I’m tackling the “What’s for dinner?” dilemma.
The kitchen clock states only one hour of free time, so I’m putting aside the old cookbooks, filled with traditional meal planning ideas, and discovering what one hour of well executed plays will accomplish in the kitchen.
What can I truly achieve in just one hour? Will my sixty minute challenge result in a victory? I set the kitchen timer and decided to find out. I attacked this mission with fervor, and planned on conquering my mealtime madness.
Here’s how I began my plan of attack. Earlier in the day, I de-thawed the meats, and started a crock pot full of black beans.
When the ‘one hour experiment’ timer began, I fired up my two best friends for the evening – Ms. Rice Cooker and Mr. Grill.
Grilling ten pounds of chicken, pork and hamburger meat takes only minutes more than cooking just two pounds, so why not multitask and barbecue them all at once….I did.
As my thirteen year old son maneuvered the outside grill (“train them young”, I always encourage), plentiful pounds of ground beef fried on the stove while the rice cooker rattled. I prepared two separate helpings of brown rice and basmati rice.
One hour later, eighteen chicken breasts and pork were chopped, sliced and diced.
The rice, beans and (seasoned) hamburger meat were completed and divided into baggies.
The majority of the mouth-watering ribs and hamburger patties flew straight from the grill only to be devoured by my family in one gargantuan gulp. No freezing of those leftovers.
Since our meal plans tends to minimize meat and stretch vegetarian options, this was a true carnivore’s delight. My family was in hog heaven.
The final buzzer went off, declaring a win in the game book, but how does that help you?
Let’s survey how you can implement this experiment yourself. Everything that was divided into Ziploc bags now offers a minimum of 15 possible meal choices that can be cooked up in minutes.
Having an “emergency corner” of foods or “go to” items that I always have on hand allows me to draw from this stockpile on any given day. These staples that I stock up on when the grocer has them on sale at a buy one get one free price (or when I have a large couponing week), decreases my monthly budget by hundreds of dollars.
Some of my “go to” items that I always stock.
- cans of diced tomatoes
- cans of cream of mushroom or chicken soup
- flour tortillas
- shredded cheese
- frozen vegetables
- spaghetti sauce
- sour cream
- a few “Pillsbury” type items that I have gotten virtually free – biscuits, pie crusts, pizza dough (homemade or store bought with coupon)
With the above items and the food I just prepared, I can make:
- Chicken stir fry – chicken, frozen veggies, rice
- Enchiladas or burritos with rice, beans, taco seasoned beef, cheese, salsa, and sour cream
- Simple chicken casserole with diced chicken, cream of mushroom/chx soup, rice, seasoning, and cheese sprinkled on top.
- Simple Chicken pot pie with chicken, cream of mush/chx soup, bag of frozen veggies, cheese, and an all purpose seasoning.
- Chili – hamburger, beans, water, can of diced tomatoes, seasoning, and water.
- Taco salad – romaine lettuce drizzled with either French or ranch dressings, dolloped with black beans, taco flavored hamburger meat, salsa, sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips
- Taco dip
- Taco pizza
- Grilled Chicken salad
- Shredded pork with BBQ sauce for a great sandwich
- Stuffed biscuits with either salsa or spaghetti sauce, hamburger, and cheese
Whew, can you believe it, and I was just getting warmed up. Don’t worry if your freezer space is limited. Look at the small amount of freezer space that’s required.
Can you believe all that I got accomplished with just one hour and 15 minutes of intentional time set aside to conquer this mealtime mountain?
If I can do this…you can too.
I am passionate about families spending more time connecting at the dinner table, and less time being frazzled with the process.
With simple meal planning, families not only save time, and HUGE amounts of money, but the lost art of shared dinner conversations makes this priceless.
Let’s continue to make our home a haven by taking time this week to move from best intentions to answering the “what’s for dinner question” in our own home.
Are you up for the challenge? Is there anything still standing in your way?
I can’t wait for you to join me as we balance both the beauty and the bedlam of mealtime mountain. Let’s (in)courage each other along the road of the mundane and find ways to make it marvelous.
If you a visual learner, and desire some “in person” easy meal planning tips, Check out my first vlog in a homemaking 101 series.