When you homeschool, you’re home all day. So you get to make each meal from scratch. You use only the best homegrown or organic ingredients. You have so much time each day that you can make three full course meals and snacks (those are homemade too) without a problem. I mean that’s what the outside world thinks right? I mean why do you need to meal prep if you’re home all day or you homeschool? Well the answer is simple. No one wants to spend all their time in the kitchen.
As a mom of 8, this is an everyday struggle. How to feed my brood without being joined to the stove at the hip. I know that educating your kids at home leaves very little time to do anything especially things like cooking. I find that by the time I cook one meal, serve my babies, eat myself, and clean up the kitchen, it’s almost time to begin the next meal.
Now if you have older children who can cook, serve themselves, or help clean up, you may not have this problem. Although, no circus functions without a ringmaster. So, I know parents of teens and tweens still have to delegate or supervise in the kitchen. However, my babies are all age 6 and under so most of the work falls on me. I have so much to do each day that the chore I loved so much (cooking) has fallen off my list of favorites. Not because I hate to cook. Simply because it takes so much time out of my day. Time I could be using to do something else.
I have found one solution that really helps keep me from being in the kitchen so much each day. It’s freezer meals! I love freezer cooking. It makes it so easy to move through meal time each day if all or most of the ingredients are already prepared. You can prep items for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. I like to freeze things like: muffins, sandwiches, pasta, casseroles, pasta sauce, quiche, taquitos, burritos, quinoa and so much more (see below). Having these foods prepared ahead of time is a Godsend. Our days can be unpredictable and just having something in the freezer ready to thaw and cook makes mealtime on those days so much easier. If you have more time to plan, simply take out the foods you wish to eat the day before and let them thaw in the fridge overnight. When you are ready, reheat or cook your meal in the oven, microwave, slow cooker, or instant pot.
How do you accumulate these meals? Well that takes a little planning, but it’s easier than you think. I like to have a time set aside about once a month that’s dedicated strictly for freezer cooking. I make a list, get my ingredients, let the kids join in (to a degree), and crank out several different recipes over a few days. Don’t have the time to do it all at once? You can double or triple your favorite recipes a couple nights a week and freeze them for later. Still can’t do that? You always have the option of making your favorite meal in the slow cooker or instant pot and freezing the leftovers. This option is great during fall and winter for soups and stews.
One great source for freezer cooking that I love to use is Large Family Table (largefamilytable.com). There is a huge variety of meals, and there’s even a corresponding Youtube channel where you can see how the websites owner prepares her freezer meals. The recipes are tailored to large families, but you can always cut recipes in half if you have a smaller family.
This is just one of many ways to save time in the kitchen so you can spend more time doing things with the ones that are most important: your family. I pray this helps you be more prepared on your homeschool journey.
Breakfast: muffins, breakfast cookies, egg muffins, egg muffin sandwiches, pancakes, french toast sticks, and breakfast burritos
Lunch: pb&j (yes they freeze great!), ham/turkey and cheese, and personal pizzas (English muffins make great crust)
Dinner: any casserole, pasta, pasta sauce, precut and portioned meat, and pizza crust
Snacks: cookies, cookie dough, mini muffins