Monday, January 27, 2014

What's for Dinner?

One of the things that makes a day that feels too long feel even longer is staring down the witching hour without a plan for dinner. What kids, you don't want fish sticks or spaghetti and meatballs three nights in a row? Weird.

Over the last few years I've relied heavily on meal planning to make my weeks run smoothly, and the menu chalkboard in my dining room is honestly just an ornamental extension of that plan, because I sometimes, okay frequently, go a couple of weeks without changing it. I'll try to share my weekly plan on Mondays from here on out so that might encourage me to stay on top of changing the board. However, my actual plan is written on a magnetic notepad on my fridge that has a column for groceries needed to complete that list, which I also use to write down the meat I need to pull from the freezer one to two nights before, and I try to incorporate a night of leftovers so that we don't have a build-up of mystery containers in the fridge the next time I do the pre-grocery shopping sniff and toss.

When I feel like I'm in a rut, I look through my pinterest boards to get inspiration. I know, I know, those boards are actually meant to be used for something other than time suckage and wishful thinking. I have boards for the crock-pot, for freezer meals, for the battle of the bulge and for nights of comfort. I have found that my kids will eat almost anything if I put it in a taco, so we have Taco Tuesdays which have spanned the range from fish tacos to this week's Pot Roast tacos with horseradish sauce (which I won't put on theirs because it's a) white b) 'Hot like Wasabi!' (in Charlie's words) and c) a condiment other than ketchup). Mondays I try for a meatless meal and Wednesdays are sometimes wheatless, although those nights are for putting variety in our menu more than anything because I heart gluten.

The chalkboard may not be updated, but we do sit down to the same meal as a family every single night, with the exception of nights that J and I have a date night. J's schedule means that I do the dinner, bath, bedtime gig alone a lot, but I've long since left behind my days as a short-order cook with chicken nuggets and pb&j for the kids while I eat a crappy dinner over the sink by myself later. There has been a lot of research on the importance of eating dinner as a family, and I love the books The Family Dinner and Dinner: A Love Story as a starting point for establishing this as a routine in your house.

Without further ado, here's my menu for this week:

Monday: Breakfast Burritos (egg and cheese for the kids, egg, cheese and roasted veggie for me).
Tuesday: Pot Roast Tacos with Horseradish Sauce *
Wednesday: Thai Peanut Noodles with tofu and roasted vegetables. I use brown rice noodles instead of udon or linguine.
Thursday: Spinach Lasagna Rolls
Friday: Family Movie Night (every Friday) Leftovers followed by Stove-top Popcorn (I have seriously perfected this-no old maids!) and treats.
Saturday: Date Night for Us, but Turkey Chili and Cornbread for the kids.
Sunday: Superbowl Pot Luck (Likely will be gluttonous. Not to be confused with, though may also include, glutenous)

*denotes recipes I'm trying for the first time.


Maggie said...

I totally have Bare Naked Ladies stuck in my head now, "Hot like wasabi when I bust rhymes, big like LeAnn Rimes because I'm all about value. Bert Kaempfert's got the mad hits, you try to match wits, you try to hold me but I bust through..."

Now I'll never fall asleep tonight! ;)

Sally HP said...

Ha Ha! About a week before I had Charlie, Henry and I got to see them at a free concert at a random Barnes and Noble in Massachusetts for the release of their children's cd ;)