Thursday, January 19, 2012
Simplify (This works.)
If you're a busy mom of busy children, one or more of whom is a picky eater, your dinner planning might just be the nightmare that mine used to be. If this applies to you, read on. If not, you might want to skip down to the bottom where I have a yummy recipe posted.
Either way, this is one of my rare blog entries that might actually serve a purpose.
In our house dinner time would sneak up on me and I'd find myself standing at the pantry wondering what meals I had ingredients for and would resort to throwing the same old things together. Besides the stress of waiting for frozen solid meat to thaw last minute, I'd have Z following me around the kitchen saying, "Yuck! Why are we having that again?!?" (Sigh)
So last month when I was finding things in my life to simplify, I was struck with an idea. I listed every single meal I make and came up with 31. I know that sounds like a lot, but I bet you'd be surprised if you actually started listing everything you cook from soups right down to grilled cheese sandwiches and good old trusty hot dogs.
Then I assigned a meal to each day of the month. To the best of my ability, I scheduled meals Z doesn't like the day after meals he does like so that he could have the leftovers for that meal.
Obviously, you have to allow for change. Holidays, going out to eat, etc.... You either plan ahead for those occasions and either skip buying the ingredients for that meal or you just carry over the ingredients until the following month if you've already been to the grocery.
And speaking of grocery, my next step was to divide the month into 4 sections. The 1st-8th, 9th-16th, 17th-24th and 25th-31. Then I created 4 separate grocery lists that include every ingredient needed for each of those meals including the main course and all side dishes. So at the beginning of each week, all I have to do is print off that weeks grocery list, and voila.
I realize this sounds like a lot of work at first. But once you get the details on paper, or in my case in my trusty Smart Phone, it's low maintenance and care free. And now that I'm 40, I realize how important those 2 qualities are in every area of my life.
We're on Day 19 of this new system and I have yet to find a flaw in it. I know beforehand if something needs thawed from the freezer. I know I have all the ingredients. And finally, and best of all, Z no longer asks what's for dinner. He simply checks out the chart and his OCD mind is able to accept that we're having that meal because it's that day of the month and not because I'm out to get him.
(He's inherited his father's drama.)
Finally, in my search for something to do with all of our leftover holiday ham, I stumbled upon this recipe for Ham 'n' Cheese Sliders. They are amazing and too good not to share.
Ingredients for Sliders:
24 pre-baked dinner rolls
1/3 Cup of Mayonnaise (I substitute plain fat free yogurt for a healthier option)
1/3 Cup of Miracle Whip Lite
What to do:
1. Mix the Mayo (or yogurt) together with the Miracle Whip
2. Cut each roll in half, lather the mixture onto each half of the roll and add the ham and cheese.
3. Place the sliders close together in a large brownie pan.
4. Set aside while you make the sauce.
Ingredients for Sauce:
1 TBS. Poppy Seeds (Optional)
1 TBS. Yellow Mustard
1/2 Cup melted Butter (I use the Brummel & Brown for a healthier option)
1 TBS. minced onion (Optional)
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
What to do:
1. Whisk together all of the ingredients.
2. Pour evenly over the top of the sliders.
3. Let sit 10 minutes or until the butter starts to set.
4. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
5. Uncover and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Serve warm and enjoy.
Below is my monthly list of meals. Feel free to use it as reference or reminder of the meals you might make or if you're just morbidly curious about what we're eating for dinner tonight. But my main goal for including it is as a safety net for myself in case I ever lose my phone or drop it in the dogs water....again. I'd be completely screwed.
1st: Cube Steaks
2nd: Potato Soup
3rd: Chicken Tacos
5th: Chicken Breast
7th: Vegetable Soup
9th: Chicken Pot Pie
10th: Fettuccine Alfredo
12th: Chicken Noodle Soup
13th: Walking Tacos
14th: Chicken Cordon Bleu
16th: Beef Stew
17th: Chicken/Broccoli over Rice
19th: Chicken 'n' Noodles
20th: Enchiladas (Chicken, Beef or Cheese)
21st: Hot Dogs
24th: Grilled Cheese
25th: Sloppy Jo's
27th: Steak Napoleon (Using leftover steak)
28th: Pizza (Homemade or frozen)
29th: Pork Steaks/Rice and Gravy
30th: Ham 'n' Cheese Sliders