Inside: How to cook healthy meals during deployment for yourself and your kids when you really don’t want to
It’s totally acceptable to have cereal for dinner every once and awhile.
We’ve all been there. As you aren’t cooking for your husband, your motivation to make delicious and well-rounded meals goes out the window. It’s just easier to pour a bowl of cereal- and the kids certainly aren’t complaining about that.
Maybe it’s just me. My husband loves food, like seriously loves it. So it’s fun when I make a meal that he enjoys so much that he raves about it to everyone he knows.
He still talks about the crock pot ribs I make him.
My kid however? He doesn’t rave about my food; if it has some kind of pasta in it, he’s usually happy.
In fact, kids usually fuel the junk-food-for-dinner trend because when you are solo-parenting it’s just simply easier to not fight over dinner and the fact that the peas they loved a week ago are now their enemy. Let’s face it, you are already exhausted and have very little motivation to win parent-of-the-year.
There is an easier way
Right now, as I write this, I am almost 36 weeks pregnant.
I’m an uncomfortable, giant, work at home mom of a toddler that doesn’t seem to be getting past his “hitting” phase.
To say I have little to no motivation or energy to do anything is an understatement. And that absolutely includes making dinner, especially when my husband is away.
I frequently walk into the kitchen, open the refrigerator and stare as if something is going to jump out, already cooked and ready to go. When nothing happens, I leave the kitchen and repeat that process about 5 more times.
My solution? Freezer meals.
I’m not kidding, I would probably rotate between serving my child mac and cheese, peanut butter sandwiches, and cereal if it wasn’t for my freezer meals. I’m not proud of that, but it’s the truth.
Before I continue on, I just want to let you know that I already know what you’re thinking; “Freezer meals? Seriously? That sounds like a lot more work”
Here’s what less than one hour of meal prep gives me:
I actually timed it. It took me less than one hour, even though I had to stop and give my son a bath because he pulled the meat package out of the garbage and started playing in the red stuff (super gross, right?)
It’s amazing how quiet children are when they are being really messy…
Anyway, less than one hour of meal prep gave me:
- Two weeks worth of freezer meals
- 3 items to wash in my sink (I washed and reused the same pan and cooking utensils for all the meals)
That’s two weeks that I didn’t have to stare blankly into the refrigerator.
Two weeks of having very minimal dishes after cooking a homemade meal.
Two weeks of healthy meals for my family.
And bonus: most of the time we had leftovers for lunch- which means one more meal that I don’t have to think about.
The little trick that will save you time and money
I would be remiss if I didn’t put a little asterisk on my freezer meal suggestion.
When I first started planning freezer meals I spent a ton of time on it and it was very frustrating. I spent hours on Pinterest, and a lot of times got frustrated that every link I click suggested the same recipes and eventually I would give up.
I’m picky; I don’t like super spicy or Mexican foods, I wanted healthy meals that didn’t cost an arm and a leg in ingredients, I wanted something my kid would eat and that would be good for him.
Once I finally picked out my meals, I’d go through and print all the recipes. I would have to go through each ingredient list- figure out what I needed, and make a “master” grocery list. A couple times I even forgot the list and remember sitting in my car looking through my Pinterest saves and trying to remake the list in the parking lot of the store.
Then I finally found FreezEasy.
Not only did FreezEasy save me hours of time, but it also saved me money because they choose meals that have low-cost ingredients.
The entire meal planning process literally takes me maybe 10 minutes. Here’s how it usually goes:
- I log on and click on “build my own meal plan” because, like I said, I’m picky. (You could just download that months plan and be done)
- I pick out my meals and click “email my list”
- I sign into my email and there it is; a pdf of my grocery list (both for individual recipes and for all the recipes combined) and step-by-step instructions for how to prepare and freeze the meals
It literally couldn’t get easier than that.
Related article: How Your Military Family Can Save Money On Groceries
BTW, when you are sitting on your couch binge watching This Is Us (possibly sobbing) and your kid comes up to you asking for dinner and you remember that you totally forgot to take out the freezer meal to defrost; you don’t need to worry. I got your back.
Fill up a bowl of warm water and put your freezer meal in it (I usually leave the water running for a few minutes) then let it sit for about 20 minutes and BAM- defrosted and ready to cook. You’re welcome.
Healthy meals with no effort?
Sounds too good to be true but it’s really not. I know that you don’t want to cook, especially when your husband is away. I also know that you want your kids to eat healthy foods. Have the best of both worlds.
I literally don’t know what I’d do without my freezer meals. I love how quick the meal planning process is with FreezEasy, I love that I can choose my meals (and they even have stuff for allergy sensitive and gluten free families), I love that my family likes the food and how one hour of “meal prep” gives me two weeks of dinners- and lunches. I love that cooking up the defrosted meal takes just a few minutes and clean up is super easy.
And best of all, I don’t have to feed my kid cereal for dinner.