Simple Meal Ideas for Homeschool Moms

I’m excited to share with you another guest post from Anna Marie, currently due with Baby #5 any day! As you busy moms know, when it comes time for dinner, it’s best to have a plan in place. How does one juggle meals, little ones, and homeschooling short of hiring a maid?! 


My mother-in-law received a request for simple meals on a budget for busy homeschool days a while ago. When she asked me if I had any go-to recipes or ideas I could share, I said yes. Some of these ideas are gleaned from both of my moms; my mom taught me about freezing cooked meat ahead for quick meal prep, and Mom Maxwell has been an encouragement in the meal rotations and the idea of having a meal plan to reduce the thinking involved in both planning and answering children’s questions. Those of you who have read Managers of Their Homes will probably recognize that theme. 🙂

  • Meal planThis reduces the amount of thinking you have to do on any given day and gives you a ready answer to the question: “Mommy, what are we having for _____?”
  • Have a meal rotationI should have more of these set because the days I have done it are so much simpler. For instance, tuna sandwiches for lunch on Tuesdays; popcorn, apples, and cottage cheese for lunch on Friday, homemade pizza for dinner on Saturday, etc. I tried Taco Tuesday dinner, but making tacos for everyone is pretty involved for our family so instead, we do a variation: taco soup or taco-seasoned beans with hamburger served over rice.
  • Cook and freeze meat ahead! This is a HUGE help for speedy meal prep! The main thing I do this with is chicken breast. We buy fresh chicken breasts in 40# cases. I boil a stock pot full of them and either shred them (I use my KitchenAid mixer with the beater bar to shred them; just have to be careful not to over mix) or chop it into small chunks. Then I spread it in thin layers on silicone mat-lined baking sheets, freeze, then dump it into gallon Ziploc bags. This is easy to dump some into soup, stir fry, cooked beans with various spice combinations to serve over rice, etc.

Mary helping me process chicken

  • Marinated chicken breast piecesThis is another thing I like to do with the chicken breasts. I cut it into smaller serving-size pieces, place it in quart size freezer bags, and pour marinade over it before freezing. Our favorite has been an Asian Honey Sesame Marinade. It marinates wonderfully as it thaws in the fridge for a day or two, and is simple to grill and serve with some cooked rice and steamed broccoli for an easy summer dinner!
  • Soups are one of my greatest easy meal friends. I like to make a big batch, freeze a couple meals’ worth, and have it available for at least the next day’s lunch. This is a super easy lunch to put on the stove to slowly warm, then serve with sliced apples or baby carrots (our kiddos love baby carrots with a bit of peanut butter to dip them in) toast, crackers, tortilla chips, or leftover cornbread. A lot of soups I make without a recipe just by combining broth, some sort of meat, sometimes tomato juice/puree, and frozen mixed vegetables (we buy bags of organic mixed vegetables including cut up carrots, green beans, peas, and corn from Costco). Other favorites are chili, taco soup, and bean with bacon soup.
  • Another easy meal to make ahead is oven burritos. Anna helped me get a nice stash in the freezer a few days ago so we are ready for after the new baby arrives! We first cooked organic tortillas from Costco (they come uncooked in the refrigerator section) and assembled the rest of our ingredients: mashed/salted pinto beans, ground beef made into taco meat, and shredded cheddar cheese. As we make the burritos, we place them on cookie sheets lined with silicone mats and put them in the freezer. After they’re frozen solid, I package them into gallon Ziploc bags.

These are some of my go-to easy meals, and I’d love to hear yours below!

Love,
Anna Marie

“That they may teach the young women to be
sober, to love their husbands, to love their children.”
(Titus 2:4)

49 thoughts on “Simple Meal Ideas for Homeschool Moms”

  1. Hi Anna Marie,
    Will be praying all goes well for you.
    Like us all the pans and saucepans need to get bigger as the appetites go up, its lovely though to cook good food and see our children enjoy it.
    Sending our love
    xxxxxxxxxxx

