Homeschooling (at least for me) means making three meals a day, but also being busy during the day. Also, I’m a morning person so I get up ridiculously early (5:30 – really, I only get up that early because Ani has to be at church for seminary at 6), but by about 3:30 or 4 I’m tired and really don’t feel like spending much time cooking dinner. So, most days, I prep our food in the morning so I (or someone else) only has to do minimal work to get food ready at mealtimes.
The kids love it when I make a nice, hot meal for breakfast. Monday is always muffins. I refuse to get up and get to work making breakfast on Saturdays so they get to serve themselves cereal or yogurt or leftovers. The rest of the week we have things like pancakes, cinnamon rolls, eggs (fried, scrambled, or hard boiled), bacon (regular or Canadian), fried ham, etc. Since I get up so early, whatever we are having for breakfast is ready to eat between 7 and 7:30 in the morning (I like to get school started by 8 or 8:30 at the latest).
Lunch and dinner get prepped at the same time I do breakfast. This usually means chopping whatever needs to be chopped, putting out meat to thaw, and gathering the ingredients that will be used when the meal is actually made.
If a meal can be completely assembled in the morning (like a casserole), I do and then I cover it in foil and write the cooking instructions directly on the foil with a Sharpie. Then I put it on the shelf in the refrigerator until it is time to be cooked.
Sundays are a bit different. This year church is 11-2. I usually wake up about 7 on Sundays (no alarms on the weekends, but that’s my natural wake-up time in the winter) and spend the next little while working on food for the day. I have an added bonus of a little helper every Sunday: Adrian! He loves to help me cook.
Since I am already dressed for church when I start cooking on Sundays, I always wear my cute little apron. Other days whether I put it on is hit or miss.
Breakfast on Sundays is usually pancakes and syrup. I make the syrup while the pancakes are cooking by boiling frozen fruit, a little lemon juice, and sugar together. The last pancake is always a big one just for Adrian (I also make random minis along with the regular ones for him to eat while we cook – no wonder he likes to cook with me!).
It’s too much to have a full meal right after church and Skyping Jamie’s mom and then another full meal at dinnertime with church 11-2. I think we’ve hit on the best solution. I make flat bread in the morning and cut it into 6 strips so it’s ready to be eaten. When we get home from church, we pull out mustard, lunchmeat, sliced cheese, and whatever else people want to make quick sandwiches. Then we’re good until dinnertime, but also actually hungry at dinnertime.
We often use the crockpot on Sundays. The length of time things are cooked on low is usually perfect for starting just before we leave for church and being done around dinnertime.
In addition to prepping that day’s meals, on Sundays I also cut up chicken. I do this for two reasons. One, I hate touching chicken so getting it all done once a week makes the rest of the week a little more pleasant for me. Two, trash day is Monday so the nasty chicken bits get taken away the next morning (very important in the summer in Texas!). I make a list of how much chicken and in what form (diced, patties, strips) I need for each meal of the week. I write the name of the meals on sandwich baggies with a Sharpie and then cut the chicken and fill the baggies. Sometimes I have more chicken that I need that week so I dice it up (diced is what we use the most) and put it in meal portions in baggies. They’ll get used the next week. Those baggies go in the freezer to be pulled out and used on the appropriate days.
Being gluten free takes extra time when it comes to feeding my family (I can’t just grab a loaf of bread at the store unless I want to spend a fortune on it), but the effort and planning of getting food prepped in the morning makes the rest of my day go smoother and makes being gluten free a lot easier.