Cooking dinner nearly every night does not have to be impossible, even with 3 small kids at home. One of the secrets is planning.
I have done menu planning on and off for a few years, but have had to get more disciplined about it since having my 3rd child. It only took me a couple of times of realizing it was 5:00 PM and I had no idea what was for dinner, racing to the grocery with 3 kids in tow, coming home and attempting to cook before I became a devout menu planner. You see, those few experiences were not fun, so not fun, that the written out, preplanned menu is now my friend!
Meal planning allows me to make sure I have all ingredients on hand, defrost items if needed, and even do prep steps ahead of time to ease the workload during the 5 o'clock "witching hour" where my kids are whiney, fighting with each other, destroying my house, and/or clinging to my leg!
Meal planning also keeps me able to achieve a goal my husband and I have had for over a year, to eat dinner out (including take-out) only once per week. We have this goal to help us save money and eat healthier.
To begin planning, I look at my favorite, tried and true recipes (organized in a binder) and also I look at new recipes I've found on the web and saved in a folder on my computer. From these 2 sources I come up with a list of meals. I also plan days to eat left-overs to cut down on waste and give me days off cooking. Then I look at my calendar and plug in the meals, taking into account our family activities. For example, on the day my daughter has ballet until 5PM, I will do a crockpot meal or something very easy.
Last, I make and shop for my grocery list of any items needed in the recipes that I do not have already. Below is my meal plan for this week:
Slow-Cooker Salisbury Steak, whipped sweet potatoes, zucchini casserole (this will be made the day before)
Pizza Casserole, steamed broccoli, french bread
Tilapia Lemon Parmesan (see recipe below), Macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob
Left-overs from last 3 nights
Dinner out at the Family Fun Night Event for my son's school
Breakfast for dinner - Pumpkin pancakes, bacon, eggs
Tilapia Lemon Parmesan Recipe (a Central Market recipe)
4-6 Tilapia fillets
Salt & pepper to taste
1 c real mayonnaise
1 c Parmesan Cheese, shredded
Juice from one lemon
Set oven on broil and lightly oil baking sheet. Mix the mayo. & cheese in a small bowl and reserve. Place the fillets on the baking sheet and drizzle with the lemon juice. Broil for 4-5 min. Remove and top each fillet with 2 tablespoons of the mayo. mixture and return to the broiler and cook until golden and bubbly, about 2 minutes.
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