  2. Thanks for the insight. Even though my days of having littles are no longer here, I also love having meals that are easy so when I have things to do, I don’t have to think about what I am cooking, or something to make meal prep easy. Another thing you might want to think about is ground beef. I will cook a large portion say 10 pounds in a dutch oven, chopping it to keep it from being too lumpy, and then draining any of the liquid off of it. I then package it up into 2 cup zip baggies 2 cups equal about 1 cup raw ground beef. That way when a recipe calls for a pound, I can just add one of my baggies of meat for the meal. What is good about this, if you are adding to soup, no need to thaw as it will thaw in the liquid, same with tacos, by the time you add the water and seasonings it will be thawed. I have been doing this for decades now. Makes life so much simpler. As for chicken, I recently found a blog where in lieu of boiling the chicken she cooked chicken breast in the oven with seasonings that you might like, then let them cool and chopped them or putting in the kitchen aid mixer bowl to shred. What I liked about this is the chicken had so much better flavor. Only down fall is no chicken broth like when you boil. Just a couple ideas to help with meal prep

  3. Thank you Anna Marie! Great ideas, especially the chicken ones. Will do the same. How many meals do you prepare/ freeze for after the baby’s birth?

    1. It depends on the meals and how much help ahead of time Anna Marie has to make them. Also, when her mom comes to visit after Baby is born, she makes more, so I think generally there can be about 30 days’ worth!

  4. Many times when cooking, I’ll try to double what I’m making and put half in the freezer for another time. So if I’m making lasagna, I’ll pull out two pans, assemble both lasagnas, pop one in the oven for supper, and the other in the freezer for a busy day. Meal planning has been a life saver, which I couldn’t do without. My kids know to check mom’s menu if they want a “sneak peek” at supper. 😉

    Sarah, could you please share your mocha recipe sometime? It always looks so good in your pictures! 😉

  5. Anna Marie mentioned putting the chicken on a baking sheet and into the freezer then putting in Ziploc bags; then the same with the burritos. I am not sure the size or style of your freezer, but I don’t think a baking sheet would fit in my freezers. What do you all do? Are the sheets small, or is your freezer large. Plus, we have a large family, and our freezer is generally full.

    1. They have a deep freeze which allows for it. I understand what you mean about the baking sheets not fitting in your freezer, as the side-by-side would likely be too tight. Maybe you could use a 9×13 pan as that would fit in the freezer.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing, Anna Marie!! Love these ideas. I also like to use crock pot meals a lot because they are easy to put together and smell yummy all day while cooking!

  7. I don’t want to brag, but my kids are now old enough to fix themselves “first breakfast” from a list of kid-friendly options, and clean up, and this gives me time to make a fancier “second breakfast” and then sometimes we get to skip lunch altogether and do some significant SnackLunch options around 2 or so. So, don’t overlook the Breakfast-Foods-As-All-Day-Food options when things are busy!! Like, make a gazillion pancakes: breakfast could feature syrup but later options can have cut up fruit, or pineapple and shredded coconut, stuff KIDS COULD OBTAIN AND PUT ON THEMSELVES. It’s a revelation, I swear!

  8. Thanks so much, Anna Marie! I’m a more experienced homeschool mom, but I still struggle to find new/easy recipes and can’t wait to try a few of these out.

  9. These are great!! I have also found a crockpot to be my best friend with a family! ? To be able to make it up in the morning and just let it cook…perfect!! Plus I love that so many of the crockpot recipes can be mixed togetherbeforehand and frozen, which makes it super quick!!

  10. I see you have an Instant Pot in the background.Do you use it lot’s & would you think it a good homeschool mom investment? I use my slow cooker lots.

  11. These ideas look all so very practical, not to mention yummy!

    With slightly smaller portions, they work very well also in my case: a single young woman living on her own.

    Having a meal plan has helped me keep the costs down, not to mention avoiding food going to waste and adding a little variety to my menus! I usually make a batch of whatever I have planned following a recipe for 4 or 6 servings, eat one straight away, keep one in the fridge for next day’s lunch/dinner and freeze the rest.

    Moreover, my stress levels are kept at a minimum, as I always have plenty of food in case I do not feel like cooking or if friends come over.

    Many blessings,

    Alice

  12. Thank you, Anna Marie for posting all of those great ideas for easy prep and freezer cooking. One meal that we find quick and easy is roasting baked or sweet potatoes and using cheese, leftover meat/veg for toppings. My family also enjoys poached eggs over leftover beans or curry. We are praying for a safe delivery of baby # 5.

