A while back, I polled a bunch of large family mamas on how they have made it easier to get through their long list of responsibilities...in this case COOKING. This is the long list of their responses! Do you have something to add? Comment, and I'll add it to this list!
Almost every meal is crockpot for me, since I never have 2 free hands to cook.
I always do the last thing first - I start dinner, or plan evening clothes if we are going out, etc. before breakfast!
Cook ahead and freeze ground beef (I do 25 pounds at a time, but could do more). Tenderize, marinate and freeze uncooked chicken in meal portions for quick meals.
Make big batches of salsa, pesto, stewed tomatoes and other garden fresh goodies in an assembly line! The more hands, the merrier!
I also do my best to freeze extra things for easy meals. If I am making lasagna, I make extra to freeze for a day when things are a bit more crazy. When I cook ground beef, I cook up about 5 lbs. at a time and freeze half (or more) for fast tacos, enchiladas, spaghetti, nachos, etc.
Coffee made when dinner is made...just hit on and coffee is ready for family worship time!
I am pregnant and due in a few months. My oldest, who is almost 12, can cook quite a few meals completely on her own now but she is totally my right hand at supper in the kitchen. So my almost 8 year old does breakfast dishes. My 6 year old does lunch (the easiest dishes mess of the day) and my 10 year old does supper dishes. They also starting with my 2 year old and up have about an hour and a half of chores first thing in the morning (we live on a mini farm). They have to have their chores done before they can eat breakfast. So some days it is hunger that hurries them along.
I use meal planning and try to plan meals that use some of the same ingredients. I also try to do prep work like peeling, washing and cutting veggies all at once, that way they can just be thrown into a meal or salad.
I make use of freezer bags. I buy fruit and veggies, wash them cut them up and bag them for quick snacks or additions to recipes. Works well for pineapple, grapes, melon, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
Make soup, make twice as much, and freeze it. Then another day you can just defrost it and heat it up.
Make double portions and freezing the other half for a meal the following week for items such as sauce and meatballs, meatloaf, baked chicken, homemade mac 'n cheese.
I love the slow cooker freezer cooking recipes on Pinterest. I can put 10-15 meals in my freezer in a few hours.
I have a vacuum sealer and also prep meats before I freeze them so that they are ready for the grill or oven.
I have every breakfast & lunch the same for that day of the week so I don't have to plan those meals. I have it posted in the kitchen so that my oldest daughter and/or kitchen helper that week or husband knows what to get going since I'm not always able to, esp. while pregnant. For instance, every Mon is oatmeal, Sat is pancakes, Thur is a quiche or egg casserole etc. I think about the night/day before, amount of time that day to prepare etc. Last night we mixed a cake batter (I often do like a muffin batter in a cake pan instead) and peeled & diced potatoes and put in cold water in the 'frig. I told my daughter what time I wanted the cake in the oven and the potatoes were ready someone to fry. Lunch was beans (meant to have rice with it) and we started them soaking last night, too. Sometimes with dinner I'll make a guide to help me choose that is along the same lines as the other meals. Mon is something with ground meat & pasta (I have several recipes I choose from) another might be chicken, Fri was often enchiladas, tacos or homemade pizza since we liked both. In the winter I'll have a soup night, in the summertime a main dish salad night. Another might be something I use the crockpot for and Sun often a roast.
I just finished having my own cookbook with all my alterations to recipes I have tried over the years. My goal (I'm almost there) is to have 30 meals that we love (not just tolerate) and schedule 1 for each dinner of the month. That way food is super varied, but your whole month is planned out in advance and you won't get tired of eating any of it since you only eat each meal every 30 days. After my goal is met, I'll keep expanding as I come across awesome recipes.
Easy Way to File and Organize Recipes - Copy all your recipes onto 3x5 cards and store them in a photo album. The albums are not only a great way to keep organized, but they're also great for keeping spills off of your recipe cards!
We teach our daughters to help. It’s “Mommy and Me” time, that special time of the day when one or maybe two of our daughters learn how to prepare dinner. We are focusing on eating healthy and exercising this year, so our meals are simple. We eat a lot of salads and grill our meats and veggies. It’s good for us and simple to prepare.