On Monday I go back to work full time after being on maternity leave. Oh boy, this is going to be an adjustment. I've been asked how I'm able to cook every night for my family and so I thought I would put a couple thoughts down on the blog.
- For one, I don't think I would do this if I didn't enjoy it. I absolutely love cooking, it brings me peace and makes me happy.
- Make a plan. You don't have to stick to it, but making a plan the week before and shopping for everything you need will make pulling dinners together every night possible.
- Stick with what you know. I add maybe one or two new recipes a week but mostly stick to recipes I've made before so I don't get slowed down following a recipe or trying a new cooking technique.
- Write it down. There is too much to do and remember during the work week for me to also keep track of what to prep the night before. I also loathe the question, "What's for dinner?" I don't know why. This sounds silly, but now I can refer my family to the chalkboard in the kitchen.
- Prep what you can ahead of time. Whether it is doing a little chopping on the weekend or searing the meat for the crockpot dinner the night before. If I can do some prep early, it truly saves my sanity.
- I don't always cook every night. I'm okay with keeping the menu plan flexible. If something pops up and we eat out then I bump a meal to the next available night. Having the meal plan written down helps me not lose track of the ingredients I have waiting in the pantry/fridge.
- Stock freezer meals just in case. While I want to make wholesome food for my family where I know what all the ingredients are... I also know that real life may not always lend itself to me cooking every night. For this reason I keep store-bought freezer meals in the outside deep freeze for emergencies. Pot pies and beef lasagna are a few of our staples.
For the menu this coming week I'm sticking to mostly recipes I have made before and can prepare quickly. I anticipate being exhausted, so I'm keeping it simple. I've added two new recipes to try (Lettuce Wraps and Sweet/Spicy Peanut Noodles), but after reading through the directions, they seem pretty straight forward and quick.
- Meatloaf. This is one of Jim's favorites. The blog post tells the full story. It's super easy to make and so I'm going to cook it on Sunday. Jim will be able to prepare meatloaf sandwiches for breakfast or lunch during the week. It makes great leftovers.
- Grilled Salmon and Veggie Quinoa. I've never blogged about this specific meal before. I make it almost weekly mainly for the ease of the meal and the health benefits of including salmon in our diet. When I make quinoa I first sauté whatever veggies I have in the fridge (usually onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bell pepper), before adding the quinoa and chicken stock. I like to season our salmon with this Baron's spice: Hot Habanero & Green Chili.
- Pulled Pork Sammy's and Tater Tots. This is a crockpot meal. I do not plan on following the recipe in the link, but I will buy boneless pork shoulder and will season and sear the meat the night before. On Tuesday morning I will put the meat in the crockpot with some broth (probably beef, maybe beer?) and a good amount of BBQ sauce (whatever I find in the pantry.) It will cook on low all day, then I will shred it when I get home and serve on hamburger buns. The tater tots are frozen.
- Chicken Lettuce Wraps. This will be a new recipe for us, but it sounds like all things we will enjoy.
- Cheeseburgers and Kale Salad. Because I will buy hamburger buns for the pulled pork, I'm using the remaining buns this evening for cheeseburgers. I will buy pre-made hamburger patties from the meat department at my grocery store to save me time. The kale salad is amazing and makes me feel better about serving a cheeseburger on a Thursday.
- Sweet and Spicy Peanut Noodles and Shrimp. This is another new recipe for us, but again I feel like it looks easy enough. I already have all the ingredients on hand except for the hoisin sauce, which is also in the list of ingredients for the lettuce wraps.
- Taco Soup. This is a great weekend meal and perfect for the cold months. We can eat on this for lunch during the following week.
What do you think of my plan? Does this sound doable for your family as well? I love hearing what recipes you turn to when life gets busy. Feel free to e-mail me your family favorites at firstname.lastname@example.org.