  13. Simplifying meals is so helpful, I’m grateful for new ideas. Some of mine are:
    Nearly every week I cook a whole chicken all day in my crockpot. I take the meat off the bones and use some for a meal (stir fry, curry, BBQ, etc…) then break all the bones and return them to the crockpot sometimes adding a few herbs or veggies. Fill the crockpot with water and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and cook on low all night. Soup is so economical and we love using homemade broth. I freeze waterever we won’t use right away. When we have an illness hit our family or a friend’s, it’s great to have frozen broth.

    Another thing we do is cook up 3 pounds of dry black beans (usually in a crockpot) and freeze in meal sized servings. They make for an easy lunch with tortillas and cheese. And making a lot at one time doesn’t take any extra effort.

  14. Great post and great Ideas! So lovely to hear about moms managing the home with such thought.

    Over the years we have come up with different rotations and go-to-meals. Friday night pizza night has stuck for almost 20 years. It went from buying store bought pizzas, to learning how to make our own delicious pizzas, to now buying gluten free crust and adding our own toppings.

    Other ideas:
    Mondays, I usually like to get a pork shoulder in my oven and have rice in my rice cooker with the timer set first thing in the morning. This helps me make sure that Mondays get off to a good start.

    We generally have Soup or Nachos after church on Sunday

    If I have a busy week I may buy a rotisserie chicken and keep it on hand to make a last minute chicken curry, or… we will just eat the chicken with bread and a kefir smoothie on the side.

    I almost always have the ingredients on hand for a few easy and familiar recipes (like Tomato Lentil Stew or Pasta with Artichoke sauce).

    Grace to you all,
    Suzanne

  15. My kids are teenagers now, so their appetites are much larger. I will often cook anywhere between 6-10 pounds of ground beef and freeze in portions of 1.5-2 pounds in gallon ziplock bags. Then the ground beef gets added to spaghetti sauce, goulash, or (one of my favorites) vegetable beef soup.

    I love my instant pot and will also pre-cook beans, then freeze the cooked beans in 2-3 cup portions. When I run short on time, I’ll use canned beans, but dried beans are much less expensive and the instant pot cooks them very easily. One of my other favorite uses for the instant pot is making hard boiled eggs. They turn out perfectly in just 10 minutes, and the eggs are a quick, easy source of protein for hungry teenagers.

    My favorite vegetable beef soup recipe:

    1.5-2 pounds ground beef (usually dumped in the pot straight from the freezer from one of my pre-cooked frozen baggies)
    1-2 onions, chopped
    1 can diced tomatoes
    1-2 cans (or 2-3 cups frozen cooked) beans (pinto or kidney)
    1 large bag frozen mixed vegetables
    3 quarts beef broth (or a combination of beef & chicken broth)
    1 heaping tablespoon chili powder
    1 heaping tablespoon paprika or smoked paprika
    (optional) 1/2 cup brown rice
    (optional) 1/2 cup pearled barley

    Dump everything except rice and barley into a large stock pot and simmer on the stove for several hours, or simmer in the crock pot for 8-10 hours. Add rice and barley after everything has cooked together, but at least one hour before serving. (Rice and barley make this a very hearty meal and more filling than a typical soup.) Serve with rolls.

    1. Wow, such an awesome comment. Thank you for taking the time to share your tips. The hard-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot is one I hadn’t heard of. Perfect. And your soup recipe will bless many. Thank you!

  16. Thanks for sharing your quick meal ideas Anna Marie! This is something I have struggled with as a homeschool mom of little ones. Reading personal blogs have given me some ideas. Anna Marie had great ideas that I am going to try.

    A few easy meals I do ahead are taco meat, sloppy joe, sausage, and chili. I cook these meals in bulk (about 6 lbs or so) and then freeze meal size portions for our family. For the taco meat, I use it for soup, burritos, enchiladas, and serve over beans and rice. The sloppy joe meat we eat on rolls, on garlic bread with melted mozzarella on top, and over garlic roasted red potatoes. The sausage we use for pizza, breakfast burritos, and egg casseroles. For the chili, we also eat it over baked potatoes and garnish with cheese, sour cream and onions. We also have used the chili to put over spaghetti noodles or rice.

  17. We stopped purchasing deli meats years ago and started to roast turkey breast or whole turkey, beef briskets, and pork shoulders. We slice or shred then portion these out in freezer bags for meals or sandwiches. My dear husband is a big fan of going “low and slow” when cooking meat, so we keep our electric roaster and our crock pot going year round. We just move our appliances to our cool basement during the hot summers. Great post!

