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Easy Meals You Can Make Ahead to Save You Valuable Time

Looking for some easy meals you can make ahead of time?

Friend, this is why you need ideas for easy meals you can make ahead. Picture this:

You’re loving life and living every day. You’re doing whatever makes you happy, whether it be in the field or out with your animals or maybe with your kids or family at a ball game. But when that thing is over or when your tummy starts growling, you realize you’ve forgotten one important thing: Planning time in for food!

Food is one of our biggest necessities. Maslow’s research proves that we cannot live without healthy food. We have to have it. We have busy lives and we have times when we forget to plan for food and that can result in some not so healthy choices before we get started.

One cannot think well, love well or sleep well, if one has not dined well.

Virginia Woolf

If you’re out in the field or working with one hand or even both hands, that can be kind of tricky. Maybe you’re at the end of the day and you need a meal. What do you do?

In this post, my guest is going to:
– Give you the scoop on easy meals you can make ahead to save you valuable time.
– Share her best tips for saving that valuable time to make more time for things you want to do.
– Provide you with an amazing resource: 100 meals on the go!

Wow. I know you’re excited. Let’s dive right in and find out more about Deanne Frieders.

Listen to the Episode

Easy Meals you can Make Ahead to Save you Valuable Time with Deanne Frieders

Who is Deanne Frieders?

Deanne is from Northern Illinois. She’s a farm wife and she dubs herself “farmer in training.” She and her husband, Ryan, their four kids and Ryan’s parents all farm together. Their farm consists of corn and soybeans but they have two black Angus heifers as they are delving their way into raising beef cattle.

A few years ago, Deanne started a blog called ‘This Farm Girl Cooks,’ that is taking off because of this need for healthy meals. She shares recipes for farm wives and busy moms on the go including freezer easy meals that anyone can make ahead. She was searching herself for these freezer meals she could make ahead of time but she just couldn’t find any that were field or tractor friendly. So she started creating her own and now she shares easy recipes with farm wives and busy moms on the go. Her goal is to streamline things and make life easier for other women.

Deanne’s Jobs on the Farm

Deanne calls herself a ‘farmer in training because she didn’t grow up on a farm. She grew up in a small town but was never interested in farming. The only thing she knew about farm life was the difference between corn and soybeans.

And then when her daughter Eleanor was born six years ago, she left her corporate job. She used to commute a commute 45 minutes each way into the suburbs and they decided that she would stay home and help around the farm and home. So it’s kind of been progressing. Since then, she’s getting a little more hands on as the kids have gotten older.

Her jobs include:
– Shuttling people and implements around from field to field,
– Delivering and fetching parts,
– Taking Meals to the Field,
– Driving Tractors and Grain Carts.

She really just fills in where she is needed but is learning every minute of every day. Deanne knows that practice makes perfect. She knows that we’re all busy as farm wives and doing all the things and moms and just doing things for ourselves too. And sometimes we forget about meals.

So that’s where Deanne and ‘This Farm Girl Cooks’ comes in. I asked Deanne how her blog got started, so we talked about that next.

How did ‘This Farm Girl Cooks’ Get Started?

Deanne remembers sitting in her living room nursing her new baby and thinking about one of her roles on the farm – Field meals.

She knew that part of her job was going to be helping her mother in law cook something for lunch. But the problem was that her mother in law works hard on the farm, too! She operates the grain cart or the combine, whatever they need. But she would have to stop.

Stopping to make meals, take them to the field and eat them was an hour plus of productivity that they were losing. Deanne decided that she would take on that role herself. But having not grown up in a farm family and having not really knowing how this worked, she had some research to do.

First of all, she tried Googling ‘field meals’ or ‘tractor meals’ and there was not much at all. Nothing she could find was geared towards our rural lifestyle – She couldn’t just start right away. There was some planning involved. She was 25 minutes from the nearest grocery store or even fast food place.

She had to start planning out her weeks of meals and she started sharing on social media what it was she was doing, thinking, well, maybe this will help. And her blog just grew – it seemed to resonate and it seemed to be something that people were wanting. And that’s when she converted it into an actual living, breathing blog and really started reaching out to people to say, you know, I’ve got this for you. She started really trying to answer questions from people and help fill the gaps where they told her they were struggling. This is the true secret to a successful blog. But it hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows.

