How do you cook when your military member is away? There are spouses who stick to sandwiches and frozen pizza, then there are stress bakers who bust out elaborate recipes on the regular. We like to think that the majority of the population is somewhere in-between, if not leaning toward the former. 

No matter your style, however, you can set up a steady plan to ensure you and your family is eating healthy all deployment long. Even on the nights where you don’t feel like cooking! Take a look at these helpful tips and reduce your mealtime workload, whether or not you’re down two helping hands. With a little early on prep — or creating smart steps — you can work toward smarter, faster meal prep that the rest of the family will still love. 

Batch Cooking

Sure you’ve heard of mass freezer meal prep, but have you heard about batch cooking? Batch cooking is meal prep’s less stressful sister. It allows you to make extra, but in a manageable factor. Say you’re making lasagne. Make two or three pans and put extras in the freezer. Bam! Now you have lasagne for the rest of the month. Do the same a few times a week. Eat leftovers, or make extra meat that can be made into extra dishes.

With batch cooking, you’re essentially finding a way to cook more efficiently. Put your efforts to good use and cook more at a time … but without doing so on an overwhelming level. Who has time to dedicate an entire Saturday to cooking? Do a little extra here and there to spread the workload, but still benefit from planning ahead. 

It’ll Waffle!

Get a waffle maker (if you don’t already have one) and use it for anything and everything. Make omelets, add in fruits to your batter for a twist on breakfast. Waffle makers can be used for desserts (think cookies, cinnamon rolls, or ice cream cones), dinners (pizza, cheesy bread, burgers, hashbrowns, quesadillas, falafel patties for a wafalafel. 

This thing is essentially a hot griddle that does all the work. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Meanwhile, you’re whipping up fast, real food for your family. Bonus: it’s super fun so kids will love anything you waffle-make for them!

Counter Cookers

Anything from a crockpot to an instapot can come in clutch during deployment. Don’t forget that these items are on your team. Drop in a crockpot meal at the beginning of the day and come home to a delicious smelling home. Or, opt for that instapot for a tasty dinner, pronto! 

Don’t forget to Pinterest heavily in order to find the best recipes, especially when dealing with a busy schedule.

Bonus: batch cook in your counter cooker to make even more meals for your efforts. Stock up on freezer bags and you can stash away the goods just as soon as they cool. 

Easy Prep

Whatever you can do to help make life easier, it’s fair game during a deployment. Pre-cut veggies, garlic that’s already peeled (yes, that exists), bagged salad — get it all. Shopping for convenience sometimes comes with some extra fees, but it’s an easy way to save time and stress when running solo. 

Store-made meals shouldn’t be out of the question, either. (Especially on grocery store day!) Opt for healthy meals that can be popped in the oven or pulled from a bag once you get home. These options are deployment staples and can greatly cut down the workload of meal prep and cleanup. 

What are your favorite meals to make during deployment? Don’t overwhelm yourself in considering elaborate options or going in too hefty with nutritional value. Remember that easier is better this time of year, and any steps you can cut along the way will be welcomed. 

Tell us your favorite deployment recipes below.