I’m excited to share with you a 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 plan—This 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 rotation—I 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.
Marinated chicken breast pieces—This 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)
Anna Marie worked on a fun baking project with the children yesterday, with some help from Mary and Christopher. We are looking forward to sharing the “final” photo (which reveals the baby’s name) with you when their baby arrives. Yes, that’s right—Baby is due any time now! We are grateful for your prayers as we anticipate this new little one’s arrival. Please also keep Elissa and Baby in your prayers as Elissa nears delivery. This makes Maxwell Grandchildren #11 and 12. Praising the Lord for His gift of life.
“I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.” Psalm 108:3
When moms write me struggling with daily family life, I often give them a beginning project. I ask them to smile more—smile at their children and smile at their husbands. Smiling is simple, and it communicates to the mom’s heart and to the hearts of her family.
If life is difficult perhaps because of attitudes, time pressure, lack of cooperation, hurtful words—faces become stiff, withdrawn, intense, and determined. A smile softens the face, communicates love and acceptance, and brings a measure of joy to Mom’s heart and to her family.
Whether life is rough for you or not, why don’t you try the smile experiment, and let us know what happens?
Trusting in Jesus, Teri
“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is” (Jeremiah 17:7).
Happy Monday! I hope you’re having a great start to your week. I’m grateful for the Lord’s mercies and His abundant love. Psalm 107:15: “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!”
Enjoy a peek into our lives.
An Aunties’ playtime going on here, and even Ellie had to get in on the action.
Joshua memorized the entire book of Jonah. Yes, you read that right! Christopher and Anna Marie hosted some of us that evening, and Joshua planned an entire program, complete with music and ice cream. Maybe we’ll do a separate blog post on how Joshua accomplished memorizing that quantity of verses.
Anna and Ruthie playing on Jonah night.
Nathan and Melanie (along with Benjamin) celebrated their anniversary by going away, and Anna and Mary watched the other children.
The aunts make amazing babysitters!
Gunny sack races.
Reading with Grandpa!
Pancakes and yogurt.
We’ve enjoyed fellowship with friends too!
We ended up postponing our caroling party from December, so we just had it recently, and it changed into a sweet family night and a hymn sing, along with lots of great food.
Anna Marie is getting very close to Baby arriving. 🙂
Coffee with Nathan one morning after dropping off one of his vehicles for maintenance.
Another Aunties’ playtime.
Benji’s shirt is true!
GiGi reading to the greats!
Mom out with the little kids watching a demolition project.
Anna and Mary have tackled a lot of organizing projects lately.
Gotta love this Ellie + Arnold thing.
Christopher and Anna Marie took a night away before the Baby comes, so Mary and Anna watched the children.
We received an unpredicted snow!
Nathan, Mom, and some of the kids went on a day trip to visit friends while Melanie and the baby enjoyed a homeschool mom day out!
Since y’all love these Ellie + Arnold captures!
“Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.” Psalm 107:43