A Week's Worth of "Real" Dinners
Three of my favorite podcasts, "Girl Next Door Podcast," "The Mom Hour," and "Friendlier" have all done episodes related to what their family ate for a week. I found these episodes not only super fun and informative to listen to but also reassuring to realize that most families aren't eating the classic meat and three sides every night for dinner! What follows are the dinners my family ate for a typical week. You will notice that while we try to end healthfully, there aren't a ton of veggies going on. It's something I'm working on both for myself and our kids...I hope you find it interesting too!
Sunday: Baked salmon with yellow rice, avocado, and mixed fruit
This has become our "go-to" Sunday night dinner and I love it! It's easy, healthy, and my husband often makes the salmon--score! Sometimes we substitute grilled onions and peppers for the fruit. Either way, it makes for a super easy, fresh, light Sunday dinner. I also like it because it's one of the only meals we make that typically does not have any leftovers (I don't really like day-old or reheated salmon). Having it on Sunday allows me to then make only two "real" meals for the rest of the week: something for Monday/Tuesday and something for Wednesday/Thursday.
Monday/Tuesday: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
As is my custom, I prepared our Monday/Tuesday evening meal on Sunday afternoon. Spaghetti and lasagna are great for this method because the sauce only gets better the longer it sits. My spaghetti "recipe" is VERY basic: I cook about a pound of lean ground beef and then sautee it with the largest glass jar of Prego spaghetti sauce and onion and garlic powder. Since I'm gluten free I then prep a box of gluten-free noodles immediately prior to the meal (Barilla is by far my favorite). One of my girls doesn't like spaghetti sauce so she gets "noodles" with parmesan and olive oil and a side of salami for some protein. Both enjoy applesauce with most meals.
I love this meal for when my husband works late because I know everyone will eat it without (much) complaint. The biggest problem? It's a huge mess to clean up after! Pasta noodles EVERYWHERE.
Wednesday/Thursday: Salsa Crock-Pot Chicken with Sides
I LOVE this recipe because, once again, it's healthy, easy, and makes plenty of leftovers. You literally put about two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken in the crockpot and then pour approximately 2/3 of a jar of salsa on top. Cook on low for seven-eight hours. My one "fancy" move? A sprinkle of onion and garlic powder on top (can you sense a trend?). I sometimes serve this with corn tortilla shells for a truer taco-style dinner but more often I serve them as part of a quinoa bowl for the adults and with sides for the kids. These sides include sauteed onions and peppers, roasted sweet potatoes, avocado, cheese, and hot sauce (Louisiana is the best, hands down).
On Wednesday evening I served my kids all of those things and then fought with them for approximately 40 minutes to eat at least a few bites of everything. On Thursday, I served them the chicken with sweet potatoes, a paleo muffin from peanutbutterfingers.com, peppers, applesauce, and a hard-boiled egg. This time they did much better because marshmallows were promised at the end of the meal. To be honest, I wasn't super in the mood for this meal again either but I managed to eat some quinoa, chicken, and sweet potatoes before a cup of peanut-butter cup frozen yogurt.
Friday: Gluten-Free Pancakes and Eggs
Friday night is often the first of two "take it easy" dinners. Usually I prep one of four things for the girls: blueberry pancakes from the freezer, banana pancakes, grilled cheese or butternut squash pasta (THE BEST healthy/easy kids meal: put a whole squash in the crockpot on low for 8 hours and then blend with butter, milk, and shredded cheese. Pour over veggie pasta. Done!). Occasionally I'll really throw in the towel and do PB&J (no shade to PB&J, it's just usually a lunch item rather than dinner). Typically any of these meals are served with fruit and either yogurt, eggs, or lunchmeat.
This week I REALLY didn't feel like cooking by Friday night and neither Joe nor I were craving a particular restaurant. We hate to spend money on take-out when nothing sounds particularly appetizing, so he offered to cook gluten-free pancakes for everyone while the girls watched "The Lion King." We then mixed up sides based on preferences--ham, salami, eggs, fruit, etc.
We had a super busy Saturday with a pool party so when we got home we prepped grilled cheese and banana for the girls and lentil minestrone soup from the freezer with pasta for the grown-ups. An easy, satisfying meal after a busy, fun day.
So that's it! Overall I would say this is fairly representative of a typical week for us. The biggest deviation from the norm was that we didn't have take-out or a restaurant date night at all during the weekend. While I wish there were more vegetables involved and that the girls had wider palettes in general, I do feel like we eat fairly healthfully and I feel good that we don't spend an excessive amount of money on take-out meals. If only I could get my grocery bill more under control....!