Deanne’s Biggest Struggle

Deanne says she always ask people what their biggest struggle is. And 99% of the time it’s time! She’s included in that 99%.

She says it’s because so many of us work off of the farm, where we’re at a job during the day and then come home and either get out there and farm ourselves or run the household and we really need to find meals and ways that we can still cook for our family in a way that we’re proud of.

But also keeping our sanity. We don’t want to be in the kitchen cooking till seven o’clock at night. Kids have homework, they need baths, we want to connect with people. We’ve got outside activities.

So really Deanne believes the key is just becoming efficient. She loves cooking, but on a weeknight, her job is to get in there and get a meal out and then move on. It’s not as much about stirring the sauce lovingly. It’s more like getting just getting it on the dinner table.

Deanne definitely struggles with finding time for herself. This is something she’s really been working on with a little reminder on her phone. When that goes off, she has 10 minutes to stop, breathe and take a little time out from whatever she’s doing.

What is one thing that she’s most excited about looking to the future?

Deanne is excited for the growth of her blog. It’s the topic of many discussions nowadays. She’s getting emails every day from people who are so glad to have her recipes.

But the thing she’s most excited for is that her blog is helping these people. It gives her a purpose and meaning beyond the farm. And it connects her to other people when the farm can feel so isolated and lonely sometimes. Deanne has met people that she considers to be friends – Even women she has never met in person but has gotten to know them online through her blog and Facebook group.

Deanne is excited to see this movement grow where they can connect and find solutions in a really authentic way. She wants to be herself with other people. It’s so important for people to be able to be vulnerable and say, “I’m struggling with this. How can you help me?” So just as her blog is growing and her reach is growing, she’s just really loving the whole process of helping others and that she’s doing what she was born to do. It’s a really great feeling when you can finally figure out your purpose and you’re happy with it.

What is the most popular recipes that people really flock to on This Farm Girl Cooks?

Any of her posts where she has a roundup or collection of field meals is always big. Sausage quiche is always popular. Also, people love her lasagna cups. They’re very family friendly.

The other awesome thing about Deanne is that she tests her recipes in different settings before sharing them! For example, the lasagna cups and quiche have tested both on a plate and picking up and eating and you can do both.

So that’s kind of a fun meal to put together. Finally, any of her easy meals you can make ahead to save valuable time. People totally love those.

Advice for Farmers Who are Working in the Field but Don’t have anyone to Cook for them?

This definitely happens more than you think. There’s many farmers out in the world who farm alone – Including my husband and me. We don’t have anybody to cook meals for us and bring them to the field. It’s up to us to pack the meal, to make the meals, pack the meals and take them to the field.

So I asked Deanne what advice she had for somebody who doesn’t necessarily have anybody to do that for them. And I was in luck!

She actually has a post with packable options, but they’re beyond just sandwiches. There’s all sorts of things and I know some people want sandwiches so they can keep driving, but if you can make though, you know, some batches of things, that’s always a good idea.
Here’s the link to that post

Because we all need more than a Mountain Dew and a Snickers in the cab of the tractor. So if you can at all integrate some healthy stuff, which can be hard to do when you’re on the go, even things like almonds and string cheese and things that are gonna help nourish and keep you really alert and good while you’re working those long days is super important.

What is Deanne’s favorite go-to recipe?

Every farm wife loves sliders. There’s the ham and cheese, chicken Parmesan sliders, Italian sliders, you know, those are always easy to put together. They also do well if they’re warm or cold and it’s the perfect illustration of a batch meal. It’s one of those easy meals you can make ahead. You know, you can make 18 of those at a time and be set. So that’s, that’s like if I can’t figure out what to do, those are a great go to.

A Low Point in Deanne’s Life

You know, there’s high points and low points throughout life. Deanne admits she feels them every now and then and sometimes she feels like an imposter! You know, sometimes when you’re running around with your family and you’ve got to kind of stoke your own fire. Nobody else can do that for you.

We’ve got to keep ourselves motivated and kind of give ourselves a pat on the back. Sometimes if you forget to do that or you forget to take a little bit of time for yourself, it’s easy to just be like, “What am I doing? Like, does this, does this matter?”

