I'm still trying to be more engaged in the whole process of feeding my family, and I'm enjoying the results.
If you bake, you need never miss out on treats, even if you get snowed in for a week. You save money over both packaged baked goods and fresh bakery stuff, and you can make it healthier as well. Since we are gluten-free, baking for ourselves makes even more sense. Loaves of bread, a batch of peanut butter brownies, some blueberry muffins, some snickerdoodle cookies, a loaf of banana bread - all of that has come out of my kitchen in the last two weeks, and it hasn't been that big a deal, time-wise. It is using up our chicken eggs a lot faster than we were before, but if I just wait a couple days the chickens will have replenished our supply.
Rice and Beans
Rice and beans is not actually boring! Turns out there tons of ways to play with it and make it fun, and you can add in almost anything you have on hand. Hardboiled eggs? Sure. Cheese? Yummy. Frozen vegetables? Yes please. Roasted root vegetables? Yep. Sauteed peppers? Delicious. Canned mushrooms? Sure thing. The only thing I haven't tried is adding anything pickled, and I think I will avoid that experiment - but otherwise it's been a great game. And when the power was out and we were snowed in, with my big bags of dried beans and rice I had no worries that my family would go hungry. We've had red beans and rice, chickpeas and yellow rice, and more. And if there's any left the next day, the kids love it fried into little pancake fritters for breakfast.
There's nothing like a pot of soup, and it's another great way to use whatever you have on hand. If you are feeding a bunch of vegetarians and meat-eaters together, you can make it veggie and serve the meat on the side to just add as desired. If you are serving kids and adults together you can make it mild and serve hot sauce on the side. And it stretches, so you can just add a bit more stock and water to make more soup if you are feeding a crowd. It freezes too, so make a big batch and then save some for later. Serve it with a loaf of fresh bread and you have a warming and satisfying meal. We've had squash soup, potato soup, cauliflower soup, white chili (veggie with shredded chicken on the side), black bean and potato, and lentil pasta soup in the past few weeks.
I've been making my own "snack mix" and putting it out in large rubbermaids for my family's consumption. This isn't really "from scratch", but I do like making my own mix so I can pick gluten-free pretzels, cereal, dried fruit, nuts, and other bits we like. If I'm feeling really rice, I'll throw some M & M's into the mix - but we've also enjoyed candy-coated sunflower seeds and honey roasted peanuts as the sweet bits of the mix. With bulk bags in the cupboard, I'm in control of what and how much goes into the snack mix bucket, and then I just let them go ahead and eat that when they want a snack.
Is the most important meal of the day, but also the hardest to do right if you're in a hurry to get out the door. There's more options than just cereal: baked mochi, hardboiled eggs (do the night before), homemade baked goods (the night before) and butter or jam, fried rice, polenta and cheese, oatmeal, protein smoothies, just to name a few.
It feels good to keep it Real, and it sure was nice during the storm to feel like I could deal with food and not panic.