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Meal planning and prep for busy dairy farmers: Seven recipe ideas

Kimmi Devaney for Progressive Dairyman Published on 24 July 2017
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Farming is busy, especially on a dairy farm. There always seems to be something going on, and meal preparation is sometimes the last thing on our minds as we are trying to get hay in before the rain, fix the tractor that has been acting up and treat the cow that just went down with milk fever. 

However, meal prep does not have to be all-consuming and with some planning, it can supply you with delicious meals in your lunchbox daily. If you have ever gotten tired of the same old sandwich and hoped for something new, this is for you. 

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Here are some tips to help:

1. Create a list. What food does your family and any others you are packing food for enjoy? If someone is extremely healthy, they may not appreciate a four-cheese grilled cheese, for example. List several foods and meals you can make, then create a calendar to determine which meals will be prepared on which days. Creating several meals using similar ingredients will also save you money at the grocery store. Once the meal plans are set, create an ingredient list and head to the grocery store.

2. Make a routine. Pick a day or days when you will chop vegetables, cut up fruit, cook a tray full of chicken for use in meals later in the week, etc. Cooking and preparing individual ingredients in batches will save you time and allow you to more efficiently whip up lunches (or dinners). 

3. Utilize leftovers. Reinvent leftovers by adding an ingredient or two to create lunch meals. 

4. Discover new recipes. There is no shortage of recipes at your fingertips with the internet. From food blogs to online recipe websites, you can find a plethora of new favorites quickly. 

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5. Turn on the slow cooker. Crockpots are great. Add the ingredients in the morning, and a delicious meal is ready four to eight hours later. Utilize your meal preparation days to chop vegetables and it will save you even more time. 

6. Create grab-and-go containers. Do you already know there’s a particular day this week that will be extra busy? Prepare those meals ahead of time and place them in containers that are ready to add to the lunchbox without much extra work. The entire week's worth of meals could be prepared like this to save you time (depending on the recipe, of course). 

7. Develop a backup plan. Despite our best intentions, sometimes life happens, and we have no time for meal preparation. Develop a plan of how to handle these situations. Casseroles and other dishes that can be made ahead of time and placed in the freezer are a great solution when you are trying to avoid the drive-thru. What does everyone enjoy that you could make ahead of time and freeze?

Here are some new recipes I whipped up specifically for this article along with a couple of old favorites. The best part is they can be eaten on the go with one hand.

If you have a sweet tooth, finish it off with these cherry delight cookies. These are easy to make ahead and enjoy all week long.

What are your favorite meal-planning tips? Share them in the comments!  end mark

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Kimmi Devaney is the agricultural marketing and industry development manager with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. She also writes an agricultural blog.

PHOTO: Photo provided by Kimmi Devaney.

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