[dropcap letter="W"]ith today’s worsening traffic, every precious minute is crucial to getting where you need to be on time. This is most especially true when it comes to preparing the kids for school in the morning. God knows I’ve spent many a morning screaming for them to put on socks while I frantically assemble their lunch boxes and fill water jugs. On a really bad day, all they get is Spam and rice and a couple packs of random biscuits (shhh...don’t tell their grandmas). Preparing ahead of time saves me from stress and sad-looking lunches, plus we get to shuttle across cities to bring the kids to school before the bell rings.
Without further ado, here’s a list of 8 easy things you can start putting together before another week of school starts. Don’t forget to label all your pre-packaged food with dates when you made them! Prepared food survives in the freezer for about 3 months when packed.
Nope, not the heart and star-shaped ones from the supermarket. You can actually make your own with chicken breast fillet. Salt and pepper the fillets and cut ‘em up into nugget-sized pieces, dredge in seasoned flour, dip in egg and milk, coat in crushed corn flakes (or leftover plain chips) and fry/bake. You can freeze fried nuggets and heat quickly in an oven toaster in the morning or freeze uncooked battered nuggets in a single layer and fry/bake frozen nuggets till cooked through. For even tastier nuggets, take the time to brine your chicken breasts Saturday night.
You can make hundreds of these, as much as you can roll, and freeze them forever. Okay, not forever, but you get what I’m saying. Takes about 5 minutes to fry frozen. The hundreds that you make won’t last a month because this will most likely be your go-to last minute meal when you’re too tired to make dinner.
Basic meatballs are incredibly versatile. Pack along with mashed potatoes, gravy, and a side of buttered veggies; top on spaghetti; douse in sweet and sour sauce -- the possibilities are endless! These hold up really well in the freezer even when fully cooked that you could probably make a month’s worth of baon with different sauces. Please note that although you can, I strongly advise you not to. Nobody wants meatballs coming out of their ears.
There are many different takes on adobo but all of them tasty and can last the whole day without refrigeration. Stuck with leftovers too little for one serving? Make into adobo rice (and top with scrambled egg for extra protein!).
This tastes even better the next day, when the beef is left swimming in that delicious sauce overnight. It’s kind of amazing what magic soy sauce and calamansi can create.
his favorite doubles as an easy-to-prepare breakfast as well. Choose good quality minute steaks (these already come pre-tenderized) and marinate in 2Tbs soy sauce, 2Tbs brown sugar, 1Tb salt, pinch of cracked black pepper and 2 cloves minced garlic per kg of meat. Divide them into small serving sizes and wrap in zip bags before tossing into the freezer. Take out a bag and leave in the the fridge the night before you plan to cook it.
Do not be intimidated by this, it’s actually very simple. Pound a chicken breast fillet till about 1/4” thin, season with salt and pepper, place a piece of cooked ham on top and a couple slices of cheese and roll up as you would lumpia. Secure edges with a toothpick, dredge in flour, dip in milk + egg, dredge in more flour and fry in melted butter + olive oil till golden. Wrap in foil, freeze. Want your kids to be kind to veggies? Add chopped blanched spinach (or even kangkong) into the roll!
Kids love anything they can eat with their hands and this is a great way to get them to eat fish. Assemble seasoned fish like chicken nuggets but skip the brining part and lay on a tray to freeze before packing in individual baggies.