We’ve all been there – struggling to figure out what to make, yet again! I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard from the designated cook in a family “I pretty much always make the same things…I’m pretty sure that SOandSO is tired of it. I sure am.”
And I get it! You want to be good and plan ahead (I just sent an email to my list about this – get on it if you want some insider tips), but it takes a lot to find new ideas that fit your criteria. For me, I have some basic guidelines on what works for my family:
- Can the ingredients be bought ahead of time and stored? I just don’t have time anymore for shopping on the daily.
- Does it suit the way we like to eat? For us that’s lots of veggies, maybe some meat, and almost always some whole grains.
- Will it make good leftovers? If we’re going to keep from eating lunch out all the time, leftovers from dinner are essential.
- Is it fast? For me, finding detailed, gourmet recipes is the easy part, but having the time and energy to make them is an indulgence. So I don’t need those as regularly, what I really need are recipes with a short list of ingredients that take less than 30 minutes to make (of hands on time).
And a fun little photo reminder I made of this:
That little list looks so innocuous and easy, but it definitely takes time to find recipes that not only meet this criteria, but also sound good at any given moment. And while I know that your criteria might differ, I figured that if I’m doing all this planning already I might as well share it out with you. Feel free to comment and yell at me about why you’ll never make bbq chicken in a slow cooker and then use some common sense to make it your own so that it works for you. K? Thanks!
Also note that I only plan dinners and shop for ingredients for weekdays and even then it’s pretty loosey goosey. I like to leave weekends a little more open to eat at a new restaurant, make one of the meals I didn’t get to, or decide to try a new, possibly more labor intensive recipe on a whim. Because that’s my idea of fun. Judge accordingly.
So, without further ado, here’s what I’m making this week:
- Coconut Shrimp: I’m going to try out this new-to-me recipe with some simple slaw alongside to use up my leftover cabbage. Might not make the best leftovers, but I think if I warm them up in the oven they’ll be ok.
- BBQ Chicken in the slow cooker: no recipe needed here. 1 lb boneless skinless chicken + 1 bottle bbq sauce in the slow-cooker for 4 hours. I’ll serve this on whole wheat rolls to my sister and her fiance as payment for watching my son (cheapest. babysitting. ever. and the best!) along with some roasted brussels sprouts. FWIW – I’ll plan on using this Tessamae’s BBQ sauce as it doesn’t have any refined sweeteners and you could easily serve this over quinoa for a gluten-free option.
- Bean, rice, and roasted veggie bowls with this Vegan Queso (made with eggplant instead of cashews!!): The cool thing about this one is that all the components can be made ahead of time and stored up to 5 days. Any extra rice, beans, or even roast veggies you make can also be frozen in individual portions for future easy meals.
Since many of these recipes are also new to me, I’ll share what I learn/think in the comments. That way we’ll all remember!
What about you What’s your criteria for finding recipes that you’ll love and actually make?
Update: Here’s what I ended up making and what I thought of it-
Coconut Shrimp: Pretty good! We had this over the Costco cabbage salad, but instead of using their dressing (questionable) used the Tessamae’s Teriyaki Sauce. It was easy, tasty, and very fast to make.
Bean, rice, and roasted veggie bowls with this Vegan Queso: Really good! I loved that I could make the rice and roasted veggies ahead of time and use them for multiple meals. The vegan queso was an awesome, flavor-packed addition on top, but I did notice that 1 eggplant wasn’t enough to make the full recipe (for me). Here’s what I would do differently next time: Roast 2 eggplants whole, steam in a brown paper bag after roasting, then peel and follow the recipe. I’d also make a double batch so that I could freeze some or have it for more dishes, especially lunches, throughout the week.
BBQ Chicken: I didn’t end up making this because life. Maybe it will show up on the menu for next week!