Feeding a family every day is a big job. With the modern schedule, parents need meals that are simple, healthy, and don't require lots of steps. With a little planning, a well-stocked pantry, and a good grocery list, moms and dads can make the 21-meals-a-week chore a manageable process.

Make Food in Large Batches

  • Freeze several batches of French toast and pancakes in single layers on a cookie sheet (to prevent sticking), then place in freezer bags. These can be warmed up in minutes using an oven, small broiler oven, steamer, or microwave.
     
  • Most soups will last up to a week in the refrigerator, and months in the freezer. Or, if you know how to can foods, even longer on a pantry shelf.
     
  • Get the whole family involved in this process. Use a couple of hours on a weekend and give everyone a job to do from prep work to clean up.

Store Food in Individual Containers

  • If you have a busy week coming up, divide prepared dishes for a few days' worth of lunches and suppers. Sandwiches, cut vegetables and fruits, and bread slices can be placed together in small-serving dishes in the refrigerator. Grab these on your way out the door to soccer practice or have each family member get their own when you need dinner at home in a hurry.
     
  • In the morning, pop the individual containers in lunch bags for school.

Use One Ingredient Multiple Ways

  • Brown rice can be used in dips, tacos and tortillas, and as a healthy, whole grain filler in casseroles and soups, and as a breakfast cereal with a bit of milk and sugar.
     
  • Use homemade or store-bought pasta sauce on a homemade pizza, in pasta dishes and goulash, as a cracker topping along with herbs and cheese for a delicious snack, and mixed with sausage or beef for delicious meatballs.
  • Cook egg noodles and use part of the batch in soups, and the rest in a stir fry dish.

  • Make potatoes into home fries. Serve with eggs for breakfast and mix leftovers with meat and seasoning to make taco meat.

Have a Leftover Buffet

  • One day each week, pull foods from the refrigerator and lay out on a platter along with any additional side items such as bread, crackers, or dips and let family members put together their own meal.
     
  • Use leftover foods such as salsa, dips, and meat as a topping on crackers or pita chips.

Take a Break

  • Occasionally order take-out, or head to a restaurant where someone else does the cooking and cleaning. Take leftovers home and add them to that buffet later in the week.

More Resources to Make Meal-Planning and Preparation Easier:

This post was included in the blog carnival Festival of Frugality, Edition #281.