Deanne says that’s why it’s also so good to have a network of people who understand the life that we’re all living so that we can give somebody else the pat on the back too.

But, sometimes, she gets just a little bit paralyzed even when things are going really well. She’ll just grind to a halt and feel stuck. Always wondering what to do next? So it’s breathing through those moments and figuring out what the first thing I can tackle is and just getting over that overwhelm because that can bring you down.

Easy Meals You Can Make Ahead to Save You Time with Deanne Frieders

What has been kind of the one thing that has helped her through rough times?

Asking herself: “What is my purpose or what are my goals?” She has a lot of faith in this is what God is calling her to do. She usually asks, “What am I supposed to be doing?” And then – She gets a sign that tells her she’s doing the right thing. And then that is really a powerful thing to kind of energize her and keep, keep her moving forward.

Deanne tries to assess like what went good in her day? What were the great things? What am she a little bit bummed about? And then, usually she fall asleep halfway through which works. But those 10 minute increments that she was talking about earlier works for her. She’ll go to a quiet place, such as her porch or she might play a luminosity mind game on her phone.

These simple 10 minutes are like a little treat for her. She gets through those 10 minutes and then gets back to work.

Deanne’s Favorite Way to Transport Meals to the Field

Deanne has a great system for transporting her meals to wherever her family is. In a large Rubbermaid container, she keeps:

Plastic Silverware,
Hand Sanitizer,
– Anything else she thinks they might need for the meals she has planned.

She keeps the container in the vehicle at all times so it’s ready to go.

The other system she has is reusable containers just for the transported meals. The containers have three compartments so she can fill them with a variety of delicious easy to eat foods.

Finally, easy cleanup is a must. So, she keeps grocery shopping bags for trash. She also might take along some chairs in case some farmers want to stop and eat. She says it’ll take 10-15 minutes to eat one of her tasty field meals and then it’s back to work.

Favorite Book She Recommends

Easy Meals You Can Make Ahead to Save You Valuable Time

Deanne has an E-cookbook she loves that is simple weeknight meals. She would love to make a cookbook specifically for field meals so hopefully that is coming soon!

The book she read most recently for herself was called “The Road Back to You” and it’s an Enneagram book. That was just life changing. It’s about your personality type and how to kind of work with in your personality type and work within, you know, other people’s personality types.

For Deanne, it was an easy read, but it was really impactful. She learned so much when she found there’s numbers that everyone is assigned to. When she was trying to decipher what number she was, she was amazed at how accurate and spot on it was. It’s a pretty cool book.

One Thing Deanne is Excited About

You know when you can just feel something like coming down the road and you don’t know what it is. Deanne feels like she’s there.

She and a friend did a free community dinner in their town earlier this year. Anyone who wanted to come could come and have a taco dinner. She loved doing that and connecting people over food that way.

Along with that, the successful dinners have led to some press. Newspaper and radio reporters are reaching out to her to do feature stories. Deanne feels like she doesn’t know what the future looks like but she knows she’s going to keep doing what she’s doing. She knows it’s going to lead to something good.

Best Advice She’s Ever Received

Deanne remembers it still from over 16 years ago. She called her mom and said, “I can’t do this all. I am so overwhelmed all the time.” This feeling was very explainable. At the time, she was a brand new mom with a newborn. And her mom told her: “You can have an immaculate house or you can have your sanity, but you can’t have both. And she said, you have to choose which one you want.”

Deanne admits she used to be a little more fussy but since then, she’s been able to let more things go. It’s way more important to be happy than it is for things to be perfect. You have to let things go a little bit to get a little bit on the other side.

That’s really great advice cause I know I kind of fall into, you know, I feel real guilty this time of year when it’s busy. It seems like the more adventures we add to our farm, the less we’re even inside to do the inside work and laundry and dishes and it just kind of all piles up.

But you gotta give yourself some grace and do what’s important.

Where you can find Deanne

Deanne’s Blog: This Farm Girl Cooks
Facebook Page: This Farm Girl Cooks
Private Facebook Community: The Kitchen Nook
Instagram: This Farm Girl Cooks

~ Much Love ~