Whatever stage of parenting twins you’re in, you are likely in need of a few good dinner ideas. If you’re due any day now, it’s wise to have frozen meals that can be cooked on a moment’s notice. If your babies have recently arrived, perhaps you’re tiring of pizza and pancakes. And if your children are newly mobile, you’re undoubtedly too busy removing them from the top of the kitchen table or pulling them out of the fireplace to cook a well-rounded meal each night.
Whether challenged by basic cooking concepts or void of the time required to prepare meals you feel good about, worry not. There are plenty of ways to ensure that—one way or another—a healthy, delicious meal hits the table before you’re forced to once again weed through the take-out menus.
Organize a Frozen-Dinner Exchange
Many moms are familiar with the concept of a cookie exchange. Invitees—in this case we’ll assume eight—bake a dozen cookies for each party guest. At the exchange, guests fill their containers with a dozen of each other’s cookies and return home with eight dozen assorted treats.
Many women have modified this concept to substitute freezer-ready meals in lieu of cookies. Each woman chooses an entrée and bakes multiple batches. They gather to exchange, and each participant returns home with a variety of entrees to put into her freezer. Again assuming that the group has eight members, each woman would arrive with eight of the same assembled entree and return home with eight different ones.
This approach works well because participants need to purchase only the ingredients—albeit in large quantity—for their particular entrée. In assembly-line fashion, they are able to put together eight entrees in a short timeframe. The fact that the end result requires a social gathering may give some women the push they need to stuff that final chicken breast. Heck, some days the social gathering may take priority altogether, and returning home with a variety of meals is simply a bonus!
Become a Freezer-Cooker
The concept of freezer cooking has taken off. For those who wish to bake their own meals at home—and are enticed by the concept of letting one day’s worth of cooking provide a month’s worth of meals—companies such as 30-Day Gourmet were established.
Owner Nanci Slagle began freezer cooking in 1993 when she had four children under the age of eight and was anxious to try anything that might help her get a decent meal on the table. Nanci and her friend Tara began experimenting with recipes, and soon came up with a great system for filling their freezers with great-tasting meals. Since then, the company has grown to include a bestselling cookbook, seven e-books, cooking software, and a website that features free recipes and a monthly online newsletter for freezer cooks.
Attend a Freezer Cooking Session
If you are interested in stocking your freezer, but not in covering your kitchen (not to mention your clothes) with thirty meals’ worth of ingredients, the latest craze in freezer cooking takes the purchasing, dicing, pureeing and cleanup out of the equation. During a two-hour session at a freezer-cooking “store,” participants assemble between eight and twelve entrees designed to be frozen and then cooked when needed.
Oftentimes, customers are permitted to split these meals with a friend, each taking half of an entrée home with her. An alternate choice is to divide them for your own family. If a particular entrée has six chicken breasts and you know that between your family you’ll likely consume only three of them, you can create two meals by splitting the meal in half. Some businesses offer side dishes, many offer suggestions for sides, and most offer desserts. Popular chains include Dream Dinners and Super Suppers, yet privately owned operations are opening as well. Check your local phone book to find out what’s available in your area.
Purchase Healthy, Pre-Made Meals
A few companies exist from which you can order pre-cooked, frozen meals to arrive on your doorstep. One such company is A La Zing. Owned by Omaha Steaks, A La Zing provides two-person meals or family-style meals designed to go directly from the freezer to the oven. This option is perfect if you don’t need a frozen meal at-the-ready every night, but would like to have reserves in the freezer (that you didn’t have to bake or assemble yourself).
Old-Fashioned Home Cooking–Simplified
If you wish to be your own chef, but simply don’t have time to search through recipes, make grocery lists, and identify complementary side dishes, it’s okay; there’s a compromise. There are several online opportunities that streamline the dinner-making process.
One of my favorites is Saving Dinner. Owned by Leanne Ely, a certified nutritional consultant, the service offers subscribers a weekly Menu-Mailer which contains five or six recipes, the associated grocery lists (divided according to standard grocery store sections), and the nutritional information for each entrée. Suggested side dishes are also provided. There are six versions of the Menu-Mailer from which to choose, including regular, low-carb, and crockpot meals.
As moms of multiples, we juggle a variety of challenges day after day. There’s no need to add a what’s-for-dinner dilemma night after night. There will be plenty of time in years to come to cook complete, nutritious meals the entire family will enjoy. Don’t forget, once your kids are able to do so on any level, they’ll love nothing more than helping out in the kitchen. Once they surpass that stage, they might not like helping, but they’ll be mighty capable of peeling potatoes or steaming broccoli.
While raising young children, good nutrition is critical. After all, we need all the help we can get to ensure we have the energy to race to the child who is about to jump from the kitchen table!