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Written by Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley of My Little Poppies
In a recent episode of The Homeschool Sisters Podcast, Kara and I chatted about my fall survival strategy: Soup on the Sidelines. And then it came up again in our last episode. And then I had a listener ask me to explain Soup on the Sidelines in more detail.
Here it is, you guys.
I have to tell you something first: I don’t really love to cook.
I wish I did, but I don’t.
And if we are being really, truly, super-duper honest here: I spend more time dancing in my kitchen than I do cooking in it.
What I’m trying to say is that Soup on the Sidelines is less Martha Stewart and more S.O.S.
Soup on the Sidelines has saved my bacon this fall. So, if this post helps one frazzled sister out there, this post was worth it.
Soup on the sidelines: an answer to this homeschool mama’s S.o.s.
As an introverted homeschool mama who values both free time and simplicity, this fall has been an adjustment.
My children have graduated from the once-a-week rec league soccer game to once-a-week soccer game plus practice. And one of my little rascals is on travel league which means two practices and at least one game.
Those practices take place when we would normally be eating dinner and – in two cases- getting ready for bed.
When I was wrapping my brain around this conundrum back in August, I realized that we could do one of two things:
- Eat dinner at 3:45 pm
- Eat dinner at 8:00 pm
And if you know my kiddos in real life, you know that 8 pm is not their finest hour.
We Curleys wake up early and it’s all downhill from there.
(I know there are many homeschool mamas out there rolling their eyes at me. They have been doing this for years, with many more children. They probably have a multitude of ideas for this S.O.S., but you guys are stuck with me. And that means soup. On the sidelines.)
One night, when I was supposed to be sleeping, it occurred to me that I could have a third option: Soup on the Sidelines.
For several reasons:
- I live in N.H. and it is pretty darn cold on the soccer sidelines. Soup is hot and delicious.
- I am a bit of a health nut and soup is a fantastic way to disguise all the vegetables.
- My kids love beans and beans love soup.
- Soup can be made in a crockpot, which means more time for all the homeschool things.
- It freezes well. You can make a double batch and you will thank yourself later.
- Kids eat more when they eat out of a thermos. (Don’t ask me why but I am certain science would back me up on this one.)
soup on the sidelines
Step 1: the tools
- A crockpot
I actually use two. My old one from grad school and the one I got when my husband and I got married. This way, I can freeze half of the soup and build a go-to freezer supply for lazy winter days.
- Kid-sized thermos
You will need one thermos for each kiddo.
- A thermos for mom
Because moms eat more soup.
- This amazing travel mug
I kid you not- this travel mug is life changing. Everything stays hot and nothing ever spills… even if you drop it or turn it upside down. Must-have for chilly soccer practices and fall hikes! (If you are looking for some tea to add to this mug, be sure to listen to this episode of The Homeschool Sisters!)
- A picnic blanket to keep in your trunk
This makes your soup on the sidelines into an official picnic, rather than an act of parental desperation.
Step 2: meal planning
Set aside some mama time. Pour a cup of coffee, don your earbuds, listen to favorite music or a podcast, and grab some favorite cookbooks. Select three recipes that look delicious and make a shopping list.
I double the recipe and freeze half because February-Cait needs all the help she can get!
Here are a few of my favorite cookbooks:
- Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple
- Fresh Vegetarian Slow Cooker
- Oh She Glows Every Day: Quick and Simply Satisfying Plant-Based Recipes
- Super Easy Vegan: Slow Cooker Cookbook
- The Ultimate Vegetarian Slow Cooker Cookbook
Maybe cookbooks aren’t your thing. In that case, surf the web and visit your favorite food bloggers. Here are some of my favorites:
The important thing here is that you do you. Two of my kiddos are dairy free and my husband and I are gluten free. We are also pretty plant-based over here, so I realize our favorites may not be your favorites.
And that’s okay.
You do you!
step 3: head to the store
Now, it’s time to grab that shopping list and head to the store. Or, if you are uber-lazy like I am of late, sign up for curbside pick-up.
(Curbside pick-up is yet another reply to this homeschool mama’s S.O.S.)
Whatever you do, do not forget your shopping list.
If you are shopping with kids in tow, Samantha Barnes had some great tips in our last episode. (She also had a delicious recipe for squash quesadillas and you can find it in our show notes!)
step 4: morning prep
I wake up, grab a cup of coffee, and get to work.
While I am prepping the veggies for soup, I also wash and chop veggies for snacks during the week. Then, when the kids are hungry, I have healthy snacks ready to go!
Step 5: carry on with your day, sisters
The wonderful thing about a crockpot is that you can toss everything in it when you are kid-free and then forget about it.
You can head to co-op, go for a hike, hit the library, or go on a field trip.
When you get home, the kitchen smells like someone was working hard all day.
(Thank you, sweet crockpot!!)
step 6: soup on the go
The crockpot makes soup on the sidelines easy-peasy. I just fill thermoses, grab spoons and napkins, grab the kids’ water bottles, and pour a cup of tea for myself.
Rather than eating dinner at 3:45 or eating when the kids should be in bed, we eat together… on the sidelines.
We have made some great memories this fall with this simple hack.
Plus, I feel less frazzled… and that, my fellow sisters, is priceless when you are in the midst of a busy season!
now, it’s your turn. tell us: Do you have a kitchen survival strategy to share with your sisters? Or, your favorite crockpot recipe? Share here!
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