When you have three kids under four, most things need to be quick. You’re dealing with three attention spans under 8 seconds – total. Being able to whip up a quick meal is a necessity. And, once again, it’s all about prep. I have a family of five including my husband and myself, so my freezer must reflect that. It’s giant and in the garage. I freeze everything. It’s the best way to whip up a quick dinner for my family. That doesn’t mean you forgo fresh food. If you freeze your food properly, you eat fresh every night. I also have a few other kitchen appliances that I could not live without, and many that I use for the below recipes.
Meal #1: Staple meal – chicken, rice, veg.
This is the fastest, most economical, healthy meal you can make for your family. My freezer is packed with individually frozen (do it yourself – don’t buy individual, you’ll pay too much) chicken. You can toss frozen chicken in a pan or on a grill and it will cook beautifully. There is no need to defrost because skinless, boneless breasts cook so quickly. And they are the best part of the chicken for you and your kids to eat.
My favorite rice is a rice blend. This is another do-it-yourself, don’t buy mixed rice packages. You’ll pay four times the price. Grab a giant, sealed jar and fill it with white rice, brown rice, wild rice, and, if you can find it, a dash of red rice. This makes a wonderful rice dish with so much more flavor than boring white or brown rice. Throw in a fresh veg of your choice and, bam, you have the perfect, well-rounded quick dinner for your family.
Meal #2: Do-it-yourself pizza!
You may notice a pattern with me. I like to do it myself. It could be a control thing; but I like to believe I do it because it is much cheaper and healthier. You can get all kinds of pre-made pizza crusts – regular, wheat, gluten-free, whatever your fancy. Stock your freezer (of course) and pull them out on pizza-night. Like chicken breasts, you don’t have to thaw them before cooking.
Top them with whatever you have in your pantry. Marinara sauce, tomato sauce, even Ragu Thick-n-Chucky Mushroom pasta sauce – it’s your choice. Some cheese, a few veggies, pepperoni and you’re set. I make a great one with shredded chicken and bbq sauce. This is also a great meal to involve your kids in. You can buy smaller, individual pizza dough packets and let them each make their own!
Meal #3: Crock-pot tacos.
Huh? Yes, crock-pot tacos. I actually got my inspiration for this one from parenting.com which have a great range quick of recipes. First thing in the morning throw a few frozen chicken breasts into your crock pot and season with taco seasoning (you can get it at the store) or your own seasoning – cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, paprika. Let it cook all day.
When it’s nice and soft, shred the chicken in the pot with a couple of forks and let it marinate a few more minutes while you get everything else ready. Warm up some canned black beans on your stovetop and tortillas in your microwave. Chop a few tomatoes, shred some lettuce, and put out a bowl of shredded cheese and you’re all set.
Bed Bath & Beyond sells the cutest Fiesta Pack Individual Taco Holders. If you have kids, they are a must. They’re red, yellow, purple, and green – so fun! Put the warm tortillas in the holder and fill them with the shredded chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. Beans on the side. Olé!