  18. This post and these comments are all so encouraging.
    I have always felt like such a failure in the kitchen. Best friend was my crock pot and even then sometimes I would forget to plug it in after putting food in it in the mornings!! Ugh! And then, the Instapot!! Oh my! What a meal time savior it has been more than once!
    However, now from reading the post and comments I don’t feel quite so bad about myself anymore. I think we are all having pretty much the same stuff, just mixed up a bit.

    Thanks to Anna Marie and all of the commenters!

    By the way, does Anna Marie still make her own soap?

    Blessings,
    J

        1. I asked Anna Marie on this. There are so many variables to soap making. We encourage you to look online because there are a lot of really good websites and photo tutorial resources.

  19. I have four kids, and I found a taco recipe that made our taco night easier and less messy! You cook your meat and then add some refried beans and tomato sauce along with your taco seasoning. I use 1.25 lbs of meat and a little less than 1/4 cup of beans and an 8 oz tomato sauce if that gives you an idea. Then you actually fill your shells (I like stand and stuff, but you might make your own), top with cheese and BAKE in 9×13 pans at 350 for 10 minutes. With the beans in the mix and the cheese already melted, the filling actually stays inside the taco. Plus, everyone gets to eat at one time since the hard part is done. All of our kids add their own shredded lettuce, sour cream, diced tomatoes, avocado, and taco sauce. These tacos are super yummy, too.

  20. Thank you Anna Marie for the post!
    I was wondering if it were possible in the future if Anna Marie or Melanie would be willing to share more about themselves. The lovely Maxwell ladies always comment on how sweet Anna Marie is. And to be honest through the pics she looks content, meek and loving towards others. This is very inspiring. Just an idea for a future post.

  21. I do meal planning a month at a time. We have a rotating schedule of 2 weeks worth of meals (so we have the same meal 2 times each month). This keeps us from getting bored with meals. I also try and limit the amount of meat to 3 times per week to help with the budget. This allows us to purchase higher quality meat and eggs from local farmers. Breakfasts and lunches are the same each day for the week then it switches to something else.

  22. This is one of my favorite posts you’ve done lately! I like taking a large pork roast (sometimes called a Boston butt roast or a shoulder roast) and turning it into Mexican-style carnitas. The pork roast is one of the cheapest cuts of meats around and it’s super tasty. The carnitas can be used in so many foods: tacos, soft tacos, burritos, nachos, enchiladas, or rice bowls. You can also take a pork roast and make slow cooker pulled pork. This can then be eaten as a main course on its own or put on buns as a sandwich.

    Anna mentioned that she doesn’t do tacos as much any more because they are time consuming to make for all her little kids. Lately, I’ve been making a big baking pan full of nachos for the family. These are basically like an open-faced crunchy taco. And I’ve been serving the nachos right on the baking sheet at the dinner table, it makes for a very cozy family meal and less dishes for mom to wash!

  23. 1. I always use oven bags for meat. They are no mess, and if you cook meat a little longer than normal, the fat caramelises beautifully.
    2. When making a sponge cake I make another to freeze. All I need to do is have cream in the fridge and then it makes a great dessert for some unexpected guest or just a treat for the family during a busy weekday evening.
    3. Beef schnitzel – line a baking pan with paper, make a complete base layer with the schnitzel, spread with tomato paste, then baked beans/spaghetti, sprinkle with onion, cheese, salt and pepper… it’s like a quick pizza and people seem to love it! 30 mins baked and it’s done!

    P.S Praying for your birth Anna Marie,
    so thankful for you all and love to you Sarah

  24. When all else fails, we do breakfast for dinner, especially when we have leftover potatoes of any sort. We do a big pan of scrambled eggs with veggies (leftover if we have them) and cheese and then if we have mashed potatoes I fry them in little patties of if we have baked or roasted, I put them in a skillet with onions. We have this with a fruit salad made by the kids. It is one of our weeknight favorites and it is very budget friendly and easy to adjust sizes. I also love roasted veggies so I also take a large roasting pan put in red potatoes, bell pepper, carrots, brussels sprouts, and halved chicken sausages from Costco and just roast it all together for about 45 minutes. Thanks all for the tips!

  25. What an incredibly helpful and practical post! I’ve been able to glean so much! Happy cooking, everyone! Doing it as unto the Lord!

    Prayers going up for the safe delivery of both new grandbabies!

    Love from NJ,

    Lisa

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