I love back to school time. New clothes, new teachers, new friends. But, back to school also kicks off a myriad of after school activities, sports, car pools, school projects that need craft supplies and who knows what else. With after-school chaos threatening to take over, dinner time becomes a free for all of frozen entrees and fast food. And sometimes, I even hit the drive through twice an evening to keep everyone fed.
Fortunately, with a little advanced planning, you can stay ahead of the dinner time madness and keep your family well fed. With that in mind, I’ve put together a short list of tips to help keep your back-to-school dinner time under control.
1. Freeze One Entrée Each Week Starting NOW. If, starting this week, you double one recipe each week and freeze it, you’ll have at least six to seven ready-made, healthy, wholesome, not chemical-laden meals on hand and ready to pop in the oven or microwave for dinner on any hectic night.
2. Majority Rules. Oh, how I wish I’d been a stickler about making my kids eat what’s put in front of them from the get go. If your family is like mine, one only eats chicken, one won’t eat red meat, nobody likes fish… If you can’t keep everyone happy with one entree choice, follow the majority rules philosophy and keep three out of four (insert your family size here) happy and make sure side dishes take the oddball's needs into account or let them eat cereal … or PJ&J. For example, make Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole and let the one that doesn’t like chicken pick it out. Or, make Garlic Baked Chicken with a veggie filled quinoa salad/side dish so the vegetarian in your family will get the protein they need and everyone gets vegetables and whole grains.
3. Two for One – Always plan for leftovers! I always try to prepare a serving or two more than I need, so there will be leftovers for someone the next night. This works well for little football boys to eat as a hearty after-school snack before practice or hold on to the leftover servings for a day or two and make a full family “a la carte” meal out of them.
If you need a few family friendly, freezable entree recipes, I plan to post at least two or three each week as I prepare them for clients to help get you started. The Chicken & Wild Rice recipe, below, from FoodNetwork.com, is a client favorite!
And, if you’ve got a recipe to share, send it in and I just may post it!
No cream of mushroom soup required! And, if you don’t want to use boxed wild rice, you can find unseasoned, un processed wild rice at Whole Foods and season the meal any way you like!
- 3 cups cooked, chopped chicken breasts
- 1 package quick cooking wild rice, cooked according to package directions
- 1 package frozen French green beans, thawed and drained
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup cream or milk
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a buttered casserole dish combine chicken, cooked rice and green beans. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Stir in onions and cook for 1 minute. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Whisk in cream or milk and return to a simmer. When sauce has thickened pour over mixture in casserole dish. Sprinkle with parmesan and almonds and bake for 30 minutes