Dawn Trainer plans ahead for meals; Daughter helps with cooking
by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star
Jul 09, 2013 | 1694 views |  0 comments | 93 93 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dawn Griffin Trainer’s father was a pilot in the Marine Corp. He was stationed overseas several times, while Dawn’s mother kept their children stateside. It wasn’t until Dawn married Alex Trainer that she got to go to outside the country. They went to the Bahamas on their honeymoon.

Dawn was born in Opelika, the daughter of Col. Terry and Debbie Griffin, “two wonderful parents who have been married for almost 40 years, and two fantastic brothers, Jason and Justin, who never allow life to get dull.”

She had always liked the South and, after traveling as a child, knew this is where she wanted to live. She, Alex and their daughter, Christel, live halfway between Jacksonville and Piedmont, off the Roy Webb Road. Alex works with the Department of Human Resources in Anniston. Aug. 10 will mark their 11th wedding anniversary.

Dawn and Alex were foster parents for several years. Dawn worked outside the home until they adopted Christel, now 15, in 2008.

In the beginning, Christel attended public schools.

“She would leave before 6:30 in the morning and not get home until around 4:30,” said Dawn. “If a substitute driver got the route, it would be later.”

That’s why Dawn decided to home school Christel.

Christel has become the center of their lives.

“She’s very athletic,” said Dawn. “She’s also very, very kind. We have a neighbor who has health issues. Christel will go over there and help vacuum, wash the dishes and do anything else she can to help out. She’s the most wonderful daughter in the world.

For her birthdays, instead of asking for gifts, she asks for bags of dog food to give to shelters. We’re so proud of her.”

Also living in the Trainer home is Tinkerbelle, a Chihuahua. Tinkerbelle came to live with the Trainers eight years ago when her owners could no longer keep her.

A few years ago Dawn, a diabetic, was driving. Alex and Christel were sleeping. Dawn couldn’t know that she was slipping into a hypoglycemic diabetic coma. Tinkerbelle realized something was wrong and sprang into action, waking Alex just as Dawn was about to cross the medium into the other lane.

Tinkerbelle isn’t the only dog the Trainers have rescued. Over the years, they’ve rescued 52.

“We would keep them until we could find a good home for them,” said Dawn. “All we asked was that people get them sprayed or neutered. That’s very important.”

The Trainers’ website is www.petfinder.com/shelters/al252.html.

In addition to being a diabetic, Dawn has fibromyalgia which sometimes makes her forget to take her medicine. Tinkerbelle, who has had no training, can sense if Dawn needs to take her medicine by smelling her eye fluid.

“She’s a blessing from God,” said Dawn. “We rescued her, but then later she turned around and rescued us.”

Dawn is studying counseling at Jacksonville State University. She feels that she has been blessed and she wants to help others.

She graduated from high school in Virginia and, for a while, volunteered as an a emergency medical technician in Woodbridge, Va.

She enjoys reading and home schooling Christel. She eventually wants to teach meal planning classes at churches and libraries. As a diabetic, she knows the importance of eating right and, as a mother and wife, she knows the importance of knowing how to cook more for less and make meals last. She invites everyone to visit her Facebook page, Meal Planning by Dawn.

“My daughter is an even better cook than I am,” said Dawn. “She learned from me, and she loves to cook. I’m really grateful for that, because some days, I’m just too tired to do it.”

Dawn said she rarely ever has to cook a single meal anymore. Instead, she prepares them all at once when she gets home from the grocery store.

“I’ll brown meat for recipes that require it, then freeze it,” she said. “If it doesn’t need to be browned, then it goes straight into a container to the freezer. I then cut up all my vegetables and put them in a container as part of the ‘dinner kit’ that goes with the meat. When mealtime comes, I simply pull out a kit of meat and veggies the night before, then stick them in the crockpot the next morning and, voila, by the time evening comes, no stress. No panic to get a meal on the table. I spend one day preparing for this meal along with the rest of the week’s meals, and just a few minutes the night before and the day of to get ready for the crockpot to the table.”

Two recipes that work well using that method are Pepper Steak and Chicken with Rice-a-Roni. Chicken with Rice-a-Roni is a Trainer family favorite.

“I got these two recipes from an e-book by Mely Gold, Once-A-Month Freezer Meals Using The Slow Cooker (Slow Cooker Freezer Meals),” said Dawn. “I really love her ideas. Before I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and did not understand the severe lack of energy and the extreme pain I was going through, which is part of fibromyalgia, I was desperate to find easy ways to feed my beloved family, without sacrificing taste and the love put into cooking for them. My friend, Jackie Rosch, taught me how to make the most of cooking at one time – which later became the inspiration of my ‘Meal Planning by Dawn’ classes.”

Dawn said her Chili Bean recipes are not only simple and delicious, but they can be stretched into three meals. Dawn can be reached by her Facebook page, Meal Planning with Dawn.

Contact Margaret at pollya922@gmail.com.


Pepper Steak

2 pounds of precut stirfry beef
1/ 2 cup flour and 1 t. salt
2 cloves minced garlic (can be bought, minced)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 green peppers, or colored ones ( if you prefer) sliced
2 cups uncooked rice
Soy sauce

Preparation Day: Place stir fry beef in gallon sized freezer bag and store in freezer. Chop the onion and slice the 2 peppers, and minced the garlic, then place in quart-sized bag and store in freezer or fridge.*Make sure you label each bag of your kit as “Pepper Steak.” Measure the salt and flour and place in a zip lock bag labeled “Pepper Steak” in the cupboard. Store rice in cupboard. On the night before serving, remove round steak from freezer and place in fridge.

Serving Day: Coat the round steak with the flour and salt. Place in slow cooker. In slow cooker, layer peppers and onions and garlic. Cook on low 6-7 hours. About an hour before serving, cook the rice. Serve with rice and soy sauce.

Chicken With Rice-A-Roni

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 ounce box chicken Rice-A-Roni
1/ 4 cup butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups hot water
2 cups frozen peas

Preparation Day: Cut chicken breasts into bite sized pieces. Place in gallon zip lock bag and label “Chicken and Rice-a-Roni.” Store in freezer. Store the peas and butter in freezer. Store the chicken soup and Rice-a-Roni in the pantry.

Serving Day: Place the chicken in the slow cooker. Saute Rice-a-Roni in butter according to the package directions. Spread over chicken. Sprinkle the season packet over the rice and chicken. In a small mixing bowl, mix the chicken soup and 2 cups hot water together. Pour soup mixture over the chicken. Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours or low 6-7 hours. Add the peas during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

Chili Bean Recipes

Use industrial sized can Bush’s Chili with beans meal. Cook the brown rice and hamburger (separately). And heat the beans.

First meal: Serve with tortillas, cheese, and salsa. Make burritos or eat on lettuce as a taco salad.

Second meal: For dinner, two nights later, heat leftover beans and add leftover shredded meat and cheese. Make burritos.

Third meal: Put leftover beans in crockpot. Add some spaghetti sauce and water to taste. Add mixed veggies. To make creamy, feel free to add a block of low fat cream cheese. Heat on low for a little over four hours. Add cooked pasta and serve.
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Dawn Trainer plans ahead for meals; Daughter helps with cooking by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star

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