Friday, March 5, 2010

A Low-Cook Meal Plan

Three cheers for meal planning, huh? I seriously though that was going to be one of those posts like three people commented on but it turns out folks are into dinner.

I know that a lot of you work full time and don't have nearly as much time to cook as me. The truth is, I start dinner early. Really early. If I need to chop veggies or fix a marinade, or do any prep work really, I do this during Miles' morning nap (10AM). That's when I assemble crock pot meals as well. If you work a 9-5, you can't really make that happen. Unless you boss is cool with you chopping at your desk.

Even so, I do a lot of cooking that is pretty low-cook, particularly when Nelson travels. Since Nelson is going to CA for most of next week, I thought I'd show you guys the kinds of meals I plan when I'm flying solo.

On weeks like this one coming up, I try to do super duper kid friendly meals so I only have to make one meal per night. That means no red meat and lost of sausage and carb based meals. I also stick to low-effort, easy meals; nothing fancy that requires a lot of prep work or marinating or anything like that; and I try to use as few pots and pans as possible.

Here's the plan for next week:

Bean and cheese quesadillas
Whole baked chicken with roasted baby carrots and zucchini
Chicken and dumplings (with the roast chicken leftovers)
Brats with peppers and onions and sweet potato fries (a great meal, stolen from my friend Jane)
Pasta (whole grain, of course) with (frozen) turkey meatballs
Left over/take out night
Dinner at Pam's (the easiest and most delicious dinner of all, for sure.)

My kids should eat every one of these meals, and they are all really easy to cook. Like, even if you can't/don't cook, you could cook these. Next week's plan also incorporates on of my favorite cooking maneuvers - using leftovers to create a whole new meal. A bonus meal, if you will. This always makes me feel super clever and efficient (I'm really just feeling the "super" today, no?)

A quick word on my use of frozen turkey meatballs - I use these suckers a lot. We probably have them once a week, or every other week at least. I use them straight up with pasta; I pop them in a spicy Italian-style veggie soup; I'll bake them in with some penne; I'll put them on roll with some fat free mozzarella and marinara sauce for meatball sandwiches. My kids love the hell out of them, and they are relatively healthy and I get ones that are All Natural and don't have any weird crap in them that I can't identify. I make a mean meatball myself, but my kids prefer store bought. There's no accounting for the tastes of toddlers, I suppose.


rachel said...

I'm gonna try those meatballs... Ben is 'super' picky right now and won't eat much of anything.

Aliceson said...

I wish I had my crap together enough to plan meals out in advance but I'm more of a spur of the moment type of cook.

I too love to make a whole chicken then pull off the meat for another meal (like enchiladas)plus I usually boil the carcass with some veggies and a bay leaf to make a killer homemade chicken stock. 3 Meals from one bird. Can't get much more economical than that!

gretchen said...

Do you have Trader Joe's near you? They have the best frozen turkey meatballs I've found. I love them too, because I can just pull out a few, drop them frozen into sauce, and you got a meal.

Captain Dumbass said...

I know you wrote something there, but all I saw was blah blah blah, blee blee blee as I reached for a fry pan, bread and cheese.

Mrsbear said...

I love the heck out of some turkey meatballs, but my grocery store doesn't usually carry them. I made some myself last week, tasty but a huge pain in the ass.

Barbara said...

Sounds good. I'm coming to stay with you next week!

Michele R said...

Hey! I missed your last post about meal planning. I don’t have to leave the house till about 8:45 and I am up at 6:45 making lunches for the family. I do have time to put stuff into the crockpot and cook it for 4-6 hours. Hubs gets home first and takes it from there. I’ve recently discovered that chicken breasts cook great with a little salsa on top and Hubs will flake it up and put it back with more salsa.
The middle schoolers like it when I put the week’s dinner menu on the refrigerator but usually it’s all in my head. I go thru the coupons and 2 grocery flyers on Sunday and I shop on Sunday. I plan the meals based on what I have in the pantry and what I find on sale. We usually have a pasta dish and something with rice once a week. One night is usually those Tyson chicken filets on buns (i.e. tonight as two boys have baseball practice). Also, they go crazy over ziti. Also did barbecue chicken in crockpot and made mashed potatoes one night.
I am going to try the turkey meatballs!
I am impressed that your kids will have brats and peppers and onions! And sweet potatoes fries. Wow! Now I want to try those.

Casey said...

Man, you're a super cooking mama. I suck at planning meals in advance but now with gluten free, I've had to get better at it. Now we just have to get the kids to EAT what we make them. Jerks.