by Raylene M. Hunt
If this is your first HOME Convention or if you’ve been to a few, one challenge that presents itself for most families is eating on a budget. Whether you are coming for the entire weekend or just a day, you may not want the added expense and inconvenience of trying to find affordable meals and places to eat.
This is my fifth year attending the convention as a single mom on a budget, but also as a mom who is working during the event, so there isn’t a lot of time to cook. Here are a few suggestions from my experience over the years.
Cook things like chili or stew ahead of time, and store in mason jars that will fit in your crock pot. Put the mason jars into the crock pot around noon on low with a few inches of water. By the time you come back for dinner, your meal should be warm. You can even eat right out of the jars, so no dishes are necessary!
I make and freeze oatmeal muffins ahead of time, too. These can be warmed up or toasted in an electric skillet at the event. This is a great, yet simple, breakfast idea.
This year, we’re trying something new - frozen pizza in a covered electric skillet. This will heat up close to the same temperature as your oven. Put a rack inside to place the pizza on, and voila! Another easy dinner!
I have also prepared and frozen smoothies in plastic baggies ahead of time. They begin to thaw over the course of the weekend while kept in the fridge, but are still good on Saturday.
I’ve made and frozen omelets ahead and warmed them up in the electric skillet, too.
This is also a “special” time of year when we have snacks that we wouldn’t normally have, like individual cup cereals from the grocery store and prepackaged granola bars. I also like having fruit, crackers, cheese and sandwich meat on hand to make my own homemade lunchables.
Mason jar salads are quick and easy if prepared ahead of time. The secret to a perfect and tasty Mason jar salad is all in the order. The dressing goes in first. This guarantees that your salad ingredients don’t get soggy. Then go with a grain or a protein, or anything else big and chunky. This protects your more delicate ingredients from getting wet. Then the fixings (little things like shaved nuts, raisins, and cheeses for example); the ingredients that you want to stay dry until just before you eat. If you have any leafy greens, they go in last. That way, when you turn the Mason jar over and unload it all into a bowl, the greens will make the salad bed.
Other no-cook items that make great meals are cut up veggies served with hummus or made into a quick salad, tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole (a sealed container from the grocery store to keep it fresh), and berries with a little lime juice to preserve them. Serve berries with Greek yogurt and granola. It’s also good to have some hard boiled eggs and cooked chicken on hand.
So whether you are looking for a quick and easy meal for your family during convention, or planning on several meals over the course of the weekend, I think you’ll find enough ideas here to get you started and get the creative juices flowing for creating your own convenient convention meals.
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