PHOTO CREDIT: SERENA & LILY
It’s currently 4 o’clock as I sit down to write this blog post and in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “I’ve got to bust this out so I can get dinner on the table!” I’m sure you can relate. It’s the burning 4 o’clock question you get from either your spouse or your kiddos, “What’s for dinner?” and the reason that exact question made it into the planner everyday . . . so we wouldn’t cringe when they asked, but rather had an answer. But how does one make it happen at least 5 out of 7 days? Below are a few pointers and a few yummy recipes to help you pull it off each week.
The obvious-meal plan. Try to make it a habit to sit down at the same time each week and plan your meals. I even take it one step further and grocery shop at the same time each week. I love Trader Joe’s on a Monday morning at 8am . . . right after school drop off and when they open and are fully stocked, it helps get me in and out, ready to conquer the week!
Prep. Ok, the obvious time to prep before your week starts is Sunday. But let’s keep it real here. While Sunday is the Sabbath, it’s also the year 2018 and (unfortunately!) other things are happening on Sundays . . . like sports! (Ugh! It’s a big hot button with me when I get our volleyball schedule and half of the tournaments land on Sunday . . . I often wonder if that’s why God has us at a church where Saturday evening is an option! No excuses for us!). Ok, back to prep. If you’d rather be hanging with your family on Sunday and not in the kitchen, make it happen another day. Maybe it’s your Monday morning or evening thing. Who says it has to happen on Sunday? Just do the prep so you take the guesswork out of weekday cooking.
Look at your schedule and plan accordingly. For example, our daughter has volleyball practice 3 nights a week, which means she needs to eat right at 5 (God forbid she gets a side-ache! :-). Seeing that our afternoons are packed with work and other activities, we need easy meals those nights. There is always a Crockpot meal one night a week as well as meals that take little to no prep (I gave you a few of those recipes below!).
Leftovers. Incorporating at least one night of leftovers can help you get dinner on the table each night. This doesn’t mean you are having the same meal two nights in a row. You are just re-creating an ingredient. An example of this is when I make chicken taco meat in the Crockpot one night (that is a bag of Organic frozen chicken breasts and a jar of salsa verde from Trader Joe’s, on low for 8 hours. Easy). The first night we will make tacos, but then the second night the chicken might complete a taco salad, taco soup or an easy chicken enchilada recipe (recipes below). Or maybe you are grilling steak. Grill extra and make a yummy steak salad or steak fajitas the next night.
*These yummy enchiladas are great with leftover Crockpot Chicken Tacos (recipe above). We unfortunately can’t have them anymore since we aren't doing gluten or dairy, but they used to be a leftover staple in our house. Instead we like to use our chicken in this amazing Taco Soup from SkinnyTaste.
Accountability! Another way to insure you are getting dinner on your table is by joining an online Facebook group or challenge. This is so easy to do through social media. There are thousands of choices but my very favorite is through the Cara Clark Nutrition community. Her challenges are super doable (yet challenging! As she says, if it’s not challenging, it’s not going to be effective!). But what I love most about her challenges are they keep our family’s eating on track. Right when I’m about to get bored of our go-to meals, it’s time for the next challenge and new recipes. Her “Spring into Summer” Challenge started on April 7th . . . but it’s never to late to join! And she even shared one of her favorite recipes with all of you below.
One Pan Wonder Taco Bowls
2 teaspoons avocado oil
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
8 ounces shrimp or chopped chicken *vegetarian: omit meat
½ cup black beans
1 cup sliced bell peppers (red, yellow, orange and green)
¼ cup sliced onion (or more if you prefer)
2 Tablespoons taco seasoning (be sure you’re choosing a clean version)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup rice (brown, wild or jasmine)
Handful of chopped spinach
¼ avocado sliced
Optional toppings: clean salsa, cilantro, chopped tomatoes
In a pan, sauté oil and garlic for 2 minutes. Add chicken/shrimp, beans, peppers, onion, seasonings, salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Check to see that meat is cooked thoroughly. Serve over prepared rice, handful of spinach, avocado and your choice of optional toppings.
I made these bowls and they were so good. We did make ours vegetarian so we added kidney beans to the recipe and more avocado and I used my favorite clean seasoning (2T cumin, 1t paprika, 1/2t cayenne pepper, 1/2t onion powder, 1/2t garlic powder, 1/4t black pepper).
We hope that these tips allow you to create more margin in your life so you have time for what really matters; like getting dinner on the table more often and reaping the reward of extra family time each week. We'd love to know some of your favorite mid-week recipes . . . just leave them below!