School is back! Not just school as we knew it last year, but full-time school.
This is the first year my kids won’t be starting school on the same day. Big A started high school a week and a half before her brother. But starting this week they are both in school full time.
So, I’m slowly getting back to more structure and time for me to work. Summer was good but I’m always ready to get back to the routine.
There’s a little more driving for me this school year so dinners must be seamless. I’m going to include one-dish meals on Tuesdays. Thursdays I’ll aim for easy fish dinners.
Mondays will be taco night and I’ll make extra protein for lunches during the week. I will also periodically make batch Mexican dishes (on meal prep day below) for lunches at home.
Wednesday will be make-your-own/leftover night and Fridays will be finger foods. Sundays will be square meals that take more time like a roast chicken or grilling. Here’s the plan:
I’m going to try some recipes from this list of best instant pot meals, lettuce wraps from Damn Delicious, and this super easy No-Knead Pan Pizza from Mom’s Kitchen Handbook.
I’ve added new meals to my dinner rotation. Steak has made it into meals a couple of times a month mostly because my kids love it. But you have to call it “steak” and not “beef.” I’ve added a beef, I mean steak, stir fry, and tacos.
Here’s a fun meal idea we got from Raddish — make your own baked potato bar. I made chili and some sides including steamed broccoli, cheese, and tortilla chips along with the baked potatoes. Then everyone just adds what they want to it. Mine looked the prettiest.
Speaking of Raddish, I love their recipe for roast chicken. I’ve tried other recipes but they never turned out good enough to choose over the convenience of store-bought chicken. But with this one, the chicken melts in your mouth and I like to use the leftovers for BBQ chicken pizza or chicken enchiladas.
There were also meal failures like this one for Cuban black beans and rice. Not sure why it turned out soupy. Old rice?
I think I’m coming out of my lingering covid cooking burnout. It hasn’t been bad but just being home more – with summer too — can make meals feel like a chore. How is your cooking mojo coming along???
It’s a bit surreal to have a high schooler. As my kids are getting older so am I. And I’m at the point where I need a lot more attention. So, I’m looking for ways to streamline everything.
Two things I’m letting go of are the “safety food” at meals and making my kids’ lunches. Let me explains starting with the first.
One of the golden rules of feeding kids is to make sure there are one or two items on the table they like. This has served us well but recently it’s made meals more time-intensive. Because of this, I tend to make the meals I know everyone likes because over there years I have had more of those to choose from.
Read: The Side Strategy that Saved My Family’s Mealtime
Problem is, I tend to make fewer meals that just me and my husband like or that just one of my kids prefers.
So, I will still put out fruit and vegetables but I’m ready to let go of doing the complicated calculation of who likes what. What I really need are more mixed dishes during the week that can be made earlier in the day.
If my kids really want something to go with the meal, they can make it. Just recently I made salmon and Big A made the breadsticks she wanted and Little D made mac and cheese. Less work for me and it gets them in the kitchen!
The second thing I’m letting go of is making lunches. My kids typically make their own but as the week goes by, I begin to take over. The reasons are many: they are running late or can’t find something. So, now lunches need to be done the night before.
They also get at least one lunch at school during the week to break things up. I will hold up my part of the deal and keep the fridge stocked and items chopped for easy grabbing.
Meal Prep Day
Recently at my gym, someone asking for food advice prefaced it by saying: “please tell me I don’t have to do meal prep.”
I get it. It takes time and there are a million other things to do. But I know for myself when my food for the week isn’t organized, my life isn’t either.
I’ve blogged about meal prep days before. I’ll do them for a while and then get out of the groove. I still prep food items but not to the extent that I want to.
I just noticed with the loose schedule of summer I’m spending too much time during my day on food. I don’t have as much time to work so when I do, I can’t be bothered with middle-of-the-day food prep.
Through the years of prepping, here are some things I’ve learned:
- I can’t grocery shop and meal prep on the same day. I need to have all my food in the fridge preferably with the fridge cleaned out. It’s too much to do both and I end up only making one or two items
- I need a clear-cut list of what I’m making or else I get off track.
- It’s best to save a good podcast or music to listen to while doing it.
- Start in the morning and don’t cook a big breakfast.
So, here’s what I did on my first big day. The only item I didn’t make on my list was roasted veggies.
Here’s my plan of action. Friday, I will make my list and clean out my fridge. Saturday I will shop and try to hit the Farmer’s market on Thursdays. And Sunday is Meal Prep Day. It’s actually more like “food prep” because I don’t make a bunch of meals.
Do you do any type of food prep on the weekends? Let me know what is working for you in the comments.
Links and More
It’s been a while since I’ve done a survey and I’m looking to make some changes. So, if you don’t mind taking a couple of minutes to answer a few questions, I would really appreciate it.
Don’t miss my interview with Dr. Matt Angove on the importance of checking iron status in women (ferritin).
I was on the Eating Enlightenment podcast where I talk about developmental stages and nutrition.
If you have a teen with a smartphone, this New York Times piece is an important read: This Is Our Chance to Pull Teenagers Out of the Smartphone Trap
The Wall Street Journal highlights new evidence about teens’ poor diets:
“The committee, composed of 20 doctors and academics, warned about the low intake of important nutrients among adolescents several times in its scientific report, calling it ‘a public health challenge.’ Meanwhile, doctors say that teens’ eating habits have worsened during the pandemic.”
Don’t miss this killer review from Rhonda Patrick on the benefits of saunas at extending lifespan and general health.
One study found crazy benefits in blood pressure and heart health from just 5 minutes a day of inspiratory muscle strength training — a loaded breathing exercise. (I’m into breathing techniques right now and will blog more about it soon!). It’s the perfect midlife health booster in addition to the sauna.
Well, that’s it for now. Have a great September!
Want to build your own family dinner rotation including a dinner formula that makes meal-planning easy? Get The Family Dinner Solution.
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