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Sunday, August 14, 2011

School night meals

School starts back tomorrow. As a homeschooling mom, I'm experiencing the opposite of what other mom's are gloating over..."Back to school, back to time for me! Finally, the kids out of the house! Free time!" Yeah, that's not exactly the road ahead for me, but I am thankful to be in a position to homeschool. I know I'm sewing seeds into my children that will hopefully bear much fruit. I'm getting time with them and they're getting more time with their family that can never be taken away. And *gasp*, I'm actually looking forward to sitting around the table, teaching and learning.
However, it means I have to be more intentional with my time. I'll now have to fight to get a workout in. Plan out grocery trips, errands, etc. Plan meals. We end up eating out way more in the summer. Fast food is more frequent and we have no real agenda, which results in less homecooked meals, or meals pieced together by what he happen to have in the freezer. Being at home in the school year allows for me to get back in the kitchen. But the meals need to be simple and easy.

So, I'm assembling some of my favorite weeknight meals. Ones that are simple. Notice I didn't say quick. Being home in the morning/afternoon affords me the opportunity to prepare something ahead of time (say, enchiladas, pasta sauce, ground meat for sloppy joes, crock pot meals, etc.) I can chop veggies while administering a spelling test. Saute onions and garlic for a pasta sauce while helping my son with math. Stuff a chicken w/ lemons, garlic and olive oil while the boys are taking a 15 minute reading break. You get the idea.

When I need inspiration while I'm planning our weekly menu, I'll check here for ideas. I'll continue to add to this when I see something that gets my attention, or if a friend passes along a good recipe, hint hint! I'd love hear your family's favorite simple weeknight meals. These are the basic meals...add to them an easy side of veggies and fresh fruit.

And in case you're wondering...no, I don't cook seven nights a week, or even five for that matter. I typically cook about 3 decent meals, eat leftovers a night or two, eat out a couple nights (sometimes just me and my boys when Davids' on the road), and forage through the pantry or freezer a night or two. We're flexible. My goal this year...get my husband to take over a meal once a week! We'll see how it goes!

Pasta night
Veggie pasta primavera
Easy eggplant parmesan over pasta with broccoli
Stuffed shells (from frozen section) with homemade bolognese or marinara sauce.
Pasta with chicken sausage

Chicken
Mango chicken
Italian chicken
Tex Mex bowls with grilled chicken and black beans
Chicken supreme
Parmesan chicken and rice casserole (using chicken breasts instead of thighs and half and half instead of cream, decrease broth to 1 cup, add a couple slices of bacon for more flavor).
Roasted chicken (save bones for broth)

Not-chicken
Roast beef salad with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette
Crock pot roast with veggies
Crock pot pork tenderloin (save leftovers for bar-b-q sandwiches another night)
Asian style braised short ribs
Beef stroganoff
Almost Thanksgiving: thick sliced cuts of deli turkey (Boar's Head Golden Catering is good), topped w/ gravy, cranberry sauce, side of sweet potatoes and green beans

From the sea
Lemon butter fish
healthier "fried' fish

Things with a bun
Burgers or dogs on the grill
Maple Bar B Q sloppy Joe's
Turkey burgers
Crock pot Bar-b-q chicken sandwiches, save leftovers for bar-b-q chicken quesadillas with smoked gouda cheese

Casual and fun
Quesadillas - Cheese, Shrimp & cheese, apples & cheese
Chicken fingers and veggies
Homemade pizza

Family Friendly Soups - make on Sunday to have for the week!
Super easy chicken tortilla soup
Tortellini soup
Pepper cheese chowder
Fresh vegetable soup
White chicken chili
Cauliflower soup
Cheesy chicken and rice soup

Easy Sides:
Sauteed green beans
Sugar snap peas
Super simple sweet potatoes
Baked potatoes, regular or sweet
Root vegetable bake - can also be used as a main, or over salad greens
Balsamic brussel sprouts
Turnips - ok, maybe not family friendly, but I LOVE them
sliced tomatoes in season
steamed broccoli w/ cheese
Frozen peas, carrots, green beans and corn, with a bit of butter and cream cheese
braised spinach or greens
angel hair pasta, tossed w/ butter, olive oil, parmesan and spinach

Simple desserts - I'm a fan of letting the kids figure out dessert for themselves. They can get really creative!
Fresh fruit, layered w/ lowfat vanilla yogurt, honey and granola
Ice cream!!
Mini chocolate pies - 6 pack miniature graham cracker pie crusts, fill w/ instant chocolate pudding, top w/ whipped cream
indoor s'mores (make in toaster oven)
easy banana pudding layering vanilla pudding, vanilla wafers, banana slices and whipped cream
chocolate quesadillas
toast with nutella, sliced strawberries or bananas and powdered sugar

3 comments:

Jacoline said...

Oh, how hungry I become from reading this post! :-)

I have a nice dessert idea, which even my kids love (and they are picky!):
(Greek) yoghurt with honey, walnuts & cinnamon. Love it!
Good luck with this schoolyear!

Love,

Jacoline.

Jen said...

YUM!!! I have been making a roast chicken and then making stock from the bones and making tortilla soup or white chicken chili almost weekly. I think I need some more "not-chicken" recipes,also! Hope your first day went great!

Jen said...

Thank you for the menu ideas! I can relate to the lure of the fast food. My 8 yr. old is such a picky eater and sometimes it's just easier to get him the nuggets if we are tired. But your ideas are organized and good for the week and perhaps he could help make something which might make him try it! Thanks.

Jen