Coming home after a long day of work and trying to figure out what to put on the table. Especially when everyone tells you that family meals will make or break your child's entire future!
I'm proud to say that this week, I've finally turned a corner. I actually managed to make a dinner everynight. Something new, something different, and mostly, something from scratch.
I figured out a few tricks to making meals happen at our house.
1. Involve the toddler with the cooking. I've started putting her in her high chair so she can see, wheeling it into the kitchen and giving her tastes of things as I cook them. This is especially great because it often means she gets extra vegetables.
2. Avoid snacking by eating early. Each night this week we've been eating before 6pm. We used to sit down for dinner just after 6pm, now we are sitting around 5:35-5:45. Much easier to eat without being full on meaningless snacks.
3. Take a few shortcuts. While each of these means was made at home, mostly from scratch, none of them involved much 'cooking.' Crockpot one night, a simple stew the next, and a few made with store bought proteins (the wontons/chicken)
4. Basic meal planning. I don't think I'll get to the point where I'm truly specific about each individual thing, but starting out on Sunday with a few proteins in mind meant that I could swap out meals as I saw fit.
5. I leave work at 4pm. Leaving at 4pm means that I get home between 4:30 and 5pm, I get to pick up EG, and come home with enough time to play with her and get dinner ready. Not a trick everyone can use, but it's definitely helped us improve our lives dramatically!
The only thing I wish I could do is figure out how to make more meals that EG can take to daycare. Since she's in a dairy only school, none of these meals were schools worthy. Oh well...
On Monday I wasn't feeling to hot, so I made some jazzed up ramen soup with wontons. Easy peasy!
Tuesday I went to the store and bought a whole done chicken. I made that with long grain rice with almonds and raisins, with fresh cooked asparagus.
On Wednesday I made this recipe: I made it over mashed potatoes that came out of a box.
Thursday I made White bean chicken Chili. I follow my own recipe:
2 cans northern beans or cannelli beans
4 cups chicken broth (I use better than bullion)
Cumin (around 3 tablespoons)
Green Chilis (4oz can)
Cayenne pepper (1tsp)
2 onions diced
2 cloves garlic diced
Chicken (2 large breasts cut into pieces)
Saute the onions in olive oil until golden. Add the chopped garlic at any time, making sure to keep it moving to avoid burning it.
Add in the chicken (I cut mine with kitchen shears)
Once the chicken has started to brown, toss in the green chilis. Add in the spices once that's all mixed together.
Let sit for a few minutes, then add in the chicken broth and the beans. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for as long as you have before dinner.
Serve with plain yogurt or sour cream, and a touch of whatever cheese you have on hand (we used Gruyere!) YUMMY!