The first thing I did was look through my recipes to find the most time-efficient and simple meals I could find. My goal was to come up with at least one month's worth of meals for both lunch and dinner, as well as breakfast, snacks and some special treats I don't usually buy for the kids during this transition time.
Planning lunch was pretty simple, as our kids are pretty partial to the same old rotation of meals: jelly, Sunbutter/jelly, deli meat, or grilled cheese sandwiches; quesadillas, hot dogs (I like to buy the no nitrate turkey dogs), tomato soup, and macaroni and cheese. We'll have leftovers, too, if they're available. For myself (since my kiddos won't eat it), I'm going to have some cooked turkey on hand in the freezer for turkey and gravy over mashed potatoes (YUM!).
Putting together our dinner options and list took a little more time. Every Friday we have homemade pizza, so that was an easy one (and four meals-bonus!). I also like to have breakfast for dinner on Thursday nights, so we'll rotate through homemade french toast, pancakes, and waffles for those meals. One night a week, usually Monday, I like to do a crockpot recipe, so I chose Italian Beef and BBQ pulled pork sandwiches and chicken tacos. I plan to make the chicken tacos twice and use the meat to make enchiladas one night. It's just an easy way to cook the chicken and it's very flavorful.
I'm a big fan of casseroles, so of course I will be incorporating those into my menu. One of the easiest ways to make the casserole prep work quick is to cook and cube the chicken ahead of time. I put two cups in Ziploc and put them in the freezer. I usually find that this amount is enough to suffice for most of my recipes. I chose the following casserole recipes: Cheesy Chicken (which I can make the night before which is a bonus!), Chicken Tetrazzini, Turkey Tetrazzini, Spaghetti Pie, Shepherd's Pie, Tator Tot, and Chicken and Rice. Most of these are easy to have supplies on hand for. You'll need your soups, pastas, frozen vegetables and potatoes, and other odds and ends that you can buy ahead of time.
I've also included Spaghetti, Baked Mostaccioli, Sloppy Joe's, Tacos, Chicken Pot Pie, Ribs, Oven BBQ Chicken Drumsticks, and BBQ Chicken Sandwiches. Of course, I put in a few of the kids' favorites for our Saturday fun night: Mummy Hot Dogs, Fish Sticks, and popcorn and apples. I also hope the weather gets warmer, so my husband can grill! I bought steaks, a pork tenderloin, and chicken drumsticks for that purpose!
This seems like a lot of food! Maybe it will last longer that a month, but I would rather be over-prepared than under! I have all of the meat we will need stored in our big deep freezer as well as vegetables for sides. We have more than enough juice, cereal, and oatmeal to last and I will be stocking our freezer with a variety of muffins and breakfast breads as well to change things up a bit. We'll still have to go to the grocery store weekly, but for the most part we will just need milk, bread, fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurt, and cottage cheese. I think I'm going to get spoiled. Maybe I'll try to keep this up to an extent!
The majority of the recipes that I've included in this post are on my blog. You can search by their names to find them. Today I will include a recipe that we had this week. It's very simple and our kids love it!
BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
4 chicken breasts
1 12 oz. can 7-Up
1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
Place chicken in a skillet. Mix together 7-Up and BBQ sauce. Pour over chicken. Bring to a boil and simmer for one hour, covering the skillet. Remove the chicken from the skillet and shred in a bowl or pan. Pour the liquid in and mix together.