Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Farewell, lazy days of winter!

Hello spring sports season!

Perri's middle school softball tryouts are this week, with practices after school each day. Tucker's Little League practices will begin sometime in the next couple of weeks. Those of you with athletic kids know what that means...

1.) Lots more laundry.
2.) Much more running to and from various fields for practices and games.
3.) Homework being done in the car.
4.) Insanity at dinner time.

#4 is the only one I can possibly change and it takes much planning and self-discipline to make it work. If you are a sports mom, here are a few of my best tips to help you make life run a little more smoothly:

*Plan ahead. Sit down on the weekend and make a list of meals for the coming week. Make sure you have all the ingredients you'll need and anything you can prepare ahead of time, get 'er done. Tacos one night? Brown and crumble your ground beef and add the seasoning. Store it in a lidded container or a Ziploc bag and just heat it up when needed. Planning to bake cornbread or biscuits one evening? Measure out your dry ingredients and put them in a Ziploc, too. It simplifies and minimizes prep time, making a home cooked meal more doable on a busy evening. A couple of hours on a Saturday or Sunday can make your entire week much less hectic and keep you from hitting the drive-through, saving both your pocketbook and your health.

*If you don't own an insulated casserole carrier, buy one. I have one similar to this:
It's a tad larger than a 13"x 9" and I can't tell you how handy this thing really is! When I'm picking up the kids from school, heading straight to the fields and don't want drive-through fast food, I make my own fast food. I will grill burgers, stick them in the insulated carrier, grab a bag of buns and my cooler of burger toppings, a tossed salad and dressing, and we have fun tailgating at the ball field. You can do the same with hot dogs and pack a Thermos with hot dog chili. The carrier is also great for one dish meals like lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, cheesy ham and potato bake, etc. It's a great way to still feed your family a good home cooked meal even when you can't be at home.

*Invest in a large cooler. I don't take chances when it comes to food poisoning. I insist that cold things be kept VERY cold and let's face it...once you get enough ice in the cooler, there isn't much space left for food and drinks. We bought a very large cooler with wheels and a telescoping handle just for this reason. I can carry plenty of water bottles, a bowl of salad, bottles of dressing, lunch meats and cheeses, sandwich condiments, and whatever else I might need. It sure beats buying greasy corndogs at the concession stand. ; )

*A small plastic tote that lives in your vehicle is a great investment, too. When filling it, include: packaged crackers, sunflower seeds, fruit leather, anything your kids like to eat for snacks; paper plates, styrofoam bowls, a package of plastic forks, plastic spoons, napkins and baby wipes; anything you think you're likely to need according to your family's eating habits. {Just FYI: I'm doing my best to become more environmentally conscious and all that trash is getting to me. This year I'll be packing reusable plastic plates, bowls and silverware, along with a large Ziploc to drop it all in when we're done. They can be washed when we get home and reused.}

If you have any great tips for this time of year, please feel free to share them here in comments! I'm always up for suggestions to save time and money, plus things that make it easier for my family to share meal times. : )