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Woman cooking in the kitchenDid I mention how busy I was? I am a working mom, and that means that I work 2 jobs, actually 3 – my paying job, caring for my baby and managing the house. Ever since my boy was born, saving time became my religion. Every 15 minutes are utilized to perfection and for a good reason – with my levels of busyness I can’t afford to lose time, at all.

So obviously if I can’t cook every day, or even every other day. I have nothing against the supermarket jar food (well except for the fact that home-made tastes so much better), but my personal goal was to know exactly what am I feeding my baby. And yes, I realize that it sounds like a typical case of a control-freak behavior, but I wanted to know what ingredients are going into Eric’s food and that it has no salt, no sugar and no preservatives – at least until I decide that he can have them.

For those who just have landed on this post, a quick summary – my boy is 14 months now, drinks cow’s milk and eats 5 meals a day: breakfast, lunch, 2 snack meals and dinner.

Here’s how I get away with cooking once a week without feeding my baby supermarket jar food:

I have 2 meals per day to prepare. Breakfast is usually cereal or microwaveable oats, so that doesn’t count. Snack meals are easy – veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers, celery sticks, avocado, olives, carrots, cheese, bred, you get the idea. Lunch and dinner I have to cook.

There are 4 different dishes in my menu that I make in big portions and freeze. I make 2 kinds of puree from steamed vegetables (to make soup later), a pot of chicken or vegetable stock, and chop a mix of steamed veggies. All of that I divide into meal-sized portions and freeze. I also freeze some of the chicken I used to make the stock, in meal-size portions.

Every day of the week to make Eric lunch all I have to do is:

1. Fetch a container of stock out of freezer and defrost (2 min)
2. Fetch a portion of vegetable puree and defrost (2 min)
3. Optional – defrost piece of chicken and add to the soup (30 sec)
4. Mix together and heat to desired temperature in the microwave (20-30 sec) – the whole soup is ready in 5 min.

Dinner is no different:

1. Fetch the chopped vegetable mix out of freezer and defrost (2 min)
2. Add some grated cheese – cheddar or Parmesan
3. Heat to desired temperature in microwave (20 sec) – ready in less than 3 minutes.

Another reason why these quickly made meals are great is that the child doesn’t have time to go into a hungry meltdown. The food is always ready before he gets frustrated.

Don’t get me wrong, I do realize that freshly cooked food is better than frozen – but cooking every day is a luxury I can’t afford, and preserving cooked food by freezing within minutes is the second best. The dishes change from week to week but the principal stays – freeze the ingredients separately, defrost, mix, heat and serve.

How do you cook for your children, what are your time-saving tips? Please share them in a comment on this post.

Update: this post has made it to Happy New Year Carnival of Family Life, to the carnival at Homeschoolblogger.com and to Carnival of Recipes.