Saturday, October 10, 2015

31 Days to Surviving Sports Seasons Sanely: When Do You Actually Eat?

We actually eat when we get home.  Our family’s non-sports season practice is to eat dinner together around 7pm. I know this is late by most standards, but we chose that time so we could always eat together once my husband gets home from work.

When the children were younger, I occasionally tried feeding them before sports (which usually start 6ish), around 5pm. Their bodies simply weren’t hungry at that time and even if they ate much of anything, they wanted to eat more when they got home.  As you can imagine, this didn’t work for me.

So, now they have a filling snack - a granola bar or something with protein and carbs - after quiet time, get a soccer snack (argh!), and we eat dinner, generally around 7:30, when we get home. Using my crockpots and other tricks I’ve learned over the years makes this process much faster and easier when we do walk in the door. If we start by 7:30, children can be in bed by 9:00 at the latest.

Fajitas are a great sport season meal. They cook quickly on the grill and you can prep extras ahead.
Because we homeschool, I can absorb later nights and tired children with later mornings on occasion, although I prefer not to have to.

Friday, October 09, 2015

31 Days to Surviving Sports Seasons Sanely: Double Meals

Double meals are akin to Planned Overs.  In this case, a portion of a meal is planned with freezing in mind and can be used in different ways than the original use. I already posted one of these about meatballs in my The Crockpot is Your Friend Post.  Another old freezer meal trick is to make two of what you’re making and put one in the freezer.

A favorite of these is my Mexican Beef.  I use this for loaded baked potatoes, Tamale Pie, and for Loaded Nachos, but it could be used in burritos or tacos, too.

1 lb ground beef (or turkey), browned and drained
1 t or to taste each cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, garlic, and onion.  You can also add red pepper flakes to taste.
This is getting ready to load in the crockpot for Tamale Pie
1 jar of your favorite salsa. I like medium heat with corn and black beans, but you can also throw in a can of beans (drained) and as much frozen corn as you choose.

Mix and heat until thickened.
This freezes and doubles (or triples) beautifully.  
Spread your favorite tortilla chips on a baking sheet.  Spread 1 recipe of Dawn’s Mexican Beef mixture over the top.  Top with shredded cheese and the toppings you like: sliced black olives, diced tomatoes, and jalapenos are some of our favorites.  Out of the oven add chives or green onions, sour cream, and avocado in diced or guacamole form.  

Or, put some baking potatoes in one crockpot and your meat mixture in another. Provide other toppings similar to the loaded nachos and have loaded baked potatoes.

Freeze the other half for later.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

31 Days to Surviving Sports Seasons Sanely: Planned Overs

I always try to do planned overs.  These are leftovers I plan on.  If you’re afraid they won’t be left, only serve what you want eaten for that day!

One of my favorite planned over is to make a pot roast for dinner one night.  Load your crockpot with the good things you like - beef; potatoes; carrots; onion; celery; a fennel bulb is tasty and different; herbs (that herb pack I put in the grocery list post and some bay leaves are a great start!); salt and pepper (if you flour, salt, pepper and brown your roast first then use a little red wine to clean the pan into the crockpot, so much the better).   Cover it all with some water (not beef broth or stock!) and cook all day.  When you get home from your event, your family will love you.

But, save some back.  Save half the meat (this means you might need a big roast or you need to cook two in two crockpots!) Save the liquid, save some veggies. A few nights later, you’ll make Shepherd’s Pie with the leftovers.

N-boy up to bat; feeding him good meals is important! Making it easy is necessary!
Shred or dice up your meat and veggies (but not the potatoes!) If you need more veggies, a bag of frozen mixed veggies goes beautifully. Or just peas. Put all of the meat and veggies in a casserole dish (or your oval crockpot) Melt butter, cook some flour in it, add a couple of cups of the reserved liquid from your original pot roast (or half a box of beef broth) and reduce until it’s a beautiful gravy.  Pour the gravy over the meat and veggies. You want just enough to not quite cover them. Boil more potatoes and add the leftover potatoes to get hot. Mash them however you choose (milk, butter, a little garlic?) Scoop the potatoes over the top of your meat, veggies, and gravy.  I like shredded cheese over the top of that.  Bake at 350 until the cheese is melty and a little brown OR put it in your crockpot on low for 2-3 hours to heat everything through.

Knowing I have everything for two separate family-favorite meals - even if they happen in different weeks - is always a happy, sane saving thing for me.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Wednesdays With Words: October Week #1

Just a reminder that while I'm participating in Write 31 Days this month, I won't be posting new words (I'm saving them, though!) ... but I'd love to read yours all month long!

31 Days to Surviving Sports Seasons Sanely: The Crockpot is Your Friend

Maybe even your best friend.

I have two crockpots. During sports seasons, they generally work every other day. We may have pot roast in one onone day and Potato Soup in the other the next.  Food that is hot and waiting for us when we get home from the fields is perfect food and I’m uncomfortable with leaving an oven on when we leave. The crockpot is my tool of choice.

My first crockpot is an old-style round crockpot. It has a removable liner with three settings: off, high, and low.  My second crockpot is fancy-dancy oval shaped crockpot with the latch down lid, timers, settings, thermometer and a warm setting.  I know I don’t use this one to its maximum capabilities.

One of my favorite tricks - and one I use just about every week during sports seasons - is one night we have pasta.  In the afternoon, I make my pasta - any pasta will do - with jarred sauce no less. I spray the liner of the oval crockpot, and pour it in. Sometimes I add meatballs (do cook them with your sauce first). If I don’t have meatballs, but do have Trader Joe’s breaded Eggplant Cutlets or Spinach and Kale Bites (like a veggie meatball), I’ll put them atop the pasta. Add mozzarella cheese over the top (or ricotta mixed in!) and set the crockpot on warm.  

My kiddos working on meatballs. This whole tray will be frozen, we had meatball subs with some of the earlier rolled ones.
When we come home, dinner is hot and ready to serve. And the pasta is like second day pasta, which is my favorite anyway.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

31 Days to Surviving Sports Seasons Sanely: Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping is the hardest thing for me. When it isn’t a sports season, we meet my husband after work at a Whole Foods half an hour away. It’s beer tasting night (with food! The kids eat through the store) and I get an extra pair of hands to help with the shopping.  The children don’t complain about that night, either, as we’ve met some other families who regularly go and they have friends.

We’ve tried something new this soccer season, grocery shopping after morning chores and before school starts, so we leave around 7:30, do our shopping, and start lessons at 9. Kroger at 7:45 on a Tuesday is a beautiful thing.

The other option I’ve considered is that on Thursdays, our “home ec” day, we do GroveTime, clean the house, and grocery shop.

Having a list because we’ve made a plan helps with less back-tracking and makes the shopping go more smoothly and with less whining.  I realize that this is very truly a benefit of homeschooling, that our daytime schedule is somewhat more fluid and we can try these odd things.  Having my list split up generally into the sections of the store helps too.

That being said, I have gotten out of the habits of planning and preparing a list and done the quick "I’ll get food for a few days" stops the past couple of sports seasons and that just doesn’t work for us - I feel like I'm always at the store and spend more money.  I’m attempting to make things better.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Write 31 Days - some of my favorite series!

I'm linking to some of my favorite favorite favorite bloggers' 31 Days series (other than mine!) Hope you'll check 'em out!

Prime Periwinkle - 31 Days of Poetry by Just Me

Here are links to some I think I'll enjoy:

The Writer in You

31 Days of Self-Directed Study