Cooking meals for my family is an important aspect of my personal measure of success or failure as a mom. Isn’t it for most moms?
My level of success has varied depending on the circumstances of my family at any given time. For a few years, as we juggled an assortment of evening and weekend activities, such as piano lessons, dance classes, Girl Scouts, youth groups, sports activities, band practice, ballet rehearsals, and more, I was doing good to even get fast food meals into my kids within a timeframe generally recognized as normal dinner hours.
But, aside from those frenzied times, as a mom with ADHD, I’ve struggled with consistent planning and preparation of family meals. I discussed some of my strategies to manage this in an earlier post, Adventures in Crockpotting.
My crockpot is a lifesaver, especially when my strategies break down. This week, for example, I knew that I wanted to cook something in my crockpot, so, while I was at the grocery store, I looked for a large package of cheap meat. It happened that chicken breasts were on sale. There was no particular planning involved – I just took the package home and stuck it in the fridge.
I intended to put the chicken in the crockpot the next day, but life being what it is, I didn’t follow through immediately. In the past, I might not have cooked the chicken for a few days. If I remembered, I might have put the package in the freezer to deal with later, or I might have had to throw it away because I left it sitting uncooked in the fridge past the safety point.
But, with my crockpot, I can go ahead and cook whatever meat I have sitting in the fridge, whether fresh or freshly defrosted, even if I know we won’t be eating it that night. Then, when I get home from work, I take the whole crock out of the base and put it in the refrigerator (cooled, of course) to deal with the next day. A lot of things, like roasts, are better the next day anyway!
So, anyway, the next morning, I put the chicken breasts into the crockpot before leaving for work. Again, without any particular advance planning, I rummaged around the kitchen to find something to season them with. I like to avoid putting chicken directly on the bottom of the crockpot, so that it’s not sitting in liquid while cooking. Often, I will line the bottom of the crockpot with veggies, especially potatoes and carrots. This time, I didn’t have time to wash veggies, so I grabbed some lemons, quartered them, and scattered them over the bottom of the crockpot. I layered the chicken over that and spread minced garlic over the top. I buy minced garlic in jars from Aldi. Garlic is the most used seasoning in my kitchen, since my whole family loves garlic, in everything.
I could have added more chicken to the crockpot, since I bought a large package. Normally, I would have cooked it all, in order to freeze some of it. For unplanned, spur of the moment meals, pre-cooked frozen chicken is a handier option than uncooked frozen chicken. This time, I was uncertain if my lemon/garlic concoction would taste very good or not, so I put half of the raw chicken in the freezer for another day.
When I got home from work that night, I was greeted with my favorite smell – dinner in the crockpot. The chicken/lemon/garlic combination smelled like heaven. All I had to do was come up with side dishes. I cooked some linguini from the assortment of pastas I keep on hand. I keep an assortment of canned and frozen veggies on hand too, but this time I served some fresh asparagus I picked up on impulse when I bought the chicken.
The result was an easy, delicious dinner without a lot of advance planning. My family raved over my impromptu recipe – I guess I should have cooked the entire package of chicken breasts after all!
There is nothing that makes a mom-chef happier than seeing her family enjoying a meal she cooked for them!