Only three words. But still they manage to strike terror into my heart.
"What's for dinner?"
Don't get me wrong, I like to cook. Trying out new recipes is fun; whipping up a dish that's been given the thumbs' up from the family in the past is a pleasure. But too often, I find myself glaring at the clock around 4 pm, then rooting around in the fridge in the vain hope that ingredients will magically rearrange themselves on the shelf so I can combine them into something tasty, healthy, and easy to prepare. What's worse is I work from home, so I don't have the handy "I was away at work all day" excuse.
And it can be easy to fall into a rut. There are certain quick and healthy meals I've given up on making, because I've gone to that well one too many times and have burned out the family on it.
That said, there are still a few things working for me in the meal-prep department.
1. The crock pot. Oh, crock pot, how I love thee. Soups, stews, tonight I even made barbeque ribs. There's something so satisfying about tossing a bunch of ingredients in a pot in the morning, ignoring it, and taking out dinner at the end of the day. It's like magic, but with more dishes to clean.
2. Listening to the family. Now, I'm not going to serve soda and pixy sticks at every meal just because the kids would really really like that pretty please. But when a meal is served and I get the, "didn't we just have this?" response, it's time to take it out of rotation, at least for a little while. Conversely, if something gets an enthusiastic YES, it's a good idea to keep those ingredients on hand.
3. Stock the fridge. This is where I fall down most often. The more ingredients I have on hand, the more likely I'll be able to whip something up for dinner at the last minute - and not be tempted by the "let's just go out to dinner" suggestion.
I'll end with one of my favorite quick to prepare crock pot meals. Feel free to add your own in the comments! *whips out notepad and pen, ready to take notes*
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (one per person)
1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1 packet dry onion soup mix
1/2 cup French dressing
Place chicken breasts in crock pot. (Can be frozen) Mix remaining ingredients together and pour over chicken. Cook on low 6 or so hours. Enjoy.
Seriously, it's so easy it's ridiculous - but incredibly tasty as well. Goes great with mashed potatoes.