TALK BACK: Meal Planning Magic




Not everyone likes to cook. I do. Mostly. I will say it this way: I really enjoy the process of taking on the challenge of preparing healthy and tasty meals for my family when I have space to do that. I find that while I really love the process of cooking and playing around with recipes, that getting dinner on the table for my family is one of the most stressful aspects of parenting for me. It is during that "preparation hour" that I feel like the wheels often come off in our home...it never fails - kids are tripping all over the place, fights over toys are at their peak, and I am a bit less "fresh" and "grace-filled" by this point in the day.


That is where some convenient tricks of the trade have changed my life! I have found that there are a few things that really help me accomplish the "dinner" task:


  • Meal Planning - I really try to plan out my meals a week at a time (at the same time that I am planning to head to the grocery store), and to plan them according to our calendar (quick prep dinners for the busy nights - eggs on toast, anyone?), and utilizing double duty dinners that allow me to cook less for more meals
  • Double Duty Dinners - I am ALWAYS on the look out for dinners that can be stretched across a couple of days. For example, we often have a grilled chicken or steak dinner night followed by a night of stir fry (using some of the left over chicken or steak), a night of fajitas (using the left over meat again), and maybe a final big salad night (using the left over meat yet again). -To get 3-4 meals done is golden, and it doesn't feel like we are eating "left overs" every night of the week (left overs are mostly for lunch the next day in our home). The trick is to have my hubby grill a ton of meat! I also have a near weekly ritual of cooking a big pot of chili or zesty chicken in the crock pot for the first night, and then having Lazy Mama's Mexican Lasagna for the second night, and maybe stuffed quesadillas or tacos for the third night.
  • The Crock Pot - it is a gift from heaven above! I love being able to drop some chicken breasts into the crock pot, pour a jar of salsa over the top and call it a day. Or, pour some balsamic vinegar over it and then be able to throw that into some pasta or salad for later. I think it is one of the best tools in the kitchen!


So...what about you? What are some recipes that you have developed that do double duty for you? Any amazing Crock Pot recipes that you are willing to share with all the other mamas out there? Any meal planning tips for us? Kristen uses books on tape to keep her kiddos entertained while she gets food on the table...Do you have any activities that work for you?

-ab

3 comments:

  1. I love to make kabobs. I can do all the prep work during the baby's nap, and then pop them on the grill when hubby gets home. Here is a recipe for a delicious marinade I got from Paula Dean:

    3 limes, juiced
    2/3 cup vegetable oil
    1 Tbs sugar
    3 Tbs vinegar
    1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (or more!)

    Mix all ingredients and pour over chopped veggies (I use red/yellow/orange bell peppers, pineapple, and red onion), chicken and/or shrimp. Let marinate for 4-6 hrs.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ooh, that marinade sounds yummy and simple. I need to get on the BBQ program.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Have you read "The Sneaky Chef"? I have a 6 year old that will not ingest a vegetable and very few fruits. I don't mean that he doesn't like vegetables, I mean he will gag and vomit. This after a daughter that would eat anything. The idea is to sneak vegetable puree into almost any dish you make. I have been doing it for a month now I am delighted with the results. I don't follow her recipes necessarliy, just adapt the idea of the puree to my own family favorites.

    ReplyDelete

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