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Meal Times, Meal Battles

Wouldnít it be perfect if families could eat together every night, at the same time, with the same meal for everyone?

Often times itís just not feasible for mealtimes to occur on the dot at 6 pm. Due to jobs, after school activities, sports, etc., it can be challenging for the family to sit down together for dinner.

If you have some family members that are ready for dinner at 5, and others that donít eat until much later, you do NOT have to cook two and three meals.

Set aside some time on the weekend to cook batches of your familyís favorite meals. Prepare and cook the meals as you normally do. After the meal has cooked, divide it into individual portions in freezer safe containers. Loaf pans are great for freezing 1-2 serving sizes.

Simply place cooked food in pan or container, place saran wrap over, and then wrap tight with tin foil. I prefer to put the loaf pans in plastic freezer bags, with a note indicating directions for thawing and reheating, and date cooked. For example, for a chicken casserole, I would include the following instructions:

ďChicken Casserole. Cooked and Frozen 3/23/08. Remove Tin foil and plastic wrap. Place in oven at 325 degrees until warmed through. Or, thaw in fridge the night before, and re-heat in oven."

The beauty of this is that when one family member really wants chicken casserole, but youíve been cooking another recipe, all you have to do is re-heat the frozen pre cooked dish.

Another tip I encourage is to use the grill! It doesnít matter if itís an indoor or outdoor grillóeither one is perfectly fine! Many things just taste better on the grill, and itís simple to clean up.

I frequently talk about taking advantage of buy one get one free sales the grocery store. For example, if chicken is on sale, Iíll buy one to cook that night, and the 'free' one will go on the grill. For the next week, I always have fresh grilled chicken in the fridge, or I can freeze it for a meal later on.

If your kids wanted chicken casserole and a salad, and you really craved grilled chicken and a salad, youíre covered. Make one large salad, and bring out the chicken casserole individual portions to warm, along with the grilled chicken breasts from the fridge. Everyone eats a healthy meal, and you're not cooking two or three times in the evening.

Itís ok for family members to have different meal times. Itís also ok for family members to have different appetites based on what day of the week it is! However, that doesnít mean you have to become a short order cook. Freezing your familyís favorite meals in individual portions saves time and money. Most importantly, it can save your sanity!

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