Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The dinner dilemma...

So it's 4:30 in the afternoon and I have YET to think of what to make for dinner! I'm a planner so for me not to have any clue as to what to make tonight is very unusual. Actually, to be honest, I'm simply just tired of the same old thing. Seems I get stuck in a rotation of the same foods....BORING! But my kids are so picky and so is Tim, which really doesn't help things. Every once in awhile, I'll take the time to look up a new and exciting recipe online (I love ) I've actually managed to find a few new recipes that everyone likes, like the turkey chili and the baby back ribs (yeah, go toddlers actually like ribs!) But then I get stuck back in the same rotation, which kinda looks like this:

Monday - meat loaf

Tuesday - chicken w/ some kind of pasta

Wednesday - quesadillas (or some kind of Mexican concoction, maybe enchiladas)

Thursday - turkey meatballs w/ spaghetti

Friday - pork chops

Those are our typical meals each week. We're not a huge red meat family and Tim refuses to eat fish, which I crave all the time but just the smell alone of fish cooking in the house makes him dry heave. Sometimes I'll just wimp out and make sandwiches (hmmmm, maybe not a bad idea for tonight....I do have some tuna fish in the pantry)

I'm not someone who enjoys cooking but I think I figured out why....because I have FOUR rugrats hanging on me while I'm scrambling to get dinner ready. Yesterday, afternoon I had the kids outside playing in their little plastic pools and Tim came home from work and I said "I'm gonna go cook dinner....don't let anyone in the house, okay?"....I can't even begin to describe how peaceful and calm it was making dinner without 4 kids hanging on me and having to break up fights every 5 minutes or pour someone a glass of water, or wipe someone's nose, or clean up a spill, or pry a crayon out of Garrett's hands, only to realize he's already eaten 3/4 of it already. Or there was that one time that I was cooking chicken breasts on the stove and I had to change 2 poopy diapers and then help Bella in the bathroom....let's just say I ended up having to call Tim to ask him to pick up a pizza on the way home. It took 2 days of soaking the pan for it to be completely clean again. Oh, I used to be so much better than this though...when it was just me, Tim, Cole and Bella, I'd make meals ahead of time and freeze them or I'd just double the recipe and freeze the extra to defrost the following week. But for some reason, I've gotten out of this habit and I find myself at night thinking "what the hell should I make for dinner tomorrow night?"....I've even been desperate enough to say to Tim "why am I in charge of planning meals? why is it my responsiblity? why don't YOU cook every once in awhile", to which he just laughs and says "because YOU are the one who chose to stay home so meals are YOUR thing". Plus, the man can't even boil water to save his life...don't even get me started on the one time I asked him to make grilled cheese sandwiches for the kids and our house nearly burned down.

Sometimes when we're at Costco, I'll take the kids through the samples and let them eat whatever they want. If at least 3 of them like a particular sample, I'm completely sold...I'll buy it. All 4 of them fell desperately in love with these apple and chicken sausages made by Aidells so that has become a weekly staple for lunches.

So I need some new recipes to include in my dinner that are simple and don't require me to stand at the stove for more than 10 minutes. If a recipe has more than 5 items in it, I won't even bother with it. If anyone reading this has a really good kid-friendly, picky-husband-friendly, easy-for-mom-to-cook recipe that they want to share, I'd be eternally grateful!!


Chatabox Girl said...

What about a roast chicken? Shove it in the oven and leave it for a few hours, and then its ready.



Butter Chicken (there are some good ones from a can. Just chop up the chicken puor the sauce over it, and simmer until cooked. EASY!)

Sheppards Pie

home made Macaroni and Cheese

Bacon and egg pie. (great to put extra veges in! great up some courgettes in there)

Meat Balls

Lamb Chops and Veges


At home we just usually do a meat and 3 veges. We prepare the veges the night before, so we just have to cook it the next day.

Leslie said...

Okay, Helene, I like a good challenge. Here are some of my standbys:

If they like those sausages (we do too), make them for dinner sometimes. Cut them up and fry in a skillet with some chopped up potatoes and onions (and bell peppers if they will eat them, though it sounds iffy). Quick and easy. Serve with a salad or another veggie.

How about the old "breakfast for dinner" solution every Friday or something? Make it sound like a real treat! Make a huge skillet of scrambled eggs, and some bacon and toast. Or make French toast. Or omelettes (eggs and cheese is enough), which can really just be scrambled eggs you flip in half. You can make a huge omelette all at one time, and then cut it up for the kids, and then maybe one more for each of you (or use more eggs and just make one second one, and cut that in half). I'm all about quick and easy.

