As the kids are about to start their spring sports season, I am once again preparing to include many quick prep meals in my weekly menu plan. Eating dinner together as a family on as many nights as possible is important to me. During sports season, with practices and games it can make this a little more challenging. This is when I turn to quick prep meals (and the occasional picked up pizza).
At our house, we seem to have a mix of conflicts.
Some practices/games start early in the evening and we plan our dinner for after the game. On those days, we start by grabbing a small snack before the game/practice. Generally, I try to encourage them to have yogurt or a granola bar. Something that will give them a bit of energy without being too much food. Then, I plan a dinner that can be made after the practice/game, while the kids shower. Some of our favorites (and my approach) are:
Tacos - by cooking the meat and prepping the toppings the night before, I can quickly warm the meat in a skillet and set out a taco bar for everyone to enjoy a satisfying meal.
Chicken Caesar Salads - if I plan the menu right, we can have grilled chicken for dinner one night and follow it up with Chicken Caesar Salad the next night. By using bagged salad, the preparation is quick and the meal satisfying.
Hamburgers on the Grill - we use the frozen, premade burgers. They are quick to prepare and topped with lettuce and tomato make a quick and tasty meal.
Pizza - we pick it up on the drive home. We have a shop that does $5 large pizzas, so it is still pretty economical.
Breakfast for Dinner - whether the Tyson Breakfast Bowls that I shared earlier this week or pancakes or scrambled eggs, breakfast seems to be a quick prep meal.
Some practices/games start later in the evening and we plan our dinner before the game. This allows us a lot more flexibility. Clearly, we don't want to eat as we are rushing out the door and we need to make sure that we aren't eating too heavy that the kids feel sick while they are running around. Some of our favorites (and my approach) are:
Baked Chicken - whether we are using the new Fresh Take option from Kraft or simply baking chicken with barbeque sauce, my husband, who is home to get my son off the bus, will put the chicken in the oven so that it is ready to go on the table when my daughter and I walk in the door. A quick side of vegetables or a side salad, round out the meal.
Casseroles/Lasagne/Enchiladas - I prep the dish the night before or in the morning and leave it in the refrigerator. My husband can put it in the oven at the right point for us to enjoy a warm meal when we get home.
Freezer meals - frequently casseroles/lasagne/enchiladas are freezer meals, but there are other meals that I will put up in the freezer that will allow for quick prep. Meals like Chicken Gravy over Biscuits, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Chili, and Sloppy Joes are meals that are ready to heat and eat in my freezer most of the time.
Of course, the options for after practice/game work was well.
I leave the 'fancy' meals for the days where we have more time.
Having a variety of quick prep meals allows my family to enjoy dinner together even when the schedules are busy with sports. This works for me.