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The upcoming weeks are going to be crazy, even more so than the past few weeks. With a complete change in our schedule happening … actually, each of the next three weeks are going to have completely different schedules from each other and from our regular ‘normal’… I decided to look for ways to make some of the meals easier on us. This will help save time and guarantee that there is something ready to eat, even if we are in a time crunch.
This morning found me making 3 batches of zucchini muffins. The result was 16 dozen muffins. Yeah, a bit more than I thought they were going to make, but it also used up the 12 cups of shredded zucchini I found in my freezer from the 2013 gardening season. Oops.
The first batch were dark chocolate zucchini muffins with cinnamon chips; the second batch were dark chocolate zucchini muffins with butterscotch chips; and the third batch were milk chocolate, coconut zucchini muffins with peanut butter chips. Their textures differed depending on the liquid left in the zucchini. All ended up really delicious and prompted spontaneous, “You are the best cook in the house, Mom.” I welcomed the comment, though as this time I am the only cook in the house.
As if baking muffins was not enough, I also grabbed the partially used bag of hamburger muffins ($1.09), wedge of brie cheese ($1), and some eggs ($0.39). Cooking up the eggs, I made egg and cheese sandwiches, placing them into individual bags. These can be grabbed in the morning, reheated, and eaten. They would also make great after school snacks. Their price came out to less than $0.50 each.
Speaking of school, last week I picked up a container of cheese sandwich spread ($4), 2 containers of soft cheese ($2 each), a container of lunch meat ($1.50), and a loaf of bread ($1). Add to this group was the box of crackers I already had at home ($2.50). Within 10 minutes I had over two weeks worth of sandwiches for school lunches, with ingredients left to spare. The 2 containers of soft cheese were paired with crackers, while the cheese spread and lunch meat were used to make sandwiches. This decision has made the putting together of George’s lunches so much easier. A few of the sandwiches have also been grabbed for after school snacks. (My kids tend to eat a lot, and they are not even teenagers yet.)
There have also been a few nights where I have done something very out of the normal for us – we went out to eat instead of cooking at home. We are not an eating out family, especially during the week. 90%+ of our meals are home cooked, by me. However, I have given myself grace and taken advantage of kids-eat-free nights, or using punch cards from places that result in a free entree, or other such deals. Last night, I took the kids to Denny’s kids-eat-free and let them choose their own drink. They did not care so much about the total, but thought it was awesome to have hot chocolate instead of just water to drink.
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Whether you find yourself preparing meals ahead at home or searching out ways to save money while eating out, planning ahead can save you money. It can also make life easier when other things, for good reasons and bad, strive to make it harder.
What are some of your favorite ways to make your life easier in the area of meal preparations?