Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Running a Household: Parts II & III

I meant to post this on Thursday, but forgot. Last week I wrote about how I plan weekly meals and grocery lists. Today I want to share what I planned! So that I can keep up, I'm going to combine what I wanted to write last week plus what I wanted to write this week. Hey, you've obviously got some time on your hands so why am I apologizing for another long post!?

Part II: The Plan

Sunday, May 18 - Grilled teriyaki chicken, Asian slaw, roasted broccoli w/ teriyaki sauce
Monday, May 19 - Leftovers from Sunday
Tuesday, May 20 - Moe's (taking dinner to friends w/ a new baby)
Wednesday, May 21 - Oven-roasted pork sausage with bell pepper, banana pepper, onions, and potatoes (Usually this is "Fend For Yourself Night," but we aren't going to choir since we are going out of town for the weekend)
Thursday, May 22 - Breakfast for Dinner ~ biscuits, eggs, and bacon

We are going to Muscle Shoals for the weekend, so obviously I'm not cooking Friday or Saturday night. :)

My grocery list consisted of the ingredients I needed for the meals above plus other things we needed like milk, bread, cheese, lettuce, produce, etc. I already had the teriyaki sauce for Sunday, potatoes for Wednesday, and biscuits and eggs for Thursday. That's how I decided on those particular recipes. Plus, chicken was on sale (why I chose chicken over beef) and bacon was also on sale. I won't post my grocery list because that's pretty boring... but I ended up spending about $90 and saved $30.

I did purchase a few things I hadn't planned on - I noticed Ore Ida frozen potatoes were B2G1 and Blake LOVES to make fries spur of the moment, so I bought him some (plus some hash browns for breakfast casserole). Chips Ahoy cookies were also on sale, so I felt pressured to buy some. :) Normally I don't buy so much packaged food, but I'm making some compromises so we can have more time to spend with Maleah and less time in the kitchen. :)

So... about how I choose recipes. For a long time, I thought I needed to make my husband delicious homecooked meals every night of the week. And, for a long time, I did. I love to cook and enjoyed making chicken parmesean or homemade squash casserole or crispy yogurt chicken on a weeknight. That was my pride and joy - hot meals every night of the week. Then came pregnancy and a baby.

Scrumptious, homecooked meals became a thing of the past. For a while, we ordered out A LOT. I mean, when your newborn eats every 2-3 hours, you're pumping every 3 hours, trying to catch up on lost sleep - how in the WORLD are you supposed to also cook!? Apparently, you're not. And if you are, I should just hang up my apron now because I'll never be able to perform that duty while a newborn is living under our roof.

I had to learn to simplify. I also had to listen to my husband and believe him when he said he didn't (and never did) expect such meals on a nightly basis. For a while, I apologized for making simple spaghetti or frozen chicken tenders or tuna salad. I just didn't equate those things with a good meal.

Hahahahahahaha how my perspective has changed. Last night I didn't even apologize for NOT COOKING. I planned for us to eat leftovers and, by God, that's what we did - at different times, on the couch! And all I ate was Asian slaw (I'd eaten part of a leftover lunch sandwich at 4, so I wasn't really hungry by dinner)! This doesn't mean that I've given up hope of preparing yummy dinners for my husband - it just means I've made things a little more realistic for our life now. There's no way I can cook a homemade meal every single night, get all the housework done, and still have a little time for myself (something I highly value).

Now I focus on quick, easy meals that require little prep and clean up. The fewer pots and pans, the less time spent measuring, the fewer ingredients, the better. I try to incorporate a variety of meats, vegetables, and flavors but keep it simple. I have also learned to stick with what I know on weeknights - I do not try new recipes during the week (unless they're ridiculously easy - such as the roasted sausage, peppers, & potatoes in this week's menu). Save that mess for the weekend. I tried to make a new recipe on a weeknight a few weeks ago and we literally had to throw it out - it was AWFUL. I need familiarity, simplicity, and every now and then - something frozen (Publix's frozen chicken tenders are actually pretty good!).

Part III:  Ten Go-To Recipes that I Love (making a long post even longer!):

1. Crock-pot shredded chicken anything - Tacos, poppyseed chicken, BBQ chicken. Anytime I need/want to cook chicken during the week, I Crock-pot it and shred the chicken. Takes a HUGE amount of time out of the prep. The George Foreman grill is also handy in making quick chicken dinners, but I hate the clean-up. Get the Crock-pot liners and that'll be a super simple clean-up.

2. Roasted veggies - chop up some veggies, put 'em on a pan with some extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, salt, & pepper. Finish with a little lemon juice and you're good to go.

3. Steamed veggies - Just go buy some Ziploc Zip 'N Steam bags. Veggies in bag, bag in microwave, butter afterward. So easy. I know you can make steamed veggies easily on the stove top but that's a pan that has to be washed and right now I'm digging the bags. Sorry, environment.

4. Tacos - duh.

5. Breakfast for Dinner - Another duh. I actually buy these frozen biscuits that are DELICOUS. I'm being serious - better than I ever imagined. I also bake the bacon (lay strips flat on a cookie sheet, stick them in a COLD oven, and turn the oven on to 375-400F; let 'em "fry" for about 15-20 minutes after the oven has reached the desired temp) - this helps avoid having to clean up messy grease splatters.

6. Baked potatoes and soup - Microwave the potatoes; make soup ahead of time. It's like I'm running a McAlister's out of my kitchen.

7. Quesadillas - black beans, cheese, salsa, tortillas... one pan... need I say more?

8. SALAD - Hello. You don't even have to cook it. Toss on some leftover shredded chicken for the hubs and we've got ourselves a meal.

9. FFYS - Fend For Yourself. I get it - this is not what you were expecting when I told you I was listing ten RECIPES. But I've learned to incorporate this night once a week (on Wednesdays right now). There are usually leftovers, salad fixings, sandwich ingredients - everything a grown man can make on his own. :)

10. Last, but never least - my favorite recipe OF ALL TIME: Chinese take-out. I am not kidding!! I love to make Asian slaw (it's so easy) and my own rice and then have Blake pick up some sesame chicken or something. I am not brave enough to make my own Asian food at home (yet), so I have learned the art of making what I can and letting the pro's handle the rest. Sometimes it's not Chinese - sometimes we might order wings and I'll make the sides. Or maybe we'll pick up BBQ and I'll make potato salad. Whatever works, you know!?

I hope this helps some poor mother out there. I know you're tired and I know you're tired of cooking. Anyone else have any favorite easy weeknight recipes!?

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