I do this pretty regularly: buy ground pork, and a bag of frozen stir fry veggies. Cook the pork in a little olive oil in a big skillet or pan, and then add the veggies. (Optional: add some onions and garlic to the meat when it's cooking.) CNBE. ("Could Not Be Easier.") Serve over rice.

Progresso Lentil Soup. Heat and add a squeeze of lemon to each person's bowl. Maybe even add some rice to the bowl before filling with soup. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Cut up chicken (or whatever you have) into strips. Cook in skillet with onion and garlic (or not). Add those same frozen stir fry veggies. (I like the ones with snap peas as the main attraction, but there are different kinds.) Season with some salt and pepper (or lemon pepper) and maybe a little soy sauce and/or worcestershire sauce. Eat.

How about getting in the habit of using a crockpot? It is SO EASY and feels WONDERFUL to throw some stuff in a crockpot in the morning and smell it ready to eat at dinnertime. They sell these packets of crockpot seasonings (they are by the packets of taco mix at my grocery store). There's one for pulled pork, and I think you add the packet plus ketchup and brown sugar to a pork roast and then never touch it again -- delicious!

Pizza's easy to make if you have a KitchenAid or similar. Just let it mix the dough, roll it out (you can make it to fit a big rectangular cookie sheet), smear some pizza sauce on it (which you can make or BUY), some cheese, some pepperoni or whatever, and throw it in the oven.

Pasta with spaghetti sauce and black (or other) beans. Maybe a little onions and garlic in the sauce, if it would be tolerated.

A big green salad with veggies and a tuna salad (or if you have leftover chicken, a chicken salad - fish or meat mixed with mayo, diced celerly/carrot/cabbage/whatever you have, and I put a little lemon pepper) atop it, and a dressing everybody likes. I make Thousand Island (1 c. mayonnaise, 1/3 c. ketchup, 1/4 c. pickle relish) and everybody likes that here. I don't know if your kids eat salad yet though.

Okay, that's what I've got off the top of my head. Let me know if you try any of them!


Helene said...

Thank you both for the ideas!

Chatabox girl, I always forget about a whole roasted chicken! That would be very easy to make! Sheppards pie sounds good too. I think the kids would go for that!

Leslie, you are full of great ideas!!! I could easily see the kids liking all those (just leaving out the bell peppers and onions!) and all the things you listed are so easy! I do have a crockpot but I often forget about it so I'll have to go back to using that for sure! I like the idea of breakfast for dinner every Friday...nothing easier than ending the week with a simple meal.

I wish my kids weren't so picky! I read Michele's blog about all the stuff her kids eat and I seethe with envy!!

Thanks again for the great ideas from you both...I've got a new dinner rotation in the works as we speak!

Annette Piper said...

We have a "bangers & mash" night once a week (sausages, mashed potato and veg) which the kids adore. We also have a pasta night once a week which is either spaghetti bolognaise, or with a creamy carbonara sauce. Apart from those though the menu does vary quite a lot.

Omlettes are a great quick meal. You can add leftover veg or cheese & cooked bacon and serve it up with toast soldiers.

I have a great chicken dish which is easy and I think it meets your criteria...

2 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 chicken breasts
2 tspns minced garlic
4 rashers bacon, chopped
1/2 cup grated cheese

Place 1 chicken breast in centre of a sheet of pastry, spread with 1 tspn of minced garlic, sprinkle with 1/2 bacon and 1/2 cheese. Fold pastry over so it forms a parcel.

Repeat with other pastry sheet.

Place on baking tray, cook in moderate oven for 1 hour. Take out, slice. Serve with vegies or salad.

Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

For easy lunches that the kids can help me make, I always keep refrigerator biscuits on hand. We do pigs in a blanket for lunch a lot - flatten the biscuits, lay half a slice of cheese and a hot dog on it, roll it up, and bake it at 350 until the biscuits are done. We also do BBQ cups - flatten the biscuits and press them down into cupcake pans, then mix BBQ sauce with cooked ground beef or chicken (I buy 5 lbs. at a time a cook it all up at once, then freeze it until I need it), fill each cup with the meat, and sprinkle shredded cheese on top, then bake at 350 again until the biscuits are done. These are always hits in my house because the kids can help make them and they're quick and easy.

Rebecca (mom2joey) said...

I just have to say your blog is great, a laugh a minute for sure. I'm really enjoying reading the older entries too.

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