Practice Night Chili

Ever have a night when Johnny had softball, Jenny has dance and Jack has football-all at the same time? Not to mention your husband will be coming home late from his out of town meeting and unable to transport any of the kids anywhere? Oh, yeah and there’s your expense account report that was due two days ago? Not only are you wondering how the heck you can be in three different places at one time (while getting your report done), but how you are going to feed everyone in time for them to be where they need to be- without giving them greasy chicken nuggets and fries, again?

Before you pull all of the hair out of your head, take a deep breath…one sure fire way to prevent a nervous breakdown is to try your best to plan ahead. Post the kids activity calendars on the fridge in a very visible place and write their names across in bold letters (in different colors), making it easier to catch your eye. You could also try having the kids cross off each practice/game once they get home so that it gives you a better idea of where they are in their schedule. Or how about one big family calendar split into sections (one for each family member) highlighted a specific color so that you will be able to see who has to be where and when each day (Jenny can be pink, Johnny blue, Jack green, you yellow, your hubby orange, Sparky the dog purple, etc.). Try keeping it in a central location so that everyone will know where it is at all times. You could even try giving your kids incentives (like playing 10 more minutes of video games) for checking the calendar themselves each night before they go to bed and reminding you about their activities ahead of time. That way you have enough time to figure out your game plan for the next day.

As for the eating thing, you could try to have quick meals on hand for busy nights, (like quick cook ravioli’s and sauce) or soup and sandwich night. Leftovers are always a safe bet, as well. Or you can use that crock pot your husband gave you for Christmas six years ago that is collecting cobwebs in the pantry. The great thing about crock pots is that you can put the stuff in and go about your business… and viola, you have a great, wholesome healthy meal in about 6 to 8 hours-requiring you to do nothing! And you can even provide your husband with a nice, warm meal when he gets home (while you’re out trucking the kids all over the state). Think of how much he’ll appreciate that! Maybe he’ll let you sleep in on Saturday… or take the kids to their activities next week…or fix that damn leaky toilet upstairs. Well, at least you will have something to fantasize about while driving the kids around!

Try the recipe below for a hearty healthy practice night dinner. Serve with salad and fresh bread and butter for a complete meal.

Practice Night Chili

Makes 6 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 6 to 8 hours

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 pound lean ground beef

1 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 large can tomatoes (28 ounces)

1 can tomato sauce (28 ounces)

1 can kidney beans, with liquid (15 ounces)

1 can pinto beans, drained (15 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Preparation:

Add oil to a large frying pan. Once hot, add onions and cook until clear (about 2 to 4 minutes). Brown ground beef and add the garlic to the pan in the last few minutes. Drain off excess fat. Transfer meat to crock pot and add remaining ingredients to pot. Cover and simmer over low heat for 6 to 8 hours. Serve with minute rice, if desired.

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About The Author, Audrey And Matt Mariani
Audrey and Matt Mariani. For more recipe ideas and tips visit www.countryfamilyrecipes.com