Guest Author - Cynthia Parker
There is nothing I like better than cooking one meal and being able to extend it to three. No, I am not talking about standard left-overs. We all know that our children turn their noses up at leftovers. However, if you can make three totally different meals from one meal, THAT is an achievement in saving time and efforts.
Sunday morning, place a 3-4 pound pork roast (your favorite cut, bone in or out) in the crock pot with one cup of water, a tablespoon of chopped garlic and one onion, sliced. Allow to cook on high for 6-8 hours. [Cooking on high in the crock pot requires a little more attention than cooking on low. Be sure to check the roast every 3-4 hours to see if you need to add water.] When the roast is done, prepare a box of Stovetop stuffing and canned green beans for healthy and tasty Sunday dinner. Refrigerate the remainder of the roast in a sealed container.
Tuesday dinner requires very little effort. Prepare either Minute rice or Rice-A-Roni Fried Rice according to package directions. Empty one can of diced pineapple, including the juice, into a 2 inch deep frying pan. Dice one green bell pepper and one medium onion; add these to the frying pan. Simmer on medium heat. Cut a generous portion of the pork roast into one inch cubes and add to the frying pan. Allow the mixture to simmer until the pineapple juice as been absorbed into the pork and the onion and bell pepper are tender. [Add water if the pineapple juice is absorbed before the veggies are tender.] Optional vegetables that can be added to the mixture are thinly sliced carrots and celery. Serve the pork and pineapple mixture over the rice and a festive and flavorful flair to dinner.
Thursday nights are always a challenge for me. It is close enough to the end of the week that I have begun to tire and the kids are beginning to get antsy. It is time for an easy to fix, easy to eat meal. Pull the remainder of the pork roast apart into shreds. Place in a saucepot along with your favorite barbeque sauce. Allow to simmer on low until the mixture is heated through. [For a simple and tasty barbeque sauce made with ingredients found in most kitchen cabinets, combine ¼ cup of mustard, ¼ cup of ketchup, ½ cup of vinegar (white or apple cider), ¼ cup of vegetable oil, ¼ tsp of black pepper, a dash of salt, and two dashes of paprika. Blend well.] Serve on whole wheat hamburger buns and garnish with dill pickle chips or wedges. Add a serving of frozen French fries, baked in the oven instead of fried in oil. Quick, simple, and delicious.
Preparing meals on the weekend - when you have more time - that can extend into your work week is one simple way of using time wisely and creating time during the week for more important tasks such as helping the kids with homework or squeezing in a bubble bath after the kids are in bed. Depending upon the age of your children, you can incorporate them into the preparation and clean-up process. Make this a time for talking about their day at school or for discussing a topic that has come to your attention recently. Tap into the imagination of your children and turn prep and clean-up time into a game where they are rewarded for their assistance.
It is possible to save time and money (over eating out or bringing home fast food), eat healthy, and spend quality time with the children through a little well-planned effort!