This is Part 2 of my collection of posts used to help write my book The Family Dinner Solution
So to get started on my challenge, I have selected 30 meals to make. But before I get into my list, let me briefly touch on the considerations that went into these meals.
Variety/Degree of Difficulty: I strive for a good variety of food, but too much overwhelms me. I’ve heard some food bloggers never repeat the same meal in a year. I also know people who can just work off what is in their kitchen and create great meals. If I did either of these things, it would be very stressful and food would go to waste. I don’t consider myself a natural in the kitchen but I’m finding my groove. I will occasionally make a complicated meal but aim for simple ingredient lines most of the time. This reflects how I often feel after reading a recipe:
Health/Nutrition: I aim for a Mediterranean-ish diet — think lots of olive oil and fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy (this excludes low-fat cheese), nuts, beans/legumes, fish and lean meats. I will make the occasional high-fat meat, like carnitas (pork shoulder), but that’s about it. I don’t make much red meat but I am open to it (see meatloaf below). I aim for fish 1-2 times per week. This isn’t just about nutrition, I really enjoy the taste of cooking this way.
Family Preferences: My husband really enjoys meat but when I ask if he wants more his patent answer is “whatever is healthy.” We occasionally go to In and Out Burger and all I have to do is say “In and Out” and he is dressed and out the door in minutes. Luckily, he loves beans and salads too. Big A, who is 8, has turned into a protein gal! It’s much easier to cook for her now because she likes chicken cooked most ways and fish is her favorite. She’s also my big fruit eater. Little D, 5 years old, is still pretty picky but he rarely complains about any meal. His favorite dinners are quesadillas, burrito/taco night, chicken pita (he only adds hummus, no chicken), mac and cheese (I serve as a side, not main meal), pizza and spaghetti with meatballs. He’ll eat a burger out but not at someone’s house!
And then there’s me. I love beans, oatmeal, salads, salmon, Mexican food and lots of vegetarian dishes but I’m not sure I could ever make the leap to being a vegetarian. As for dislikes, there’s really not a food I won’t eat but I have my preferences. I used to have an aversion to cilantro in my twenties and now I enjoy it. Oh, and it’s hard for me to eat overly spicy food. Nobody in our house has food intolerances or allergies. And I forgot to mention, we all love sweets: chocolate and ice cream are our favorites.
Looking at my meals, they fall into three categories: “tried and true,” “somewhere in between” and “want to make.” The “tried and true” are the meals I make easily (but I have it written down because my mind is not reliable) and they are enjoyable. The “somewhere in between” are either meals I used to make but stopped for some reason or they need some work to reach tried and true status. And there are the meals I want to get in the rotation for better variety. The list below reflects meals for winter so it includes soups and stews.
Tried and True
1. Turkey Tacos
2. Fish Tacos
4. Spaghetti and Meatballs with Homemade Sauce (updated sauce to include veggies)
5. Shrimp Linguine
7. Slow Cooker Greek Chicken Pitas (want to alternate with baked falafel)
8. Chicken Enchiladas
9. Salmon/Trout made three ways
10. Chicken or Fish Tender/Nuggets (same breading)
11. Turkey Chili
12. Slow Cooker White Bean and Ham Soup (recent graduate)
13. Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki (almost there)
14. Homemade crispy, thin crust pizza (I will do it!!!)
15. Base stir fry (haven’t perfected sauce)
16. Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole (used to make and love)
17. Shrimp and Broccoli Bake (make differently each time — need to focus)
18. Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burger (developed for Fearless Feeding but rarely make)
19. Salmon Cakes (Love the idea, but results have been disappointing)
20. Lentil Soup (can’t settle on one recipe)
21. Slow Cooker Italian Chicken with White Beans (used to make and love)
22. Chicken/Shrimp Fajitas (current recipe too involved)
Want to make
23. Base Alfredo Sauce with Pasta alternate protein source
24. Slow cooker curry recipe (lentil or chicken)
25. Pork tenderloin
26. Tuna Casserole (modernized)
28. Flexible Veggie soup (from kids’ book Rainbow Stew)
29. Butternut squash soup
30. Veggie Frittata/Crust-less Quiche
This list isn’t perfect. I have some meals I make occasionally not included but it’s a good start. I’m ready to cook! How about you?
Posts Included in the Series:
1. 30 Meals in 30 Days Challenge
2. 30 Meals in 30 Days: The Plan
3. 7 Dinner Rules That Will Transform Your Family’s Mealtime [Next]
4. The Side Strategy that Saved My Family’s Mealtime
5. If I Had to Start From Scratch Feeding My Kids, This is What I’d do
6. 6 Kitchen Shortcuts That Really Work (And Why)
7. The Family Dinner Solution Party
Want to see the final product with all the recipes and strategies? Check out Maryann’s book The Family Dinner Solution: How to Create a Rotation of Dinner Meals Your Family Will Love