preparing is one of my biggest challenges. Now that I'm a WAHM (Work at home Mom), it has gotten a little bit easier, but I still have to plan ahead. I find it's challenging too grocery shopping as a single plus a half, when a majority of food in the grocery store is 'Family Oriented'... you see "FAMILY SIZE" on bright red stickers in the meat dept, vine tomatoes are in buches of 4 & 5, and don't get me started on the chip aisle!! Additionally, a lot of these items are more economical to buy in the family size. So what's a non family size family to do? Become best friends with your freezer!!!

In the meat dept I buy the family size package (and rip that mocking sticker right off). Once I get home I break up the purchase, put it in a freezer bag, write the date with a sharpie on the bag, and throw it in the freezer. For example, chicken I might break up into packages of 2 or 4. Additionally I may throw some marinade in it (see a marinade recipe below). For hamburger I'll make 2 patties in one bag, and then freeze the rest as is, or go ahead and brown it, and freeze it, and then I have that ready if a recipe calls for browned ground beef. Or tonight, I cooked the entire package for tacos, added the taco seasoning, and then put some in a ziploc for another night this week, and 2 more ziplocs in the freezer.

Let me clarify I am NOT an organized person (I know the Sharpie marker may indicate otherwise). My house is cluttered, piles of mail on the kitchen counter, toys not put away, etc. I play before I clean. I do however have a few things that 'work' that I do consistently. This is one of them.

PROS; This is a great time & money saver that will keep sanity on those crazy weeknights when 'Pirana' hour hits... you know the time of day when you're trying to go through the mail, answer the phone, get some juice, and prepare dinner. (Not to mention washing the high chair tray from breakfast so it's ready for dinner).

CONS; This does take a little planning ahead, not only the process of freezing, but also remembering to take it out of the freezer to thaw when you plan to serve it. (Although microwaves thaw items well, not great, but well, you just have to watch it doesn't begin to cook the meat).

OK, here's the thing; This really is a relief when you don't know what to have for dinner, and you open the freezer to ziploc packages of ideas.

Marinade recipe... SUPER easy!!
  • Italian salad dressing (enough to cover the chicken in the bag).
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (I recommend fresh)
  • 4 pieces of boneless chicken (breasts or thighs)
  • Place everything in a ziploc bag, rotate to coat, freeze.
  • For a twist you can add soy sauce, or terriyaki sauce, but use less italian dressing.
Yummy on the grill, but can also be baked.

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