I thought I'd share with you how we handle our dinners throughout the week. It makes things easy, we have a plan and we soar through the weeknights with the greatest of ease never experiencing a bump in the road or a hiccup of any kind. HA! Yeah right! I can't even say that with a straight face.
First off I'd like to point out that although we would love nothing more than to make homemade meals every night and eat only real food or only organic, it isn't a good fit for us. We are on a tight budget and time is of the essence. On an average week I only get to spend 2 hours a night with my son (I get home around 5:30pm and he is in bed by 7:30pm). I want to make the most of my time at home so I need meals that take a total of 30 minutes or less from start to finish. In regard to real food or organic, that shit is expensive!! There are plenty of healthy alternatives these days and we do buy organic when we can. Our shopping cart is probably 10% organic and the rest is as healthy as we can get with the occasional splurge of decadence.
Part of making our weeknight meals a success is having a well stocked pantry. That way we aren't spending money every week on ingredients like chicken broth, spices, olive oil, breadcrumbs, etc. There are many items that make up a well stocked pantry and I will go over those in another post.
The second key to easy peasy weeknight cooking is the grocery list. Have a plan for the week and while you are shopping get all the essentials you need. If you need inspiration look up recipes online, in cookbooks, magazines, etc. Make sure you consider proteins, starches and vegetables. Also consider what nights you will have time to actually cook and how many "gimme meals" you are going to need.
"Kendra, what is a gimme meal?" So glad you asked! Here are a few that we turn to:
- Frozen pizza - you can get thin crust and they have so many out there these days that aren't that bad for you.
- Sandwiches - you can do your basic cold-cuts here or since it is dinner after all, you can jazz them up a bit. We make paninis every once in a while or we make what we call "melty's." "Kendra, what on earth is a melty?!?!" Oh man, such a great question! Start by toasting your bread (we use whole wheat sandwich thins), building your sandwich on each side of the bread with the cheese being the last thing on. Then we melt them under the broiler. You can eat them open-face or smash them together. Have a salad on the side, soup or baked chips.
- Nachos - baked tortilla chips, black beans, ground turkey, onion, tomatoes, green onions, black olives, cheese, etc. The world is your oyster here AND you can buy all organic ingredients, if you're in to that sort of thing.
- Sausage and peppers
- Many, many, different types of pasta dishes
- Almost ANYTHING on the grill
- Most seafood is pretty snappy to make
- Chicken Picatta (just one of many quick chicken dishes)
- Jazzy Salads
Line a baking sheet with foil. Spread the green beans out and add baby bella or regular button mushrooms. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Make your rice according to the instructions as well. The way our meal shook out I started the rice first and when it got to the, "reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes," I popped the fish and the green beans in the preheated oven.
Little C ate some of our fish, some rice, he didn't care for the green beans but he did give them a fair try. He also had some whole wheat pasta and left over five-veg sauce from the other night.
So I leave you with this, my friends... Set yourselves up for success. Stock up, have a plan, make a list, roll up your sleeves and rock your weeknight meals! Keep it simple, keep it healthy, and keep it yummy (as Little C would say). Go forth and enjoy!