Monday, May 4, 2009
What's for Dinner?
When we initially contemplated home schooling a very dear friend said "dinner will never be on the table again"! She was being honest about an area in which she struggled. At that moment I knew I would need to be purposeful in meal planning.
My husband is very gracious. He understands what it takes to keep things running around here. He never complains about what I serve for dinner, except for the time I made cauliflower mash potatoes:). My desire isn't to be a homemaker that gives no thought to her meals. I don't want to serve my family whatever is the quickest to make (not that there aren't times for that!). I desire to bring glory to God in my daily life. I serve my family much better when I am being purposeful, planning, and I am prepared, especially when it comes to meals.
My husband has blessed or surprised me, on occasion, with dinner. I can even remember making a call, or two, in tears asking (begging) him to bring dinner home (I just want to keep it real). I'm happy to say, that by God's grace, those have been very rare occasions. I want my husband to know he is coming home to dinner. I want to bless and serve him. He works very hard for our family, I, in return want to work hard for him.
It would be very easy to justify my way out of dinner. I am busy! Home schooling, housekeeping, being a taxi driver, the list goes on. Those are just a few good things that we (I) can use as an excuse. But that isn't what we, as homemakers, are called to do. It wouldn't serve our families, our bodies, or our budgets. God is calling us to give our best! I think the special people in our lives deserve our very best!!
My dear friend was not trying to discourage me! Her statement revealed an area I needed to be aware of, an area I still need to be aware of! I have had many struggles and issues (still do!) but for the most part, and by the grace of God, this has not been one of them. I have my friend and her transparency to thank for that!
Here are a few things I have learned that have helped.
1. Menus I check the freezer and pantry to see what I have on hand. I normally ask the kids and Jody if there is anything special they would like. If I still need ideas I go through one of my cookbooks (a notebook of clear page protectors filled with recipes I already know my family enjoys). After I have a week (or two) of meals I start my grocery list. I have a computer printout of our most common purchased items. After this is printed out I send Jarred and/or Madison running through the house, in record speed, to see if the item needs to be replaced (we call this fun!) Then, I go through the menu or recipes noting any item I need. I try not to be ruled by my menu. If I planned on chicken but then decided it didn't sound good, I just pick something else. I no longer assign a dish to each night. When I first started I did. But, I had too many internal conflicts with the half of me that is the rule follower, and the other half that is a rule breaker!!
2. Repeats We have certain nights where we have the same meal, this simplifies things for me. Every Friday night is pizza night in the Crotsley household. It could be homemade, frozen, or from a restaurant. All of that depends on our season of life and what the budget allows. Saturday nights are usually burgers or something cooked on the grill. Sunday nights I try to cook something I know will have leftovers for Jody's lunch on Monday. I can't forget the family favorite- breakfast for dinner (this doesn't have a specific night, but is always a winner).
3. 10:00 am Meal Prep At about 10:00 everyday, when the kids are doing their independent work, I start prepping today's meal and planning tomorrow's. I start with the tomorrow's meal, it might be as simple as pulling hamburger meat from the freezer, or double checking I have everything I need for a recipe. Sometimes I might need to think a couple of days out- a roast might need longer to defrost, or a meat might need to marinade over night. This really helps take the panic out of dinnertime. If I need to pick something up I can do it while I'm already out, instead of making a 5:00 mad dash to the grocery store. After tomorrow's meal has been figured out I begin on today's. It's already in the refrigerator waiting on me, ready to prep or cook. This might look like cooking hamburger meat 10:15 for taco's. At 6:00 when things get a little crazy, dinner is a snap. I have already shredded cheese, cooked meat, or cut whatever I could in order to pull dinner together quickly. It's probably the most productive 30 minutes in my day.
4. Your freezer is your friend I freeze food whenever possible. I don't cook an entire month's worth at a time (it didn't work for me). I love being able to pull a healthy meal from my freezer when time might be limited. It's like having unhealthy convienance food without the unhealthy. I have found if I am making a meal my family loves, it makes sense to double the recipe. A perfect example of this is tonight's dinner, which is Black Bean Chimichangas. Yesterday I pulled a zip lock bag of the filling from the freezer. Today during my "prep time" I filled tortillas with the filling and back in the fridge they went. Today at dinner time I let the dish come to room temperature and all I had to do was place them in the oven. Dinner done! I freeze muffins, breakfast breads, dinners and some desserts. When we don't have ingredients for a recipe, or something doesn't sound good I have a healthy back up. Your freezer really can be your best friend!
I hope you can use some of these ideas and it gets you cookin'!
So here's what's for dinner-tonight we will have Black Bean Chimichangas. Tomorrow we will have Sticky Chicken for dinner (the recipe is below). Yesterday I pulled a chicken from the freezer to defrost. Today I put the rub on it. Tomorrow I will put it in the oven and make sure I have all my vegetables prepared to go with it.
One of my favorite places to get recipes is from Allrecipes.com. If you haven't been there you should check it out. .
Roast Sticky Chicken-Rotisserie Style
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon white pepper 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 onions, quartered
2 (4 pound) whole chickens
1. In a small bowl, mix together salt, paprika, onion powder, thyme, white pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Remove and discard giblets from chicken. Rinse chicken cavity, and pat dry with paper towel. Rub each chicken inside and out with spice mixture. Place 1 onion into the cavity of each chicken. Place chickens in a resealable bag or double wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 to 6 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).
3. Place chickens in a roasting pan. Bake uncovered for 5 hours, to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F (85 degrees C). Let the chickens stand for 10 minutes before carving.