Episode 111 Living in the Nooks and Crannies

This year is like no other and most of us have had to adapt and change. I count myself as lucky because my twins are in school full time and my high schoolers are in school part time. It is better for them to be in school, but it means that I have kids coming in and out of the house several times a day.

The constant interruptions mean I have fewer large blocks of time to work. I have to fit all of my home and work tasks into nooks and crannies in my day.

Are you experiencing the same thing?

When interruptions come and I have to readjust my plans for the day I feel like it is shuffling a deck of cards. Each card is a task that I want or need to accomplish and I am constantly moving the cards to fit in little spaces of the day. This takes a lot of brain space.

 

Here are three tips to help you when you don’t have large blocks of time to fix meals.

  • Meal Plan

I know I sound repetitive, but it really is important. Even if the plan changes (which it does at least once a week in my home) you have the plan to fall back on.

 

When life is extra busy and you spend fifteen minutes at the beginning of the week planning your meals you can look at your calendar and plan super simple meals on extra-busy days.

  • Adapt

You may have to change your meal plan during the week. Maybe you panned to cook something in the oven and you ran out of time. You can still quickly cook it in a skillet or in your instant pot.

 

Try to prep a meal earlier in the day. Get everything in your slow cooker liner and put it in the refrigerator so all you have to do is move it to the slow cooker base and turn it on. Maybe you can prep a roast in the morning and put it in the oven in the afternoon.

 

Most of your meals are made with the same “base” ingredients. For example- Chicken and pasta can be chicken parmesan, chicken piccata, or chicken noodle bowls. It only means changing a few ingredients to get different dishes. Adapt around the base ingredients.

  • Always have a backup

This is key to the Feed Your Family Tonight philosophy. You need to have 2-3 meals that you can get on the table in 20 minutes or less with ingredients you have in your house all the time.

 

Life is going to happen and if you have a backup you will be ready.

 

This also means use the food you have in your freezer. If you have made extra meals for your freezer, use them during this busy time. That is what they are there for. It is okay to eat them when life is busy.

 

For a full transcript of this podcast click here.

Marie Fiebach is a married mother of four active kids. She helps busy families plan and execute weeknight dinner so they can recapture a little calm in the crazy. You can see her every week on KAKE TV’s Good Morning Kakeland or listen to the Feed Your Family Tonight Podcast.

Episode 40 Avoiding the Drive Thru When Life Gets Crazy

Avoiding the drive thru when life gets busy isn’t hard but it does take planning. I have my 3 step PSA for weeknight family dinner success. Step 1 P-Plan and Prep, Step 2 S-Set a Dinner Bell and Step 3 A-Always have a backup. Today we are going to talk about A- Always have a backup.

A Backup is any dinner you can get on the table in 20 minutes or less with ingredients you have in your house. That may be your pantry, refrigerator or freezer. Identify 3 backup meals you can fix for your family and get the ingredients in your house this week. It is important to do it now because when you need a backup it is too late to go to the store.

By always having a backup you can avoid the drive thru and get your family fed even when life gets crazy. You know that there will be days when things don’t go as planned, or days when you are just extra busy. You may even PLAN to use a backup meal on a very busy night.

You can get the backup food in your freezer by making extra food one night and freezing it for another day. When you freeze food you want to consider how you plan to thaw them. I have learned that when I use a zip top gallon bag I don’t freeze it totally flat because the large square does not fit well in a bowl in my microwave. Instead, I fill it half full and fold the top half of the bag over the food to create a rectangle that fits in a bowl in my microwave.

Some of my favorite backup meals:

Chicken Tacos

Taco Meat

Bean Quesadillas

Spaghetti

Chili

BLT Sandwiches

Breakfast for dinner with Turkey Sausage or eggs and pancakes

Pre-Cooked Ground Beef

Cheeseburger Baked Potatoes

Episode 22: The Spring Sprint is Here – 8 Tips for Feeding Your Family in the Busy Season

In this episode, Marie gives you 8 tips for feeding your family during a busy season.

  1. Identify you are in a busy season and figure out when it will get a little easier.

-Follow Lisa Woodruff’s advice (Organize365.com) and if a task can wait until life slows down, let it wait.

2-  Give yourself some grace. This is not a time for gourmet Pinterest-perfect family meals.

-Use the food in your freezer. You made it for busy times, plus, now is the time to use up your winter stash so you aren’t stuck eating beef stew in June.

-Do you need some portable meals to eat in the car or at the ball park?

-Sandwiches, Burritos, Breakfast Sandwiches all make good portable meals.

3- Do a deep shopping trip. Marie talked about this in her Holiday Planning episode.

-stock up on basics like toilet paper, paper towels and toiletries in addition to pantry basics.

4- Prep and shop on weekdays if you can. The weekends get busy and you will want to rest if you have the chance. If you are a working parent, consider taking a half or whole day off just to prep. It will give you mental space to face the busy season.

5- Eat Raw Veggies.

-Eating raw veggies saves you time in cooking and cleaning.

-Consider buying a pre-made veggie tray to bring out at snack or dinner time. All the veggies are washed and cut and the dip is ready to go.

6- Stock up on Hearty Snacks

-You will likely have at least one kid eating earlier or later than the rest of the family. Have hearty snacks ready for before or after activities.

-Consider buying individual packages or “compromise foods” if your budget allows. Now is the time for convenience. Or, package homemade foods in single-serving sizes that are easy to grab on the go.

                -Cheese and nut packs

                -Cheese Sticks

                -Hummus (maybe in individual packages)

                -Guacamole (maybe in individual packages)

                -Granola (Chai Spiced Granola Recipe)

                -Veggie Trays

                -Baby Carrots

                -Yogurt

                -Frozen Berries

                -Make a Breakfast Casserole (Sausage and Egg Casserole) (Spinach and Hash Brown Breakfast Bake)

                -Pre-cook bacon

7- Buy everyone in your family a water bottle that is the same brand with the same lids and straws.

                -Get each person a different color so you know where to look if one goes missing. Or, label each water bottle with the child’s name.

                -Get your kids in the habit of taking a water bottle with them every time you get in the car. Do the same for you! I drink so much more water if I have it with me in the car.

8- Use the Feed Your Family Tonight Master Meal Planning Sheet and the Weekly Meal Planning Sheet to list your activities and set a dinner bell. (Listen to podcasts 1-4 if you want to know how to use these free meal planning sheets.)

                -It is so much easier to plan what kind of meal you need each night if you know how the evening activities. Do you need dinner ready the minute you get home or do you need a portable meal to take to the ball park or practice?

Follow these 8 tips to help you recapture a little calm in the crazy spring sprint.