Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Food for back to school

Way back when I used to sell Tupperware we had a saying, "So goes your January, so goes your year."  It was true to Tupperware and for homeschoolers I've always adopted that to, "so goes your September, so goes your year."  Over the years I've found that equally true for my homeschool.

You see, you can stand a little interruption and give a little flexibility but not in the first month.  Routines are being established and the "pattern" for the year is being set.  Sure, things will take a little longer this month as we get into the new routine, perhaps adapt to new grade levels and curriculum's and that's where you can help make this settling in period easier by having your menu's thought through.

Gone are the days of summer where you perhaps have more time to be a bit laid back about what's for dinner.  There's no room in the day for unscheduled trips to the grocery and certainly no room in the budget for constant pizza delivery!  With just a little "thinking" and perhaps a little planning you can have this are be a help rather than a hindrance to your life.

I'm not much of a routine kind of person and get bored easily so ours is not a house of Spaghetti every Monday, Soup every Tuesday etc...  I do like to decide more "spur of the moment" what we'll have.  So instead of a daily menu (though I sometimes do that but it ends up with lots of arrows) I typically have a "whats in the freezer" list on the side of the fridge.  I may jot down my thoughts for Monday through Friday on a shopping list magnet-ed next to it but planning a whole month for me is a little much.

For my inventory list I use a form from 30 day gourmet but you have to be a member (have one of their cookbooks to access it.)  I did a quick search and found this one at organized home that would work too.  The point is to keep track of what you've made ahead in there or what "meal" starters you have.  For instance right now for made ahead I have:
  • chicken spaghetti (2)
  • eggplant Parmesan (3)
  • chicken a la king (3)
  • Bacon tomato pasta (2)
  • Marinated Chicken for grill (2) 
  • chicken chili (3)
Many times I've had way more than this but these are 15 meals that I just put a side dish with and we're good to go.

The next thing I like to keep is "meal starter" things.  These are things like bags of pre-cooked shredded chicken, bags of great northern beans, black beans or chick-peas cooked and ready to use, cubed ham etc...  This makes it easy to throw together bean soup or a chicken salad ring when your main ingredients are pre-made.

One of the main components I make use of to make like easier though the school year is the slow cooker.  Any time we'll be gone all day I plan a slow cooked meal.  Sometimes these start with some of the "meal" starter items, sometimes not.

By combining these three categories and taking a few minutes to see whats on had you can have a quick go to list to get dinner on the table even if things don't go as planned this first month!

Now I can't let this entry go by without sharing an easy recipe that freezes well and makes use of the end of summer tomato's.  It was originally from 30 day gourmet but I honestly couldn't find the original when I went to do it and have made several changes to make it "lighter" (the original called for using bacon grease) so it's my version.
Bacon tomato sauce being prepared

Bacon tomato Pasta
1lb turkey bacon cut into small pieces
2 cups chopped onion
7-8 chopped tomatoes with juice (can use canned)
1 bunch chopped fresh parsley stems removed (have used dried in a pinch)
Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste
Serve over Bow tie pasta

Mix the first 2 ingredients together and cook in frying pan until bacon is done and onions are tender.  Add in tomatoes till heated.  Add in the parsley and stir till just wilted.  That's it, now freeze in a quart freezer bag.  When it's time to serve add Parmesan, salt, pepper and bow tie pasta.  Enjoy!

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