A reader recently asked for meal planning suggestions for when her service member is gone for deployment. Most of us prepare normal meals while the entire family is home, but once a spouse deploys that goes out the window. It certainly does in my house at least.
My husband likes to eat a full meal made up of a meat, 2 vegetables and a starch. That takes a lot of forethought to make a menu, purchase the groceries and cook.
When my husband deploys, that worry goes out the window and another one enters my mind.
What am I going to feed my 3 year old that does not like to eat? What can I prepare that takes the least amount of time and effort but is still healthy?
I feel like I waste so much food because it is hard to cook for just the two of us. So what’s the solution to eating healthy and not wasting food? It’s meal preparation.
It can be daunting coming up with ideas for meals. The key is to plan ahead so you aren’t staring at the fridge at 5 p.m. wondering what you’re going to make. Ask friends for suggestions, pick up a cookbook or scour Pinterest for recipe ideas.
Here are 5 meals to cook for your children when your spouse is deployed.
Chicken Pot Pie Casserole
Megan Porta from pipanddebby.com has a delicious chicken pot pie casserole recipe for an easy weekday dinner. You can get a head start on it by chopping the carrots and onion the night before and storing them in a Ziplock bag in the fridge.
No need to worry about making the pie crust. You can pick up a refrigerated pie crust at the commissary.
Related: DeCA Dietitian Encourages ‘Thinking Outside the Box’
It only takes a few minutes on the stove before you pop it in the oven. That gives you plenty of time to catch up on how your child’s day.
Once they’ve tasted it, this casserole will become one of your favorite go-to meals.
30-Minute Skillet Lasagna
Who has time to make lasagna from scratch when there are kids running around? Forget all the layering; Samantha at Five Heart Home walks you step by step through a fantastic 30-minute skillet lasagna. Italian meals tend to feed an army, but this recipe feeds only six.
Don’t worry, it freezes and reheats great if there are only a few little ones to feed besides yourself.
Chicken Taco Salad
The Pioneer Woman will have you laughing as you cook up this tasty chicken taco salad. Her humor is fantastic. Follow her recipe for a fun dinner everyone will enjoy.
Yes, it is a salad and while many children don’t go crazy over salad, what child is going to turn down chips with dinner? Prepare the ingredients ahead of time and then let the kids mix their own salad.
Muffin Pan Frittatas
When planning your meals for the week, don’t forget breakfast. I like to sneak vegetables into my son’s breakfast without him knowing. This muffin pan frittata recipe is a winner. While it calls for asparagus and bell peppers, you can change that up with vegetables you prefer. I like zucchini and broccoli.
Pussycat Pizza Recipe
I love this fun cat pizza recipe Jennifer Cheung posted on Kidspot. You can consider yourself worldly after making this one as the recipe is from New Zealand. Note that it says to heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius, that translates to 425 degrees. Let your kids decorate their own cat face pizzas. They’ll have fun in the kitchen with you and the pizza will be gone before you know it.
These are a few delicious meals to try with your children. Search for other kid-friendly meals in the MilitaryShoppers’ recipe database or pick up a recipe card at the commissary in the produce or meat section.