Foodie Friday: Make-Ahead Mama

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Shortly after my now-four-year-old girls came home from the hospital, I feared my husband and I would never eat a “real” meal again.  When the delectable gravy train of home cooked meals from friends and neighbors slowed to a halt, Hubby and I found ourselves standing in front of the refrigerator, deciding between (yet another) ham sandwich or a frozen stir-fry meal-in-a-bag.  While I anticipated some degree of “camping out” with two newborns in the house, I was afraid I would never again have the time or energy to prepare anything more.

Once upon a time, I loved to cook….to spend a couple of hours chopping and dicing, sautéing and simmering….to put a three course meal, perfectly presented, on the table for Sunday evening dinner.  I came to the realization that it’s going to be a while before I can enjoy the luxury of engrossing myself in kitchen heaven for hours on end.  But I am proud to say that we eat more than ham sandwiches, and I found my passion for cooking again, although in a much different light.

The crock pot is one of my best friends.  I have become the master of make-ahead casseroles.  I love being able to assemble a dish the previous night, and then pop it in the oven an hour before dinner.  And when I do cook something “fresh”, I often cut down on my time in the kitchen by doing the prep work….my beloved chopping, dicing, and sautéing….ahead of time.

Yes, we eat a lot of one-dish meals these days, but at least they’re not all out of a bag from the freezer.  There’s something I find really satisfying about being able to pull it all together.  But rest assured, I do reserve the right to serve up a delicious ham sandwich now and again….which I think is more than fair for a mom of multiples!

What are your tricks for getting dinner on the table?

MandyE is mom to 4 1/2-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures and her journey through motherhood at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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MandyE is the mother of 4 ½-year old fraternal twin girls, Baby A and Baby B. (And yes, their names actually start with the letters A and B!) She worked in the marketing field for nine years before her girls were born, but these days she’s relishing the opportunity to be a SAHM, which she plans to continue until the girls start kindergarten. MandyE has been blogging at Twin Trials and Triumphs since her girls were a year old. Between her blog and her local Mothers of Multiples group, she considers the multiples community a huge part of her support system.

9 thoughts on “Foodie Friday: Make-Ahead Mama”

    1. Sometimes I think it’s a trade-off between “me” time / downtime while my girls are asleep and doing things ahead of time…but doing some prep work — no matter the task — definitely makes for a smoother day!

  1. This is exactly where I am at in terms of cooking. Like you, once upon a time before the twins, I cooked all the time. Now I try to at least make easy meals. I love your casserole idea. You should share some of your best recipes in your next post!

  2. I am also a total meal planner and crockpot lover!!! The first few months after my boys were born we ate out way more than I ever wanted- and I never wanted them to eat fast food so I really had no choice but to start planning ahead! I now plan 3 meals per week and each meal is planned quantity wise for 2 nights- so it takes care of 6 dinners/week. One weekend night is always planned for eating out and the boys alternate who picks the restaurant. I LOVE the for crockpot recipes since you can read the other reviews to figure out if it’s a good recipe or not- and I just do the prep the night before and throw it all in the crockpot in the morning. Steam a bunch of frozen veggies as a side dish and there is a meal we are all happy with! I generally plan 2 crockpot meals/week and 1 grilling night- and always with enough food for 2 nights. Maybe one day when my kiddos are in kindergarten and beyond I will go back to planning and cooking actual meals again- but for now, it works and everyone is happy :)

    1. We also plan for leftovers, too…but it’s getting harder. My girls eat so much…at 4 1/2! :) A crock pot bean chowder recipe that is one of our favorites, we used to be able to get four meals from before the girls were born…now it’s TWO! A good problem to have, I know…but it’s messing with my planning. HA!

      1. Oh yes- crock limitations! I went all out when I started planning this and bought the biggest crockpot I could find (I think it’s an 8 quart one)- it can easily handle 6-8 chicken breasts or 4-5 pounds of roast! I then demoted my older, smaller one to rice and pasta side dishes so the family still gets the main dish and 2 sides every night! Good luck with the future meal planning- everything is an adventure with littles in the equation!!!

        1. YES! I have three crock pots…a huge one, a regular size that’s probably close to 20 years old, and I recently bought the cutest little one for dips. (I’m a nerd!) 😉

  3. I LOVE my crockpot… with the massive caveat that my kids don’t like one-dish meals. They prefer their vegetables raw and their different ingredients not touching. Now that I’m the only adult in the house, the crockpot only comes out for pot roast or when I’m cooking a whole chicken.

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