Trying to plan ahead as much as possible for meals during the school year when it gets crazy on weeknights

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  • #84385 Reply

      I’m a teacher and we’re a family of 6 with hubby, 2 teens and a young adult along with a toddler so we go through a lot of food for both meals and snacks.

      1. Which do you find most useful and why-air fryer/toaster oven combo or instapot? I’m thinking about buying one but don’t want to buy both.

      2. What can I do now during break along the lines of stocking pantry with pancake and muffin mixes and other mixes that can be refilled easily alternating them? Or other things I can do ahead of time and just refill on weekends.

      Menu planning and meal prepping on weekends is a given…right now I’m focusing on more shelf stable things to cut down on chaos in the long run.

      #84386 Reply

        1) buy both!!! I swear by mine.

        AF- keeps kitchen cool, its fast, save calories.

        Insta- fast, taste amazing.

        2) my family is 6- I have a list of tons of dishes, each person gets a choice. Each person cooks one night. Keep adding to list! Make copies with new additions.

        3) once a week have- whatever, meaning whatever you want. My kids love that night. Gives autonomy too, good for leftover eating.

        #84387 Reply

          You could start freezing some meals – I use to cook ground beef, then make into taco meat (would add refried bean in) and sloppy joes. I would then freeze them for quick weekday dinners.

          #84388 Reply

            Just a suggestion but my daughter is a teacher and family of 6. She has her spouse and 3 older children all do 1 meal a week. They chose what they want to cook. That is 4 nights a week thst she doesn’t have to cook and a big help. But for your choice I use my instapot more than air fryer.

            & Useful: Any ideas on meals that won’t break the bank would be amazing!

            #84389 Reply

              I’m a teacher. I have an instapot and love it! I can come home and make a roast in 1 1/2 hours. I am NOT a morning person so the “instant” cooking has worked well with our Whole Foods eating lifestyle.

              #84390 Reply

                Buy a waffle iron and research making your own mix. I make my own and put in glass jars but baggies work just as well ( the make your own premix). Make your own homemade syrup it stays good in the fridge for weeks and is a healthier choice than store bought and cheaper. Mine is just brown sugar white sugar a tsp of vanilla extract and water. Its thinner than store bought but that’s because it doesn’t have corn syrup in it. Dedicate a half hour a week to batch making waffles and freeze them, microwave when needed.

                #84391 Reply

                  Its cheaper to make your own pancake mix (unless you used coupons snd got it free). I like my instapot better than the air fryer. I can make my own yogurt, and I can also cook things real fast.

                  #84392 Reply

                    I have a instant pot and bought a air fryer that sits on top of the instant pot. I batch cook and sheet pan cook freeze in small serving size. Meats, cornbread casserole, burritos tacos sliders pizzas for breakfast lunch and dinner and dinner meals.

                    Suggested: It’s Meal Plan Monday! What are you cooking this week?

                    #84393 Reply

                      I have a ninja. It is a combo instapot, slow cooker and air fryer. I don’t have room in kitchen for it, so I keep it in my pantry. So that may be something to look into. I got mine on Amazon.

                      Get some large size storage containers that will fit a couple of weeks worth of variety mixes. Then you won’t have to refill but a couple of weeks. And I would make my own, to be more frugal.

                      #84394 Reply

                        We have an Oster French Door Countertop oven that has an air fryer function. It works amazingly well. Makes awesome toast too. We use it 98% more often than we do our regular oven as well. We also have an InstantPot and use it often.

                        A big tip I give people for meal prepping is to cook up large quantities of the meats you use often… We go through a lot of ground beef and boneless skinless chicken thighs (if I’m not using Costco rotisserie chicken meat I already deboned!) so I cook a bunch up all at once and portion it out and freeze it.

                        I not only save time cooking it later, but I only have to do the cleanup once. Idk about you, but for me, cooking meat involves wiping down all the stuff within splatter range afterwards. We have always had a large upright freezer and usually have had two full size refrigerators, so freezer space was usually ample. I’ve even gone so far as to pre-boil pastas and freeze the portions.

                        It made it so easy to make a pot of spaghetti on super busy nights. I would dump a portion of frozen meat and a portion of frozen pasta into a pot and dump the sauce in. Turn it on high for a few minutes then turn it down to medium for the rest of the time. It’s usually ready before we are.

                        #84395 Reply

                          I have and LOVE my airfryer/toaster oven combo. I tried the instapot but it wasn’t my vibe. Maybe it depends on how you are going to use it. Are you interested more in whole meals? Or more interested in smaller meals/snacks. In order to do a meal for 6 people you would need a large airfryer/toaster oven. Might have a hard time cooking 6 chicken breasts or something in it but not sure the instapot makes more. I think that size for either appliance is something to consider. Personally I like the toaster oven because not everyone in our family ate at the same time… with work, sports, extra curriculars, friend time, I was often making ‘mini meals’. Easy for teens to have a meal type snack at 10pm, or throw something in for a picky kid not eating what the rest of us are eating. It was nice for my vegetarian to throw her alternative meal in it while our meat meal is in the big oven. Also, it helps if I’m cooking things at different temperatures. Check recipes for both appliances and see which one makes the type of foods you eat. I will put a plug in for the Pizza Pizazz. It wasn’t expensive and we do a lot of things on it.

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