Practical Matters

One of my favorite things to say is, “I’m good at other things.”  We’re not all amazing at keeping house or doing crafts or staying on top of all the papers for school or flossing or whatever.  We are all good at different things.  We are all unique.

One thing I am good at is meal planning and cooking.  John and I both love to cook.  Our kids hate everything we cook … but that’s a whole other topic.  I like to plan out meals for the whole month and so I thought I would share a sample month with you.

First thing, I plan only Monday through Thursday.  On Fridays, we are exhausted and we usually make pizza for the kids and eat leftovers.  Saturdays, sometimes we are out and about, sometimes we are with friends, sometimes we decide to make a meal we’ve been thinking about.  So, Saturday is always TBD.  Sundays, we spend with my parents and my sister’s family and some other friends that are exactly like family.  That is always a group production.  I often bring a watermelon, make a cobbler, do green beans or something simple in my instant pot.

Second thing, I live with four picky eaters and one of them is me.  John and Lila will eat basically anything.  Nora does not eat meat except for, and this is a direct quote:  “Bacon and that ham that’s inside of chicken nuggets.”  I can confirm this.  Those of us that are picky are especially picky about vegetables.  Here’s how I combat this.  I serve fruit at every meal.  I do my shopping once a week because we go through  a lot of fresh produce.  At dinner, I serve whatever fruit we have; strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, even apples.  Oh, and cucumbers, or as Sisi would say, “Crost-A-Veetsa”. To sneak veggies in, I shred up spinach in my food processor and add it to things like spaghetti sauce and smoothies and meatloaf and really anything.  If you totally shred it in the food processor (the one Aubrey left here is AMAZING.  It’s a NutriBullet.) it looks like oregano in the food.  I wish I could remember who taught me that trick.

Thirdly, life happens and it gets NUTS around here.  I like to keep a couple of easy, last minute throw together meals in the freezer/pantry.  Fast food/ordering pizza is something that is cost prohibitive for us if it isn’t planned for.  So, I keep frozen tortellini and I always have pasta sauce on hand.  We always have pizza crusts in the pantry.  And of course, my instant pot.  You can throw stuff in there and be done in no time flat.

And finally (and this is a trick I learned from Ellen at Just a Girl Who Loves) I kind of loosely have “theme nights”.  Mondays are always going to be taco nights this school year.  We have Bible study on Mondays and so we need to eat quickly and get out the door.  Plus, my kids love tacos like crazy and will always eat them.  Wednesday is another busy night because we have a group that meets at our house.  Most Wednesdays would be pasta because I can make a ton (in case group members need a bite, if they’re coming straight from work) and because I can throw it in the crockpot in the morning and just make pasta while I’m running around cleaning bathrooms and sweeping at the last second.  Remember, #imgoodatotherthings.

Here is a sample week and links to recipes.  I’ll come back each week and tell you how it went and what we’re eating the next week!

Monday: Tacos, Cuban Rice, refried beans, black beans and fruit.

rice

I didn’t take this photo, but this is what our rice looks like.

Our Cuban rice is crazy easy and so dang delicious.  Here is what you do.  Put 4 cups of water, 2 cups of jasmine rice, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of salt in a pot on medium high if you’re John, high if you’re me.  (I’m impatient.  He burns the rice less often.)  Keep an eye on it.  Do not stir it.  Ever.  Wait for craters to form in the rice, it should look like the moon.  Put the lid on and then turn it on low for 10 minutes.  Boom, perfect rice.  This also works for quinoa but not for brown rice.  I just can’t make brown rice.

Tuesday:  Flank steak and mashed potatoes.  Green beans, carrots and fruit.

Green beans and carrots are staples at our house because many of us will actually eat them.

Jalapeno Flank Steak

flanksteak

When I make mashed potatoes, I do not follow a recipe. I boil potatoes, mash them with that masher thingy or throw them in my kitchen aid.  I always put in butter and milk but sometimes also sour cream or cream cheese if I have it.

Wednesday: Herbed chicken, orzo pasta, asparagus and fruit.  The recipe calls for zucchini but we don’t like that, so asparagus it is.  No child will touch the asparagus of course.

Herbed Chicken and Orzo

orzo

Thursday:  Honey Sesame Chicken, green beans, rice, peas and fruit.

Honey Sesame Chicken

sesamechicken1.jpg

This is a new recipe for me but so far everything I’ve made in the Instant Pot comes out great.  I’m excited to try it!

How do you do your meal planning?  What are some of your favorites?  What are staple meals that you make regularly?  What’s your go to when you are out of time?

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