Homeschool food preparation begins with a plan.
I’m a real homeschool mom with a real day of kids disinterested in math problems, interrupting during the latin lesson, and me running to change the washer, again.
I’ve got kids that complain about setting the table and not getting into the van fast enough for piano lessons. Yup, real mom.
Plan in advance for greatest simplicity.
Plan in advance, and you’re more likely to make healthier choices, you’ll always have ingredients on hand, and you’ll spend less. (When my eldest daughter recently began housesitting, she returned home and expressly thanked me for having a stocked pantry. Jaw drop.)
I’ve found my own rhythm. Every family will find their own too. Since we have children eagerly involved in all sorts of extracurricular activities, we find ourselves in town plenty of days. But I prefer shopping once a week, every Tuesday afternoon.
My weekly plan looks like this:
- Monday Fish night.
- Tuesday is Chicken night.
- Wednesday is Vegetarian Night.
- Thursday is random night.
- Friday is Fun Food.
- Saturday is Date Night (kids can make whatever while we eat our Lemon Picatta Halibut with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in our room with candles).
- Insert a random leftovers night somewhere in the week.
- Sunday is a meal shared together: fancy night (unless it’s not fancy).
Do you need a few more tips to menu plan for your homeschool? I’ve got that here.
Do you need a few tips to manage the grocery store, and even to cook for your homeschool household? I’ve those here.
I must like to cook or I would have thrown in the kitchen towel and purchased pre-packaged foods years ago, especially after we began homeschooling. I hardly feel like cooking after a day of engaging kids, picking up stuff around the house, and managing interpersonal spats.
I do indeed enjoy cooking, but make it complicated? No!
Since fish is such a quick meal to prepare, I like to include it at the busy beginning of the week. Can’t go wrong pulling out a fresh or frozen fillet and have that grilled or oven toasted in a jiffy, aka 10 minutes. That’s fast food coming out of my kitchen.
Though I still feed Omega 3 supplements to my kiddos every morning, with a shot of green juice, or flax seeds and crushed walnuts on their hot cereal, there is no better way to gain those brain-benefiting fish oils than through their most natural source: fish.
I include fish, not because my kiddos like it, but rather because I know that some of that fish is high in Omega 3s. Good for the brain.
My philosophy: serve anything often enough, and the kiddos will acclimate (also the French Kids Eat Everything philosophy, have you heard it?). At least, I hope.
Before you get started, prepare enough rice for today and another day (doubling food preparation tonight means less work another night). Pour chicken stock into a pot with half as much rice and your favourite spices. If there are any cooked veggies from last night’s meal, dice them, and throw that in with the rice too.
Naturally, my kids just prefer butter.
While simmering the covered pot, find the fish.
Basa fillets are economical fish purchases where I live. Salmon is pricier, despite living on the west coast. And fall-apart tilapia I’ll leave for fish tacos.
If you pull that fillet from the freezer at lunchtime, it will sit happily on the counter awaiting quick prep at five. Slather a tablespoon of mayo on each fillet, both sides…vegenaise is a tastier, vegan alternative to traditional mayonaisse.
Sprinkle those fillets with bread crumbs, or tasty Panko, and your choice of spices. My choice: chili, cayenne, onion salt, garlic salt, and parsley.
For an even healthier alternative, drizzle olive oil and lemon juice then add your favourite spices.
Much like wine preferences, the best way to learn your spice preferences is to play with them all.
At first, spices seem confusing. Smell, taste, and practice using them often. Dill and lemon, basil and parmesan, or salt and pepper, are classic combinations for fish.
Bake at 400 degrees in a roasting pan with a rack and no soppy, mushy mess will be found on the underside. Crunchy on the outside, flaky on the inside.
How to choose a veggie side? My approach: whatever is left in the fridge. I choose seasonal purchases, because they’re less expensive and taste better.
A half of that plate should be filled with veggies for adults, a minimal fistful for the kiddos. Yes, I’m serious. So I prepare two vegetables, for variety.
Grill just about any vegetable, with garlic and olive oil, and its natural flavor is enhanced and it’s very easy to do.
This particular night I found a rainbow selection of peppers. I sliced them into bite-sized pieces , scooped out the seeds, rinsed, and sautéd them in garlic and olive oil.
I had leftover roasted cabbage; yes, cabbage. Slice into 1 inch slabs, drizzle with olive oil, and bake at 425 for fifteen minutes.
Rinse romaine, chop coarsely, and throw on dressing…easy alternative for the kiddos who don’t think vegetables have more value than eating Styrofoam. A healthy alternative to bottle dressings would be a great Italian olive oil and drizzle of Balsamic, a few pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, or craisins. Voila! Finito!
Do this every Monday for a few weeks, and the meal is firmly implanted in your cooking repertoire.
Exciting? I won’t lie, my kids wouldn’t say so. But I love it! Maybe this will be the meal they grow up to associate with their childhoods and LOVE…gotta dream.
No matter what, this is a very quick and simple meal for typically manic Mondays.
My daughter, Madelyn and I have been recording and creating cooking demonstrations, The Homeschool Kitchen, found on my YouTube channel.
- Veggie Burgers & Homemade Buns
- Creamy Cashew Pasta
- Fish Tacos
- Spicy Tofu Bowl
- Roast Chicken
- Bean Chili & Cornbread
- Black Bean Enchiladas
- Chicken Curry